Destiny is the Game I Can’t Put Down

Destiny scratches an itch I didn’t know I had

Destiny Venus_Draksis

To put it simply, I really don’t have a clue as to why I can’t stop playing it. It’s immensely repetitive, and the story isn’t very interesting at all; in fact, I have very little idea about what the story was really on about. I only clocked how things were going to end, and who the big bad guys were, in the closing levels. I’m still no wiser to what The Traveller is, or what The Darkness really entails. In fact, the only way I could probably find out this information is to leave the game (or open the mobile app) and trawl through pages and pages of unlockable lore. That’s definitely not something I want to be doing.

It’s a massive departure from what Bungie had achieved with the Halo series. There’s no sense of wonder here, I don’t particularly want to venture forth to see what comes next in terms of story either. I’m essentially just wondering around in incredibly restricted and desolate world. But yet, I still play, and I still enjoy it to some degree. And, as far as I can tell, that’s purely down to the sheer joy of shooting stuff in a sci-fi world.

Just like with Halo, Bungie has managed to craft the most enjoyable control scheme and heft that you want from a FPS title. The weapons may seem disappointingly similar, and the weapon drops and Destiny‘s other RPG-esque features are somewhat of a let down. But things still just feel so good to play. Nothing quite beats the sensation of jumping into the air and firing off my Supercharge ability and seeing the enemies below me scatter in a haze of purple void. The feeling of meleeing an enemy in the face and watching their body cartwheel away is, again, absolutely fantastic. And the fizz-pop of shooting a Fallen, Hive or Cabal enemy in the head – or a Vex in the stomach – is as joyous as hearing the children cheer with glee when the ‘Grunt Birthday Party’ skull is switched on in Halo. It’s just everything you want from a shooter in terms of pure gunplay, and – quite frankly – it’s the pure sci-fi shooter that consoles have been missing for years.

That said, things definitely start to sour when you take into consideration the complete lack of RPG and MMO paradigms in place here. Picking from the various races makes absolutely no sense, and choosing your class only alters your gameplay experience somewhat – essentially everyone is built the same. It’s probably Bungie’s way around having to worry about making an RPG accessible to the masses, and it’s also a way to standardise gameplay so they don’t have to worry about easing people into play in wildly different ways.

This means that when venturing in alone you’ll be able to go up against most of the challenges that story mode throws at you. However, going in alone grows incredibly tiresome very quickly – even with that damn enjoyable gunplay, the shine wears out rather quickly. So, diving in with friends makes all the difference, although it’s peculiar that you can only play in a Fireteam of 3 in most instances. But still, having friends around for the ride makes Destiny fun again, and it keeps it fun for a very long time too.

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Having friends come and play with you means that you’ll be spending ages blasting away at alien foes – despite the fact they’re all generally annoying to encounter – killing time in super-hard raids and strikes, or just hanging out talking and shooting in patrol missions. It’s not as absurdly funny as co-op Borderlands, but it’s definitely more of a challenge and far more intense when the difficulty ramps up. But even the multiplayer isn’t quite the experience you’d want, and it’s nearly enough to stop me from playing so regularly.

For some weird reason you can’t trade items with friends or strangers, meaning there;s a closet full of unwanted items or items my class simply can’t use. It’s absurd. Secondly, because every character type is essentially the same, working in pairs of threes doesn’t really give you much tactical advantage except for more firepower. Sure, a Titan can take more damage and dish a bit more out, but where’s your support-type healer? Or a class that can specialise in more powerful weapons? Instead you’re left with teaming up with higher-level allies and riding the wave of security as they dish out some impressive damage and you chip away at your hulking opponent with a toothpick.

There are certainly fun moments to be had here, especially when a higher-level character just swoops in and tackles a foe you’ve been struggling with and then continues on with their journey. Or, when a global event comes about and you and about 10 others are scrambling to defeat a fleeing opponent, or defending a relay beacon from destruction. These are enjoyable, refreshing moments for a console FPS. But they are few and far between, for most of Destiny you’ll be left feeling cold or bored while going through the motions and grinding your way up to the next light level as you await the much-needed endgame content.

Destiny goes to show that Bungie definitely know how to make an amazing first-person shooter. However, it also shows that they really don’t have much of a clue when it comes to creating an open-world or a social multiplayer experience. In its current guise it’s lacking direction, and as a framework for more content it’s as bare-bones as they come.

That said, I still play it; I still enjoy it. And it seems that millions of others do too. Perhaps the problem with Destiny is that in trying to blend seamless multiplayer into a story-driven environment, Bungie has cut significant areas of the plot out to maintain its interest to those players out there who only ever venture into multiplayer matches and ignore the campaign. Perhaps it’s because of them that those of us who enjoy our story have had to be punished? Or, perhaps it’s because giving these people – who I’m assuming form the majority of Destiny‘s player base – Bungie felt it better to make sure they absorb some of the narrative groundwork while others more interested by it all can read up online.

Whatever the reason, I’m still playing Destiny and I still don’t quite know why.

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