Destiny: Review: A One Week After Release Reflection

     It's been a week since Bungie's Destiny launched and while I am fully enjoying it, I have seen that it is very flawed as well.  For all the effort they put into making it a spectacular multiplayer game it suffers greatly in the single player area, and even greater in the story.  It is so close to the hype it gained, but not quite there.  I don't want this post to come off as just an all-out attack on the game.  Destiny has a lot of good merits, it's just lacking on a few very large things that should rightfully be addressed as the game expands its development in the future.  I'll still be enjoying multiplayer with all my friends at the cost of exploring the single player territory.

"I don't even have time to explain why I don't have time to explain."
     First off is the narrative.  The story is full of hollow characters and vague titles such as "The Guardian" or "The Traveler."  There are a whole lot of grey areas, full of grey motives- even the great divide between good and evil are essentially the archetypal Good and Evil.  But not all the way.  What all the characters lack is personality, a fact that is even more noticeable due to the overabundant cliched storytelling.  The line that the "Exo Stranger" character I screencapped all the pics of here says sums up the dialogue and story more perfectly than anything else.  She says, "I don't even have time to explain why I don't have time to explain."  It truly seems like that's what the writers banked on, rushing us through hoping we wouldn't notice how shallow and generic the plot really is.  It isn't engaging enough to matter, and neither my excessive adoration of Bill Nighy nor of Peter Dinklage can make it any better.

     All these beings need more than just the simplest urges- there is no real depth- and it really drags the game down for all the non-competitive players that came in search of the grand space opera story we were hoping for.  Where are all the new takes on the old, time-worn sci fi tropes?  Destiny's sci fi epic has been stripped of any originality and it feels as if the millions they spent on the game went right passed the writers rooms.  Really, it feels an awful lot like the generic fill-in-the-blank science fiction stuff we were reading decades ago.  Destiny is too damn formulaic.
      Where'd all the promised potential go to?  It's like all those long load-time flights back and forth from the Tower are in reality just us actually traversing right on passed the vast gaps in narrative.

Strangely enough, these are my two favorite characters.
     It also seems like there is no depth in gameplay.  It's all the same throughout the entire game.  There's 3 types of weapons- main, heavy and special.  The loot here isn't anywhere near the exceptional variance I was expecting.  Everything feels nearly the same as everything else.  Rarity drops?  In all the time I've played I've found only a single blue weapon worth using. And damn near the same exact green scout rifle like 20 times.  One of my buddies has literally found the same purple scout rifle 3 times in a row. (Ok- nearly the same one- it's variables aren't noteworthy enough to make them different in play.  It isn't like the variance Borderlands 2's arsenal has.)
     Even the enemies of all races are tiered essentially the same, with damn near the same exact movements and weaknesses.  There are grunts, floaters, heavies, sub-bosses and bosses- repeat ad nauseam.
     The locations are brilliantly designed, but when each mission takes you to the same 6 places, it gets old fast.  Oh look, we're on Earth for the 71st time in the same area as all the last 70 times.  Bungie needs to add more worlds.  And why they're at it, put some damn missions on The Reef.  Seriously, two cutscenes and no action?!?  Ridiculous.  It is a waste of a locale.
     The problem with Destiny is actually in the redundancy.  The same locales, the same weapons, and roughly the same characters.  I've heard it said that Destiny is meant to be expanded, well I hope they've planned a LOT of expanding.  Of every thing they've created.  More worlds for missions to occur in, more variety in weapons, make the various races fight with different tactics, and maybe even some more characters to choose from.

     At level 16 with my Warlock I am only now starting to reap any real differential bonuses in the character.  I've noticed that there are a plethora of Hunters out and they seem to be overpowered with their wonderful arc blade ability.  All the pulse rifles are so close to each other that the differences are negligible.
     And while I'm mentioning irritations, in the single player game- it gets to be absolutely infuriating how much enemies hide.  I can look through a sniper scope from the Tower and all the Captains somehow sense it and run for cover on Venus, which is about 160 million miles away.  In multiplayer this isn't a problem, but in single player it forces you into situation where death becomes highly probably and then into replaying a lengthy battle.  It's happened to me on bosses when I got them down to a sliver of health and had to run out from cover only to be one-shotted from boss attack splash damage.  This could be avoided had they made it optional for random players to swing through and assist for the parts you actually need assistance with, but they can't.  Maybe add a loot incentive in there- because I haven't found anything worth the time investment of the hard-to-kill bosses yet.

     Really, this repetitiveness is a huge downfall.  Coming from a purely mechanical viewpoint Destiny is unparalleled.  Bungie can boast with the utmost confidence about their intuitive systems.  The combat is so perfectly done, and the visuals are absolutely amazing, so why did the story get the shaft?  It's true.  The controls are perfectly responsive, frame-rates are so crisp and clean without even the most minimal stutter, and even the menus are outstandingly designed.
     The story is the only thing keeping this from being the first "real" next gen game.  Bungie, there is still a chance to remedy this.  Make it easier for single players to enjoy.  Make matchmaking in the main game easier.  It's far too often I jump over to help a group without invites and then they're gone.  There needs to be an overlap to compensate for this divide- proximity chatting would be the most notably thing to patch and would be an immensely helpful for the situation.  Multiplayer is FUN.  With a group this game is capital letters FUN, but single player is not.  It has a completely different feel- which isn't really fun.

Is that a self-stabilizing knot of spacetime geometry in your pocket,
or are you just happy to see me?
     I won't be writing this game off by any means, I just would like to see some changes to make Destiny a game we can play for the long term.  I haven't even gotten to the horrendous stop-and-go nature of the engram loot- having to halt and drag a stash through those long load times back to the Tower just to find out it is a pile of crap.  It brings the multiplayer fun to a halt pretty quick, as does the communication issue I mentioned above.  I mean I've encountered only a singular public event in all the time I've played, and I couldn't communicate with anyone nearby to call in reinforcements- and even worse- I couldn't communicate with either of the two others actually with me because we weren't in a Fireteam together.  That is a huge hindrance to the fun we could've been having working together.

     For a game that was meant to be a sort of MMO-FPS-RPG, it is missing the mark.  Not by a whole lot.  A fair amount of small tweaks might fix this.  Maybe it was simply Bungie trying to smash together too many things, maybe not, I don't know.  All in all- I think if Bungie can alter a few very important things, Destiny still has a chance to iron out the kinks and draw us in for the long haul.  It honestly feels like we got 60% of the game, and that we may have to pay extra for the last 40%.

     Destiny still has the opportunity to become the dream game it was hyped to be.

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