- Release Date: September 9, 2014
- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: Bungie
- Genres: Action RPG, First-Person Shooter
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Platform Chosen by Reviewer: PlayStation 4
Destiny is action role-playing game and online first-person shooter that takes place in a science-fiction setting. The game is set 700 years into the future, just after the Golden Age of humanity. During this Golden Age, mankind discovered a foreign entity known as the Traveler which allowed us to expand our reach in the solar system, colonizing planets like Mars and Venus, as well as significantly advancing us as a species on scientific and technological levels. An event known as The Collapse took place more recently, bringing an end to the Golden Age as well as plunging Earth and it’s other-worldly colonies into an apocalyptic state. The Traveler retreated to the only safe city left on Earth is under the protection of the Guardians, the characters which you make and play as throughout the game.
The first thing you do in Destiny is create your character. You may choose between three classes (Hunter, Titan, or Warlock) and three races (Awoken, Human or EXO), either male or female. After customizing how your character looks you are launched into the game and awoken by a strange little robotic being known as the Ghost. He tells you that you have been dead for a long time yet somehow you are revived now, something that is never quite explained, and encourages you to embark on a mission to find a working space ship. After finding a space ship and surviving in the wilds of the Cosmodrome on Earth you are able to head to a place known as the Tower, a safe hub where Guardians such as yourself can stock up on equipment and prepare for travel. Here you meet a man known as the Speaker, who speaks for the Traveler, and he tells you that you as a Guardian must protect the Traveler at all costs. Guardians have a special power known only as “the light” which fends off the darkness that threatens the Traveler as well as all those living on or around Earth, setting you and other players apart from NPC’s in the game.
From here you are free to play as you please. Destiny is an online-only game which focuses primarily on PvE (player vs. environment) and PvP (player vs. player) gameplay. There is a story line to follow but you can complete those missions at your own pace, doing side quests and competing in the Crucible at will. You can team up with friends to form a fireteam and complete missions together or go it alone, but either way you must be connected to the internet at all times to play the game. Regardless of where you are or who you are with, when roaming around the environment you will run across other players who are in the same area as you, giving the game somewhat of an MMO (massively multiplayer online) feel. Destiny is a shooter/MMO hybrid, as the main gameplay elements stem from the shooter genre yet the always online and multiplayer aspects stem from the MMO genre. This gives it a very unique overall feel and makes it one of a kind.
Destiny’s narrative is sub-par at best; there are numerous plot-holes, minor issues with continuity throughout and nothing solid holding players to the game’s characters or overall story line. While I’d normally deduct some major points from a game for having such a mediocre overall narrative, I am willing to give Destiny more leeway as the developers plan to expand upon the game for the next 10 years. With planned content packs being added in the future, weekly events for players to partake in and multiplayer aspects keeping players involved long after the main campaign has been completed there are still plenty of ways in which this game keeps people playing it. I feel it’s fair to assume that there will be more clarity in the future as far as the story goes – the core game as it stands now is just the beginning.
The gameplay of Destiny is simply and fun, overall. It plays like a standard first-person shooter with some combat elements that are unique to the game and, more specifically, to your chosen class. No matter what class you pick you will have a choice of which weapons you use. You can have three weapons equipped at a time but can of course hold more than three in your inventory which allows you to switch weapons around whenever you want depending on the scenario. There are primary weapons (hand cannon, auto rifle, pulse rifle and scout rifle), secondary weapons (sniper rifle, fusion rifle and shotgun) and special weapons (rocket launcher and machine gun). I felt the choice of weapons is standard for a game of this genre yet varied enough to accommodate all styles of play. Being able to swap equipped weapons out for other weapons in your inventory at will is a very helpful feature, as well. Sometimes a sniper rifle just won’t do when you want to get in close and take the enemy out, the ability to switch to a shotgun in these scenarios relatively quickly can be a game changer.
Each class has two special power trees that are unique to the class, the second one being unlock at level 15 while the first is unlocked immediately. As you earn experience through killing enemies and completing missions you will level up, unlocking one new attribute in your power tree at a time. Once the second set is unlocked, the power trees can be swapped out with each other at will. As there are different tiers and powers within each tree there is a good deal of diversity between each individual character. I may be the same class and level as my teammate but due to the variety of upgrades within each class we could be using different powers and playstyles based off those powers. I find that this along with personal weapon selection helps to vary combat in the game among teammates, even if all teammates are the same class it’s unlikely they will be using the exact same skills and weapons.
