Review: Is Destiny in your destiny?

destiny_logo_630x*  Reviewed on the PlayStation 4  *

PLATFORMS: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 & Xbox One
PUBLISHER(S): Activision
DEVELOPER(S): Bungie
RELEASE DATE: September 9th, 2014
PRICE: 
$59.99 (disc/digital), $89.99 (digital guardian edition), $99.99 (limited edition), $149.99 (ghost edition)

I wanted to wait until I was at least level 20 before I started writing this review; however, after several 4+ hour game play sessions and getting to 16 (should be at 20 by this weekend) I felt that now as good as anytime to start my review. Keep in mind that these are my thoughts on the game and they may differ from your own. So with that out of the way, is Destiny the masterpiece that Bungie claims it to be? Let’s find out!

The sights and sounds of Destiny!

Destiny is definitely one of the biggest video game endeavors in recent time and one of the most if not the most expensive projects. So far, I’ve put in at least 20+ hours into the game, most of it has been a mixture of exploring the planets and killing random enemies that pop up, which I consider as normal since this is supposedly a MMO-lite title or an FPS with MMO properties. While I haven’t tried the game on either the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, my playtime has been exclusively on the PlayStation 4 version and I’ve borrowed a Xbox One copy from my friend since he can’t play it just yet.

Let me get this out from the start, both current generation versions of the game are beautiful and perhaps some of the best graphics I’ve seen on either platform. The backdrops and planets have their own distinct look and offer enough vary to make appreciate the amount of work that Bungie put into the game. There has been more than on occasion where I found myself just looking at the environment instead of playing the game and I even took several pictures so I can look at them later. Sadly, I wish there was an option to disable the HUD from the screen, some of the images are definitely wallpaper material.  I will add that since my playtime has been on the PS4, I have been told by several others that the Xbox One version does suffer from occasional frame drops while the PS4 version is been pretty constant. I’ve yet to experience any frame rate drops so far even when being involved in fire strikes, that said hopefully this stays the same when the raids are alive and playable.

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I’m  a sucker for a good soundtrack and I’m loving what I hear in Destiny, though admittedly it feels like I’ve heard it before and before you say anything, yes I agree with you. Some of the best sci-fi and ambient tracks I’ve heard in some time but they still feel like I could take them and place them into a former Bungie title and they would be right at home or the other way around.  It’s still fantastic in it’s own right and , er… rightfully so. As for the sound it’s pretty good. Weapon fire effects feel great and fit the part, I don’t think I’ve found a weapon that I fired and haven’t smiled a bit while doing it. Especially the sniper rifles, they give off the right amount of noise while not sounding overpowering, meanwhile on the other spectrum melee combat sounds satisfying as well.

Hopefully Bungie considers releasing the music as a soundtrack later on down the road, so if you happen to see this please make it so!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYgecrwD47M

Fun Fact: There is another celebrity who does a voice over in the game. None other than Nathan Fillion who is the voice of Cayde-6, the Vanguard for the Hunter class. I thought it was him at first and keep going back and back to make him say different things. Finally giving up I took to the net where it was confirmed that he does in fact voice the character. For those keeping score he also did some voice over work for Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach.

So what is there to do?

Gameplay-wise there is actually a pretty  varied amount of things to do. At times the enemies will randomly sit in my view which allows for easy pickings and then others they scramble and hide, making the combat much more suspenseful and realistic. I suppose it depends on the location and enemy type, I just can’t put my figure on it. I will say this, I had heard a rumor that the AI would not engage you depending on how far away you were from them and I’m happy to say that this is wrong or at least it was for me. There have been several instances and I’m not saying where to not spoil the game, where I’ve sat back on purpose only to be host to several rounds of sniper fire or worst. I won’t say that Destiny has the best AI around but it’s enough to put up a fight when needed and that’s good enough for me.  And if you find that levels are too easy for you then you can up the difficulty which jumps the mission level by 2-3 higher than the original difficulty. Keep in mind that only applies to story missions and fire strikes.

