Destiny: Review

Destiny is the most fun I’ve had with a poorly designed game. Bungie is spot-on with the mechanics of combat. It’s every element when you aren’t firing a weapon that is frustrating. And I mean everything.

What You’ll Enjoy

Pulling the trigger is met with a satisfying kick of the weapon on screen. When aiming down the sites or firing from the hip, bullets land where you anticipate they should. You can remain stationary to line up a sniper shot or run-and-Destiny_20141209161401gun with a shotgun-melee combo to dispatch foes. The tools are available for players to modify their killing sprees to the methods they prefer.

Each of the three classes and subclasses, have access to the same devastating arsenal of weapons. This can make the game appear shallow, as abilities aren’t used too often, but variety is determined by your weapon loadout. Using a hand cannon with huge impact and low ammo count requires a different approach than shooting an auto rifle with a high rate of fire and short range. As you unlock top-tier gear and exotic weapons, each loaded with unique traits, your tools of destruction greatly expand, as do your gameplay options.

The character specific abilities offer additional assets in battles. The Titan can select a support role as Defender who will drop down an indestructible bubble for allies or an offensive Striker who unleashes a devastating area of attack maneuver. Depending on the gear you unlocked, these abilities can alter drastically. There is a deceptive assortment of choices available in the build selections.

You’ll need the best equipment for Destiny’s raids. These multi-tiered missions require six fireteam members and seamless coordination. You will be on the mic synchronizing movements with teammates in order to survive. There are currently two raids available (one of which requires DLC); a third raid is scheduled for March. While in a raid, Destiny PVPthe gameplay mechanics change from the standard “shoot all enemies” to puzzle-solving environments with unique tools and scenarios.

One section requires stealth through the Gorgon’s maze. If one player is seen, it is gameover for the entire team. In another area, players are asked to build a bridge by controlling certain sections of the map and sending players to the opposite side one at a time. I won’t outline each section of the raid, as part of the enjoyment is solving the puzzle for the first time with your group.

The raids are the most rewarding in terms of in-game loot and feelings of personal accomplishment. Each Tuesday, the game universe resets, allowing players another chance to earn gear and tackle the punishing Nightfall Strike. These strikes add modifiers to the standard low-level, three-man missions but remove the revive function. If your squad wipes, you must start at the beginning. This adds a necessary variety to the static gameplay.

Death is usually the player’s fault. When the darkness consumes you (not a euphemism…that’s the in-game description) it isn’t due to a cheap in-game mechanic.

What Will Frustrate You

Destiny is a loot treadmill. The designers gate you at every possible chance. To upgrade your latest and most awesome weapon, you need Glimmer (money that only certain enemies drop), Parts (from breaking down other weapons or armor), Resources (found on each planet or purchased with marks…yet another currency) and materials (earned through the raid or daily events). This means you can be rich in one, but missing the other and still not be able to upgrade your gear. Your solution? Grinding. Many, many sessions of grinding. Bungie desperately wants you to play each aspect of the game; which is disappointing because it is hollow.

On your first playthrough, the twenty (not all of which are required) missions can be completed in about fifteen Destiny Menuhours. If you are power-leveling a character, you will run past mobs and reach the end in eight. The story in Destiny is nonexistent.The unskippable cutscenes (which you’ll see often as you replay missions) and cringe-worthy dialogue only hint of things in abstract concepts. The Traveler is Good. The Hive are Bad. The Stranger is Neither. You are a Guardian. Any semblance of narrative is revealed offline in the form of Grimoire cards, where the lore of the universe is contained.

A character once says “I don’t even have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain,” and that sums up Destiny’s tale. It never provides context to why you are destroying wave after wave of enemies.

Missions and strikes are repetitive. You follow the on-screen icons to the next section, trigger a switch and fight off droves of enemies. Sometimes you are waiting for a door to open, computer file to download or terminal to boot up, but it all boils down to an arena for mobs to pour in and battle. The combat is enjoyable…but empty. When not teamed up with your friends, Destiny is a desolate landscape.

The user interface would be more at home on PC than console. There is a cursor which mimics a mouse to select which planet you’ll land on, weapon to equip and navigate menus. I have no idea why the more effective d-pad was ignored.

The vault allows players to swap weapons, resources and armor between characters but doesn’t contain enough slots Destiny Loading Screenfor all the unique weapons in the game. If you are a collectionist, you are forced to discard something.

There is no option to trade between players, and all loot is randomly generated. This can be infuriating as your teammate earns their fifth gjallarhorn, only to break it down for parts but you haven’t ‘earned’ one.

Players spend a large portion of time looking at their ship, otherwise known as the loading screen. When you boot Destiny, you are in orbit, but need to visit the Tower to pick up bounties, which requires a loading screen. Back to orbit to select your mission…another loading screen. Then you actually choose your mission and are rewarded with….yet another loading screen. When you complete the mission, there is a loading screen on your way back to orbit. If you need to turn the bounty in for completion credit, you must sit through one more loading screen.

Because Destiny is a MMO game, there is no option to pause, even when playing alone in a closed fireteam. This can be frustrating if you need to leave combat and take care of real world matters for a quick second as the servers are quick to boot you back to orbit for inactivity.

Bungie updates Destiny on a regular basis to ensure .players are enjoying the game as they intended it to be played. This sounds positive, but it typically means that players have found an exploit, and Bungie is shutting it down. But as soon as a hotfix is released, players find new ways to accomplish the same task. There are millions of gamers looking Destiny Battlefor ways to break Destiny and brag about it on Reddit…Bungie won’t win this fight. I would prefer they fix a known-bug, which causes heavy ammo to reduce each time you die or see a loading screen…which if you read above happens often.

Final Verdict

I spent more hours with Destiny than any other game in years. I picked it up during release and continue to play to this day. My clan is working through the best strategy to beat the second raid on hard mode, which just released two weeks ago. We eagerly await the next DLC pack and log hours in each day (some members spend 10+ daily and rebuild characters…they are diehards). But despite my positive experiences…I can’t honestly recommend Destiny.

The game truly doesn’t start until you’ve spent 15+ hours, which is too long a commitment to reach the best sections. Once you arrive, you still need a dedicated group of players to conquer the high level raids, and because Bungie opted to not include an auto-group maker, players are forced to use third-party sites to find raiding parties. Your enjoyment playing with randoms will vary.

Destiny does one thing extremely well: combat is fun. But it fails to do anything else right.

Hardcore Only

+ Fun Battle Sequences
+ Raids are Puzzles
+ Playing with Friends
– Multiplayer Imbalanced
– Bosses are Bullet Sponges
– Repetitive Battles
– Occasional Glitches
– Requires Friends


Trophy Analysis

Most trophies are obtainable through normal play if you stick with the game. You will earn all the equipment, kill enemies with headshots and exploration trophies. The largest barriers to a platinum are Flawless Raider (perfect playthrough) and Raiding Party (clan-completed raids) as these are dependent on others. Clans can only be formed at and aren’t managed through the game itself. All members of the fireteam must be in the same clan to earn a trophy for completing a raid and strike together. The Flawless Raider trophy demands a team to go through the entire raid without anyone dying. An accomplishment made even more difficult due to glitches or server crashes. Only 0.2% of players managed to earn this to date (I hope to join them one day…).

Level Up, Friends!