I have been playing Destiny on the Xbox One (and more recently on the PS4) for, well, pretty much since the day it came out (here and there, an hour or two a day) and I’ve decided to write a review about it and talk about some of the things it does really well and some of the things that are god-awful annoying.
Let’s start out with my major gripe about the game: the story. Or the pretty much lack thereof. Sure, there is a ‘campaign’ that you fight through (with a linear path from start to finish, but with the option to go back and play areas or do open-world patrols) but realistically, the story is pretty much non-existent. After the first mission you get a little cut-scene of The Speaker whom tells you a little bit of story you get a sense of who you are, what the Ghost is, what the deal is with humanity, and other bits. That being said, his conversation is basically (and I’m gonna quote him here) “I could tell you of the great battle centuries ago. How the Traveler was crippled. I could tell you of the power of the Darkness, it’s ancient enemy. There are many tales told throughout the city to frighten children. Lately those tales have stopped. Now, the children are frightened anyway. The Darkness is coming back. We will not survive it this time.” And then leaves you there, with no back story other than basically: go kill the bad guys working for the Darkness and save the Light. Don’t believe me? Watch it! This is only one example of the vague non-story telling in Destiny. You’ve also got vague lady of vaguery (also known as The Stranger) who tells you “I don’t even have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain” (Watch it!). This is perhaps my largest gripe about Destiny: I want more story and background. That being said, they DO provide the backstory and history a bit: in a very round-about way: The Grimoire Archives. The Grimoire Archives are found on the Bungie website and give you a lot of information about the enemies, NPCs, and other history about the game. Unfortunately, unlocking these is not as simple as Complete The Game. The only way to unlock information is to complete a bunch of different things including: finding all the hidden Ghosts, finding all the Golden Chests, killing a bunch of bad guys (kill x of type y to unlock their card, for example). It is very frustrating but at least it is present. It is also a massive time-sink for completionists like myself. Very frustrating.
Another bit of frustration for me right now is the Mark system. In order to get gear from Reputation Vendors (pretty much every reputation-based vendor except Iron Banner and Queen’s Guard). This gear is generally Legendary (purple colored, lower only than Exotic) and considered pretty good, especially for getting the Light necessary to go beyond Level 20. To get marks you can do bounties, daily strikes, the strike playlists, public events, or Crucible matches. Sounds easy enough right? Well any piece of gear can cost anywhere from 50-150 Marks to get. In any given week you can only collect 100 Marks of each type (Vanguard and Crucible). This means if you want to collect all the gear you will spend a good while waiting. I strongly disagree with the arbitrary limit on Marks per week, as I have strongly disagreed with limit on reputation in any other game (I’m looking at you WoW).
Gameplay wise, Destiny is fairly standard FPS fair with customizability for your specific classes. There are three classes to choose from: Hunter, Titan, and Warlock. Personally, Warlock is my favorite class as it is has a massive special attack that lobs Void damage across the map to explode things spectacularly. Each class has two sub-classes (currently, three total are planned) which deals a different type of damage (Void, Arc, Solar) with their abilities. You can read more about the classes here. There is a good balance therein and I haven’t really found one class that permanently dominates another. Titans are very tanky, Hunters are very squishy (BUT SO FAST), and Warlocks are kind of middle of the road (and in the Sunsinger tree can auto-resurrect whenever you have a Super Charge). Gameplay is moderately paced with fast combat and occasional lulls as you travel from one area to another. I’d have to say gameplay is certainly a strong point in this game. It’s very fun overall, even solo. Partner up with a friend or two and everything is even better. This game was clearly designed with a small group (Fireteam) in mind. Normally this is a complaint for me, as I really enjoy solo gaming, but the matchmaking is pretty decent and linking up with people in the open world is very easy to do.
The loot system is still a massive clusterfuck. You will get that ultimate exotic or legendary engram drop and it will turn into a Strange Coin or Mote of Light or something otherwise useless (or even worse, an item for a completely different class). Item drops are rare as it is, and having them turn into nothing in front of you at the asshole Cryptarch is SO FRUSTRATING that I almost threw my controller at my TV. This is not how you get people to want to play the game guys. Though, the opposite is true also: when you get an item that you weren’t expecting (such as a legendary engram becoming an exotic which is how I got Gjallarhorn on my Warlock a while ago) it feels AMAZING and laugh worthy (especially considering my situation where I got the engram off a level 6 trash mob in the Cosmodrome on a patrol).
All in all, Destiny has a lot going for it, some good and some bad. It’s a very enjoyable game but it was totally over-hyped. There are a lot of pending expansion packs to add more content to the game, but honestly, story-wise, the game is severely lacking in non-multiplayer content. Replay-ability for the solo missions is very low. Multiplayer is pretty well balanced; most of the matches I played in were won or lost by a matter of 2-3 kills or otherwise very even. When blowouts happen (and they do happen) it is VERY frustrating if you’re on the receiving end. This is expected for a game like this however.
Overall, I’d give Destiny a strong 7/10 but bordering on a 6/10. Maybe 6.5/10 is most appropriate. Fix the story system, fix the loot system some more, change the Mark system, and you’ll get a bump. Until then though, seriously, WHERE ARE MY GORRAM LEGENDARIES?!