Bungie has been strictly developing Halo games for more than 15 years, and now they have undertaken a new project that boasts a detailed sci-fi universe, an epic story, and an eclectic composition of different genres, which they called Destiny.
What was supposed to be the opening of an epic story that would span a decade of games, instead started with a whimper. There wasn’t much for meaningful exposition of plot or character, and overall provided but a glimpse of a potentially expansive universe in the opening cut-scene.
The story was poorly constructed – often not mentioning key parts of the plot and sometimes ignoring character motivations. The reason some of the important parts of the story feel lacking is because they were expressed in a boring way, through cut-scenes, and mission descriptions, but more distressing was the fact that some were simply not accessible within the game itself, and needed to be sought out on websites, companion apps, and other outside sources.
There are moments in the game where the relatability of the character is lost when they don’t behave in a natural way. For instance, it is hard to understand your character would be content with vague answers about how long they have been dead and how it’s possible they can be brought to life again.
The story doesn’t even need to be played in order, which tells you something about the lack of meaningful narrative. Perhaps something like this could have worked in a creative way, but there was nothing substantial put forward to present it that way.
The missions themselves were not only narratively weak but provided little variety and became mostly repetitive. You’ll find yourself completing simple fetch and kill quests one after the other in a cycle of bland tasks that are less than memorable.
There are lots of good things about this game, but there are some difficulties in jumping right on the Destiny bandwagon aside from the story problems. Destiny struggles with a myopic genre and in turn gameplay, which ultimately causes it to be detrimental to the entirety of the experience. It lacks focus on a clear vision for the game and chooses instead to have a collection of shallow bits from numerous genres in an attempt to achieve a unique blend.
It tries to incorporate RPG and MMO elements but just doesn’t commit to it fully or in any meaningful way. It would definitely be hard to match such ambitious ideas with equally wonderful execution, but mismanagement of the title leaves us with a scattered game that is hard to enjoy completely.
Destiny was meant to be a game with a world you could explore and relish your time experiencing. The star covered backdrops are stunning in their enormity and subtle animation that make you feel present in its universe, and although it looks great, the game makes no effort to really set you off the beaten path to discover it for yourself.
There is certainly a welcome resemblance to the Halo franchise in the feel of the combat, which makes it immediately accessible and fun, but it also elevates the dynamic with some of its own ideas. You have your typical primary and secondary weapons but there are also additional slots for magical player abilities determined by their class. It provides something that is reminiscent but also distinct in its own right.
There is sufficient variety in the classes, within the enemy races, among weapons (though limited differences in rarity tiers), and there is great free flowing movement as you glide and jump through the air. Despite some missteps in the game’s execution it is still very enjoyable in some combat situations – but that it is mostly found when playing with a group of friends.
Once you have finished the campaign, you are left with a bland and typical competitive multiplayer and only slight motivation to grind for better and better gear acquisitions. Loot is a big part of the game but you won’t always find what you want organically and in appropriate places, which ends up forcing to target specific enemies in specific locations to get the loot you need.
Some of the biggest issues with the gameplay came from the tone. The story is certainly to blame for some of that but you can tune out the story and enjoy aspects of the game. The consistent problem was that the tasks you were performing in contrast to the music were far less exciting.
The soundtrack is astounding, so much so that it surpasses the events unfolding on the screen. At some points I would have been content to stare at the wall while listening to the soundtrack. The soundtrack was so good that it caused tonal disruptions during battles.
Destiny does a poor job of telling its story, is confused about its genre/vision, and lacks the excitement it promises. It is technically well done, and has the foundation for a great game, but it lacks personality, meaningful motivations, creativity, and a distinct purpose.
Destiny would have been a very different game had the gameplay matched the tone set by the visuals and music.
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