Destiny’s leveling system for players is a bit multifaceted. On its surface, as it is currently, you can only level up to level 20. To progress past that you need to equip high level gear and continue to upgrade the gear itself through having it equipped and being in combat. This specialty gear will have “light points” on it as a stat and the higher you level it up, the higher your “light level” will progress. So while you can only officially reach level 20 in standard levels, the light levels allow you to progressively level up to level 30, which is the current level cap for the game. These light levels are more challenging to achieve as the gear is harder to acquire and level up than regular gear. The higher level weapons/gear can either be purchased, found in-game or decrypted through the engram system (a sort of “wild card” system of unlocking weapons and gear), though the weapons will not affect your light level.
Destiny will take you around the galaxy to planets such as Venus and Mars through the main campaign and as you unlock these areas you can freely explore them on your own time. Exploration can be enjoyable and tiresome depending on your reasons for exploring. There is a bounty system involved in the game that allows you to take on specialty missions and earn points towards your Vanguard or Crucible rank upon completing them. It’s a great way to raise your Vanguard and Crucible ranks, allowing you to access higher level and specialty gear for sale, but can also be very taxing. The bounties become monotonous as you are offered up a small variety of them, completing the same exact bounty day after day makes it easy for players to lose interest in completing them all together.
There are also a good deal of specialty events that take place throughout the game. When exploring you may run across public events which are large-scale challenges meant to bring all players in the area together to accomplish a set goal. There are other weekly and daily events that occur such as completing specific missions on “Heroic” difficulty to gain extra experience, specialty items, and points towards rank. In addition to these regular extras there are specialty events that may last a week or more at a time and occur infrequently such as the Queen’s Emissary and Iron Banner events. These events are only in effect for a limited time and typically let players chose from a new set of bounties to earn ranks in a new venue, unlocking rare gear and weapons. All of these features together give the game a lot of replay value as these are continuously refreshed, so even if you have already completed the campaign you can continue to complete these side objectives. On top of all of the PvE extras, there is the Crucible – Destiny’s multiplayer, or PvP, arena in which you face off in teams against other Guardians in a variety of game modes.
Destiny runs smoothly and features very detailed environments. The only major issues I have run across to date have been server issues in which the server will lag or drop me out completely, forcing me to restart the game in order to play. The game has clean, clear-cut graphical resolution and is extremely pleasing aesthetically. The soundtrack is well done and sound effects amp up the energy throughout the game. Voice acting is a bit stale, which is odd considering the amount of big name actors involved in the game such as Peter Dinklage, Bill Nighy, Lauren Cohan, Nathan Fillian, Gina Torres, Kirsten Potter, Lance Reddick, and Claudia Black. While some of the voice actors flourish, others fall flat creating a lukewarm affect overall. It doesn’t help that the writing of the characters plays out the same way, some are great while others are not so great, which makes the whole game feel a bit sloppy in the acting/writing departments. As a whole, it feels as if the gameplay and overall content took precedence over the more fine-grain aspects such as story and overall presentation from a writing perspective.
Narrative/Story: Destiny features a very weak narrative but the game is meant to be added on to for 10 years so I am willing to give it time to flourish. Though the first impressions of definitely leave a lot to be desired as a whole, I would suggest not going into this game with the expectation of fully understanding or appreciating the story line.
Gameplay: The gameplay featured in Destiny is simple and enjoyable. The standard features are easy enough to get the hang of while the more unique qualities keep you on your toes, as far as mastering them goes. All players of all skill levels should be able to easy get into this game and have a fun time playing it.
Presentation: While the overall look and sound of the game is outstanding, the finer details such as writing and voice acting fall flat. There is definitely room for improvement in this area, though it is definitely not a deal breaker or something that effectively ruins the game in any way.
Replayability: Destiny has a lot of great aspects that are meant to keep gamers coming back day after day for new content and tasks. The issue is that these tasks can feel repetitive if you do come back daily and “grinding” to gain higher levels can be a real pain. The Crucible, or multiplayer portion of the game, is a lot of fun though and really gives this game a ton of value in the replayability department.
Fun Factor: High. This game is extremely fun despite it’s faults. I believe that in the future, through new content and updates, this game will continue to present a very fun experience to gamers. Playing with or against friends, or even as a lone wolf, makes for a very enjoyable experience overall.
Recommendation Status: I would recommend Destiny to all gamers and especially fans of first-person shooters. Bungie excels in the gameplay aspects as always, making this game a lot of fun. While it does have its flaws I am willing to give it some more time to grow and I hope others do the same. There is a lot of potential here and seeing as this is the first time a game of this scale has been attempted on consoles I think a bit a patience will go a long way.