Destiny is a perfect example of gameplay that can be compromised in spite of having well done game mechanics. While the shooting is nothing spectacular, it is solid and effective in what it should do; it makes the act of shooting an alien enjoyable. There is a great feedback loop between the recoil of the gun, the enemy's face falling square off, and the experience points you get for each kill.

It’s what the game does with the game mechanics that leave Destiny a mind-numbing slog through stale encounters. Because ultimately, the act of shooting the heads off of your enemies becomes old hat as the game regurgitates the same encounter design from start to finish with rare moments of deviation. It’s a lifeless husk that promises to become a deeper game at level 20. In reality, Destiny becomes an RPG grind that is more about how much of your time you are willing to waste as opposed to genuine mastery of a game.

The set-up is that humanity is in dire straits and lives in the shadow of a giant sphere known as The Traveler. Through this sphere, humanity was given great power and technology to begin spreading out across the stars only to find The Darkness, which has followed The Traveler’s light. You’ll begin as one of the many guardians on Earth who must help rid the universe of The Darkness, as well as the many factions that want to waste humanity, as you work from Earth, to the Moon, to Venus, and finally to Mars. It’s about as uninspired of a set-up as you can get, going from one sci-fi trope to the next.

Worst of all, the game has about as much interest in conveying its plot as I do. The majority of this plot is conveyed through a lethargic performance by your companion character Ghost (voiced by Peter Dinklage), and through unlockable cards you can only access through or through a phone app. This kind of thing didn't work in Halo 4, and it doesn't work here. Forcing you to exit the game to learn about the game world you're playing in is just bad storytelling, plain and simple.

But the game’s plot failure is one of many, with the most egregious being the story mission designs themselves. Every single mission in Destiny can be boiled down to holding a button to deploy Ghost to do whatever meaningless action the game feels like picking at the time as you fight off waves of enemies. It is one shooting gallery segment after another against the game’s four factions with only a few instances where you do something out of the norm.

A bunch of languorous encounters take enjoyable shooting mechanics and turn them into a mindless chore. There is nothing in the way of an elaborate set piece, or a rail sequence, or any other type of gameplay sequence that would make the action feel varied. It’s just go forward, shoot aliens, and move on so you can do it all over again in the next mission. It might have been tolerable if the factions themselves showed substantial differences in combat, but the game falters in that area as well.

Slight differences between these factions give you the impression that there is a substantial change of pace from enemy to enemy, but that amounts to nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Take The Vex for instance, a robotic enemy group that look a lot like The Geth (the derivative nature of the universe carries over to its enemy designs) change things up by not falling to head shots, but falling to shots in the abdomen. In more elaborate sequences this small difference could provide for a change of pace, but when all you are getting is shooting galleries the only change in strategy is that you bring the reticule down a little lower.  

The enemy AI behaves in bland ways that further cement that feeling that all these factions are basically the same. Enemies like The Thrall are mindless drones and specialty enemies like Wizards act differently, but the rest of the enemies all fit a specific enemy type much like The Covenant from Halo. There is a lower class enemy that drops fairly quickly, a middle class enemy, and a high class enemy that essentially acts as the faction's Elite, as well as a heavier enemy much like the Hunters of Halo, and the standard flying enemy.

The AI is further compromised in how they are designed for combat encounters, as the enemies are tethered to a specific battle space. Think of it like an open field with a giant pole in the center, and the enemy being on a leash tied to that pole; if you stretch them out far enough, they simply can’t attack you. There were instances where I could spread them out far enough to the point that even the more aggressive enemies came to a screeching halt and took my bullets without a care in the world.

Furthermore, the enemy AI doesn’t really do anything you haven’t seen before in a FPS game. The once spectacular bob-and-weave of the elites in Halo 1 is now old hat, and seeing a bunch of the enemies do it in this game is underwhelming. There is no attempt by the AI to ever coordinate a surprise flank, or even flush you out in a meaningful way other than bum rushing you.

Bosses could have been something that livened up the action, but all of them fit into a similar formula. It is usually either the spongiest enemy of a faction or the Elite equivalent of a faction, made larger, and spongier, and time consuming. Now an enemy with a ton of HP isn’t inherently bad, but in this instance it is because there is no other tactic to fighting these enemies other than running around in a circle and unloading bullets into your foe for an extensive amount of time. It’s not a challenging encounter as much as it’s a mindless encounter.  

Destiny also has strike missions, which are really just side-story missions placed along the way that play exactly like the story missions. These sequences have all the same drawbacks by having no variety to them, with moments where you deploy Ghost as you fend off waves of enemies, and then fight a boss character. Said boss fight character is an even bigger sponge than the bosses in the story mode, and even more tedious as a result.

