Over the last week, pretty much anyone with a games console has been playing the beta for Destiny, the latest project from Halo creators Bungie. Expectations were high and most people have come away from the beta with those expectations met.
Personally, I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t particularly hyped for Destiny due to my utter loathing of the Borderlands series. Destiny just looked like Borderlands with a Halo skin and that was certainly not my cup of tea. Thankfully, Destiny turned out to be so much more than that.
That’s not to say there is no trace of Borderlands here though, but it’s mashed up with a lot of Halo and a little of Mass Effect to form a sort of MMO lite. The loot system, the bullet sponge bosses and the numbers popping out of people when you shoot them make up Borderlands’ contribution, whilst the core gunplay and feel of the game roll in from Halo. The central hub area of The Tower and the character designs are where Mass Effect creeps into Destiny.
Gunplay will be instantly familiar to Halo fans, retaining that Bungie feel but with enough of a personality of its own. Enemies can take a decent amount of damage, so team work and focussing fire can really pay off which makes a welcome change coming off the back of Titanfall, where you usually die when enemies look at you.
There is certainly a lot to like in Destiny. The visuals are striking, with Bungie’s jaw-dropping sky boxes providing the backdrop for a solar system in ruins. The customisation of characters, weapons and armour allow you to craft your character to suit your style, both aesthetically and on the gameplay front. The PvP is solid, encouraging teamplay and boasting engaging level design for a very tactical multiplayer experience.
However, Destiny is certainly not without its faults.
For one thing, the script is utter garbage. People have been giving Peter Dinklage a lot of flak for his performance as the player’s AI companion, Ghost, but honestly it’s not his fault. There is just no way some of these lines could be delivered well. Bungie may have removed the infamous ‘That Wizard came from the moon’ line but there is plenty more tripe in there that needs to be excised.
Destiny also brings with it some of the larger annoyances of the Borderlands series, such as the bullet sponge bosses who long outstay their welcome, testing only your patience, not your skill.
However it isn’t these issues that have me worried about Destiny, but rather the things we don’t know yet. Bungie and Activision have been bigging up Destiny something chronic, and even if that $500 million figure that gets thrown around a lot isn’t true, Destiny represents a colossal investment for all parties involved. It needs to live up to the hype.
But I just don’t think it can. It’s being touted as an expansive experience, akin to an MMO in size and scope, but I just don’t see it being feasible. We’ll have Earth, the Moon, Mars and Venus for sure, but can we really expect much more than that? We’ve only really seen the Earth zone, Old Russia and whilst it’s certainly expansive, it’s hardly packed to the rafters with stuff to do. There are dudes to shoot for sure, Destiny has dudes to shoot for days but even shooting dudes gets boring, especially with no reason to be shooting them. The level cap is 20; people will hit that within a week of launch.
Destiny’s PvE and its world are looking like they’ll become a victim of their own hype machine. It’s not an expansive solar system to explore, it’s four large mission areas to run around in and kill dudes. Copy paste caves with random loot crates in them are not going to be enough to keep up that sense of exploration and discovery for very long. DLC may alleviate this problem, but at a heavy cost and possibly too late, given that Bungie are doing 2 DLC packs within a year, so the first will presumably come a full 6 months after launch.
The co-op experience seems destined to fall short of expectations (yeah I know, destiny pun, I’ll see myself out) so ultimately, Destiny will live or die on its competitive multiplayer. Now the PvP is fantastic from what we’ve seen, make no mistake, but its legs are still to be determined and competition is going to be stiff come the holidays. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Evolve and Assassin’s Creed Unity will all be queueing up to take a bite out of Destiny’s playerbase.
Gamers are much more fickle with their multiplayer titles in recent years, with very few games holding onto a large playerbase more than a few months after launch. It could just be that the games were at fault, but it’s hard to ignore the possibility that there has been a cultural shift, where much like the rest of the world, we’re always craving the next big thing. Nobody wants to play a 2 month old game when they could be playing this brand new game.
I hope Destiny does well and it seems like it’s going to absolutely smash it out of the park on the sales front, but I just hope for all our sakes that it can keep people coming back long after their purchase. We don’t want another Titanfall happening, where you couldn’t go two seconds without hearing it mentioned pre-launch, only for it to fade out of gamers’ thoughts relatively quickly after launch.