We already did our early impressions and most of those early impressions stick. The game has some updates that are really needed, but overall it is an excellent game. That being said we needed more time than we thought to actually review the game. Normally you can play hours into a game and understand it’s core values, and if you finish the story you know pretty much everything. With Destiny it feels different, the game expands even more past the 9 hour mark and with both fans and Bungie stating the game truly kicks in at this mark, it only felt fair to give it more time.
Lets Talk Story :
So we did, and Bungie is indeed correct. The game opens up a bit once you hit level 20, but with that being said, leading up to that point feels more like a tutorial mode. The early parts of the game include a story portion, and this story is extremely lacking in every way. Don’t get me wrong, what is offered is absolutely awesome in terms of science fiction, and it’s because of this that makes it feel so lacking. Destiny itself feels like a massive universe of lore. So many characters, so many factions, so many things to see and events that occurred. Yet we don’t get an explanation behind any of it.
Each mission begins with a character talking about an event that just occurred, or an event that needs to be prevented. Yet as a player I never understood the impact of it. We didn’t see anything develop and we saw new characters so abruptly that they didn’t make sense. At one point a character notes “Imagine what this world was like, so full of life” and he talks about it being destroyed. Yet I didn’t care, I really badly wanted to care, but I didn’t. Then we meet new characters that are supposed to be high rulers, and very powerful. During a short cutscene we get that feeling, but then we still don’t learn why they have this power or who they are.
Which brings me again to how well done everything is. There are pieces here and there, and connecting them makes for an amazing story. The cutscenes are honestly movie quality cutscenes and truly amazing in every possibly way, and yet we only get maybe a half hours worth of cutscenes. What I find really shameful in a way is that you unlock something called Grimoire cards. You then access these cards either through the app or on Bungie.net. The cards explain characters, stories, and events. I don’t understand why such key information is not accessible in the game? And above all else, why this key information wasn’t explained through the story? Instead of adding to the story, it tells the story and that doesn’t feel right.
Gameplay also takes a step backwards during the story as well. It basically becomes the same scenario in every single mission. Go to point A, set up your Ghost, fight off big group of enemies, and repeat. There is one portion where you get to use a sword and my god it was the coolest portion in the entire game. I keep playing that portion over and over because it is so wicked, I just wish they were creative like this through the entire story.
That being said this is only the introductory portion of the game. The story itself is maybe less than a third of the overall game, and from here it opens up. After level 20 you unlock harder events and more fun maps, and the real grind of the game sets in. If you play through the story normally and level up with the story, it is the perfect difficulty to be fun. However it’s easy to gain a few levels rather fast and be ahead of it, making the story missions too easy for you. So at level 20 you get to go back and play on hard, or join strikes and raids, and truly see the challenge of Destiny.
Let’s Talk Gameplay:
It is in these levels where groups of enemies actually become fearful, and having a fireteam by your side really becomes handy. Team work really steps into play here and the game becomes a whole lot of fun. Raids and Strikes are seriously a hell of a lot of fun. A lot of these take a ton of time to complete, and Bungie even expects the major Strike events to take fireteams several days to complete. That in itself tells you a lot about the length of this game.
Once you get to level 20 you get to see just how well done this game is. The gameplay is honestly amazing. It has very few clunky areas, but compared to other shooters it is so fluent and easy to learn. You have access to different perks and different actions and the game just simply flows. When you get on a roll you feel like a king, and when the game is challenging you feel like begging at it’s feet to let you live for just one more second. It’s due to this challenge that makes completing events like raids so thrilling, and that dance motion really comes in handy.
Along with standard FPS gameplay, Destiny also throws leveling and different gear at you. Each piece of gear has specific perks to go with it. For example armor is good for protection, right? Well it could also boost your strength, or your agility, or it could weigh you down. So you then have to ask yourself is the added 10 points of protection worth losing your fast reload? Or is a perk that the lower piece of armor better? Even guns have so many different perks to them that you will often find yourself picking the “weaker gun” just because it better suits your play style. You can really craft your character directly around how you play.
Let’s Talk Visuals :
The environment around you never gets boring. Honestly graphically speaking is this game going to turn many heads? Not really, but saying that doesn’t do the game justice. There are so many details in seriously every little thing you come across. Rocks seem unique, set pieces are astonishing, and worlds that they put together are breath taking. They put so much time into everything and this is something we never see in games. Most games have levels filled with stock objects with low textures, especially off in the distance because they don’t expect you to pay attention to it. In Destiny I spent hours just exploring different levels for the hell of it, and every single area had so much detail I was amazed. Even the characters themselves are truly breathtaking in detail.
