When Bungie first announced that they’d be leaving Microsoft and going off to do their own thing, I presumably thought that meant that they wanted to deviate a bit and try something new, instead of just being “the guys that make the Halo games.” Their newest game, “Destiny”, doesn’t seem to support that theory. In fact, you could say that it’s a Halo game with some slight alterations, most notably having some influence from MMO games. Normally, this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, since I could always use a little bit more Halo in my life, but problems arise when the realization hits that there’s something noticeably missing in “Destiny”: imagination.
The game starts off with you picking from three classes, which are about as generic as you can get. There’s the formidable and highly defensive Titan, the quick and nimble Hunter, and the glass cannon magic user called the Warlock. It’s pretty much the typical “warrior, thief, mage” classes that have been done for decades now, and probably took Bungie all of five seconds to come up with.
After this, the game acquaints you with your little robot buddy sidekick called a Ghost, who wakes you up because you’re a Guardian, one of many chosen soldiers fighting to save the world from evil aliens. Why are they evil? What’s their motivation? Well the game never really delves into that. Unlike Halo, “Destiny” never shows you any sort of established civilization that these aliens belong to, nor does it ever give you any lore that provides a background for them. They’re just evil, mustache-twirling villains who tied the damsel-in-distress that is Earth to some railroad tracks.
The story in general is completely uninteresting. It’s quite apparent that Bungie put very little effort into the game’s writing, with such brilliant lines like “I don’t even have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain” or “Evil so evil that even evil thinks it’s too evil.” Considering Bungie constructed such memorable characters like Sergeant Johnson or Cortana in the Halo games, it’s weird that they would utterly miss the mark here. The ending also was so bafflingly anticlimactic and unsatisfying that I audibly stated, “That was it?” as the game kicked me back to the main menu.
Alongside that, for a game that seems to be trying to be like your typical MMO, it sure has a striking lack of variety. Each story mission in the game feels practically identical to the other, having you walk to a location fighting through small groups of enemies along the way until you get to a point where you stop and fight off waves of more enemies while your Ghost investigates a computer or weird, science glyph. Rather disappointing coming from Bungie, who are known for their extremely creative missions in the Halo games, some of which often considered to be the greatest levels in any first person shooter. Nothing in this game deserves that title.
There are two other types of missions. Patrol missions have you explore one of the four areas in the game and complete short side-quests for loot and money, and Strike missions have you band together with two other Guardians to shoot through armies of enemies until you get to a boss with an incredibly large amount of health. These can be fun, especially Strike since playing with other people is definitely more fun than playing alone, but it still feels very one note. In the end, you’re not really doing anything all that much different from the story missions.
Now despite all the criticisms, “Destiny” is quite enjoyable. Not because it’s necessarily a great game, but because it’s very addicting and has really solid, tight controls that make it fun to play. The guns all feel like they have weight to them, and jumping into a group of enemies and filling them with lead certainly feels great. Enemies react very similarly to how the enemies in the Halo games react to getting shot, instead of just soaking them up as if you were shooting spitballs at them, a mistake many modern shooters make. The only enemies that feel like bullet sponges are the bosses, which tend to be exceedingly tedious to kill and sometimes can even feel unfair due to how easily they can pulverize you. Thankfully, the most powerful ones only are fought in Strike missions, so you at least have friends to back you up.
There is also a player-vs-player component to the game called “Crucible”, which surprisingly was what I found to be the most enjoyable part of the game. After shooting through the rather brain-dead creatures in the regular missions, it was a nice change of pace to fight actual human beings. The maps all are unique in their own ways, designed so that smart players can take advantage of the level design to flank unsuspecting opponents. If there’s anything bad to say about “Crucible”, it’s that the spawn points can be pretty bad, sometimes putting you right near enemies and essentially giving them a free kill if you aren’t ready. Also there’s the fact that each class has an attack called a super move that charges up over time and can instantly kill enemy players, not really taking much skill at all. Regardless, this is really where the game shines.
Ultimately, “Destiny” is not the game that Bungie made it cracked up to be. It’s painfully derivative of the “Halo” series, lacks variety to keep it interesting, and feels incredibly soulless and unimaginative. Destiny is less like a work of art brought together by real effort in hopes of making a great experience, and more like a lifeless product to make a bunch of money on with little care of how good it actually is. Luckily, it still manages to be fun enough to be enjoyable and to recommend for anyone looking for some mindless alien genocide, just probably not at full price.