So I've been kinda inactive the past few weeks, and to be perfectly honest a big part of that is that I really struggle to think of many compelling, enjoyable parts of BZP's community anymore, and plenty of things that rub me very much the wrong way, so I might just end up becoming less active in-general on here. But I digress, because I've seen a lot of people posting here about that new video game with Tyrion in it, and I was already planning to post my thoughts on another website's blog, so I figured why not here as well? So, without further ado, my thoughts on Destiny:
So, the first thing that most people notice are the visuals. How sexy is the game?
It's worth noting that A. I really don't play any of the high-demand "stress test" type games, so I probably don't have the best feel for the capabilities of modern graphics(Personally I don't think the whole graphical arms race is worth much anyway, but that's another post for another day), and B. I'm playing on a PS3, so what I think about it visually is probably not applicable to the Xbone and PS4.
With that said, Destiny looks good. It's certainly not photorealistic, and it's not the pinnacle of modern game visuals. The one real complaint I have with the visuals is the use of glares, lens flares, and other similar effects. It's not to JJ Abrams levels, but it can be excessive at times just how shiny things are. It's especially distracting if the arm armor you're wearing or the gun you're holding is white or or something else that reflects a lot of light. A patch to remove, or at least significantly decrease, what reflects off your gun and arms/hands would be very nice.
Again, it's certainly not the pinnacle of gorgeous graphics, but Destiny still looks very good. Which is important, because it's a game that relies on atmosphere heavily. More on that later.
Okay, now we know that this game looks sexy(Or, as the case might be, ugly). So now that we know how it looks, what are we doing?
This is really where Destiny shines. Bungie's pedigree is obvious with their work on the first few Halo games, and the action is just as fun and entertaining as you'd expect of them in a first person shooter. Unlike some console FPS games where the aiming is clunky and certain guns just don't work, everything about Destiny's shooter mechanics feels polished. The aim assist is enough to really help without throwing you off once you get used to it, and every single gun, from the shotguns to the hand cannons to the assault rifles and everything in between, feels natural and, with the right playstyle, effective, both with and without using sights(With the obvious exception of sniper rifles since they're designed around scoping in). There are certain imbalances, which Bungie has already addressed and started patching, but by and large, they all feel very pleasant to use, and I'm sure I'm far from alone in being torn between different weapons. The classes also feel very well-balanced; at no point does it feel like a skilled Warlock can't kill a skilled Hunter or a skilled Titan kill a skilled Warlock. The armor follows suit, with the passive benefits of certain armor items contending against the higher armor ratings of others.
The enemies are also better than a lot of FPS games. Sadly that's not saying much, but unless you're well overleveled, you're going to generally find that just running in headfirst is a good way to get killed, and that's a nice change of pace from the number of modern shooter games where you can just charge in with a BFG and mow down enemies who have the aim of stormtroopers and guns weaker than slingshots like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando. How it's still a step down from Republic Commando's AI almost ten years after its release, I don't know, but it's no different than any other modern FPS in that regard.
The quests are simple, but entertaining enough that they're fun, mainly because they almost all involve shooting things, which again, Destiny has down better than almost any other FPS I've played recently. They're also helped by daily challenge events, where out of the blue a much harder quest will fall from the sky, almost always literally.
Good as the gunfights are, what really makes Destiny more than another speesh mereene FPS is the interaction element with other players. Though it can be played solo, it's at its best when you're fighting other Guardians in the Crucible, or going on strike missions with a fireteam of friends, or running around the overworld looking for loot chests with random folks. The online aspect was heavily touted, and while it could be better - which I expect it will be soon since there's every indication Bungie and Activision want Destiny to last a long
time - it certainly makes the game feel that much more expansive, and I imagine it'll get even better as Bungie adds content and learns what its community likes doing. I imagine it feels much bigger and much more alive on the Xbone and PS4's larger networks than it does on my PS3 universe, too.
