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DESTINY on the PS4 – Progress Review

Bungie’s new headlining video game, Destiny, is finally out. I suspect that many of you who have the game have already reached level 20 and beyond, but I’ve only been able to put in a few hours at a time since last Tuesday. I am halfway there as of writing this.

What is Destiny?

Some have a hard time classifying this game. The majority have asked, “Is Destiny an RPG shooter, or is it an MMO?” My answer is “yes.” I should preface that I barely have experience playing MMOs, so my experience with that genre is extremely limited. My first bout with the genre was when DC Universe Online came out for the PS3. I played for two days and got sick of it. The most fun I actually had was when I stayed in character creation. Funny still, I had the same experience with World of Warcraft. A friend allowed me to create a character. It was fun picking a class, a race, and imagining future antics this character would get into. But as soon as I landed in the world, I got bored and never logged on again. So to say that Destiny is solely an MMO would be a bit of a disservice, because then I would never have touched this game it doesn’t quite feel like one.

The base of story is that you are one of the chosen few to become a Guardian, warriors brought back from the dead to save the universe from an evil entity simply referred to as the Darkness. Floating around you in a Navi-like fashion is your Guardian’s Ghost, voiced by Peter Dinklage. Stationed in the last protected city on Earth, you are given bounties and assignments that help push back the enemy, or at the very least, find out what they’re up to.

I play a Hunter, which in the RPG world would be associated as the Rogue. As a Hunter, I can use a sniper rifle; I reach out touch my enemies from 100 meters away without so much as breaking a sweat. For up close and personal encounters, my primary weapon of choice is the hand cannon, a powerful revolver with a lot of oomph.

Destiny profile

The Good

Graphics on the Playstation 4 are pretty top-notch. The load times can sometimes test your patience, but that’s because it needs to load the beautiful layouts Bungie has designed. Each environment is painted with a surprising amount of detail. It can also feel pretty large, and patrol missions will allow you to cover each map pretty thoroughly. So far, my missions have only taken me as far as the Earth’s moon, but players do get to visit planets like Mars and Venus. If you can block out some time, you should really try to explore the nooks and crannies. Bungie is pretty good about hiding loot in some places. Who doesn’t love loot?

PvE missions include Story (duh), Patrol, and Strike. In true RPG/MMO fashion, you can pick a spot and grind things out in Patrol by picking up small objectives or wandering around and killing enemies. It’s a nice place to go if you want don’t want to dedicate large chunks of time in a main Story mission. Strike, so I’m told, is like visiting the very last leg of your Story mission and fights wave after wave of enemies. Strike tends to ante up the difficulty so taking a team with you is recommended. “Choose your friends wisely,” advises a fellow gamer.

Speaking of other players, you can interact with them while you’re in Single Player mode. Though you’re not obligated to stick with anyone you meet on the map, you have the option of clearing out a section with other players. The only time someone else can’t help you is during the last leg of your Story’s mission.

Overall, combat PvE is fun as hell; it’s basically what you’re there for, really. I’ve yet to learn what it’ll be like once I reach level 20, but so far I’m experiencing a good, challenging pace. Leveling is also pretty fast until you reach level 20, or so I’m told.

On the topic of PvP (Control, Clash, Rumble, Skirmish, and Salvage), I’ve not yet explored that side of Destiny yet.

Destiny Grimoire

The Bad

The story so far feels very drab. Because you play a person who’s been dead for centuries, you’re naturally going to have to sit a lot of exposition. Sometimes, you’re even subjected to vague or cryptic stories from some guy who sounds like he’s tired of telling the same story over and over again.

Even though I’ve yet to finish the Story campaign, I’ve been through enough of it to know that it’s the equivalent of Call of Duty or Battlefield, but even less engaging. It’s actually pretty forgettable, which is why I’m not even trying to explain it for you. I genuinely have no idea what’s going on aside from the fact that the Darkness is closing in and one fallen Guardian may have stepped into some enemy super secret plans for a full-scale invasion. Something like that. Nothing we haven’t heard before. Actually, I dare say this simple explanation just reminded me of  the Mass Effect series.

However, I can forgive all of this for now if future expansions have more engaging Story campaigns. A lot of people seem to forget that Destiny is Bungie’s 10-year investment. That means, over the next few years, we’ll be getting more and more content, which will hopefully expand the story as well as the world we currently know it.

What is unfortunate now is that the majority what’s happening in the story is actually happening out of the game-proper via collected Grimoires you receive in-game. Grimoires are documents you collect after certain events in the game that you can access either as you play or via Destiny’s companion app for your mobile phone. So much storytelling potential in some of these documents, wasted.

I will say this: Destiny holds a glimmer of fantasy within all the science fiction. It may have something to do with how the NPCs within the Tower, a safe haven for you to rest, carry themselves.

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140614161541

The Ugly

I love Peter Dinklage. I do. He’s a great actor. But his voice as Ghost can be a little jarring. I’m not sure if Ghost is supposed to have about as much emotion as a box, or if Dinklage just got lost in thought trying figure out how to properly emote in front of a microphone. It’s not just Dinklage, though. Pretty much every character with a speaking role, including your character, falls extremely flat so far.

Customization could be better as well. Don’t get me wrong, the choices you are given when creating your character are beautiful. They’re just extremely limited compared to even the first Mass Effect game. It’s doesn’t stop at character creation, either. Until you reach level 20, you’re pretty much left to whatever equipment is the strongest. That potentially leads to you looking like a pile of mix-and-match cluster cuss of clothes you picked out of the closet blindfolded. Also, you can’t customize your weapons at all. Yes, they can be upgraded, but that’s literally it.

Destiny - My Guardian

Verdict

So far, Destiny is ridiculously fun. As a writer, I hold good story and plot on such a high pedestal that I generally believe that no game is worth playing unless those perimeters are met. However, I’m willing to overlook Destiny’s lack of in-game storytelling (for now) because combat is what I mostly wanted out of this game. And I got it. Gameplay is fun, the preset controls are comprehensive enough for any beginner to jump right in, and there’s just enough happening to stave off general boredom. And that’s just for single player. I’ve yet to explore co-op and multiplayer.

The Author

Christina Janke

Christina Janke

Host of "Intro to Geek" on Shauncastic.com. Her love of all things Mass Effect knows no bounds. She also carries an obsession with comic books, video games, and quirky television shows. Her heroes are Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Gail Simone, and hopes to be just like them when she grows up.

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