by Rob SpadaforeOn September 9th, Activision released Destiny, a first-person shooter and massive multiplayer-online hybrid, and the first major release from developer Bungie Studios since Halo: Reach, in 2010. Ultimately, the game is a fun but shallow experience. While the core shooting mechanics are polished and engaging, the player-to-player interaction and story fail to impress.
Destiny aims to create a universe of shared experiences akin to a massive multiplayer-online-role-playing game and to apply those elements to a first-person shooter. As a Guardian, your avatar, you travel with up to two friends between four worlds, fighting multiple alien factions and collecting new loot.
Other Guardians roam these environments with you, some assaulting aliens in distant craters on the moon, others sniping enemies from atop abandoned buildings on Venus. In certain areas, optional events spawn directly into the world, encouraging players to team up. The objectives range from defending an area to hunting down heavily armored foes and usually require participation from a few guardians.
Vendors, factions, and quest givers are centralized into a hub world, called the Tower. Here, players buy weapons, armor, and ships; turn in bounties for experience or resources; and join one of three different factions.
Though it is exciting to run across random players the first few times, the experience quickly begins to feel empty. Microphone communication is limited only to players already in your party, leaving those optional world events hollow and informal. No option exists to trade, sell, or share loot of any kind between players. Levels are separated by frequent and long load times, breaking up any sense of a cohesive and connected world. The only messages you can convey are relegated to the four directional buttons– point, bow, sit, and dance. Where World of Warcraft’s auction houses are busy and crammed with orcs and elves talking, texting, and selling loot, Destiny’s Tower has a cluster of armor-clad spacemen with guns silently dancing in unison.
The lackluster story is another point of contention. The worlds and environments may be gorgeous, but they lack compelling content. After an initial cut scene, relevant information is relegated to ‘Grimoire’ cards. These text documents are integral to understanding the world of Destiny, from its history to its foes, but they are only accessible through the mobile app.
The campaign is roughly twenty hours of the most uninspired content. Mission objectives seldom alter from “go to a location” or “go to a location and defend it.” The final mission culminates in an anti-climactic battle with three identical enemies, which prompts a vague cut scene that fails to provide any sense of resolution.
Despite all of these shortcomings, Destiny still contains immensely satisfying moment-to-moment game play. Environments range from large outdoor combat to frantic shootouts in compact rooms. The momentum is polished and rewarding, and the similarities to Halo’s trinity of gun-grenade-melee combat are undeniable. The Strike missions highlight this combat the best. Here, three players take on a roughly thirty-minute mission with scalable difficulty, ending in a fight with a boss. The bosses are mostly unique and challenging; they have massive health bars, and finally taking one down feels great.
Destiny needs some time to grow. The lack of features to connect with other players is frustrating, and the story is nearly nonexistent. However, Destiny, at its heart, has a solid foundation on satisfying game play.
Bungie has made big claims to keep updating its latest release with new content. Recently, it rolled out the first major raid, The Glass Vault, for free. Two packs of downloadable content have already been scheduled. Destiny has a lot of potential, but time will tell if Bungie is up to the challenge of filling in the gaps of their latest release.