Reported to be the most expensive video game ever created, developed by the team behind Halo and promising game-changing scale and freedom, Bungie’s big blockbuster Destiny is here. But was all the hype justified?
Set seven hundred years in the future, the human race are now in a post-apocalyptic universe following a prosperous period known as the Golden Age. The peaceful time was started by the arrival of a moon sized celestial being known only as “the Traveler”. It’s appearance saw the human race jump forward technologically to the point where they were able to spread out and colonize planets in the Solar System.
Unknown to mankind, the traveler had an enemy which equaled it’s power, known as “the Darkness”. The arrival of this evil caused an event known only as “The Collapse” which saw the end of this Golden Age and as a result the human race now faces extinction.
The only known survivors of the Collapse are those living on Earth, saved by the Traveler who now solely protects the last city on Earth. This city is also protected by a the Guardians, a group of specially trained defenders who are capable of wielding the Traveler’s power, referred to as “The Light”.
Now generations since the Collapse, the Darkness has returned to finish the job and eliminate the Traveler, also putting mankind as serious risk. This impending doom leads the Guardians to head out into the Solar System to find the answers they need to defeat the Darkness and protect our world.
To make matters worse, hostile alien races have taken control of mankind’s former colonies and civilizations as they plan attacks on Earth itself. You as one of the Guardians must venture to other worlds, explore lost cities and take down the hordes of aliens.
So there you have it, a blockbuster sci-fi epic that George Lucas would love to get his hands on, make an awesome trilogy about the current struggle, and then a poor excuse of a prequel trilogy based on the Golden Age and the Collapse. In all seriousness though, the story premise is pretty solid, offering expansive subplots and side stories, the expanding universe could be endless.
Sadly however, the story never really gets going, it’s nowhere near as exciting as it should be. The main issue is that it feels directionless, nonsensical and if you do make it to the end of the story you’ll be left thinking, “What just happened?”.
The story has the potential to be a huge, galaxy-spanning epic on par with the greatest sci-fi, complete with the vocal talents of Peter Dinklage (Game Of Thrones, X-Men: DoFP) and Bill Nighy (Every British Comedy ever made), and yet it never makes it. Instead we are left with a story that is woefully written and uninteresting at best, even Dinklage sounds bored and he’s the star of the show.
Though it has it’s flaws, the game-play goes a long way to righting this wrong.
Destiny is a mixture of a first-person shooter and multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) and this mixture of game styles works surprisingly well. The combination gives players the best of both worlds with well above par tuned combat, stunning environments to explore and that insanely addictive character upgrade cycle.
From the start you are given ample choice for customisation of your character, from the class and species, through to gender, head accessories and colour coordination. Once your character is up and running there’s no time to waste as you’re thrown straight into the action at level 1 in post-apocalyptic Russia.
The opening mission is done in such a way that the player really gets to grips with the intuitive control layout fast. The controls have been thought out very well, from using and changing weapons to exploration, everything just works. That said, there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about Destiny’s combat, if anything it feels like Halo to play, but a perfected, enhanced version of Bungie’s other sci-fi epic.
Once you’ve mastered the basic controls and made your way through the story opener you’ll be whisked off to the last city on Earth, to the Tower, the home of the Guardians. This location serves as a hub for weapons vendors, power upgrades and bounty missions. It can also be used as a nice place to take a break from fighting the hordes of evil and have a dance or play a spot of football (Seriously there’s a very large football hidden in the courtyard for anyone wanting a kick-about).
Once you’re all kitted out you can head off into orbit to choose your destination for combat. There are two gaming styles available, either head into the story/side missions and work cooperatively or take on other players in something more conventional for a FPS multiplayer, essentially capture the flag, death-match, team death-match, etc.
Whilst the majority of the story can be completed alone, and for some this might be the preferred option, you can grab a couple of friends and set up a three man fire-team, if you’re a bit short on friends to play with then the Destiny servers are very good a matchmaking players when the need arises as there are a few missions that will require help. It is a shame that Bungie felt the need to restrict the coop fire-teams to just three members considering that team vs modes allow up to five.
The combat is slick, even when the map is populated with multiple fire-teams all working on different missions and there are explosions everywhere, the game runs superbly and never fails. Even loading times are reasonably considering the open environments and multiple players. The missions, though basic in nature do often lead to some epic battles with bosses that aren’t going down without a lot of time, effort and the occasional rocket launcher and even though you can spend the better part of half an hour fighting off one huge boss, it’s never boring as the action intensifies.
As previously mentioned though, the game-play does have it’s flaws.
One of the biggest gripes with this game is that it can be frustratingly repetitive. With your character constantly leveling up, and in many cases needing to reach a certain level to continue the story, this game can be a grind. What doesn’t help the situation is that the missions all follow a tedious structure that has you doing the same basic thing over and over, in many cases in the exact same locations.
Going back to what was said about how the story never becoming the epic it was destined to be, this is half the problem. We as the players are offered unbelievably beautiful environments to explore on multiple planets (well 3 planets and a moon) and these large scale environments are seemingly void of action for the most part. The story missions have the player going over the same terrain, time and time again and it limits the game-play considerably.
Yes there is free-roam mode where you can go all out, explore the open wilderness and complete side-missions and this is fun. The downside however is that the enemies are scarce and their respawns are slow leaving you in an empty, though stunning, environment.
Visually Destiny has very few equals, especially on the current gen versions. The gritty realism of large open-world RPGs like Fallout mixed with an expansive environment the Elder Scrolls series would be proud of makes something truly wonderful to look at. Don’t believe me? Just look at the view from the Guardian’s tower, it’s just a shame that that particular environment is off limits, at least for now.
The animation is flawless and the draw distance is very impressive. Despite the restrictive nature of the mission structure, in free-roam at least, if you can see it and reach it then you can explore it.
Overall most players are likely to have a love/hate relationship with Destiny.
While the main story lets the game down and the missions are mind numbing at times, the game is stunning to look at, great fun with a couple of friends by your side and the grind through the mediocre story is rewarded with some amazing weaponry and some, sometimes overwhelming, epic end of mission battles.
The good thing about the open and expansive nature of Destiny is that Bungie still has time to fix many of the games downfalls through DLC. Enhanced stories and a few new mission modes wouldn’t do this game any harm at all.
It’s not the game-changer we were promised but it’s certainly worth a play-through, especially for those excited about the new Xbox One Halo currently in development.
- Stunning visuals well above the current standard
- Loads of customisation, weapons and accessories
- Cooperatively and competitively the multiplayer environment is flawless
- The story underwhelms and is directionless
- The large environments seem sterile, lacking action
- Repetitive missions with only very rare deviation of a single mission type