After what seems like a thousand years, Destiny, one of the games I was incredibly excited over when it was announced at E3 in 2013, has been released to the public. As someone who didn’t get into the beta (and additionally not having the specs to even play the beta), I’ve been waiting with bated breath to get my hands on it. And now that the moment has come and the initial excitement of playing a new game has passed, I think I feel safe enough giving my opinions on what I’ve played. No, I have not beaten the game yet—I am not one of those people that hit the level cap in the first couple of days. But this article isn’t really about the story anyway. Why? Because there’s not really a story worth caring about. Surprisingly, it’s not Destiny‘s fault either, but this still doesn’t stop the game from being somewhat disappointing in the larger scheme of things.
This launch title is Bungie’s most publicized step out of their Halo franchise, and though I haven’t played any game in the Halo series, the famous space marine FPS’s influence is clear. Destiny takes place in space, using Earth as a hub world and a newbie area.
The player character is brought back to life by a tool called a ghost—which also happens to have Peter Dinklage’s voice as a treat for Game of Thrones fans—and is instantly given the task of becoming a Guardian. These Guardians are protectors of the last living species (humans, awoken, and exo) as well as fending off the aliens that threaten the Traveler (a mystical celestial body that grants these races strange powers as well as high-tech space travel technology). And, as far as it seems to me, that’s about as deep as it goes. Now, obviously most games can be broken down into a simple story—you beat the thing and save the world—but in the middle of that there tends to be character building or some sort of attachment/relationship being built between the player-controlled character and the characters around them. This isn’t the case in Destiny; if you’re looking for a really in-depth, character driven story, you need to look somewhere else. However, this isn’t a shortcoming of Bungie’s in any large way: this is a shortcoming of the genre they chose to use.
Perhaps it was just a misstep of my ever-unfocused mind, but when I first heard that Destiny was going to be a co-op RPG internet game experience, I was thinking something more along the lines of Borderlands: a series with a similar loot system and familiar character building system in which when you level up, you can give your characters new skills to use in battle. A game that can be online, but doesn’t require it. However, now that I’ve played through several hours, it’s completely clear to me that Destiny isn’t just an RPG, it’s an MMORPG. I’m not bashing MMOs by any means—I love me a good MMO every now and again—but stories aren’t typically the focus. In this way, for all of the rave reviews it’s been getting, Destiny is almost boringly typical. You kill the thing, whatever the thing happens to be in the quest, to get to the next higher level quest, you collect a certain amount of an item to get experience points, and you do these things simply to do them and not because you, as a player, are compelled to by any sense to reach some sort of narrative goal. It’s the typical MMO formula dressed up in next gen graphics and although I am a little disappointed, I don’t really think it’s a bad thing.
Sure, I wish I gave a couple more shits about the story since the idea of protecting a benevolent mass of power is pretty interesting, but what Destiny ends up doing right makes me almost forgive it for this admittedly large shortcoming. The largest and most impressive feat this game accomplishes is instilling players with a real sense of teamwork. (I hesitate to call it “community” only for the fact that there’s no real dialogue going on between players for the most part.) Since Destiny is an MMO, outside of instances (plot-sensitive areas that can only be viewed by one player, or a party of players) you will run into other players. And surprisingly everyone seems more than willing to lend a hand, whether it be by helping take out a mob of enemies that might be overwhelming you or reviving you when you get knocked out. In fact, something that Destiny does better than any other game I’ve come across are the “world events”, or side-quests that everyone can participate in given they’re in the correct area. I can’t count the number of times I’ve started one of these events as the only person in the area only to be joined by one or two others (which doesn’t sound like a lot, but you really feel like you’re on a team with those players). There is, of course, a reward for completing the event, but it’s not often that you’re left to die alone and unloved, which is more than I can say for a lot of MMOs.
Beyond that, looking for stronger armor is surprisingly fun. And, bless your divinity of choice, the armors for both males and females are functional and offer full coverage. At least someone knows that in space you really don’t want your skin to be exposed. And I think it goes without saying seeing as the game is next gen, but the graphics are gorgeous. I honestly feel like I’m missing out on so much when I whizz by the scenery on my mount because I can’t look at all the intricate details within the map.
My biggest annoyance with Destiny is that it feels incomplete, even for an MMO. Right now the level cap is twenty—and as someone who has only played sparingly since I’ve gotten it, I’m already at level fifteen—and there are four planets to explore, but there’s the looming feeling that the DLC list for this game is a mile long. I hate games that make you buy most of its content, especially when the game is full price in the first place. It just feels like I’m getting cheated out of content that should have been on the disk and fully unlocked from the beginning. The game feels way too short and doesn’t house enough content for me to feel like the sixty dollar price tag was worth it.
As much as I appreciate the game, if you want to play it, I seriously suggest waiting until it drops in price. And if you don’t like the MMO game style, you may want to give it a pass altogether. In showing what the new generation of game systems can do, I think Destiny achieved its goal, but there’s really not enough there to keep players invested in the long run, especially when the level cap is so quickly reached and there’s not enough story for players to really immerse themselves in the universe.