The hype for Destiny has been completely expected when the game first showed its potential and gave players a taste of what was on offer with Alpha and Beta tests. Our review turns up a bit later than expected, a month after the release, with many people are already playing. But if you aren't one of those people playing the game right now, you may be interested in the thoughts in this review.
If you don't know what Destiny is, it's basically a shoot-and-loot game that features gameplay similar to the Borderlands series, but very much more focused on the first-person shooter department. There are of course role playing game aspects, players level up, acquire new skills, find better equipment, but its correlation mostly comes down to a level basis, this is even more prevalent at the later stages of the game. The second thing you should know about Destiny is that it was developed by Bungie, the people behind the Halo series. As such, the game has a very Halo feel to it, this is noticeable in the PvP component, in which there are elements of nostalgia present in regards to the franchise.
In general, the formula for the gameplay is satisfying, progressing through a bunch of missions across various landscapes (planets), killing enemies from four quite "˜unique' factions/races and trying to further strengthen your character's gear in the process. The only downside to this is that acquiring loot and better gear is very restrictive early on, and the process feels very linear towards the later part of the game. There are no legendaries prior to maximum level, and rare quality items only really start to surface at level 16 of the level 20 cap. This process after 20 is even more fraught, as finding an item to replace your current gear can take a while. Once you hit level 20, a new system, called Light, will be available, allowing players to add in a new stat that increases your effective level up to level 30. It's more likely to hit the cap on light through rare equipment before finding your first legendary item, unless you purchase one from several vendors found in the hub area, through either reputation or some rare commodity.
However, changes to how gear is "˜rewarded' are coming to the game shortly and this may change some of the aspects of "˜grinding' for better gear for the better. That's probably one of Destiny's biggest shortcomings outside the story element. The game feels like a pseudo-massively multiplayer online game, yet lacks direction in what's next. That's not to say that there hasn't been anything over the month that's been "˜added' to the game, there's been a few specific pvp modes running on time periods of a weekend, with an additional one arriving soon for a week that offer some unique rewards for participation and veterancy as well as some additional "˜questing' elements brought in like the Queen's Wrath event running for a couple of weeks.
In regards to the expansion based content and the premise that Destiny could have sequels in the future, it's a shame that the story presentation in the current format feels a bit compressed, with all pretty much focusing on one arc of the overall picture and not really presenting much of the background or history as well as it could. There's a system known as grimoire cards, which by using their website or the companion app on a device you can learn a lot more about the various aspects of the game, but this is something that it's easily missable. The base concept for the game is a clichÃ© fight between light and dark, but it does have a unique premise behind that. A mysterious sphere known as the traveller saved humanity and as a result gave them powers of light, and now humanity is working to restore the traveller. That's the premise and by the end of the game it's unlikely you'll feel like you'll have accomplished much, which is a bit sad feeling.
Speaking about the power of light, there are three classes that use this new found power, Titan, Hunter and Warlock. Each has two subclasses that can be swapped to at any point after hitting level 15. The abilities earned by each of these classes are quite different from each other, predominantly revolving around melee, jump, grenade and special abilities. With the former three being the least "˜interesting' but certainly not unimportant, the special is where most of the utility comes into play. Upon gaining enough "˜energy' players can trigger their specials to do a devastating attack, Titans for example can shockwave groups of enemies, exploding them or put up an impenetrable shield. To further this, if a special kills a group of players it generates orbs of light, that other players can pick up to reduce the cooldown on their specials. This creates a very interesting dynamic for group combat where specials can trigger other specials and consistently refill each others cooldowns quicker in the process.
Working together is very much the key in Destiny, in two or three areas. Strikes offer a matchmaking system for players to jump into a team of three and work through a dungeon of sorts, defeat a boss and be rewarded for their efforts. Raids further enhance this by allowing 6 players to attempt a much harder challenge, with communication not being just useful but pretty much necessary. With an array of interesting mechanics, a raid is very rewarding and only a small percentage of players have managed it on the harder mode. It is, without saying a shame, not easy to jump into if you don't have enough friends on to play with, but equally even getting into the raid itself would be stressful without some form of trust/bonds with the people you are playing with.
PvP otherwise known as the crucible is the last area of teamwork, there are four constant modes in play: Control, Clash, Rumble and Skirmish. Clash is pretty much your straight team deathmatch (6v6), skirmish is a 3v3 game type whereby you can revive each other, and rumble is a free for all. Control (6v6) is by far the most interesting type whereby three zones need to be captured, doing so doesn't drastically affect the score itself, but the more zones you control the more points you are awarded for killing other players. PvP is often very frantic and the playing field as far as damage and armor on equipment goes is negated to the point that only special aspects of weapons and its "˜control/responsiveness' matter. Player's specials however are totally available and become ready the more score you generate, allowing to do devastating one shot kills on enemy players.
There are three additional modes that are only available for "˜short' periods of time: Combined Arms, Salvage and Iron Banner. Salvage was another 3v3 game type with reviving, except players had to a capture a point and hold it for the full duration for points, disabling it rewarded the other team. Combined Arms is basically control/clash on more vehicular based maps, and lastly Iron Banner, which starts next week, is no holds barred on gear and equipment, all stats will matter. Beta testers already got to play around with Iron Banner and know its unrelenting when the game was capped at level 8. Now things are going to be quite different"¦
Aside from that, the only other thing to mention is the aesthetics of the game production wise. Soundtrack feels solid throughout and adds to the mood, even if that mood is already tense enough in combat, the sound and lighting design in general is really good, and graphically the game looks beautiful, particularly when taking time to admire the scenery when you're not being shot at on one of the four planets.
If you've not bought Destiny already, there are a lot of gameplay elements to be experienced, even though some of these elements need some fleshing out, such as the almost non-existent story and the fact that outside of the hardcore elements it's currently a bit too grindy for what's actually on offer. But the bottom line is simply this, the game is fun to play, there are so many satisfying aspects to fighting against both enemies and players. And considering that there's lots of content coming for the game in the next few months, it's going to offer more reasons to come back and play it again.
|Extremely satisfying gameplay.|
|PvP is extremely chaotic in a good way.|
|Story missing proper backstory, explanation and some form of minor closure.|
|Quite grindy in many places.|
|Lack of direction for future plans.|