Just over one week on and the launch dust has settled, the hype has died down and some serious hours has been put into it (I ploughed 15hours in on launch night alone). Having queued from 10:30pm for the midnight launch its an understatement to say I was excited about Destiny and so far, it hasn’t failed me.
A game of this size is not an easy thing to review so I’ll focus of a few areas, primarily the Player Vs Environment gameplay to give an overall idea of the game, how it plays, looks and sounds.
Destiny has been touted as a MMOFPS (Massively Multiplayer Online First-Person Shooter) and it’s hard to argue with that description as its combine’s aspects of many genres well. The loot farming of an MMORPG can quickly descend into the fast paced action of a FPS whilst on a strike mission. It’s not perfect by any means, a number of people are complaining that there isn’t enough in-game content yet but it’s a working game in progress – Bungie will be supporting it for years to come so it can only get better. Which is a worry because I’m already hooked.
Destiny comes with a choice of 3 Races: Human, Exo and Awoken and 3 Classes: Hunter, Titan and Warlock, but unlike a traditional MMO weapons aren’t class specific. Want a lightly armour Warlock with a Shotgun? You got it. Want a Hunter with an Assault Rifle? Yup, go for it. A heavily armoured Titan with a Sniper Rifle? Sure. The classes are more for variation in playing styles. Having only played as a Titan from Day 1 though I’ll leave the class differences for now!
Destiny PvE (Player Vs. Environment) comes with a choice of several different types – Story Missions, Strike Missions, Patrol and Raids.
- Story Missions – Self explanatory really, these progress the story along and unlock other areas along the way. Starting on Earth you will soon find yourself being flung across the universe – from the Moon, to Venus, to the edges of space itself before heading to Mars. Further planets will be added in future, most likely in upcoming DLC with 2 already announced – the first landing in December 2015. Jupiter and Saturn seem the likely new destinations as the already appear on Bungie.net hidden away in the Grimoire section
- Strike Missions – These offer a Co-op game-mode designed for a Fireteam of 3 where the team goes through a structured mission that culminates in a boss battle at the end. The in-game match making will automatically create a 3 man Fireteam if you’re not in one but it’s much easier working in a group of friends as for some of these strikes communication is key, a skill which is imperative in the end-game raids – making these Strikes an essential training ground for Raid groups. After you reach level 18 you also unlock what is known as the Strike Playlist – a random selection of Strikes which you can complete to earn Vanguard Reputation and
Vanguard Marks – used for purchasing items from specific vendors at the Tower.
- Patrol – This is the open world section of the game where you can explore until your heart’s content. Whether its farming for various items, fulfilling a bounty, grinding for XP or hunting for elusive Golden Chests then this is for you. When on Patrol you have almost full access to a planetary map, the exception being the regions when a boss would spawn in a strike. There is also a possibility of encountering a Public Event – where a random encounter occurs that anyone in the local area can participate in for a reward – these can vary from point-to-point mob clearance, zone defence or a mini-boss fight. Whilst on patrol you will also come across glowing green beacons which will initiate a short mission – usually kill X amount of bad guys or scan location Y or collect item Z and these will reward you with Vanguard Rep, or later – Faction Rep.
- Raids – At present there is just the one Raid available – the Vault of Glass on Venus – a level 26 6-man gauntlet. Bungie has said that these Raids will test the players like nothing else in the game and that it will take all 6 working together as a unit to make it through. Unlike regular Strikes there is no match making for raids so you will need to assemble your Fireteam prior to entering. Progress saves at various stages of the Raid so Fireteams can pick it up again at a later date although in order to do so they must follow the same Fireteam leader into the Raid and also must do so before the weekly Tuesday reset
Between visiting various destinations you’ll often find yourself at the Tower – the gathering place for all Guardians and home to a number of vendors and other NPC’s (Non Playable Characters) and Dance Party capital of Destiny. Whilst there are a large number of potential NPCs to visit, the ones you’ll find yourself visiting the most include:
- Xander 99-40: The Bounty Tracker – this guy offers a selection of PvE and PvP bounties which when completed will offer various rewards, often in the form of Glimmer, Marks and Faction Rep and you can have up to 5 bounties active at any one time.
- Master Rahool: The Cryptarch – found an Engram? Hand it in to this guy where it will become an item. You can also trade in items such as House Banners for additional Glimmer.
- Roni 55-30: The Vanguard Quartermaster – got a stash of Spin Metal? A Horde of Helium Filaments? Trade it in with Roni for Glimmer and Vanguard Marks. He also sells some rather nice weaponry once you reach the required levels
The Tower is also home to the three Factions of Destiny – Future War Cult, Dead Orbit and New Monarchy – once you’ve hit level 20 you can select one of these Factions to earn reputation for in order to unlock specific pieces of armour and weapons. Whilst the weapon/armour values don’t have much variance the real differences come in the form of the additional stats – Intellect, Strength and Agility with each class favouring 2 stats over the third.
The game itself looks stunning – from the view from the tower looking out over Earth to looking out over the jungles of Venus this game is certainly a looker. The character models as well look smooth, refined and polished. Even the enemies when viewed from the pointy end of a sniper rifle look like they should (which is usually dead not long after…). The sound of the game as well is also glorious – from the thundering background music during a boss fight to the subtle background sounds whilst on patrol. At times it really adds to the experience as well – hearing a horde of Thralls rushing towards you in the dark is quite a chilling sound and has had this Guardian running for the light on a couple of occasions.
Unlike other big launch titles *Cough Battlefield 4 Cough* Destiny has had a relatively smooth launch – a few server connection issues which kept returning Guardians to Orbit aside. Even in Strike Missions surrounded by 15-20+ enemies, the game engine handles itself well, making it possible to deal with the mobs swiftly and lag free. Gradually releasing in-game content such as the Vault of Glass might have been a factor in this but with the majority of content available from the off it seems Bungie has learnt a lot from the Alpha and Beta along with the mistakes of other. Bungie has already released a hot patch to deal with a number of issues and are already throwing the Banhammer harder than Thor with Mjölnir at those abusing glitches in the game.
FAIR WARNING: The Banhammer has been swung this week. Play Destiny the way it was meant to be played, Guardians.
— Bungie (@Bungie) September 12, 2014
This review only really scratches the surface of the game, I could go into some detail on Armour, Armour Upgrades, Weapons, Weapon Upgrades, Weapon Damage Types, Enemies, Bosses, PvP, Strange Coins, Motes of Light, Armour Light Ratings and so on… which for a game some have called “light on content” actually seems rather in depth, and this is before any additional DLC! This problem feels like its arisen because the reviewers havent played Destiny in any real depth – only then does the intricacy of the game become apparent.
Destiny then is certainly a big game, and whilst not to everyone’s liking, those that enjoy it will love it. It’s a slow burner for sure but Bungie have definitely got something exciting on their hands here and I for one will be there to watch it evolve.
Where will I be you ask? I’ll be the Titan dancing in the tree at the Tower.