Destiny is deeply flawed first person MMO that ultimately succeeds because of its refined mechanics. While Bungie is clearly committed to supplying players with continuous new content, Destiny holds too much back for its own good. It feels incomplete, but hey - at least character progression and loot drops are exciting. Despite the game completely failing on many of its fronts, Destiny's a game that keeps bringing me back time and time again to play with my friends and continue crafting a badass Warlock.
Destiny's story is shallow, incoherent, and obviously an afterthought. It's a shame given the amount of potential in its top-level lore. There's a Traveler that brings light with it. The Darkness is coming to kill the Traveler in the form of several alien races. You play as a Guardian who tries to stop the Darkness from hurting the Traveler. There was a great war. Paired with the game's epic and detailed set dressing, there's more than enough to create a compelling story. Unfortunately, the story doesn't go deeper than the opening cut scene and it's the biggest disappoint about Destiny.
A simple story isn't always a bad thing, but Destiny's is hackneyed, shallow, and delivered poorly. The characters start to sound like parodies of sci-fi tropes early in story, dramatically referencing vague events that are never explained. There's only so much, "Light is good. Dark is bad." that the player can be hit over the head with. It's hard to care about what you're doing when most of the story gets drowned out by gunfire and you know little to nothing about the enemies you're fighting other than their weak points. Unfortunately, the most interesting parts of the story (read: almost all of the actual lore) are only available on Bungie's website.
Destiny left me hurting - badly - for an interactive experience more like Mass Effect. In Destiny, there are no characters to talk to, nothing to read in-game about what you're seeing, and nothing or no one to care about. Moderately interesting characters do show up about halfway through the story, but their mystery is left a mystery with absolutely zero arc. You don't know their motivations or back stories - and you never find out. Who is this mysterious figure? Why is this woman telling me to get something? Why don't I ever see them again? Who are the Awoken or Exo? The player is left without any answers, shy of a short paragraph that they can read online.
Games' stories should be allowed to grow over time, but Destiny's doesn't go anywhere in the 10ish hours it takes to complete the campaign. It's an unacceptable outcome for a game with so much more to give. Destiny's story is, surely, already determined, but Bungie left so much of it out that it ultimately hurts the player's sense of purpose. It would be especially annoying if the story players want is included (exclusively) in DLC. Bungie should not be excused for their mishandling of Destiny's story delivery. I want to know more, but Bungie gave me nothing.
This is where Bungie nails it and it's hard to stress this so much because it's a feeling. My review may sound negative, but THIS is why it's so fun. The combat in Destiny is obviously its own, despite its similarities to Halo's. There are familiar enemies from Bungie's past games, but it's also extremely rewarding to nail head shots, take down massive enemies, and strategize about how to take out a room of enemies. If it wasn't so fun, or if the shooting didn't feel so snappy, the game would have been a tiresome trek since the game's missions repeat over and over again. Repetition is the name of the game. Ride on your Sparrow to an objective. Deploy your Ghost. Defeat waves of enemies. Take on a mini-boss. Take on the main boss. That's it. There are absolutely zero set piece moments, and I was left struggling to remember an especially exciting story mission.
Luckily, players are given special Strike missions that keep things interesting. After level 20, Destiny becomes and entirely new experience. The challenges are a high-octane blast and clearly the best part of the game. With new missions promised for quite some time, console gamers are given the MMO experience that PC players have had for years - and that's a good thing. With the promise - but not always delivery - of legendary loot, these missions are Destiny's end game that will keep players for months. With special shopkeepers that only come on the weekends, there are tons of reasons to keep coming back. There's clearly a lot borrowed from Diablo and World of Warcraft, but it ultimately creates a very compelling experience.
While the Strike missions are varied and often enrapturing, the same can't be said for Destiny's weapons or classes. There are only minor differences between the Hunter, Warlock, and Titan, all of whom bear the same, generic weapons. Classes may have different jumps (the Warlock's glide is especially useless), but they all have a set of grenades, ultimates, and stat-boosts. Sure, the Hunter is faster and the Titan has more armor, but there's very little mastery required for each class. Character progression is ultimately tied to loot since the "skill tree" only has a very variants to choose from. It's all very familiar and leaves you wanting more sci-fi in your sci-fi, but the game is easy to pick up and play. Hopefully Bungie will introduce more exciting ways to take out your enemies in future updates. The raid is a GREAT first step and the Queen's missions spice things up even more.
The Crucible is a bare bones PvP game type that is fun, but poorly balanced with matchmaking that makes it incredibly hard to enjoy. Level 5 players are playing against level 25's, and with abilities from the main game carrying over, the Crucible is not a welcoming place. On top of that, there are very few game modes, no variants, and, like Destiny' story, feels intentionally incomplete. I didn't spend much time in the Crucible and don't see a reason to as someone who doesn't often play competitive PvP.
Oh, and if you play a Warlock, you don't have a double jump. The game HATES you for this until you upgrade your abilities.
Destiny is the most isolationist MMO I've ever played - which is a shame because it's best played with friends. The Tower, where Guardians go to mingle and buy better gear, feels devoid of life. Though all maps are multiplayer, you won't find too many other players out in the world with you. There are only four ways to emote, and no way to say, "Hey! Come with me on a strike!" There's no proximity voice chat - but I'm really not sure gamers deserve that given the number of awful things they're very comfortable spewing into their microphone. Bungie, very obviously, wants you to play with your actual friends. This creates a better user-experience - unless none of your friends are online. Once you do start playing with friends though, it's incredibly fun and strategic to work together in fire teams, despite the decision to limit them to three instead of four players.
Destiny is beautiful, but generic. The textures look great on the PS4, but items are reused so often that I had a hard time differentiating areas. Indoor areas look like every other indoor area. Every planet has a dilapidated city. Every area is laid out as arenas with narrow passage ways connecting them. Despite the repetition, the areas are beautiful, if not lacking in character. Sci-fi has been done so much better so many other times, but there's no denying that Destiny looks good. The sky boxes don't always work (especially with a ship superimposed on top of it), but when they do they really wow. Dynamic day and night cycles always look amazing and the lighting always looks dramatic and natural. Unfortunately, not everything always does. Especially noticeable was that character's faces don't animate unless they're a robot, with your character's helmet on in all cut scenes. This makes it hard to identify with your avatar. Character design is often good, though two certain characters you meet look like emo rock stars. All in all though, the presentation sometimes wows, but obvious considerations were made for last gen consoles, making this game look like it could have existed years ago.
Destiny is very lucky to be very fun and be focused on ongoing content because so many other parts of it fall so flat. Despite the completely lackluster story, the co-op, constant new content, and loot keeps me coming back time and time again. The game is simply very fun when these parts align. 8/10
Now in the present... I had to stop playing Destiny because I started a new job and because I hate Crota. Maybe I'll come back to it one day.