Just to open up…

Not in a long time have I been so torn on my feelings for a game than I currently am with Destiny. For those just tuning in, Destiny is the latest blockbuster game from the studio (Bungie) that brought you the original Halo Trilogy, ODST and Reach. It released bearing loads of hefty promise on its back, and nearly two years of immeasurable hype and marketing push.

And frankly, I’m a little disappointed.

Largely for reasons many game players are, and I fall into the category of folks who passionately adore Halo and Bungie as a studio. Naturally, it followed that, even though the original promises and vague wording cobbled dreamy thoughts of Destiny being “a game near perfectly crafted for me,” the optimist and Halo fan in me believed that Bungie could pull it off.

A lot of folks thought Bungie was a little high on themselves, and making a game that couldn’t possibly work or exist, let alone be made by a studio that’s never done a “mmo-like” game in the past. A lot of those folks were right, but that doesn’t mean Destiny is a bad game, doesn’t have some amazing technology, and isn’t fun.

Destiny is a game that either seems like an awkward slice of what could have or might have been an amazing whole, or exactly what Bungie wanted to make — but not what they spoke about early on in the game’s public lifespan.

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TL;DR (More like To Long, Didn’t Feel Like Extrapolating with Full Paragraphs):

Awesome:

  • Destiny is a high-octane, extremely fluid shooter with finely tuned combat and a well-constructed gameplay loop. This is some AAA, high quality, insanely fun and INTENSE ROOTIN TOOTIN SHOOTIN VIDEO GAMING. It’s delightful.
  • Music is awesome. Go Marty, wherever you are.
  • The game has impressive PVE multiplayer technology, which in a Journey-esque way, connects people seamlessly online, creating a populated set of worlds large, epic spaces, and does so without a server browser or clunky menu system. It’s really neat.
  • Finding and applying new items to boost your character stats is super fun, and has that satisfying Diablo/Torchlight-esque sense of progression.
  • THIS. GAME. IS. GORGEOUS. You want to know where some of that $500 million budget for Destiny went? Well, yeah, marketing (duh), but ART, son. They backed up a truck to an art pit and dumped waves of cash right in.
  • All the armor/clothing looks super cool. Too bad you can’t customize it that heavily.

Disappointing;

  • The game is low on content for how much it expects you to grind in the post-narrative (and I use the term narrative lightly here) progression. With the exception of forthcoming DLC and potential raids, you have story missions, strikes, and the Crucible competitive multiplayer (which I’ll get to).
  • Heck, let’s tackle it now: the Crucible is uninspired, barebones, and frankly boring. I hate bashing on games (it’s one of the reasons I quit games journo/criticism as a job), but I know Bungie can do better — they have. Consistently. I didn’t come into Destiny giving a lick about the Crucible. I still don’t. I wanted that hot PVE (world) content — and there’s not a whole lot of that once you see it all in ~15 hours.
  • It’s rare, but I hate playing a story mission and seeing other guardians doing the same dang mission near me — it seemed clear (from my perspective) that I was doing something unique, and it completely reminded me that, yup, there are other people here running the same mission (probably for the 12th time).
  • I hate that I have to say this, I really do. The story ain’t great. Why: it’s short (not the good, well-rounded, all you need in a few hours short), it has characters it never does anything with before shooing them away, and generally makes no darn sense. It’s a bunch of nerdy sci-fi cliches and scenarios that, while epic and cool in the moment, have little to no pay off, are laughably loosely tied, and generally feel like a big breadcrumb path of nods to old school sci-fi (with none of the throughline to tie it all together). And it all culminates in a “this is the ending, seriously?” finale. It’s flat, and feels like someone let air out of a wet balloon.
  • Darn it I hate how much I’m disappointed with the story. I really wanted it to be something. Man.
  • Could have been far more interesting future guns. Instead, we have the assault rifle, the single shot rifle, a pistol, a machine gun, a rocket launcher, and that pulse rifle thing. Where are the beam and laser guns? Where are the CRAZY cool weapons Bungie is known for? Why do the alien dudes get needler like things but I don’t?
  • WHY IS YOUR WEIRD GHOST BOT/GAME OF THRONES DUDE BASICALLY A MIX OF CORTANA AND GUILTY SPARK?
  • Fallen = coventant, Hive = flood, Vex and/or Cabal = forerunners. Even that first segment on Earth where DinklageBot opens the door for you with is FREAKING LASER EYE (HINT HINT), MAKE MENTION THAT THE DOOR IS LOCKED TO KEEP SOMETHING IN NOT SOMETHING OUT, AND THEN PUT THE HIVE BEHIND IT. DAMMIT BUNGIE. 😦

All things considered, it’d be a little trite to call Destiny a bad game, or even a mediocre game. It’s a really fun game, actually. But the combination of it not being anything near to what they wanted/made it out to be, the story being as throwaway as anything on a Jack in the Box menu, and the post-game content just being a recycling machine of assets… it just ends up being one of my biggest disappointments of 2014, if not in the past several years.

Let’s see what the next ten years bring, eh Bungie and Activision?

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