Review: Destiny (PS4 & Xbox One)

Out of this world

You’ll have been hard pressed to have not heard anything about Destiny in the last few months. Even non-gamers have heard of it, with billboards, bus stops and train station platforms plastered with advertisements. My own father thought the Destiny perfume by Microsoft was an actual thing, and no word of lie he said “stupid sort of game that is.” He’s not a tactful man, and nor is he the brightest of folk.

With all the marketing and hype ramped up to new levels over the last couple of weeks, with promises of a game-changing title from Bungie, it’s hard to not feel a little let down with the final product.

It’s not that it’s a bad game, it’s actually incredible, but it’s not the game we were sold on. It is first and foremost a first person shooter, and if you’ve even touched a console with the last few years you won’t have a problem adjusting to the gameplay. It’s what we’ve come to expect from first-person shooters, not changing the formula we’ve all grown accustomed to has resulted in a ‘more of the same’ feeling of familiarity, but with a few changes along the way.

Gameplay wise it’s up there with the best, something to be expected from Bungie, they did create Microsoft’s biggest franchise with Halo afterall. You’ll start with your character who you can customise to your liking and upgrade through out the course of the game. Bear in mind, if you’re looking for a first-person RPG akin to Borderlands, this isn’t it. The RPG elements are so simplified it’s easy enough for those who’ve never gotten into an RPG, but too simple for those looking for some deep and meaningful character management.

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It’s not all bad though, levelling up is actually a ton of fun. Blasting enemies to smithereens gains you valuable XP which goes towards climbing the level ladder, though the variety in enemies could have done with a bit of bolstering as for the most part your killing off waves of identical weak opponents or battling a boss character. The Bosses aren’t particularly memorable either, with no great strategy needed to defeat them it’s more a case of find the weak point, attack weak point, retreat when the obvious incoming attack triggers, repeat until dead. A lot more could have been done with the Boss fights, unfortunately they fall flat in failure.

This is basically the single-player campaign for you, 10-12 hours of grinding. This wouldn’t be too bad if the game’s story was fleshed out a bit and the levels weren’t played out in such a linear fashion. The characters are mundane and players aren’t given enough time to get to know them and form any sort of attachment, especially with dialogue that wouldn’t be out of place in a Van Dam 80’s flick. It’s a bit of a surprise actually as Bungie did such a great job with Halo in building a franchise that grew its characters, the fact they’ve shied away from character development in Destiny seems a bit odd.

That’s not to say the campaign isn’t any good, it’s perfectly serviceable and is miles ahead of a lot of the garbage we’ve been thrown the last few years (Modern Warfare 3 anybody…) and there are some breath-taking scenes that suspend your belief, but they’re few and far between. The difficulty isn’t too high either, the learning curve is practically negligible so it’s easy to get stuck in straight away.

Those who are fans of World of Warcraft and other such MMO’s will find lots of replay value come End Game, the looting of weapons and gear is an enjoyable affair, but repeating missions may not be to everyone’s liking, and eventually you’ll get bored with grinding through the same levels again and again as they become far too predictable, especially with the drawn out lackluster Boss battles.

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The multiplayer side of the game is fifty-fifty. Whilst the solo campaign had its flaws it was for the most part an enjoyable experience, sticking to the tried and tested formulas that we players have bought into for the last ten years without question. The multiplayer however is shocking.

Destiny was hyped as the all-inclusive MMO that consoles had been begging for, but instead it’s a bit of a damp squib. The social aspects are just downright daft. The odd occasion you do run into somebody whilst you’re mooching around the galaxy you’ll want to stop and say hi, maybe ask for some tips if you’re new. Instead you’ll have to make do with running circles around each other as you can’t actually communicate unless you’re already playing in a party.

The promise of hundreds of thousands of players playing within a continuous shared world is nothing short of a scam. Sure, you’re all playing the same game and fighting for the same purpose, but it’s hardly the MMO we were promised. That being said, the game we’re playing this week isn’t necessarily the same one we’ll be playing a couple of months down the line. Bungie is promising all out support for Destiny, with Raids being added soon as well as the first expansion pack due out in December.

Whilst the “social” side of Destiny may be lacking, the competitive side is fiercely addictive. The game modes we’re all familiar with are there, though under different guises. Buddying up with a friend online and heading out into the competitive multiplayer is a joy to behold and is the one part of Destiny I cannot fault. The maps available are well designed and encourage team play, rather than running and gunning a la Call of Duty, but diverse enough that if you want to be the lone wolf then you still have a part to play. There’s not a great deal of maps, but with more being added further down the line I can safely say that Destiny will be my go-to game when I have an itching for some fast-paced first-person shooting online.

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If it’s a solid first-person shooter that you’re in need of for your PS4 or Xbox One but you’ve grown tired of the same-old backdrops of war that Battlefield and Call of Duty provide, then the sci-fi setting of Destiny will do you just fine. The game is a gorgeous sight to behold with some really standout moments amongst the planets. Makes you wonder if the future will really see humans running around Mars shooting each other in the back. Best not to dwell on that actually…

This is a review in progress. The game was played over the course of two days and remember, this is just a personal opinion. Don’t base your spending on one opinion alone, read around and see what others are saying, play a mates copy and see if you like it. Reviews are at best just a glimpse into what a game is really like, though we might recommend a game, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the game for you.

We’ll be revisiting Destiny in an updated review in about a months time, once the dust has settled among the planets and Bungie has had a bit of time to stabilise the title.

Have you played through Destiny? What are your impressions with the game? Think the review was too harsh or lenient? Tell us what you think down in the comments section below.

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Disclaimer: This review was conducted using a copy of Destiny bought at retail and not provided by Activision. Product fully tested on PS4 and partially tested on Xbox One.

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