So anyone who knows me will know I’ve been aboard the Destiny hype train for quite some time now. Not only because it’s developed by Bungie Studios, but also because it’s the type of game I thoroughly enjoy playing. What I’d like to do in this review is give an overview of the game I have experienced in the first 2 weeks since launch. While I’d love to sit here and tell you that everything is ‘A+ 11/10 would do everything again’, there are a some shortfalls that tarnish an otherwise amazing gameplay experience. This review was intentionally written 2 weeks after release date in order to experience all available content including the Raid and other promised content from Bungie. For reference, I am playing on an Xbox One and have currently played through all available game content, including the Vault of Glass Raid and the newly released Queens Wrath.
When first logging into Destiny you are asked to create your Guardian starting with class choice, Titan, Hunter or Warlock. Each of the three available races (Human, Awoken or Exo) can be any of these classes, the choice here is purely cosmetic and makes no real difference in-game. From there the usual male / female choice is the only thing stopping you from running through your first mission, which is essentially nothing more than a basic tutorial.
Once you have created your Guardian it’s important to work out what it can do, as each of the different Guardian classes have very different abilities at their disposal. Each class begins with a different ‘ultimate’ ability as well as a grenade type and once you reach level 15, you unlock an additional subclass to add to your already powerful repertoire of choices. One nice touch is that once you reach level 15 and unlock the subclass for one character, it will then be unlocked for all future characters right out of the gate.
Each guardian class can chose from two sub classes once they reach level 15, the Titan class has Striker and Defender, Hunters get Gunslinger and Bladedancer and the Warlock can be either a Voidwalker or a Sunsinger.
The Subclass system includes both active and passive abilities that directly affect your attributes. In turn this gives you the facility to choose how you want to build your Guardian. Once you’ve unlocked a skill within a subclass, you can activate it at will, allowing you to experiment with different builds for no cost. This also applies to your two subclasses. Sick of being a Titan Striker? Try out a Titan Defender for free. This is great as it means you can quickly swap on the fly for when you do PvP vs PvE content.
There are four main types of attributes in Destiny, Light, Strength, Intellect and Discipline which all play a vital part in how you set up your Guardian. Light will boost your guardians level above Destiny’s current level cap of 20, which is important for gaining access to the end game content, but the other three attributes are no less important. Strength increases your melee attack and reduces the cooldown of your ‘special’ melee attack, while Intellect reduces the cooldown of your Overcharge ability and lastly Discipline increases the recharge speed of your Grenade ability.
So how does one deck out their Guardians in a full set of mystical items chock full of these special attributes? Generally you acquire items via drops, rewards, and vendors. Items can also be found from an ‘Engram’ or sci-fi Kinder Surprise which is an unidentified item that you can have identified back in the Tower by Deckard Cryptarch. For the most part what you get out of an unidentified Engram seems to be very heavily based on randomness, I myself have managed to get a set of Exotic Titan Gauntlets as a Hunter (sigh…).
Whilst most people really appear to dislike this, I actually prefer this loot based system. Now hold your angries, I’ll explain why… I’ve played multiple games over the years where loot has gone from feeling a sense of accomplishment for getting a piece (whether via randomness or earnt through long quest chains) to suddenly everything being handed to you on a silver platter, something which I highly dislike. Whilst the complete randomness isn’t the best in the world and can be frustrating at times, it’s exciting to identify a Legendary piece that then pops out a usable Exotic! If farming random drops isn’t your cup of tea, then you can just as easily purchase end game items if you have the relevant Rep requirement and associated marks (Vanguard or Crucible) available. At least this way you’re guaranteed a piece.
An interesting part of both Weapons and Armour is that the higher the rarity (uncommon/rare/legendary/exotic), the more they can be upgraded. Weapons and armour come with a range of modifiers which unlock the more you use them. Once they’re unlocked, you can upgrade them with glimmer (Destiny’s form of in-game currency) and for those high level legendary’s/exotics – materials like weapon parts or ascendant shards obtained by deconstructing less than ideal gear. With the easily understood attributes, freedom to experiment with your subclass and the range of modifiers on weapons and armour, it’s very easy to build a unique Guardian that totally suits your playstyle without getting pigeon holed.
It goes without saying that Destiny is quite a beautiful game in terms of atmosphere and visuals. I thoroughly enjoyed the character creation even if I did find it to be fairly basic. As I had already played through the beta, there wasn’t anything new or different when starting a new character, or any of the content available on Earth. As I progressed and moved off world to the Moon, Venus and Mars, everything was new to me and I found I was genuinely excited for what the next mission would bring.
A lot of complaints so far are regarding the lack of direct story input from within the game itself. You unlock Grimoire entries and cards in-game which shed some light on the backstory and lore of the universe, but you have to head to Bungie.net or use the Destiny Companion App to view them. While I actually like the Grimoire system, I definitely agree that the presentation of the story while actually playing the game could have been presented in a more direct way. Although I understood the basics of what each mission was about and what the overall end-game of each mission was doing, there were a lot of questions that just went unanswered unless you made a point of reading the associated Grimoire entry.
