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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Destiny,’ Bungie’s latest, lacks at launch

    %09Courtesy+of+Bungie+and+Activision

    Courtesy of Bungie and Activision

    From the creators of “Halo” and the publisher behind the “Call of Duty” franchise comes “Destiny,” Bungie’s latest original project and one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. In fact, PlayStation 4 console sales are up 300 percent in the UK alone and both Sony and Microsoft are experiencing noticeable rises in sales. Sony also confirmed on Wednesday that “Destiny” has been the PS4’s biggest software launch to date. So what’s all the hype about? Is Bungie’s space epic worth delving into? That depends.

    The Story

    I’m taking the bad-news-first approach and starting off with “Destiny’s” disappointingly dismal storyline. The game has players visit four main locations in which to test and hone their skills on the journey to saving the prosperity-bringing sphere called ‘the Traveler’ and protecting what’s left of mankind. This premise has been known for quite some time and was fleshed-out a bit more in the game’s beta. However, the fully-realized game leaves much to be desired as far as unique content and engaging lore. Story objectives are vague throughout most of the game and nearly every mission in the campaign revolves around players fighting off waves of progressively more challenging enemies while their AI companion (voiced by Peter Dinklage) unlocks a door or downloads some ancient files. Sounds fun, right? Well oddly enough, it is.

    Upon arrival to Venus, the story does improve considerably despite never really feeling necessary. The satisfaction you get from beating a game like “Halo,” “Borderlands” or “Mass Effect” is largely absent when completing “Destiny’s” campaign and it doesn’t help that you can, for whatever reason, completely skip two of the story objectives immediately preceding the final mission. It’s almost like Bungie knew players were going to grudgingly trudge through the campaign and gave everyone a “get out of monotonous gameplay free” card.

    But “Destiny’s” storyline is arguably one of the least important aspects of Bungie’s overall goal – to create a new genre of gaming.

    The Gameplay

    “Destiny” feels good. Really good. The gameplay is fluid regardless of which of the three playable classes – Hunter, Titan and Warlock – is taking the lead. Different guns yield different responses and play-styles but nearly all of them are satisfactory enough to take into battle. The four different types of enemies players encounter throughout the campaign are thankfully much more diverse than the game’s all-too-similar classes which fail to adequately represent “Destiny’s” supposed RPG elements. The loot system, however, is nearly perfectly integrated into the gameplay despite occasionally rewarding players with terrible stats the best gear in “Destiny’s” online multiplayer mode, the Crucible.

    This mode is one of the more complicated elements of “Destiny’s” attempt to please everyone. However, much like an all-encompassing playlist at a public gym that includes both Tupac and One Direction, not everyone is going to be happy with such a variety to choose from and so little explanation. Many game modes are pretty self-explanatory; team and free-for-all deathmatches are staples for any self-respecting shooter. But certain game modes like Skirmish are only sometimes available to players while other modes like Combined Arms, which focuses on vehicular combat, just seem out of place.

    Other online issues are limited mainly to player communication. Unlike in traditional MMOs, talking to other players in-game despite being in the same public location is impossible outside of pointing, waving, dancing and sitting down. Finding a fireteam of six people to take on harder raids like the recently released Vault of Glass is a challenge for most players, while a lack of game mode customization and private matchmaking distances “Destiny” from the widespread appeal brought forth by the Halo series.

    But that’s not to say “Destiny” isn’t a good FPS; it’s astonishingly good, actually. The mechanics of the gameplay are second to none and despite not having a clear objective or an incredibly unique character, you’ll keep shooting and you’ll love it. Gameplay is only strengthened by the game’s soundtrack which is almost as breathtaking as the seemingly-expansive, hand-crafted environments Bungie so eloquently put together both in the campaign world and online in the Crucible. Every orchestrated crescendo at the height of battle and each playable location is beautiful. It cannot be understated that Destiny looks and sounds like the triple-A title it was always meant to be.

    The Verdict

    As it is now, “Destiny” is a lot like an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet that tries to couple sesame chicken with French fries, sushi and fettuccine alfredo. I don’t mean to imply that these things are bad – after all, who hates French fries? However, I do believe “Destiny’s” attempt to appeal to gamers of all kinds has left it without a clear focus. Despite being some of the most fun I’ve had gaming this year both alone and with friends, “Destiny’s” lack of explanation for what players are doing and why is both confusing and mildly infuriating especially when it
    comes time to level-up past 20. That being said, I will continue to play strike mission after strike mission in search of better gear, additional skills and powerful weapons.

    With Bungie’s promise of a decade-long franchise and continual updates to content including additional strike missions, level difficulties and upcoming DLCs, this review might be obsolete in just a few months. But right now, “Destiny” is nothing short of a great shooter trapped within the confines of a hastily-crafted MMORPG structure that begs to be more and might realize that dream in the near future.

    If you’re a player that focuses on good narrative and an easily accessible interface, I would hold off on playing “Destiny” until a more concrete story and explanation of gameplay solidifies. If you like grinding, looting and love the challenge of long-form raids, don’t waste another second without it. Happy hunting.
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    Follow Torsten Ward on Twitter @torstenward

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