Destiny is the first title from Halo makers Bungie since they moved to Activision and started work on multiplatform titles. Touted as having a ten year lifespan and being the pinnacle of online co-op games, it certainly had a lot to live up to. A successful alpha and beta gave players a sneak peek at what to expect both in terms of positives, like gameplay and negatives, such as the repetitive play areas. So how does the final product hold up?
Right out of the gate the biggest positive for me with Destiny is it’s great art style and the look of the environments. Certainly on the PS4 the game looks gorgeous and creates a real feeling of scale which adds a lot to the experience. Whether you are on the Moon, Earth or Mars you’re in for a visual treat. Another positive is the handling of the weapons, which feel weighty and fun to use. I mainly used Pulse Rifles for my playthrough and found them to be effective, with some good additional benefits depending on upgrades etc.
As well as choosing weapons you’ll also need to select a race and class. The race is largely unimportant but obviously the class decision can affect what abilities/powers your character has, so choose wisely! There are a variety of abilities to use and these are also upgraded as you go along. It’s a wise move to break up the powers into classes as it means you won’t have all powers available to you in one playthrough. One thing I was disappointed with was the fact that there was no alternate dialogue for different races. On one occasion another character was explaining the basic beliefs/characteristics of my own race to me, without any awareness that I would already know all that information. It just breaks what little immersion has been built up during the lacklustre story.
Unfortunately Bungie don’t seem to have included a great deal of material for the story – while the campaign missions are fun at times it really did feel like the developers missed an opportunity to flesh out the amazing new universe they have created. There were several characters I would’ve liked to have known more about that appeared in one or two cut scenes and then were never seen again. More story content has been promised in future DLC but while I enjoyed playing through the campaign it all just felt a bit lightweight. Also while the mission areas look amazing it can be a bit disheartening to continually be dropped off at the exact same point on a planet everytime you go there. It really would’ve broken the gameplay up to spawn in on the other side of the map, for example.
Online co-op is a huge part of Destiny, with the developers expecting you to always have two other people to play with at all times. If you don’t you can still play but the game will spawn in two other totally random online players to join you. This can lead to some disjointed moments when playing solo as the people the game matches you with might be a much higher level than you, which can skew the action slightly. It’s not a huge problem, it just doesn’t create the vibe that they were aiming for.
As well as campaign and side missions, Destiny also has an addictive competitive element. Taking the form of various traditional modes (Team Deathmatch, Area Capture etc.) the game’s multiplayer can be both fun and frustrating. I really enjoyed the way the game is balanced to cater for normal weapons, ‘special’ weapons and character abilities. You are constantly earning XP for playing in matches and it is a really solid multiplayer offering – which I suppose shouldn’t be a surprise coming from the people that made Halo!
Overall this is a fun shooter with some nice weapon handling and an impressive art style. The content on offer is, sadly, lacking in depth or variety in the long term but as a title to play through and then delve into multiplayer, Destiny will keep you busy for several hours. It certainly feels like a grind at times but the core gameplay is solid enough and coupled with a ‘roulette’ style weapon unlock system should keep you coming back for more. I feel that Bungie have delivered a great foundation to build on but the story itself is lacking, which I hope will be addressed in the next Destiny title.