The vehicles aren't as good as the shooting, sadly. The speeder bikes are fun enough, but nothing spectacular. The Interceptors are just clunky, and annoying to drive. Hopefully they add more variety to the vehicles too, because there's a ton of potential in there that's just sitting untapped. Speaking of untapped possibilities with vehicles, you know what'd be a cool addition? Speeder bike races. Add more stats than speed and durability to them, let players customize and race them against each other. I don't think I'm the only one who'd love something like that.
There's also exploring the environments, which I'll get to in story actually. Overall though, the gameplay is a blast, and the gunfights, more than the quests, the story, the graphics, anything else, really shine. Which is good, because we're about to get into the story.
So, we've talked about the looks and the gameplay. For those that play for the plot, how is it?
The plot in Destiny is...disappointing, to put it mildly. It could certainly be worse; there's actually an effort to make something interesting, and there are some nuggets of an interesting story here and there. Too much of it is cluttered though with unexplained information, and a lack of much coherent plot beyond "The Traveler is dying, these guys are killing it, go kill them to save it." "Oh wait it turns out these more evil things are trying to kill the Traveler. Forget about the other guys and worry about these guys now." "Wait no these
are the real bad guys. Now you're on target." "Congrats you killed the real bad guys. Those other guys are somehow not important anymore." Nothing is really ever explained, the connections are loose at best. You're just tossed headfirst into the pool that is Destiny's universe, and you're expected to figure out how it works and everything that's there for you without any help.
Credit to Penny Arcade for the joke I completely and utterly stole. The ironic thing is that it's just as confounding, but for the exact opposite reason.
I was honestly very disappointed by this by the time I finished the story mode. Mass Effect is incredibly plot-heavy, and it's one of my favorite franchises. The Walking Dead is nothing but story in what's a glorified Choose Your Own Adventure story, and it's probably one of my top five. I consider myself a man that likes a good plot, and the lack of one with Destiny on first glance is disappointing. The more I play though, the more optimistic I get; as expounded on in-detail here
, Destiny actually does do a lot of world-building, just not in the ways we're used to.
It builds its universe through the burned out academy on Venus, the decrepit moon colony overrun by Wizards that came from the moon. The big, open environments you can explore, from the post-apocalyptic Russian wasteland to the Cabal's militaristic bunkers on mars, are where you get the sense of Destiny's universe. The environment is what tells you what you're in for, not the language of the characters. The atmosphere comes from the light and shadows, the actual setting you're in, not from exposition and storytelling.
And the more I think about it, the more okay I am with that. Destiny is meant to be the first of a decade of titles published by Bungie, and I imagine it's far from the last entry into this IP. Something makes me think that Bungie intentionally left the backstory of Destiny's universe very loosely defined so it can be defined in future games. A game that details the collapse, a game that details the war that the Exo originated from, a game that goes into the Queen of the Reef's rise to prominence, and a lot of them I imagine are going to be additional content added onto Destiny itself. This is meant to be the groundwork, not the definitive statement; if they had defined everything in this initial burst, then they would've already set the limits of how far they can go.
All that said, this doesn't change how lax Destiny's story is. As great as the atmosphere is, and as much hope as I have for the future of the franchise, the initial venture still has a very anemic plot. I don't think it's as bad as a lot of people act like it is, but it's not good.
Music is a very underrated part of any game. How is it?
Let's put it this way to keep it nice and short: I'm looking forward to the soundtrack being released because I want to own a copy. It's great, and funnily enough the entire reason I got interested. When I heard Paul McCartney was getting involved, I wanted to see what the hubbub was about. The music is great, and another thing that really contributes to the atmosphere of the game.
Since you're still here, you clearly care what I think. For some reason. Anyway, what do I think? Do I like it? Do I think it's worth the time?
I like Destiny. A lot. I wouldn't call it perfect, but it's a blast to play. The story isn't anywhere near as good as I hoped, and as such I wouldn't call it a perfect, game-of-the-year type(It's a definite candidate, but also definitely not winning), but very definitely worth the price of admission, and considering the vision that Bungie and Activision seem to have for it, I can't see it going anywhere but up, and more likely than not it'll be worth jumping onto the train early instead of trying to catch up.
As always though, these are just my personal opinions. What you think is your call!