Destiny had an interesting 2014 regarding year end lists, netting itself several mentions on Most Disappointing of 2014 lists, as well as landing on several Game of the Year lists. This might appear to be a contradiction, but that is exactly how I would describe this game. A wonderful game so full of disappointments that it has no right to demand the amount of my time and attention that it does. In fact, I haven’t played more than a few hours of any other game for the last 2 and a half months. With that said, the shooting and movement alone in this game make it stand above most other shooters released in 2014. The gear system and hunting for exotic weapons and armor are a frustrating but satisfying design that has me playing almost daily. The thing that Destiny does better than most console games available today is it creates a robust and deep social game that is truly meant to be played with other people. The game alone is fun and satisfying. The game with friends is a masterclass in a digital sandbox where you want to share your sandcastle with your buddies.
If you are looking for an in depth review of the core of Destiny, I highly recommend reading Dawnbreaker’s own review from release. The vast majority of that review is still applicable to the state of Destiny today, but the weekly patches released by Bungie lends us vision into what the future of Destiny will hold.
Gear is the Way, the Truth, the Light
Love it or hate it, it appears that Light points will continue to be the single most important stat for armor pieces moving forward in the game. For those unfamiliar, Bungie has decided to tie endgame leveling to “Light Points” which are attributed to top tier armor pieces rather than XP. For players to reach any rank higher than 20, they need to equip armor pieces with Light Points. This means that even if you have armor with perks and stats that you really love, you will be forced to leave it behind in favor of gear with more or less agreeable perks that happen to have more Light. This is very limiting in regards to customization, especially when there is only one raid armor set per class, and a couple Iron Banner armor pieces that will allow players to hit the level cap at rank 32. What’s more, level capped players will continue to have mostly identical full raid armors with whichever exotic armor they prefer.
The bigger problem that Bungie introduced in the latest release of the Dark Below DLC is that older legendary weapons and raid armor were rendered obsolete, as it’s now possible to purchase gear in the tower that is better than the Vault of Glass gear. Pre-Dark Below exotics are allowed to be upgraded to match post-Dark Below exotics, but the process is very expensive and time consuming, as it requires each exotic to be re-leveled from zero. In fact, to save resources, many players recommend purchasing new identical exotics instead of upgrading old pieces whenever possible. These item changes are worrisome in that they punish the most dedicated players by forcing them to re-level many items, and dismantle gear that was formerly elite.
The Story is Really Interesting, It’s Just Not In the Game
One of the largest complaints against Destiny is that the story and plot are underwhelming, and after my first and second play through of story missions, I was very upset that I had no idea why I should care about several characters, including the Speaker, the Stranger, the Queen, the Noun… OK that last one is not in the game. Story missions only hint vaguely at why the player should care about the universe that you are supposedly saving. The dialog is dense and empty of emotion. The mission structures are repetitive and it is far too easy to tune out of the context of your actions. These are all fair complaints that have been made against Destiny from release, and unfortunately they aren’t any better today.
Those Grimoire cards though… now, I understand that people may not want to spend time reading information from the companion app or bungie.net, but the world building and lore in these cards are a compelling mix of storytelling ranging from spaghetti western to existential poetry. Reading these and learning about something as simple as the background of the Hunters, Warlocks, and Titans makes the game much more interesting and enjoyable. I have a hard time understanding why Bungie literally scattered these interesting little morsels of story around the entire game in dead ghosts for you to search for. There should be a better way to get this lore to the players, because having this additional knowledge of the characters really does add to the overall experience of Destiny. I highly recommend using the site destinyghosthunter.net to find the dead ghosts you have not unlocked yet, and reading them all as soon as you can. For those averse to reading, several Youtubers also post videos reading these cards .
Bungie Wants You to Play One Way
Most of the patches since release have featured, at least in part, changes to game systems that players were exploiting to get more or better gear. This all began with the legendary loot cave in the Cosmodrome, where players once shot spawning enemies for hours at a time in hopes of getting legendary engrams. Bungie closed that thing down faster than you could say “cryptarch”, and even put haunted carcasses inside to show that they weren’t messing around. Of course, players have continued to find new ways to get those sweet glowing 20 sided dice, including disconnecting from the internet during the Crota fight to make him stop attacking players and be easily killed, and hiding in the light fixtures in the Valus Ta’aric strike to beat the Nightfall and Weekly Heroic Strikes.
I would imagine that this game of cat and mouse between Bungie and the players will never really end. “Cheesing”, as exploitation is often referred, has been a part of every Bungie title that I have played. Players will continue to find interesting ways of turning Destiny’s mechanics against itself if the reward is a shortcut to better toys to play with. It is interesting to me that Bungie has put so much focus on getting players out of spots where they can engage bosses without taking damage, and so few changes made to the brutally stingy loot table.
The Rumored Future
In the last few weeks, this leaked image of a slide allegedly showing Destiny’s DLC schedule into next year has made the rounds in the Destiny community. Let me start out by saying I believe that the general outline in the image is in fact the plan for Destiny DLC for the lifespan of Destiny. Remember that none of this information has been confirmed by Bungie, and therefore may not be true at all. The most interesting bit of the leaked image is the “Comet” releasing this fall, which (if the image is legitimate) would almost double the amount of base game content, with ten new story missions, four more strikes, one new Raid, and one new location included in the DLC.
Of course, there is good news and bad news about this rumored plan. The bad news is that if Bungie decides to continue to implement the gear changes shown in the Dark Below release, players can expect to re-level exotics, and throw away large portions of gear four more times before Destiny 2 is released. This would be a pretty bad plan, and I hope that Bungie has an idea of how to mitigate the grind for dedicated players. Perhaps allowing previously owned exotics to maintain most upgraded stats, aside from the final damage or armor boost and not having to wait for Xur to carry your specific item upgrade would be a good start. However, the good news would be that the biggest problem in Destiny, the overall lack of content, would at least be temporarily rectified with this massive release. I will be very curious to see the pricing of Comet, as I feel that $20 for the Dark Below is simply way too steep for the amount of content available.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I realize it is pretty ridiculous to discuss the sequel to a game that is only four months old, and has implemented so many changes since release. By the time Destiny 2 is released, I have no idea if I will even be playing Destiny, or what it will even look like. I sincerely hope that Bungie learned a lot from the release of Destiny last year, and that my previously mentioned complaints will have been resolved. By that time, Destiny should be a diverse and expansive title with a lot of DLC content. Destiny 2 will need to be a much more expansive game than the first title, or it will be very difficult to get players to want to spend time in it. Bungie released the highest selling new intellectual property in Gaming history with Destiny, and can expect Destiny 2 to be even more successful if they do not squander their dedicated and hungry audience.
For all of its problems, I actually hope to be playing Destiny over a year from now. I believe that Destiny has been more disrespectful towards player time than most titles I have played in recent memory. The endgame is largely unexplained in the actual game, and it is all to easy to spend your time on inefficient means of progressing in the game. I do love the world that Bungie has created though. I enjoy traversing the universe as seen in Destiny. I like the characters I have created, and most of all, I have enjoyed the conversations I have had with friends while playing. This mess of a game was my favorite title last year, and I truly hope that Bungie smooths these rough edges so that more people will try this game, and fall in love with it themselves.
For details on release dates and other related info, head to Destiny’s game page.
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