‘Defeat Our Enemies. Explore New Worlds.
That’s what it says on the back of the case for the recently released Destiny. I have currently logged quite a few hours of gameplay and have finished the story and let me tell you, this is nowhere near as ‘ambitious’ as Bungie would like you to believe. Although it mentions that you can explore worlds – which you can go to a couple- there really isn’t anything for you to explore. Not in the sense that you would think, anyways. When you drop out of orbit into a world such as Mars or Venus, you have a trail you can follow that occasionally branches off or opens up to a wider space. Your main story will take you through every one of these paths; so when you come back there isn’t anything really new. What they really meant by ‘exploring’ is that you can enter many of these little caves you can see on the paths. Typically you’ll find nothing inside but a small empty room, occasionally you’ll get lucky and find a chest to loot or a Ghost you can find ( basically a collectible in the game). To me that’s not exploring.
Exploring to me is adventuring through a landscape with new things to see and find that the story itself doesn’t take you to and it rewards you for your efforts. In the game, there is a feature called ‘Patrol’ which lets you wander around the planet of choice to ‘explore’. During your patrol you can pick up one of the many vanguard quests lying around in specific locations. These quests come in the form of beacons. When you reach one and accept the mission, you are told to do some mundane task such as killing enemies in the area, collection certain items from dead enemies, killing a powerful enemy, or scouting an area. That’s basically it. Its a way for you to grind your vanguard ranking up and earn a small amount of glimmer in the process (the in-game currency). When you finish you can pick up another and do it all over again. As you can imagine, this gets boring pretty quick. I look at patrols not as exploration, but as a means to farm for loot drops. Hmm…this is starting to sound pretty familiar. I’ll get to that soon.
What this game really has you doing, is running around slaughtering tons and I mean tons of enemies over and over again. All of this to improve your current gear. They do offer a couple ways of doing this. You can pick a location and farm off of the infinite respawn cycles of enemies, fight in the game’s pvp mode – the crucibles, or join up with three other players and attempt a strike. The crucibles are nothing special, just your typical first person shooter multiplayer. It doesn’t have any game changing features or anything impressive. Strikes are similar to story missions but are much more difficult and requires a bit of skill to get through. Strikes are the most rewarding tasks you can complete as drops are far more often and you are guaranteed decent gear upon completion. Once you hit the level cap of 20, you will likely be doing either strikes or the crucible for the duration of your time playing this game. Hitting level 20 doesn’t take very long either, roughly around 4-6 hours at a steady pace when following the game’s story or playing the pvp content.
When putting into perspective that this game is an online-only game (requires internet to play) you can easily infer that this is just another Massive Multiplayer Online game. There is nothing wrong with that, but the problem is that its not a very great MMO and doesn’t live up to what we were lead to believe it would be. It’s not groundbreaking or some massive step forward like Bungie was making it up to be. In short, you are just running around killing things and other players in the pvp content in order to obtain better gear. Not that ambitious if you ask me.
A couple other things worth mentioning is the story, lore, and the end game ‘light levels’. The story isn’t too brilliant but its interesting enough to make me want to complete the next story mission. Better than the average first person shooter story but just not enough content and explanations. A huge fan of the Halo series, I was expecting quite a bit more; however, they do create some decent lore to the game universe. The downside to that lore is that there isn’t too much of it yet, and a lot is left unexplained. I believe that a lot was left undone on purpose in an effort to have more content to cover for future DLC. Something that is very upsetting to me because I personally miss the days when a FULL game was released, not just sectioned off in order to gain more money on the rest of the content not present in the vanilla. Though the level cap is 20, you can actually increase it to 30. The last 10 levels are called ‘light levels’. You gain these levels by equipping end-game gear that increases your light attribute. When you obtain enough light points from your armor, your level is increased. Having these light levels lets you take on the most challenging creatures in the game. These challenges are initiated through a heroic modifier when selecting a strike. This increases the difficulty of the strikes themselves. The creatures encountered will be far more deadly and at levels higher than 20. Completing a high leveled strike will grant you a much better chance at great gear. The process is highly addictive and is what has kept me playing.
All that being said, Destiny is NOT a huge step forward. However, it is still a decent game worth playing. It’s repetitive but the world is interesting enough to keep you wrapped up in it and its addictive loot system will keep your hands glued to the controller always seeking more. Like any MMO, the game is truly defined by its online experience. So grab a buddy and set off on misadventures in the harrowing worlds and crucibles of Destiny. Just don’t expect the game to be as ambitious as they say.