Do you still believe in Destiny?
After being hyped for more than two years, and coming from the legendary developers of Halo, Destiny has finally been released. Being described as a MMOFPS, Destiny hopes to keep our attention for a significant amount of time with its unique PvE component. Unfortunately, there are some flaws that hold it back. Here is our Destiny review:
The first flaw comes with the story missions. Towards the end of the first mission you get an objective, “Clear out the Fallen.” If you complete this objective then congratulations, you have done every objective required by Destiny’s story missions. While the enemy types might change, every single mission is go to a specific place, and clear out the enemies there. Even for the missions that ask you to “defend” something, the only failure state is everyone dying. The lack of mission variety becomes very apparent very quickly, and the game asks you to do these missions multiple times with higher level enemies in order to get better gear at max level.
Thankfully, the enemies are nicely varied. There are four main enemy factions: the Fallen, the Hive, the Vex, and the Cabal. Each faction is instantly recognizable and their units, while comparable to each other, are unique. The AI is fairly intelligent as well, quickly moving out of AoE, rushing down weak players and backing off if they are alone.
One of Destiny’s main selling points was the inclusion of group PvE content. The most prevalent PvE content is Strikes. Strikes are similar to story missions, but contain stronger and more numerous enemies that require three players to complete. And, just like story missions, they are all essentially the same. Due to the lack of guaranteed communication for consoles, Bungie was forced to make Strikes very simple. The larger amount of enemies aren’t really a challenge when a single player can take out an entire army on their own, and now there are three of them. Each Strike has at least one boss, sometimes two. I was really hoping for some variety here, but every boss boiled down to avoid boss’ gunfire, deal with adds, take potshots at the boss when possible. And these bosses have so much health and it takes so long to bring them down. Even if you are caught out of position, your party members can revive you if you go down, or you can revive yourself if your teammates can survive long enough. It’s more about attrition than it is skill, and if you are good about reviving or surviving you can easily beat Strikes with two players.
The highest level content in Destiny is the Nightfall Strikes and the raid. Unlike normal Strikes, there is no random matchmaking, meaning that you need 2 or 5 friends, respectively, to complete them. The Nightfall Strike changes every week, and adds 5 modifiers to it, including one that forces you to restart the entire Strike if everyone dies. This requires constant communication and strategy. While the Strike is still effectively the same, and the bosses are still bullet sponges, the modifiers force you to play cautiously.
Now, full disclosure here, I have yet to do the raid. However, I have watched a bunch of streams and videos of better players going through it. What I have seen leaves me very impressed. The bosses have actual mechanics, requires actual teamwork, and doesn’t just rely on waves of adds to wipe the raid. I just wish some of these mechanics would have been in the Strikes.
On the PvP side of things, we have the Crucible. The Crucible holds all of the PvP playlists. The constant ones are Control, Clash, Rumble, and Skirmish. Additionally, on weekends a new mode can open up, either Salvage or Combined Arms. The Crucible is easily the best part of Destiny. Bungie knows how to make multiplayer maps, and does it show. They attempt to balance it by giving a baseline to health and damage so that no matter what level your player is you can remain competitive. However, you keep all of your weapon and armor bonuses and you weapon upgrades, which means that players with legendary or exotic still have an advantage. The only other complaint I have about the Crucible is that vehicles are incredibly hard to deal with. Ammo for rocket launchers only appear part way through the match, and it takes time for your super attack to charge up. While in Halo you can EMP or hijack vehicles, Destiny has no such easy counter. It’s a fairly minor complaint, as only two maps have vehicles in them.
The last important part of Destiny is loot. Loot consists of armor and weapons, and can be common, uncommon, rare, legendary, and exotic. Anything uncommon or above has specially effects, like carrying more ammo for certain weapons, or having your melee attack reduce grenade charge time. The problem is that upgrades are few and far between. While leveling I had my level 16 helmet until level 20, and it only gets worse when you hit max level. The only reliable way to get epic level gear is to pick a faction and grind it to dust. Reputation takes so long to grind. You need thousands of rep points, but Strikes and Crucible matches only give 25 max. You can complete bounties in order to help speed the process, but these only give you 100 rep at most. Even after you get your chosen rep to a high enough level to get gear, you still need to farm marks. Marks come in two flavors, Vanguard Marks, which are earned from Strikes, and Crucible Marks, which are earned by completing PvP matches. You can only 100 of each Mark per week, and the cheapest gear costs 65 marks. This means that you have to grind for multiple weeks in order to get a full set.
This is somehow the least frustrating part of getting loot. Loot can also be obtained from killing enemies or completing Strikes and Crucible matches. Most of the time you will get things called engrams. Engrams can be uncommon or above, and need to be taken to a special vendor in order to decode them. This man hates you and wants you to know it. For whatever dumb reason, engrams can decode into loot of lesser rarity than what it is. This means that a legendary engram can decode into an uncommon item. Even if you get an actual legendary from a legendary engram, there is a 33% chance that you will get a legendary for your class, as decoded legendaries can be for any class. The loot from Strikes and Crucible matches isn’t much better. At the end of every completed activity, there is a loot screen. Loot here is completely random. It does not matter if you had the highest K/D, had the most headshots, or died the least, no skill is involved in getting loot here. While Strikes are guaranteed at least one rare item, and the second item is random, getting loot from the Crucible is nearly impossible. I have seen nobody get any loot, and everyone getting two pieces of loot. I have also seen a player who went 1 and 15 get a legendary helmet. For a game that relies on its loot drops, it does it very poorly.
Destiny Review Takeaway
Despite all of its flaws, I can’t stop playing Destiny. The gunplay itself is satisfying, the world design is great, and the music is fantastic. It is highly addicting, and I don’t know if it is the old WoW player in me, the fact that I’m playing with friends, or subliminal messaging, but I keep going back to grind. I currently have a bounty to complete 25 Strikes to get an exotic weapon, and I fully intend to complete it. I don’t know how long Destiny can keep my attention, because it is very hallow. I feels like more should be there especially for the story missions. It is by no means a bad game and if you tempered you expectations with a healthy dose of cynicism, you will have a great time.
Pictures taken from Games Radar