– Marz Raul
Destiny was released for multiple platforms in September 2014, it was both one of the most disappointing games, but also one of the best games that year. As with many big-studio releases in recent times, the hype built around this game prior to its release reached fever-pitch. The proposition was way too good: the makers of the Halo series creating a first-person shooter with RPG elements set in a “mythic science fiction” universe that included locations across the Solar System that would “take on a live of its own”. The trailers and gameplay demos showed us slick graphics, a dynamic endless open world, and what appeared to be simply the best shooter ever made.
Then the live-action trailer hit, I was so excited for Destiny I took a week off work to just sit at home and play Destiny without having to put pants on. I was as nervous as a cat at a dog show putting the disc into my console; I was about to embark on a life-changing gaming experience. Once past the veritable zoo of errors, I was off and set to become a legend in the wilderness of the Cosmodrome. Very quickly though, I noticed how small this environment was compared to other contemporary open world games, and how few and short the story missions were.
This is where the denial began. As with any addiction, one of the symptoms is denial. I had press-ganged a few friends to get this game so that I would have buddies to become legend with. However some quickly began to notice the game’s shortcomings and many an argument ensued as to the quality of all aspects of Destiny. I found quickly it was usually a one-versus-the-rest type of arguments; except I knew I was right. Destiny is great. I refused to believe there was anything wrong with the game.
Realistically, there is nothing inherently wrong with the game. In fact, the mechanics are great, graphics, sound (excluding Peter Dinklage’s phoned-in voice acting), music, all top notch; and the competitive multiplayer game modes are fun (despite lag issues). What the game is really lacking is both content, and any semblance of a coherent storyline.
The main story quests can be knocked over in a matter of hours, and is so poorly executed that when completed my first reaction was, “wait, is that it?”. Although the end-game content (read: one single raid) requires your character to be at level 28, however the story missions can be passed without breaking level 20; and so the grind begins. Destiny (at least in its early stages) is one of the most grindy games I’ve ever played.
Once the story missions are completed you hit the Patrol mode of the game, a free-range mode in the open-world where you pick up beacons to get missions. Missions are standard MMORPG fare, kill x mob-type for y item-drop, kill x number of mobs, kill x boss, and a ground-breaking mission type where you have to get to a location and stand in one spot for twenty seconds. Materials needed to upgrade armour and weapons are collected form randomly placed spots on the map, and the amount required for upgrades meant endless hours doing patrols collecting material*.
In the early stages of the game’s release I was seriously putting in more hours a day grinding Destiny than I did at work. At work, all I could think about was getting back to the grind; my dreams for months-on-end were doing laps of the Cosmodrome, collecting Spinmetal and dancing with random guardians I came across. However I didn’t see this as being repetitive, I blindly saw it as testament to the games longevity and repeat-playability. I had fully convinced myself that Destiny was good, and that it had so much potential.
While many of my buddies had all but abandoned Destiny I kept haranguing them to keep playing that once the first expansion came out it would change absolutely everything. Then The Dark Below dropped and it changed absolutely nothing. A new raid and a handful of story mission barley made the thirty-odd dollars worth it. Nonetheless I kept at it, grinding and grinding trying to reach the new level cap. I kept telling myself that the next expansion would surely change everything.
Fast forward a few months, and The House of Wolves expansion was released. This expansion did introduce a new social area, new PVE game mode and a new PVP game mode, as well as some more random public events in the patrol modes. While a marginal expansion on the gameplay variety, it again left me struggling to justify another thirty-odd dollars even to myself, let alone to my friends who have stopped playing long-ago. I was a lonely and addicted guardian, beginning to wonder how I had gotten so deep.
There has been an overwhelming feeling in the Destiny community the marriage between Bungie and Activision has resulted in a business model for Destiny that has the main goal of screwing every single last cent out of players for the least amount of content. This was somewhat confirmed by Bungie’s Luke Smith’s responses in a disastrous interview last week. The idea that players will need to re-buy Year 1 content (original game and the two expansions to date) in order to receive the perks of the Collector’s Edition has rightfully left players feeling more cheesed-off than Destiny’s raid bosses.
It felt like the final straw. I was ready to swear off the game, swear of Bungie and no longer listen to the lies they’ve been peddling to me in the last year. However Bungie listened to the community backlash and within a few days had done a complete back-flip; and offered the exclusive content as $20 DLC. Even Luke Smith apologised for being an asshat (his words, not mine). So that got me thinking, maybe Bungie aren’t such bad guys. Maybe this next expansion will change everything. Maybe it is worth buying the Collector’s Edition. Maybe I’ll log on for a bit and do a couple of Patrol missions. Just a couple, I swear…