Destiny was the biggest video game launch of the year, with competition only coming from the likes of Watch Dogs and Titanfall. With a budget of $500 million, clearly Bungie and Activision put a lot of attention into this project, hoping to create the next Halo. Given all the hype and excitement for the game, Destiny faced a very difficult task delivering on gamers’ expectations. It also played a crucial role in pushing the sales of more consoles, specifically the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The numbers seem to prove it succeeded, although maybe not so much for Xbox One. The question everyone has spent the last month asking is whether or not Destiny delivered, and gamers and critics alike haven’t really come to a consensus. I argue that there never will be a consensus, for two primary reasons: First, the game is continually evolving and changing, with new levels, DLCs, and upgrades being delivered regularly. Second, every gamer has different expectations. With an audience as big as the one for Destiny, there were just as many gamers with impossible expectations to meet as there were gamers who simply wanted a fun shooter, and got exactly that.
Destiny is a beautiful game. The graphics are crisp, smooth, and the fantastic draw-distances of the environments show off the power of the next gen consoles. As with any Bungie game, the shooting mechanics are among the best in the field, and in my experience, the game has been free of glitches aside from the times when the game lost connection to the server, which I don’t blame on the game itself. In my 20+ hours playing the game, honestly, I’ve had a really good time. The never-ending pursuit for better gear and armor keeps me playing despite the repetitive nature of the campaign. It’s an addiction that is hard to justify, but is nonetheless existent. It’s definitely a great game for a quick online deathmatch or capture the flag session, much like Halo or Battlefield.
However, the game is certainly not flawless. First off is the story, or lack thereof. The campaign is so generic and vague that after twenty hours of playing it, I didn’t even remember any of the character’s names or truly understand what I was fighting for. While the gameplay itself was great, I wasn’t doing it to find out what happens next in the story, because frankly I had no investment in the characters or plot. In most games this would be a problem. Although it still is a problem here, I’m more forgiving because I didn’t come into this expecting to play a game like The Last of Us. I expected a violent shooter where I can kill dozens of aliens for no reason and hang out with friends online while I do so, and this game certainly delivers on that front. My bigger issue with the game involved the internet requirement. Because this game is online, even during the campaign, you CANNOT pause the game. This is particularly frustrating because it means you need to put your life on hold anytime you begin a story mission, since you can’t pause it and come back. In the beginning this was frustrating, because each mission would take me about an hour. By the end as I got better, I was able to cut that time down by half, but it’s still an issue that I think could have been avoided. And I won’t even bother complaining about the lack of local multiplayer, because at some point the industry decided for all of us that apparently it isn’t a feature anyone wants anymore.
Overall, I came in to Destiny with very low expectations. I didn’t play the beta, I didn’t read that much about it, and while I still had issues with the game, I enjoyed playing it and got what I wanted out of it: a great shooter that looks pretty and is fun to play with friends. I think one of the main issues with the early reviews were that people rated the game without finishing it. As I said in the beginning, the game is always changing, so the Destiny that exists now is not the same one that existed at launch, and this will continue to be true for the months and possibly years ahead. Yes, it lacks a story, and the scope of the game isn’t as big as Bungie advertised, but it’s still a fun game that is definitely worth playing if you’re a fan of the genre. I look forward to seeing what Bungie does with the franchise in the future.