My thoughts on Destiny.

5 years. $500 million. Destiny. Become Legend. 

Where do I begin? Having banked considerable hours into the Destiny campaign, strike missions and competitive multiplayer, I currently sit at light level 25. And I’m done.

For around 18 months I have been conditioned into having great expectations for Destiny, a new franchise from the ‘creators of Halo’, a studio renowned for storytelling, innovation and great gameplay.

Destiny has none of the aforementioned. The people in love with the game, who coincidentally seem to be predominantly PlayStation gamers who disregard the Halo series, will tell me it’s not about the story, but about the grind and the loot. They are wrong. These people are perhaps oblivious to the problems with garnered expectation, false marketing and knowledge that there was a great story to tell at one point, before Joseph Staten left for Microsoft and bungie subsequently butchered all of his work.

When I begin to dissect Destiny, the more I become annoyed. Maybe if I hadn’t bought the limited edition I could just write it off, but I have essentially invested in the ecosystem that bungie and activision intend to milk me from. The Destiny story trailers and ViDoc’s have led many to believe that Destiny is the second coming. The intro to the game pretends to be as much, shown way in advance for marketing purposes, with lots of discussion about the mysterious Traveller, the Darkness, and saving the Last City on Earth. A city you never actually set foot in.

If Destiny was supposed to be all about loot farming and PvP, then there’s no ‘becoming Legend’ at all. Why bother with a less than half-arsed attempt at a narrative? What do you actually do in Destiny? Why are you the chosen one? Apparently you are so very special that you were already being watched during your resurrection on Earth by the Dinklebot (which is an abysmal riff on Cortana and 343 Guilty Spark in Halo, whilst lacking the humour of Borderland’s ClapTrap). This exo-stranger, was she there by coincidence? The digger you deep, the plot has more holes than a sieve.

“The Destiny of early 2013 felt like another Halo game.” – anonymous QA tester (2014)

What we could have had, eh? The Destiny of September 2014 feels like a game that is nowhere near as good as Halo, or Borderlands. It’s repetitive, soulless, derivative. Every mission in Destiny, every line is full of clichéd rubbish: whether it be the ‘legendary’ Sword of Crota, the ‘eternal’ Vex, or the ‘mythical’ Black Garden. The Moon Strike states that a ‘terrible’ darkness is being summoned on the Moon, and it ends up being a larger version of the Ogre. This game is all mouth, no trousers. It’s beyond a joke.

You are told that you are doing great things, but the gameplay simply does not support the premise. The Darkness is essentially just a bunch of warring alien races that you slaughter in their thousands. The Vex are just a faction, and the Fallen are the biggest riff on the Prometheans seen in Halo 4, the way they dart around on the battlefield, and the noise they make when disintegrating. They are actually far, far worse to fight against, and if I was at 343 industries right now I’d be laughing. Bungie should be embarrassed, if not ashamed.

Destiny has nothing going for it. It has no charm, no soul, no identity. It does things in the gameplay sense that Borderlands, Halo, and Call of Duty do to far greater effect. There are no compelling characters, iconic weapons, epic battles, thrilling set-pieces, memorable levels, or enemy encounters. Voice acting is largely horrific. Lines sound phoned-in at times, from the personality-less Dinklebot and the god-awful crucible announcer, which I’d argue is the worst MP announcer in video game history. Bungie proceeded to hire people like Claudia Black, Lance Reddick, Gina Torres and Nathan Fillion – and used them for providing voice overs in a few loading screens, patrol missions, and a phrase or two as a Tower Vendor? My god.

The missions are wasted. We go from freeing an AI, to wielding a super-sword to killing the most dangerous aliens in the galaxy and nothing is connected, nothing makes sense.The world is incoherent. The Vex who live in all times are just the Fallen, but with the ability to teleport. There’s no indication that any ‘evil’ alien race is worse than the other, apart from what you’re being told. I tried to give bungie the benefit of the doubt with regards to them being ‘creatively spent’ in their multiplayer map design. In terms of single player, that whole idea has gone out of the window after landing on Mars in the campaign. Guys, why am I fighting far easier, reskinned brutes from Halo 3?

The most basic parts of storytelling are not present in Destiny. Compelling characters, palpable storyline, hero development, coherent world. We got nothing. Apart from some beautiful music from the sacked Marty O’Donnell. And that’s what we’re left with, a shell of a game where your protagonist is only defined by his or her clothes and an endless, meaningless grind.

A few words on multiplayer.

When was the last time you played a truly cutting-edge, flag bearing, multiplayer shooter from bungie? Should we go back 7 years to Halo 3, or 10, with Halo 2?

That I have predominantly played Clash (TDM) and Control (Domination) in Destiny should tell you the quality of the campaign, the enjoyability of the strike missions, and ultimately it told me that I was perhaps in need of a fresh multiplayer shooter to tide me over until November. Well thank goodness for Respawn releasing the final map pack for Titanfall and Battlefield 4 finally going gold with its latest update.

Destiny possesses the most uninspired, mediocre multiplayer map design of any AAA first person shooter in recent memory. The number of maps in itself is embarrassing. 11 in total, the fans may cry. Yes – spread between 5 modes. You’re lucky to see half of them in Clash (TDM). Bungie had five years…

There I was back in September 2010, sat playing some rather dire forge maps in Halo Reach. I genuinely believed that bungie would be saving some of their best map ideas for Destiny. Silly me.

“Every time I play Destiny, it just feels like I’m not playing what the game was supposed to be.” – anonymous QA tester (2014)

The game is a shell of what it could have been, and an anticlimax at that. What a waste. Don’t give me the PR rubbish regarding a ‘ten year plan’. You’re either great at day one or you never will be. I have come to accept that the bungie who created Halo’s 1-3, ODST and Reach simply does not exist anymore. Great game design is something that I always expected from the studio, but not any more, sadly.

Bungie described the Covenant’s tactics in Halo as ‘imitative, not innovative’.

Does that now describe bungie’s game design? I see people on twitter who love the game. I would question whether they have a soul. Or a genuine passion for video games. I mean, you’re basically playing the same shit, over, and over, and over again. For what? Engrams? Ascendant shards? Exotics? Those people are as uninspired as the game itself.

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