The monitor lights up to vivid planetary graphics, the first notes of a stirring symphony play, and you are brought into the stunning and detailed world of “Destiny.”
Next, you create the in-game character, which allows you to take on the role of a Guardian who protects what’s left of humanity. When you enter the game, your eyes glide across the environment that will soon be liberated from alien invaders. Right from the beginning, it is apparent that “Destiny” is an excellent game, but the greed of the developer, Bungie, stained my overall experience.
The story of “Destiny” is an interesting beast. While the gameplay itself is engrossing, the storytelling is sporadic and disconnected. Most of the plot is obtained from dialogue while playing, so I was always struggling to understand what I was supposed to be doing. Fighting through hordes of aliens often distracted from the story. There is some sort of story in every mission, but, in most of them, I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing. The tasty morsels of story that players do manage to pick up, pique their interest and bait them in. These blurbs are often found in conversations between Non-Player Characters (NPCs) that mention other key characters, as well as descriptions of armor and weapons. These mentions hint at a world of possibility – without actually opening the door. Yet the parts of the story the player hears and pays attention to are spectacular.
“Destiny” follows the apocalypse-alien trope, but there is a distinct twist. In the main plot line there is a being called the Traveler who imbues the chosen Guardians with magical powers. However, with every Downloadable Content (DLC) addition, there is an additional story. These add-on stories have gotten better with time. The main game was the least interesting, while the final DLC, “Rise of Iron,” was the most interesting and compelling. Descriptions of weapons and armor also reveal different aspects of the story. For example, one set of armor has a description quoting a fictional tome called “The Five Lives of Albios.” So while the story of the game is generally compelling, it’s not as strong as a campaign-focused game such as “The Last of Us.” Without gameplay, a game is just a movie, and “Destiny” excels at gameplay.
“Destiny” blends several game genres into one neat package. At face value it is a blend of “World of Warcraft” and “Halo.” That’s because it’s a Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game (MMORPG) that plays like a first-person shooter (FPS), or one could say it’s rather an FPS that plays like an MMORPG. However it’s defined, “Destiny” fits both descriptions like a glove. If someone asked me, “Which is it more like?” I would say, “Yes.” As far as MMORPGs go – with over 20 million accounts made worldwide – “Destiny” is definitely “massive.” You play the role of the Guardian, a super-powered hero who defends the last bastion of humanity.
“Destiny” is split into two distinct aspects of playing: Player versus Enemies (PvE) and Player versus Player (PvP). Each has its ups and downs. PvE, for example, is not playable without friends. Communication is key for success and, without friends, that can be hard. With massive three-hour raids, it’s important to play with enjoyable people. The community of players of “Destiny” is generally friendly and inviting, with many of the experienced players willing to help out the less experienced.
Player versus player is a little easier to play by yourself, but, as with anything, it is better with friends. Dubbed the Crucible, it is fast-paced, yet tactical. With interesting abilities and promises of great rewards, the Crucible is the place to be. Although it wasn’t distinctly advertised as a PvP game, “Destiny”s Crucible is one the most fun PvP arenas of any shooter I’ve played. You can play as three classes, each with three subclasses. These all have stunning powers, so the gameplay is always exciting. PvE, however, feels dull and repetitive at times. There are only so many strikes, missions, and raids that can be done. But in “Destiny” there is not one game mode without the other. The items found in both Crucible and PvE influence a player’s effectiveness in both. With the exciting gameplay, there comes a, literally, high price to pay.
When “Destiny” was released it was the most expensive game ever developed. The budget was a mind-boggling $500 million. I speculate most of this went into advertising because it had many interesting ads. This number was eclipsed in its pre-release sales; with 20 million copies sold, the low estimate of gross income is $1.2 billion. It broke several records, including a pre-release earnings record. However, after the launch, many critics gave it mixed reviews. Some claimed it was boring and repetitive; others called it refreshing and groundbreaking. I am continually impressed by the gameplay. There is always something new to experience. My complaint, however, lies with a different issue.
Bungie has established itself as extremely money-hungry throughout “Destiny”s run. The company added four purchasable DLCs, two for $20 and two for $40. If a customer bought everything at its release date, she would have paid $180 in total – triple the price of a normal game. People may be willing to pay that price because this a great game, but the salt in the wound is that Bungie makes “Destiny” barely playable without the DLCs. Because of these DLCs the base game is useless at this point in its life cycle. Many fans are offended by what they consider a cheap demand for ransom, and have given up on the game. This nickel-and-diming by Bungie is my biggest problem with “Destiny.”
Gameplay, story, and economics considered, my final verdict is a 3.5/5. This number is lower than it should be because of the astounding $180 you must pay to play the fullest version of the game, as well as the story’s lack of coherence. For a game to be outstanding, in addition to great gameplay and endless hours of fun, it needs to have a comprehensible story.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.