Destiny

Destiny is a first-person shooter MMO, developed by Bungie and released September 2014. Now you can finally fulfil your dream to be Master Chief, a fad I largely missed out on except for that one game which sucked.

As I have continually said to any and everyone I’ve spoken to about Destiny, I really didn’t expect to enjoy it – at all. I usually hate first-person shooters, from Call of Duty to Bioshock Infinite – I don’t have the twitchy trigger finger or perfect aim that makes a shooter enjoyable. The last ‘good’ FPS I played was GoldenEye, the N64 version.

Destiny Promo Image
BagoGames / flickr.com

I thought I’d throw in the controller after the first mission, but instead I’ve bought the Taken King Legendary Edition, bought a year of PlayStation Plus and got to level 38 in two weeks.

The real draw of this game for me was the MMO aspect. I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for about 8 years now; I have three Level 100’s, four more that are 90+ and so many others. I am more than prepared for repetitive objectives and mindless grinding, which Destiny definitely has – I’ve not properly got involved in the end-game content (yet), but while I waited for my expansion packs to arrive I did just sit in the Strike playlist and ran the same dungeons over and over.

The game isn’t massive, there’s only a few planets to explore and kill things on and a couple of ‘social’ zones for not killing things in. The missions you pick up along your way will send you back and forth between Earth, Mars, Venus, the Moon and the Social zones – you’ll go to different places and see different things, and all of it is very lovingly created.

It’s a much smaller scale, in comparison to other MMOs on the market now. It’s the first MMO I’ve played recently that hasn’t felt like a drag to level through and I’ve tried a few; Wildstar, Rift, Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2.

It’s surprisingly unique in its model and concept; it’s fast paced and challenging, but easy to pick up and play – there’s a lot less to worry about, you don’t need to think about 14 action bars and a specialist gaming mouse. It is definitely a game built for the console market, with drop-in gameplay and quick to master controls. Destiny feels like a condensed version of the powerhouse genre of PC gaming.

Destiny 2
One step forward and you’ll fall to your death, seriously.

BagoGames / flickr.com

That said, there are some drawbacks – as mentioned before, the smaller world means you will be seeing the same spawn points and landscapes a lot. I’ve only levelled one character so far but I’ve spent a lot of time on Earth, Mars and the Moon already – perhaps the magic of a new game and new landscapes will wear off the second time round.

There are a number of lost chances as well, mostly where you’re not running, jumping and shooting. One of your first objectives is to nick a spaceship and escape. The only interaction you’ll have with your ship from then is on the loading screens between zones; it will hover in space with a nice view of the planet in the background, then it’ll blast off over there and next thing you know you’ve got a voiceover and you’re on Mars. There’s no control of your fancy space plane, you just watch it from afar.

During the levelling process, you will be showered in new gear and weapons – they’ll drop from just about everything, although sometimes you’ll be lumbered with Engrams which need to be taken back to a special NPC in the Social zone to unlock. Even without the fabled Loot Cave of yore, you’ll be changing your gear around every few minutes for something with more green on it. There wasn’t much guidance on the whole gear aspect of the game, but there’s a big ‘Dismantle’ button. Every few levels, dismantle everything that’s spare because it’ll be replaced quickly. The stat allocation of gear is very spontaneous, juggling between Intellect, Discipline and Strength (which probably don’t mean what you’d think they do). Each lowers the cooldown of some of your abilities, which you’ll only notice when you’re hammering L1 and not throwing a grenade.

The story was quite hard to miss; it is a flurry of loading screens, shooting telegraphed weak spots and changing your loadout – you pick up a few names of bad guys, Skolas and Crota are the only ones I remember, but you’ll be wiping the floors with regiments of the same models soon enough. Even the Elites – sorry, ‘Majors’ – are simply larger enemies with yellow health bars.

Mostly this is just part and parcel of the MMO genre – it’s a flurry of murder, fashion shows and slightly bigger than average boars until you can’t go any further and have to start again.

Destiny 3
A rogue lens flare!
BagoGames / flickr.com

Overall, Bungie have done quite a good job with their take on the genre. The whole experience is simple and fun, as well as easy to pick up and master. It feels social enough, when you’re in the heat of battle with random events, others can stomp over and help gun down a tough enemy. Or they can ramp off a nearby rock and speed into the distance. You won’t see thousands of people everywhere you go, but you’ll see enough.

I enjoy the references to traditional RPG aspects, especially through the enemy naming schemes. What may be mythological creatures you’d expect to find in wilds of Azeroth can be robots or aliens in Destiny; it’s a fun and interesting twist. I’ll always be surprised I enjoyed Destiny as much as I did, but maybe it’s what I wanted instead of Wildstar.

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