‘Destiny’ Review

Platforms PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Developer Bungie  Publisher Activision

Genre Cooperative Shooter   Platform Played On PS4

A few years ago, the very idea of Bungie, the creators of the legendary Halo franchise developing for PlayStation as well as Xbox would have seemed like a very desirable, although farfetched idea. Then comes along Destiny, a cooperative or “shared world shooter” as its creator and developer likes to call it. Destiny is the first game developed by Bungie since 2001’s Oni to be developed for PlayStation consoles as well as Xbox ones and to say it’s been hotly anticipated would be a vast understatement.

“Is Destiny any good though?” I hear you ask. The short answer is…yeah, sometimes. But here’s the long answer.

Destiny has you playing as one of three class types in an order of fighters generically named Guardians who defend what’s left of Earth against the forces of other generically named factions, the Fallen and the Hive as well as others with admittedly less generic names. Your specific character has spent the last few years as a corpse, the reason why is unknown to you unless you want to pause the game and scour the Internet for that answer but we’ll get to that in a second. As you’re resurrected by a little mechanic companion known as a Ghost, you embark on a mission to become the last hope for Earth. You and everyone else playing the game.

When Destiny was revealed, Bungie jumped headfirst into showing people the amount of effort they went into in creating an entire fictional lore for the game. A tale of cosmic powers, heroism and an impending apocalyptic threat. On paper, it makes for a great setting and it’s what had me excited for the game and what ultimately made me buy it.

However, it’s like they forgot to put any of it in the actual game. All the lore exists but for some strange reason that I could not possibly fathom after having watch the reveal all that time ago, it seems Bungie has decided that the story doesn’t matter.

Well, ok then.

The story is there, but it’s hidden behind a mobile app which acts as a companion to the game. If you want to read about the lore Bungie insists it worked hard to create, you have to either have to turn off or pause the game and then look up the game’s background and story. Many will argue that a cooperative shooter such as Destiny doesn’t need a story. You’re welcome to think that and in the case of some other games in the genre you’d be correct but the result is the game feeling empty and devoid of any real motivation outside of gameplay and of character. What’s frustrating is that this game was clearly designed to have a strong emphasis on lore. There are some cutscenes and dumb characters introduced later on that serve to push forward the game’s struggling narrative but you can just sense the get-go that it’s all they’re there for.

As mentioned before, Destiny, according to Bungie is a “shared world shooter” by which they mean “cooperative shooter” not unlike Gearbox’s Borderlands series. Players can either tackle the game by themselves or with other players. You’ll want to play with friends because the game gets rather boring rather quickly when playing by yourself. Playing this game with others gives a sense of camaraderie that soothes the sting of a boring single player option and the game will also force you to play with others in its Raid and Strike missions which made the experience a lot better for me. Most of the time I was playing with two of the other classes which mixes things up, although not by much. It’s fun to work together but ultimately, I just found myself playing with others because of how much of a chore the game is by itself.

When you look at Destiny simply in its basic form of a game to be played, it can be rather fun. If you like Halo then you’ll like Destiny. If you like Borderlands, you’ll like Destiny. If you like playing for hours to get a pair of gloves, you’ll like Destiny. If you’re an individual who enjoys grinding for hours on end, you’ll like this game. If you want anything else, you’re likely to have problems with it.

Destiny’s shooting mechanics are pretty much what you would expect from a developer who always specialised in first person shooters. It doesn’t do anything new, instead it plays it safe with how it plays but it’s more a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” You’ll immediately be able to pick Destiny up and play it which makes it familiar. It’d be fine if it was someone else but as Activision’s marketing constantly reminded us, this is Bungie, the creators of Halo, one of the biggest franchises ever. When it came out, it broke ground harder than a Super Saiyan punch to the floor.

“This is Bungie people. Bungie.”

Destiny is one of those games where you grind, and in most cases, grind hard for almost absolutely nothing. You may pick up a new weapon or a new helmet but odds are, it’ll either be better than what you already own by one point or it will probably be considerably worse. The loot system in Destiny is rather fruitless and I spent many hours retreading the same generic, canyon landscapes, playing the same attack and then defend missions only to receive one piece of encrypted armour. I then repeated the process of returning to the game’s hub to unlock said encrypted item only to find it’s for a different character class so I cannot use it. It’s too much effort for pieces of loot that are only cosmetically different.

Destiny gives you three character classes and three races to choose from when you start. You can either be the Titan (big guy with a gun), the Hunter (small guy with a gun) or my personal favourite, the Warlock (guy in a long coat with a gun). The character classes largely play the same but each have their own special ability. For example, the Hunter can summon a ghostly gun when their super power is charged and the Warlock can throw a big ball of energy which is useful for clearing large clusters of enemies. Next, you have the three races to pick from. Humans, Awoken which are humans who look like they wear a lot of makeup and the coolest ones, the Exos which, as cool as they are, do look a little bit like a Michael Bay Transformer. The races, apart from customisation, offer nothing to the experience.

Customisation is rife in Destiny. I’d created a few characters in different classes which all looked vastly different. It’s really fun to fool around with how you want your character to look. When faces and races are all done, you can then look forward to customising your Guardian with all kinds of different apparel choices.

Destiny isn’t all cooperative however as it offers a PVP mode named the Crucible which is exactly what you might expect. You go from fighting bad AI opponents to fighting real people who are more likely to beat you over the head with your own backside. The more time I spent in the Crucible, the more fun I had. I’m an avid Battlefield 4 player so I enjoy my PVP. It’s nice to take a break from engaging in the same unimaginative mission structures to instead spend a while blasting other players. It’s good but ultimately, it’s just a multiplayer mode overshadowed by the campaign mode equivalent.As you may have gathered from this review, I’m not a fan of Destiny which is a great shame for me as a fan of Bungie and of Halo, especially when I consider how this game blew me away until I actually played it. The problem is with this game is that it is just so utterly uninspired. Right down from the empty environments offering almost nothing in the way of things to find aside from five crates per planet to the insanely tedious and condescending “analyse and defend” mission structures all the way to the complete negligence of a story for a game that quite obviously was built with a strong lore in mind.

Yes, Destiny has good gameplay, yes, Destiny is fun with friends but there is nothing even remotely remarkable about this game. The laissez faire approach for Destiny makes it a competent game for what it is but when you think about how Bungie has been working on this game as early as Halo: Reach, you’ll wonder what the heck they’ve been doing all that time if the end result is something that is so reminiscent of games that have come before it.

The call for a game to be exceptional in today’s gaming world is a drum that is often beaten. Not every developer can innovate and pioneer new experiences which is fine but for a developer as profitable, ground-breaking and as highly respected as Bungie, it’s obvious they’ve resting on their laurels with Destiny.

So is Destiny any good? It can be but all of its tedium and retreading of paths already well travelled pummel it into a ball of mediocrity.

Destiny is the first game in an intended series as part of a ten year partnership with Activision so I can only hope this first instalment will serve as some kind of bloated beta for later games. Until then, we’re stuck with this.

The Good

  • Safe, familiar and reliable approach to gunplay.
  • The Crucible.
  • Dense character customisation. Cosmetically speaking.

The Bad

  • Complete negligence of a lore that actually exists.
  • Same missions over and over.
  • Creativity is absent.

The Score: 5.0.