Review by SamGoneGam147

Reviewed: 10/23/14

A lot of level grinding and looting for its own sake

INTRODUCTION
I had high hopes for Destiny. It had been a while since I’d played a good sci-fi action game and this one sounded pretty good: an epic new franchise from Bungie, the next “Halo” franchise for next-gen (I never played Halo myself but I understand that it was kind of a big deal). The beta that was open last July was quite addictive and impressed me. The interface immediately reminded me of Borderlands, with its basic set-up and gameplay as well as the HUD with the XP bar at the bottom of the screen and the power icon and cool-down bar in the bottom left. , I thought to myself: “This is great Halo meets Borderlands! I can’t wait to see what the full game has to offer (a story and more in-depth and branching skill trees for starters)…”

Turns out, there was nothing else. If you played that beta, you have seen just about EVERYTHING this game has to offer, except for a few maps. It’s a fun game to play at first…. but after a few hours you’ve seen it all. If you like to loot and level-grind for the sake of looting and level-grinding this game is for you, but I was shocked by how much this game doesn’t even try when it comes to story, quest variety, and character abilities. Simply put, Destiny is a less-fun and watered-down version of Borderlands 2.

GAMEPLAY 5/10
This game takes repetitiveness up to eleven (it really says something about the game when its most popular feature is a “loot cave” where players can camp and shoot infinitely spawning mooks to try and get better gear… a classmate of mind once reminisced about spending six hours straight there…) Obviously all games are somewhat repetitive, but the good ones find a way to mix it up (again, Borderlands comes to mind with its varied quests and over-the-top humor, Mass Effect with its story-affecting choices, The Last of Us with its gripping story). Destiny doesn’t even bother. Hell, it doesn’t even bother mixing up the environments: every “planet” has one map and every mission on that planet will use said map… you will go through the exact same “dungeons” many times. Every quest is a one sentence: “The City needs X. Go do X.” No reason, no explanation, no story involved, just another way to grind. That’s all Destiny is, one big grind.

The game’s raids in particular can be a painful exercise in grinding. Most of them involve segments where the player must empty hundreds of clips into a boss with so much health that it literally takes 20-30 minutes to kill them. Combine that with cheap one-hit kill attacks that can home in on the player anywhere (looking at you Spider Tank), and the “strategy” to beating some of them amounts to nothing more than “find spot in the corner where its attacks can’t hit you, briefly leave cover to shoot at it and run back when it looks your way, kill smaller enemies for ammo when you run out, repeat for half an hour.” This is not fun. This is BORING. Shorter but more intense firefights would have been the way to go.

The classes are purely cosmetic. Despite the classic RPG “Warrior, Rogue, Mage” setup they all play exactly the same. Their “special abilities” are pretty similar and not particularly useful, and powers and grenades take way too long to cool down. When I switched back to Borderlands 2 I thought to myself “wow, I can actually USE my powers now instead of waiting ten minutes for them to charge up.” The skill trees are…nonexistent. You just get some minor stat boosts and inconsequential bonuses for your already useless powers. Leveling up in Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Borderlands was fun: you got to pick from a variety of different skills and abilities and there were all kinds of different character builds to try. In Destiny, you just click a square that says “yes, +2 armor and movement.”

Oh and by the way, if you ever lose connection to Destiny’s servers (bad internet on your end or server issues on their end, doesn’t matter which) you automatically get booted from the level you are in and must start over. I was done with this game after I played all the way through the Moon raid only to “lose connection” in the middle of the final boss battle… three times in the same day.

STORY 3/10
The premise is actually pretty interesting… but unfortunately that’s the only story you’ll get. After that it’s “the Darkness is coming…you must stop the darkness.” This may not be the most original setup, but it’s a classic for a reason and games like Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect show how to do it well. But Destiny doesn’t offer anything else to the plot in terms of characters, world-building, villains, twists, etc. You go places, you walk around, and you shoot things. They have different names but there is no difference between them: there are Fallen, Hive, and Vex. What the Fallen, Hive, and Vex are as well as their motivations and what makes them different is never explained. There is no story behind them. There is no story to any of the friendly NPCs like the Vanguard either, nor is there any personality to them (Borderlands 2 outshines Destiny by far when it comes to this).

GRAPHICS 8/10
The environments look perfect, particularly the skies. The characters and enemies look okay, a little bland perhaps. That’s just nitpicking though. The game looks great… but this eighth-gen, ALL of the games are supposed to look great. Good graphics alone just don’t cut it anymore.

REPLAY VALUE ??/10
It’s hard to gauge this one because of its MMO-like setup. There really isn’t a story-mode or campaign you can actually complete (as far as I know), Bungie just adds higher-level raids every so often. Again, this is nothing more than level-grinding and looting for its own sake. The people who are into that sort of thing love it. I personally find it boring.

CONCLUSION
To be fair, the massive hype around this game probably hurt its score. When an average “meh” looking game turns out to be average and “meh” it’s not a big deal, but when the internet, the fanboys, the gaming news, and TV commercials are all gushing about “the next best thing,” it just makes it that much more disappointing. I think that Bungie took a chance with the whole “MMO-like FPS” idea, but they botched the RPG elements (story, questing, customization and skill trees) quite badly. They took the basic MMO aspects but didn’t bother to flesh them out or put anything else around them, like a story, so Destiny just ends up as a game of grinding and looting for its own sake. A friend of mine who loves the game says I should just “get back on and get some Legendary guns…” but I see no reason to do so. It’s the same non-story, boring missions, and monotonous gameplay no matter what kind of weapons my Guardian is packing.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: Destiny (US, 09/09/14)

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