The payoff for all of this is supposed to be new gear for you to equip, rewards from these encounters, much like what you’d expect with loot heavy games like Diablo or Borderlands. Unlike Diablo and Borderlands, there is very little that differentiates this loot. All of it boils down to basic statistical differences that don’t really affect play style. Sure, some of the gear has abilities like quicker cool-down on grenades or faster reload on a certain type of weapon, but you’re not exactly going to get the inherent depth or variety of builds found in a RPG.

There is no discernible difference between the previous auto-rifle you had versus the new one you found, other than a damage boost. Without the complexity and variation in character builds that other loot role-playing games have, Destiny delivers a fundamentally shallow experience. This, ultimately, compromises the leveling in the game altogether. You just equip gear to keep pace with the enemies going forward, but they still soak up enough bullets that you never feel all that powerful.

In fact, the way the game handles difficulty entirely comes down to 'Are your numbers bigger than the numbers the enemy can dish out?' This effectively turns the challenge into a dull, unfair sequence where it’s only hard because, statistically, you are ill-equipped for the encounter, as opposed to not having the skill to do it. Or, you are over-leveled, and the 'hard' version of a mission becomes a cakewalk.

Once you reach level 20, you gain access to a 'Light' stat, which is how you can exceed the soft-cap of level 20 and begin working your way to level 30. How do you do this? By getting gear with Light stats, which you'll obtain by completing more difficult versions of missions and strikes, or through playing the game’s PvP.

For a studio that made an online multiplayer shooter as successful as Halo, this should be a bright spot in what is an otherwise messy first person shooter. Instead, it’s missing the most basic of features one would associate with modern multiplayer shooters: proximity chat. The only way to communicate in the game is to set up a Playstation Plus/Xbox Live party with your friends outside of the game.

If you want to communicate with random players over the internet in what is supposed to be an online social shooter? You’re shit out of luck. Ditto if you want to communicate with people on strikes, and same goes for the lack of proximity chat in Raids, or playing through the story in co-op.

Otherwise, the PvP has a handful of modes that range from a 6 v 6 team death match to Control, which is a lot like conquest in Battlefield, and Salvage, which is a lot like search and destroy. For the sake of balance, the game turns down level advantages and equalizes all the weapons to do the same amount of damage in relation to their weapon class. But other abilities still play a factor, such as quicker reloads or something like quicker cool downs on super abilities.

So while that stuff plays a very small role in mixing up the single player, it can create some huge advantages in a multiplayer space. The super abilities themselves fit the role of a 'rich get richer' mechanic. Proper use of them can have you not only use your super for what is essentially a free quick kill, but also set up your teammates to have their supers as well. There is a layer of strategy to it, to an extent, but on the other hand it creates unbalanced combat encounters.

Other balance failures include the auto-rifle having a matchup advantage against the other primary weapons in the game. Its high rate of fire, range, power, and limited recoil makes it perfect for handling anything from intermediate to long-ranged foes. In contrast, the hand-canon simply lacks the range, the pulse rifle lacks the power, and the scout rifle is compromised because of its low rate of fire.

Because this mode is still fundamentally dependent on your gear, even with level advantages disabled, it becomes a mode about getting loot in the long run, especially if you want to further progress your character's level. The problem is the loot drops don’t happen every match, and there can be instances where the best player on any given team might not get anything, but the worst player will get something terrific.

For the record, that is one of the most infuriating feelings this game provides. It compromises the whole feel of a competitive game when being worse than your competition can actually be rewarded as opposed to playing well. Worse yet are instances where you get a rare engram in the game, which is an item that can be decoded for random gear for your character. In plenty of instances, these engrams can be decoded into a lower grade piece of gear than the grade of the engram itself. Diablo has a similar type of item, but if you get a rare grade version of that item, you get gear that is in that same grade as opposed to something lower.

Destiny could evolve into a much better game in the same way that Final Fantasy 14 and Diablo 3 have changed over the years. The new raid, Vault of Glass, actually provides gameplay sequences and mechanics that are different from the rest of the game. However, none of that would invalidate what the rest of Destiny is at this point: a monotone, repetitive shooter with no depth to it. Everything that’s meant to make the game engaging or interesting boils down to putting the player on a loot grind that doesn’t test your skill or mastery of the game, but instead takes advantage of how compulsive the player is.

Destiny is a laborious affair, parading itself as something terrific and ambitious. In reality, it's a lifeless husk of a game with a myriad of failures that make you wonder if anyone even playtested it.


Final Score: 4/10 

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#4 SNIPER1 2014-09-20 18:12
Great review Champ. don't know why anyone likes this game
#3 SNIPER 2014-09-20 17:40
Good review Champ. destiny deserve this scoe.
#2 Jecht 2014-09-20 00:37
Quoting Blabadon:
You're fat

Comments sections, am I right?
#1 Blabadon 2014-09-19 17:49
You're fat

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