Yesterday, the Power Up Gaming team had their first tango with Destiny on the Playstation 4. We released a short article summarising our immediate feelings towards the title’s opening hours. We were quick to heap praise upon the team at Bungie for everything from gameplay to art direction. Twenty four hours later, the honeymoon is over. The team have once more stepped up to weigh in their thoughts on the now familiar face sitting next to them in bed. The dazzle of makeup has been eschewed; it’s time to scrutinize Destiny warts and all. We are left to consider the most important question: Is Destiny the kind of game we want to spend a weekend with, or the rest of the year with?
Destiny’s blemishes are few and far between, but present nevertheless. Those familiar with MMOs might find themselves wanting. There is no voice chat to speak of outside of parties. The ‘Massive’ scope Destiny claims to have should be spelt with a small m. Though dense, environments lack the scale of most MMOs. While purists might laugh at Bungie’s vanity we generally agreed that quality beats quantity every time. Quality – not scale – is what Destiny’s landscapes ooze with. Players will find no copy and paste jobs here. Exploration for the sake of exploration is a joy in of itself. The dilapidated surfaces of these planets are truly engrossing and have (so far, at least) always proven a joy to traverse. Unanimously, we agreed it would be a crime to trade any of this richness for a handful of vapid expanses.
We do feel that enemy AI is significantly lacking. The impressive balance which Bungie have so painstakingly crafted is potentially shattered in almost every story level and dungeon. Simply leaving a particularly overwhelming room is enough for enemies to all but forget you exist. It’s all too tempting to just dash down a hallway when the heat gets too heavy. Charging enemies will stop dead in their tracks. This far-too tempting shortcut to success feels cheap – greatly diminishing the satisfaction clearing a tough dungeon should provoke.
Perhaps the game’s most threatening issue, however, is its insistence on carrying over all player armour and weaponry in to PvP matches. This is standard fare in almost every single MMO, of course. But series like Counter-Strike, Gears of War and Bungie’s very own Halo have proved so enduring because of their supreme balance. Competitive gaming communities have taken to them so fervently because skill alone is the key to success. Players begin with near-identical skills and weapons. Everything comes down to your reaction time and dexterity with a controller; the reward is all the greater for it. Not so in Destiny. Many of us feel the Crucible is already unwelcoming to those who weren’t up all night levelling. The key to success in Destiny feels more about having the nicest tech.
Sure, we understand Bungie wants to reward us for our dedication to the single player. But we worry that enjoyment of the Crucible will be reserved for only the most hardcore. Why compete when the conditions will never be completely fair? If this does prove to be the case then Destiny’s PvP servers could be very well empty in a few months. Those hoping for a recreation of the Halo 2 and 3 multiplayer glory days might be left sorely disappointed.
A handful of paragraphs were all the bad we could think to say about Destiny. The fact remains: we had just as much – if not more – fun playing Destiny today as we did yesterday. Bungie appear to have stitched a near-endless bag of tricks. New whimsies continue to come fast and heavy. Shiny new planets, new multiplayer modes, new weapon types, new enemies shower upon us. Once more, Bungie’s aptitude for balance is remarkable. We are never left wanting for more, nor have we ever felt overwhelmed.
Destiny is still an excellent game in our books. A handful of minor niggles and ifs or buts can’t change that. We all look forward to booting up Destiny for day three, Venus, Mars and beyond.