Speaking of fire strikes which are the dungeon aspect of the game that allow you and 2 other guardians to take it the baddies of the game, there are also several several other ways to play the game; Missions which are standard “go here and do” this type of gameplay, the Crucible which is strictly PVP (which I am not touching until I get to level 20) and raiding (6 players) which as of now I can’t speak on since I’m not high enough and I don’t have many friends that have access to the game yet.  They also aren’t available yet as the first raid doesn’t open until September 16th, which is called the “Vault of Glass” and requires a guardian level of 26! Geez, I better get to leveling. Speaking on the raids there is a down side and that is no in-game match making. In order to partake in a raid you mush have 5 other friends ready to go with you and seeing how the communication in the game is so limited I can’t imagine that taking random players with you would be a good idea in the first place so I suppose that is for the best. Lastly there also the inclusion of random events that take place throughout the game though I’ve only ever encountered taken down the fallen walker.

As a fan of the FPS genre I found little wrong with Destiny’s gunplay and enjoyed encounting random enemies and testing my many weapons on them. Definitely some of the more satisfying gunplay I’ve played this year.

Moving away from it all I have to say that I’m really interested on seeing how the raids work out since this is a departure from the holy trinity which for uninitiated consists of a tank which would be the titan in this game, dps and a healer. And since there isn’t a healing class in destiny. If anything it should make for some good watch and I can’t wait to see where Bungie takes this and I can’t wait to get into the thick of it.

Destiny-September-Schedule-502x1024

Outside of combat there is still plenty to do, especially if you have a MMO background and like to min.max your gear. Thankfully there is a huge range of weapons of the gun variety; hand cannons, sniper rifles, heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, fusion rifles, auto guns and more that let you upgrade them which in-turn give you specific advantages. Some give you a bonus on reload time, some let you acquire more damage the longer you squeeze the trigger and so forth. This also applies to your armor; helmets, chest pieces, gauntlets leg pieces, you get the idea. All weapon and armor upgrades are completely independent but will cost you some glimmer (in-game currency that can be earned or you can breakdown gear to acquire it) to upgrade so you’ll have to be a thifty spender or earn some major glimmer if you want to min/max all your gear. You can even perform upgrades on your spaceship, sparrow or if you get enough glimmer you can also purchase new ones.

And if you’re an exploration lover then the mostly open sandbox that Destiny offers you will seem like a paradise. The environments are pretty large and offer both an above and below exploration which is something that I recommend as you’ll never know what you find. For example, there are loot chests scattered across the planets which include both gear and consumables which can only be found by exploration; some even involve some puzzle jumping action to get to. There are also areas that include some pretty high powered enemies and I’m sure those who ventured out early in the start area have found and attempted to down them in vain.

A flawed but enjoyable adventure

So as you can see for the most part Destiny does have quite a bit going for it and enough content to keep most games entertained for some time. Sadly there are still flaws with Destiny and they’re on topics that players had voiced to Bungie, including myself, throughout the beta. This is supposed to be a co-op / multiplayer experience however it feels completely lonely out there.  The in-game voice chat only works when you’re in a fire strike / raid, after that you need to start your own party outside the game if you want to talk to players you meet up with or your friends. On top of that the emote system or lack of is damning. How hard would it have been to use the d-pad to bring up a chat wheel that uses the analog sticks to cycle through the responses? On top of that there is no option to use an on-screen keyboard or option to use a USB/blu-tooth keyboard. It blows my mind to see how shallow the communication is in a game that is supposed to allow you to play with others yet it is something that was so horribly implemented. Switching gears for a second I can see why Bungie was against using a channel wide chat system, anyone play World of Warcraft and remember the imfamous “Barren Chat”? But there’s no way they you can tell me that after 4+ years of development that a better solution that this could have been reached.

