Monday, 22 September 2014

Why I Sold Destiny

Important Note - This isn't going to be a review of Destiny. I haven't played the game in a full enough way to review it. Instead you're getting my impressions on what I did play. It's important you know before going in that the reason I haven't played extensively enough to review Destiny is because after the game gave me these impressions, I sold it. 

On paper Destiny was something I would love. A mix of Halo, Borderlands, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty; Destiny was supposed to be the next step for first person shooters, drawing from some of the finest games ever made to create a 'shared universe' FPS. The problem is the parts never come together to go anywhere that's good enough to justify the purchase or the amount of time that the game requires. 

It does Borderlands but Borderlands is better. It does Halo but Halo is better and it does World of Warcraft but World of Warcraft is better. The mechanics are tight, shooting feels great, double jumping or teleporting works a treat and the blend of open world and well designed mission areas is great. The problem is the loot system doesn't really kick in until you are a higher level. It's there nearer the start but only truly opens up with good loot and different stats and effects nearer the end game. This should have been something that was scaled from start to finish rather than bolted on at the end.  

Likewise the MMO system of questing isn't well implemented, you get your main mission and are supposed to get side missions, called Bounties, from The Tower. The thing is this is the importance is not really explained until a lot later so by then you've missed out on a lot of chances to get extra XP. Also, unless playing with a group of friends, the world feels empty. You'll bump into one or two people and maybe even tackle a public event with them (basically kill a bunch of stuff) but you can only talk to those in your fireteam so the interaction is hollow.

And then there's the story. Destiny kicks off with a grandiose intro about mankind's expansion into space, the discovery and use of the mysterious sphere called The Traveller that now protects The Last City and it's enemy The Darkness. All of it is very cliché but it was presented well and promised a grand tale. This tale was never delivered. Your Ghost, Tyrion Lannister himself, spurts stuff out before missions and there are a handful of brief cutscenes throughout the story but never is a character you should care about introduced and never is there a real attempt to get you to care about the story. And this is from the guys who made Halo! 

So it all falls on the gameplay. Well then. Most story missions involve killing people on your way to someplace, deploying the Ghost and then defending it from waves of bad guys. You are then yanked out of the area even though there could be loot and that's it. Almost every mission is that. Dull. So you could do strikes which involve your fireteam and are basically tougher missions. But any bosses you may encounter just rely on you emptying enough clips into them and there doesn't appear to any meaningful tactical depth to the class system so it's just mindless shooting. 

I'll level with you, I didn't even touch PVP. Everything about the game up to this point had been bare bones, like Bungie were dipping their toes into the pool of innovation but were too scared to jump in. Even though last time they dived in, Halo happened. 

The things that are done well are the graphics, level design and sound. The guns are punchy and the soundtrack is superb, it sounds like a grand sci-fi adventure even if it never materialises into one. And the scenery and enemies are simply gorgeous on PS4. The stunning views really make you feel like you're in a world, a world worth saving. And the views contribute to this feeling of a huge open place which is mixed perfectly with the well constructed shooting galleries Bungie give you for the firefights in missions. Sadly though these are the only things about this game that are above average. 

Destiny isn't a bad game. I don't hate Destiny or criticise it from a technical point in the same way I do something like The Last of Us or Assassin's Creed 3. The problem is it never rises above mediocrity. It plays it safe and suffers dearly for it. I sold it because I was promised a shooter unlike any other and instead was given an average shooter that has been outdone countless times by Halo, Borderlands, Call of Duty and Battlefield. A shooter with MMO and RPG elements that Blizzard or Bethesda would scoff at. 

If Bungie had just taken another year maybe, gone deeper with the elements they borrow from other games, maybe then I would recommend Destiny. Sadly though I don't see why you would buy this. If you want a shooter you probably have a far better one in your collection already. If you want an MMO or standard RPG you probably have a far better one in your collection. Destiny isn't bad per se, it's just mindlessly dull.

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