Just about anyone who has an interest in Destiny will probably have already bought it, or read a review about it and made up their minds. So why read this one? I can’t actually provide a decent answer except perhaps this: this review is probably entertaining.
As you most likely already know, Destiny is an MMO disguised as the lovechild of Borderlands and Mass Effect, with Phantasy Star thrown into that nasty, sweaty tumble in the sheets. With World of Warcraft watching, the dirty pervert that it is. Bungie deliberately says it’s not an MMO, but if it looks like an MMO, talks like an MMO, and has a massively multiplayer online world…well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. To be fair, Destiny only populates your game world with “best match” players, so you don’t necessarily get to see EVERYONE.
Destiny is set in a future where some mysterious being called the “Traveller” has come to help humanity colonize the solar system. Except that, as expected, things go wrong, and now humanity is a small, lonely colony in a small city on Earth, and the place is defended by beings called Guardians—beings who are granted powers cosmic by the Traveller. Guess who you get to play and what your mission is. No, not the Traveller. You clearly have not been paying attention. You get a choice of three different flavours of guardian: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry Titans, Warlocks, and Hunters (translation: tanks, agility warriors, and the one for noobs). And then off you go on a wild adventure that doesn’t really go back to addressing the whole tale of the Traveller, the interlopers, or…well, any of it. There’s plenty of shooting, though, so there’s that.
Ok, since everyone, their pet gerbil, and their browser has probably already formed an opinion, I’m going to get to the point. Depending on whether you’re into FPS games, MMOs, raids, and have large swathes of time to spend shooting up a planet, then Destiny is probably for you. Older players with kids, lives, and not that much time to dedicate to such a game and its world probably won’t feel its appeal as much. It needs time to invest, and it’s telling that the game actually only starts becoming a pleasure to play after around the 20 hour mark, once you’ve racked up a few levels and have some l33t sk1llz under your belt. I know this argument has been made back and forth endlessly online (with varying amounts of humour), but dammit, I should not have to play a game for 20 hours to start enjoying it. That starts sounding a lot like a certain dirty word: “work”. And, of course, I’m not saying anything new here, since this sentiment is echoed just about everywhere.
All that said, however, Destiny DOES actually become a lot of fun to play once you’ve got things figured out, sorted out, and even have a few friends to play with. The scenery is absolutely beautiful, and Bungie’s new game engine shows off the scenery in lavish detail. And you’ll get a lot of good looks at it because it’s something you’re going to experience again and again and again. Whether you want to or not. Destiny will drag you, kicking and screaming, across the entire length of breadth of the beautiful scenery over and over again, because MMO and because grinding and because farming for loot.
Let’s chat about loot for a moment, though, because remember, Borderlands is one of the illicit parents in this scenery-ridden result of the amorous flagrante delicto. Yes, there’s lots of it. Yes, it’s largely random. No, there’s no way of telling what in the seven hells is contained within your loot box until you actually decrypt the damn thing and open it. It’s a gamble—it could be a bit of grit. Some money. Or the Treasure of the Sierra Madre. And the not knowing, the sheer hope of The Treasure of all Treasures, is the psychological theory of BF Skinner in its purest sense. It’s the thing that, more than anything else, keeps you coming back for more. Because face it, you’re definitely not going to be playing the game for its riveting storyline or meaningful dialog, or—heavens forfend—acts of salaciousness with other players.
My stance on Destiny is a funny one because I can see both sides of the problem that it presents to us as gamers. It’s a “good game” in the sense that it fulfils a game’s objective to keep us entertained. By those standards, it’s a good game in the precise same sense that Candy Crush Saga is a good game, really, and I’d be doing you readers a disservice by holding a grudge against it for being true to its nature. Make no mistake, it IS fun, once you’ve slogged through the bits you need to to make it fun. Heading out into the black with a group of other players to take down a heavily fortified area gives you an amazing sense of achievement. On the other hand, being a blend of so many things means that it can’t really excel at any of them.
Except scenery, of course.
Final Score: 7 far-flung future prawns out of 10
Platforms: PS3 (reviewed), PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Age Rating: 16