Destiny hit consoles worldwide last week amid an onslaught of hype and expectations. Publisher Activision and developer Bungie have made damn sure that gamers know all about Destiny, and have done so since it was announced two years ago. But now that it’s time for both companies to put up or shut up, what is the final verdict? To fully answer that question, we had to break the review down into two parts. This first part will be the abstract, the next the nuts and bolts of all that is Destiny.
You see, Destiny is a game that cannot be surmised in one or two game sessions. The one thing that Bungie got right is in how the game is a slow burn that is designed to be played for years to come. And this is part of the problem. Read on to understand what I mean.
First of all, Destiny is a sci-fi-flavored first person shooter that tells its tale across several generations and across different planets in our solar system. But if you wipe away all of the context, you are left with a FPS. Is it a good FPS? Yes. It has the gameplay of a Halo with the frenetic battles of a Battlefield or to a lesser extent, a Call of Duty. As a FPS, Destiny is fun to play and falls nicely into the mix of the games we just mentioned. But then again, Destiny is also an MMO. While it’s been said that Activision and Bungie are trying to separate themselves from those three little letters, to anyone playing as a Guardian there is no other description for it. You create a character and then spend hours leveling up with XP earned from completing missions and quests, all the while trying to secure new exotic loot to make your toon look as badass as possible. I essentially just described World of Warcraft.
Destiny is an MMO no matter what the publisher and developer say. And its the amalgamation of these two genres that the entire franchise hangs from. If it fails at either, Destiny is a bust. Luckily, it doesn’t. It’s a great FPS and the MMO elements are just enough to keep us playing, to go on one more patrol to collect that bounty for 100 head shots (here called “precision kills”) or to take on that next story mission to advance the plot of the mythology. Taken for what it is, Destiny works and it’s a great game. The problem with the game lies in the expectations and the hype leading up to the release.
As it was presented to us, Destiny would be the end all of gaming. A title that had a little bit of everything and enough to suit gamers across genres. Oh, and it was going to be the greatest thing ever. Is it? No. But it is a fine game that takes the best of the things that have come before it–including the story narrative that drives the whole franchise — and makes it work. And if Bungie holds to its ambitious promise of ten years of support, Destiny is just truly getting started. Sure the story can be knocked out in under 20 hours, but the average Call of Duty campaign is only six or seven hours long. Sure the level cap at 30 is low, but some of the best MMOs in history started with low level caps, which is designed to get all players geared up and on somewhat equal footing for the end game content, and whatever else is to come in those next ten years. There is no reason to fault the game for either.
I’ve probably sent more time on patrol than either the story or the crucible (the multiplayer battles in Destiny). I enjoy walking around and shooting stuff. I enjoy collecting loot. I really enjoy the random public events. I enjoy the bounties. Will I still this time next year? No. But if Bungie keeps releasing new content at regular clips, I won’t care. I’ll still be playing, and I’ll be the true badass Guardian that the universe needs me to be to fight back the darkness. For this reason alone, Bungie has succeeded. Destiny, at present, is a good game and the beginning of something great. And so is this review.
In part two, I’ll break down the gameplay elements and talk about the different game modes, and even talk about what Bungie got wrong. It seems only fitting that in a game designed to stretch out over years, this review could, in fact, take all week. The score awarded here is for this part of the game only. Come back shortly for the second part and see how we score the gameplay.
Destiny was reviewed on PS4 and furnished by Activision for the purposes of this review.
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