That didn’t stop me thoroughly enjoying interacting with the different races and traversing the environments on the different planets. The Hive on the Moon were great and the Moon itself has some epic looking scenery, The Vex (Geth with hats) fit in very well on Venus with the planet feeling like an almost ethereal jungle mixed with modern ruins. The Cabal (Orc Space Marines) over on Mars are gi
ant, militarised brutes not wanting you to play in their desert. While remnants of each species were (for the most part) on each planet, the actual specifics were interesting. Reading up on the Lore surrounding each type of species gives a pretty awesome insight as to what was going on other than ‘Bad thing, Shoot gun, You or thing dies.’
Most evenings since launch I have been playing Destiny and have hit the level 20 cap and found enough gear to have a Light level of 26. I’ve gone ahead and grouped up with some friends, created a Clan/Group [Social Justice Commission] and smashed through some PvP in the Crucible. I’ve had an immense amount of fun running through the harder variants of the Strike missions (harder equals more fun right?). Whilst I have only played solo part of the time, it’s definitely understandable as to why people may not enjoy this. The lack of easy communication to other players is relatively frustrating to say the least. Playing in a group is where the game really does become more enjoyable, so if you are playing by yourself, please head to bungie.net and have a hunt for a nice Group/Clan to join and play together! Or… You know… Join mine.
True to Bungie’s word, new content was released last week in the form of a Raid called Vault of Glass which is amazing. I’ve run through with my Clan members and I love it. It has the right amount of strategy required and you will need your Fireteam to talk to each other for cooperation as it is definitely not an easy walk through compared to the current instanced content (Strikes). I want to see more of this type of gameplay transferred to Strikes and Missions as it provides an avenue for Bungie to create new and exciting content that forces Fireteams to work together in a variety of situations.
If shooting moon wizards is getting a bit old, there is nothing stopping you heading the the Crucible, Destiny’s form of PvP. The smaller maps seem to have consistent battles between players and there is never a dull moment, but it’s not as intense on some of the bigger maps unless you are playing the Control mode and the pew pew action can be a bit sparse until you get to a control node when shit gets real. I’m interested to see The Iron Banner when it is released to explore the differences between Crucible scaled gear and unscaled gear for The Iron Banner.
Sadly, its not all beer and skittles for Destiny, the lack of story in game is noticeable – and while it wasn’t a deal breaker for me – if you are chasing an in depth story you will likely be disappointed by this. The Strikes, while fun, will get stale quickly if the same method of ‘hammer boss, hold off minions, don’t die‘ is repeated in newer Strikes. The recently released Raid did change this up however with greater strategy and planning required, so it would be good to see future content following this format.
The voice actors for Destiny sadly seem to be underutilised which makes the story feel a little less than epic. Bungie brought in some big names to flesh out their universe like Peter Dinklige, Nathan Fillion and Davey Jones himself (Bill Nighy) to name a few. I would love to hear more from these characters other than a fairly generic responses to handing in quests and considering Destiny cost 550 million space bucks and took over 7 years to develop it would have been nice to get a bit more interaction and responses from the NPCs.
While not super important, the lack of map when you are zipping around on your jet bike is a confusing exclusion. The ability to be able see the location / names of areas of the planet while you are out on patrol or doing a mission would be really helpful and remove the need to ‘follow the compass’.
Another confusing exclusion from Destiny is the facility to trade items. I’m not talking something like an Auction House (For the love of god please don’t add an auction house), but just a simple character to character trade system. No more ‘Dammit! I need 3 more Weapon Parts to upgrade this weapon!‘ and going out to farm a weapon drop to the salvage when Curly-Joe312 over there has an abundance he has no use for. Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but trade me those 3 weapon parts Curly-Joe312 maybe? This is something I would also love to see implemented down the line.
It is well documented that Activision/Bungie have a 10 year plan for the Destiny brand with planned DLC and further release of Missions/Updates to complement the base game. After as little as two weeks there is already free content for players to engage in and we can only hope this trend continues (Queens Wrath is neat!). Although I understand that the two (as yet) planned DLC expansion will also provide content, it would be beneficial to have this separate to the primary story content and still give those not purchasing DLC the chance to engage in new content.
All-in-all, I am finding Destiny to be an incredibly enjoyable experience. There is definitely room for improvement, most of which I hope to see addressed in future updates. At it’s core though, it is a game I am thoroughly enjoying and will definitely be playing for the foreseeable future. I hope that some of the stale elements are addressed and that Bungie can keep up with adding additional content on such a regular basis. I’d like to come back in 6 months time and review Destiny again with any changes that may have been implemented to see what may or may not have changed, however based on the current content, this is what my rating is based on.
Rating: 8 / 10