Thankfully it seems that other gamers are also in agreement with me and actually have started a petition for Bungie to add more chat/communication options into the game, for more information on that head over to Change.org (Link embedded).

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I don’t even want to get started on Peter Dinklage’s voice acting, it feels really phoned in and I hope Bungie didn’t have to dig too deep for his involvement. Don’t get me wrong, Peter Dinklage is a fantastic actor and I like this work but it just doesn’t feel like his heart was in this. That or he just couldn’t take this seriously, I don’t know but either way it definitely could have been better. I can live with it but since there’s no option to disable the voice we have no choice.

The problem I see with this game is that while Bungie attempted to do something unique, something that hasn’t been done correctly (as I see it), however it turns out to be more of the same of their past works. This game screams Halo, I’m not going to lie there and if you don’t agree with me then that’s fine. Halo was a fantastic game but it’s not mind shattering anymore.  Hopefully with the addition of more content, more player experiences and more importantly more knowledge of this genre can Bungie make this title they want this to be. And there are so many aspects of the game I’ve yet to touch including the PVP, raiding and more than my review of the title can and likely will change. I don’t want to say that Destiny was rushed but it could have stayed int the oven a few more months.

However as it stands this is how I see Destiny. Truth be told I don’t think that reviewing a title without all of the content being released is fair, that being the case that is what happens when you plan on releasing a title without all the content being released or activated upon launch of said title. But that’s the wonderful thing about reviews and that they can evolve/change when the game evolves/changes.

Summary

Destiny isn’t without it’s flaws however and it’s far from perfection, but thankfully the flaws aren’t game breaking and Destiny makes co-op or lone wolf session. I feel that game tries to hard to be a mixture of an FPS and a MMO, yet it fails to be a perfect combination of the two but still a fun. Bungie has laid the ground work and while Destiny is enjoyable in it’s current condition it still has a lot of work to be done to make it into a must play title and we’ve seen companies turn poorly implement games into super stars (See Blizzard’s Diablo III). With two expansions that we know of being released  for the title; The Dark Below which is set for a December 2014 release and House of Wolves which is a PlayStation exclusive DLC for the PlayStation platform up until Fall of 2015. Another though here is seeing how Bungie now falls under the same umbrella as Blizzard who everyone knows has created perhaps the single most dominant PC MMO, perhaps there can be some install discussions on how Destiny can be bettered and turn into perhaps the first major MMO-like title for the console platform.

Here’s to hoping that Bungie to make Destiny the game that they strived for it to be in the upcoming future,  however as it stands now Destiny can be considered as an average game and not masterpiece that some claimed it to be.

Pros:

+ The game looks fantastic on both the PlayStation 4 / Xbox One and I haven’t seen much frame drop on either title.
+ Huge and expansive environments to explore.
+ The dungeons (fire strikes) are while short are fun to play.
+ If you like to min/max your gear you’ll have fun doing that here.

Cons:

– The lack of in depth chat / emote system makes communication a chore. Communication should have been the main focus of a game such as this and yet it’s completely lacking.
– The mission variety is pretty weak and while this considered to be a MMO-lite title, the grinding is a bit annoying.
– Peter Dinklage’s voice acting could be better.
– I expected more planets to access from the start vs waiting for DLC/Expansions to be released.
– Launched with many features and events not accessible yet. With multiple games really the level cap within a span of a few days, what is there for them to do. Why do we have to wait? Endgame should have been present on day 1.

But the question I pose to you is this; Does this game seem like something you want to play and if do the negatives outweigh the positives? For me it’s simple, no they don’t. This is perhaps the first PlayStation 4 game that has made me pick up my controller more than once and during multiple stretches and I can only hope that the game gets better as it matures.

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    Is Destiny in your destiny? - 6.5/10
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About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. You can find him on Twitter as @Shadowhaxor or you can email her at keith.mitchell@theouterhaven.net.