Destiny (PS4) Review
- Looks great, incredible at times
- Combat mechanics are just so spot on a fine tuned it carries the entire game
- Mix of MMO and FPS is pleasantly compelling
- Great way to spend a few hours with friends online
Not So Much?
- Loading times are way too long - especially connecting to the tower
- Game doesn't show its hand until after level 20 is reached and that 12+ hours of gameplay
- Grinding out from level 25 to 30 is super frustrating and makes the late game feel like content is missing
- Repeating the same maps in limited environments is frustrating
Destiny has been out a few weeks now – hell it’s fast approaching 2 months so why are we reviewing it now? Simple – we think we’ve finally put enough time in to justify a review score. Just as I did back with GTA 5 last year I’ve taken a huge chunk of time to […]
Destiny has been out a few weeks now – hell it’s fast approaching 2 months so why are we reviewing it now? Simple – we think we’ve finally put enough time in to justify a review score.
Just as I did back with GTA 5 last year I’ve taken a huge chunk of time to review Destiny. Rather than do what 99% of all other outlets did and rushed a review out, I’ve done exactly what Bungie wanted and played the long game.
First a little background. Destiny is Bungie’s first title since they started making the Halo titles for Microsoft. A humongous franchise spawning series of games that helped define what it meant for console shooters – especially multiplayer shooters!
Destiny is part of a multi game, ten year, deal with Activision where Bungie can finally stretch it’s legs and see where they can take us this time.
Full disclosure, I really though Halo was over rated – all of them. Halo had some great ideas, Halo 2 was a joke you could run through, Halo 3 was OK and ODST/Reach/4 were all an iteration on Halo 3. So it was with reluctant intrigue I took to Bungie’s new shooter.
Destiny plays like a low-entry MMO. You choose from 3 classes – Titan (soldier class), Hunter (sniper class) and Warlock (a mage/paladin style class). These three classes are relatively similar in many ways and choosing between them is not the big deal you might think. Personally I’ve preferred Warlock for its flexibility at either close or ranged combat.
The story of Destiny is reasonably thin, which was a major disappointment for many upon release, much like it was to me. I was hoping for something a little more space-epic and what I got was mostly 90’s TV sci-fi. The story revolves around you, an ancient order of Guardians, that has been resurrected by a Ghost. These Ghosts are small electronic oracle like devices. Your Ghost, voiced by Peter Dinkerledge, then takes you through a whistle stop tour of four planets. Each comprising a handful of missions for you to take on. The main campaign will last you around 9-11 hours (depending on how much you rush it!) with your character finishing around the level cap of level 20. It’s from this point that the game finally opens up and you see what Bungie has been holding back.
At this point the levelling system alters. No longer are you grinding XP to level up your character – although XP is still relevant in levelling up your weaponry. Now you must look for progressively harder challenges in the form of Strikes, Weekly events and the Vault of Glass raid. The strikes are split in to three sections. Mostly they involve horde like portions or boss encounters all mixed together. Overcoming these encounters requires a Fireteam of up to 3 players and some moderate amount of co-ordination from your team. XP, encrypted items, loot and other goodies all drop from these encounters. Weekly Strikes are also dished out every seven days by Bungie – these are enhanced version so the usual Strikes that net you more goodies as well as currency Strange Coins – these can be used at the weekly vendor Xur’s visits to net yourself some exotic gear. Similarly the weekly Nightfall events offer another squad based challenge that nets its own rewards like giving you double XP until the next reset day.
Finally there’s the raid itself, the Vault of Glass. Another Strike like event that takes this concept to a new level offering some unique enemies, strategies and massive team draining encounters. This is an event for up to 6 of your friends and will require some extreme teamwork and logical puzzle solving to progress.
So far this all sounds pretty MMO, am I right? Well you’re pretty much spot on. Once the main story is done and you’ve visited the 4 planets from the game it’s all pretty much rinse and repeat to slowly grind your character. Progress from Level 20 to level 25/26 is long and laborious at times. Slowly running strike after strike to level up your weapons or earn enough of one of the multiple currency points in the game. Frustration sets in soon enough at just feeling like you’re not getting anywhere fast. Then you get a Rare drop, take it to the Cryptarch at your tower base and suddenly you’ve been handed a very large carrot on a stick.
To be honest, every time I felt about ready to walk away from Destiny two things have pulled me back in. Playing with friends and the core shooting mechanics. Bungie have managed to absolutely nail the satisfaction of the gunplay in Destiny. It’s just so much fun to use the arsenal at your disposal, explore your two sets of powers, and just enjoy shooting stuff in their world.
Destiny looks great, at times it looks stunningly good – at times it really doesn’t! Game play is fluid and well balanced with some highly precise controls and enjoyably over powered boost jump. Voice work is patchy with Dinkerlidge’s Ghost performance detached and lifeless.. Possibly intentionally as the Ghost is a machine. Musically the game soars at times and you’re reminded of some of the classic pieces of music to be found in previous Bungie titles.
Destiny is a wonderful shooter with a bland story and a so-so first 10 – 15 hours. Once you do get in to the later stages and the Strikes, Nightfall and Raid all start to factor in the game changes dramatically.
It does feel at times as if the massively convoluted loot system has been elongated to cover up for a lack of late game content. Grinding out from level 25 to the hard cap at level 30 is often no fun at all as you waste yet another few hours farming Spinmetal or Sprit Bloom to upgrade your latest weapon.
Yet it’s hard to deny the game is superb when sat with friends taking on the weekly heroic level strike or clambering for life in the Raid.
The lack of more than 4 planets, the repetition of the relatively small land areas and internal levels all add to the feeling that Destiny was not fully cooked before release and that perhaps these multiple faction currency and laborious grinds were put in to slow people progress from the mid-twenties to the level cap. With the new DLC just around the corner it will be interesting to see how that balances out.
With the hindsight of 7 weeks since release it is easy to see why so many reviewers poured heaps of praise and scorn on Destiny. Many would have felt cheated by the grinding nature of the post Level 20 gameplay. Others will have been swept up in the rush to get reviews out amidst massive amounts of hype. Hindsight is usually 20/20 and the gap since release offers us the ability to see that Destiny is a beautiful game. Expertly constructed and well cared for post launch.
The additional elements of the weekly events as well as quirky things like pumpkin heads over Halloween lets you know that Bungie is thinking of you. The rock solid shooting mechanic still holds up after 40+ hours of play time.
There is a case to answer for content, and only time will tell if we find out the true story here. What is on offer is grind heavy and at times no fun yet it still manages to draw you back in the very next day for more of the same.
So, in closing. Destiny is a superb shooter marred by a disorganised MMO structure and a lack of alternative locations and mission content. It feels like you’ve been handed part of a game and many could feel short changed, as I did, until I checked the play time clock (at that point around 46 hours) and realised Destiny was my most played title since Red Dead Redemption. As a value proposition that’s pretty compelling stuff!