I don’t think frame rate comparisons, or next-gen vs current-gen really do this game justice. It doesn’t graphically break boundaries, but detail wise we have very few games that even come close to Destiny.
Let’s Get This Out Of The Way:
Destiny has one major problem so I’ll address that now. The environment looks cool, the game plays awesome, and overall it is a fantastic title. The problem? The community features are lacking and the AI hardly shows up. You spend a lot of time exploring different worlds only to find yourself traveling long distances filled with absolutely nothing. Seriously nothing happens. The problem with complaining about this is that Destiny is an ever evolving game. Bungie will add more events, more enemies, and over time these worlds will come alive. As it stands now, it’s hard not to notice the lack of events when you travel from one point to another.
That being said the community should pick up where the AI leaves off, right? Not really. One player could be at the same point as another player and they will never come across each other. Instead you find yourself either in a fire team with two other people, or you are alone. Coming across other players to this day felt rare. In our early impressions I noted that The Tower even felt lacking, luckily that improved. Ever since I complained about that, the Tower had a full server every time I entered it. Other worlds though, I hardly ever saw anyone and they always disappear when you turn your back.
Something Bungie did address that I complained about was the lack of public events. The entire time I’ve played Destiny so far (I believe my play time is over 2 days now) I’ve come across one public event and I was alone. The enemy I was supposed to kill ended up running clear across the map and it ended. A new update is supposed to address this and the lack of players. It’s supposed to fix the lack of players too, but I haven’t played enough with the new update to see it. Hopefully it does fix it.
The Best Part Is PVP:
The game has several game modes for PVP style game play. It doesn’t do anything game changing, but it is fantastic in every way. It’s addicting, I honestly cannot stop playing the PVP missions. 3v3 may sound lame, but they are so player specific and team challenging that I willingly jump in. You have to remember we are talking a AAA game here, not a knock off FPS for Vita. The bigger modes offer 6 v 6 and these get hectic in many ways. There are a few maps that I wish had a higher player count due to being so large, but it’s only maybe one or two maps. The other maps are beautifully designed and they are super fun to play!
The absolute only issue I have with PVP is that it is starting to feel unbalanced. We have super powerful people now that are using weapons like shotguns and making the experience not as fun. I’ve been in several games now where every single person was using a shotgun. Heading to the Bungie forums leads you to find it is a widespread problem, which also means Bungie will address it soon. In other words expect better balancing soon, so no complaints at all really.
Was the story lacking? Yes, it was. Hopefully future free content and paid expansions will make the story more clear and developed. There is something beautiful brewing there, it just never comes out. That being said you can’t judge Destiny based off it’s story. You don’t do that with Battlefield, why would you do that here? The story in Destiny is only a small portion of the overall game. Reaching level 20 doesn’t mean max either because reaching even level 25 will take you hours longer to accomplish, and finding exotic gear? Good luck doing that by level 20.
Elsewhere the game spreads itself thin, but it can easily be fixed. Is the game an FPS? RPG? MMO? The answer is yes, and that’s the problem. It touches everything and focuses in none of them. This means lackluster loot drops, odd leveling in PVP, and extremely boring patrol missions. The shops in The Tower have been useless to me ever since I reached level 20, but leading up to that point I was using them every other match. This is stuff that will develop though and people need to realize the game they have now will not be the same game a year down the road. We don’t get many games like this, so it’s understandable to be fearful of it. We just need to make sure Bungie knows we need more than basic.
And yet with all these semi-problems the game does everything well. Why do I want to keep playing missions? Why do I say “just one more match” after 20 Control matches? Because it is simply fun! I don’t know what it is, but Destiny has a perfect blend of everything to remain fun. Is it lacking? Sure, but for some reason it is fun and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. I’ve had games that look dang near photo realistic that were boring as hell. I’ve had games that did Destiny elements perfectly that kept my attention for a week. Yet Destiny is sitting here doing the basics, and I clearly know it could be better, and yet I’m excited to come home and play it even more. I don’t know what it is, but all I have to say is yes we could complain about Destiny, but for some reason….. it’s AWESOME!