The Traveler, an enormous celestial sphere, appeared before humanity during their first steps into space exploration. This meeting sparked the “Golden Age”, a time where humans were able to explore the vast reaches of space. Unfortunately, during the Golden Age, the Traveler was growing weaker, allowing the Darkness to creep closer. The Darkness, the natural enemy of the Traveler, seeks to extinguish humanity’s light and (presumably) end life on Earth. During the last great battle between the Traveler and the Darkness, the Traveler sacrifices itself to save humanity and push the Darkness back. A few hundred years later, many of the colonies established throughout space have fallen to hostile alien races and humanity seeks a way to revive the Traveler. Destiny’s campaign follows a group of people called Guardians, warriors who were chosen by The Traveler to whoop ass across the Galaxy. That is where the game begins and the plot ends.
Destiny’s single player is a hybrid co-op/MMO, allowing players to join parties of three and play the story missions together, then return to the central hub (The City) where they can interact with hundreds of other players. Unfortunately, the only plot you get while playing the Story missions are either read to you while watching the loading screen or brief commentary made by your robotic, Navi-esque companion, Ghost (Peter Dinklage). Sure, you travel through space and kill plenty of fresh faces, but the actual plot is played fast and loose. Another problem with the campaign is that there is shockingly little variety when it comes to objectives. It boils down to a few easy steps: go somewhere, fight enemies, deploy Ghost, fight three waves of enemies, go somewhere else, fight the boss. At first, the open world maps seem very exciting and the missions are fairly enjoyable, but after your tenth or twelfth venture onto the same map to do another tedious story mission, the enthusiasm fades.
As far as actual gameplay goes, Destiny handles very well. Anyone familiar with the Halo franchise will be able to slide right into the control scheme and combat. There are three separate classes you can choose from when you create your character: the Titan, Hunter, and Warlock. As you can imagine, they act just as they sound. The Titan fills the group’s role of Tank, the Hunter is your Ranger, and the Warlock is the Mage. Each of these classes has two subclasses which add some more variety to the roles you can play. What sets each of these classes apart is primarily their special abilities, which recharge through combat. These special abilities range from blasting foes with a ball of energy to producing a “Golden Gun” that deals massive damage with limited shots. A nice touch is that any of the three classes can wield any weapon they choose, so you don’t have to be stuck with a sniper rifle if you choose the Hunter. The variety of weaponry at your disposal is fair, with several types of guns for each situation. You have a primary weapon (several semi/full-auto assault rifles and magnum pistols), a secondary weapon (sniper rifles, fusion rifles, and shotguns) and your heavy weapon (machine guns and rocket launchers).
As you level up you gain access to new ability modifiers, but it isn’t the traditional design of action-RPGs. You don’t gain the abilities outright and continue to grow in certain skill trees, instead you can choose one modifier in each skill tree and your options slowly unlock. While it is an interesting take on molding your character to fit your playstyle, unlocking new choices can become tedious and often don’t impact the gameplay quite as heavily as you would hope. When you look at all of the upcoming abilities and none of them are anything you would equip anyway, it quickly leeches the fun out of seeing that satisfying, “LEVEL UP” appear. Subclasses can make for an exciting change of pace, but I found myself hesitant to swap out the class I had been upgrading for fifteen levels for a fresh start. Once you’ve got a triple-jump, it’s tough to go back to single hops like a goddamn barbarian.
When I first heard that the character you play in the campaign was going to be the same character you use in multiplayer, I was more than a little worried. Visions of max level players cutting through the swath of new guys were circling in my mind as I loaded up my first match. Then, to my surprise, I took first place on the winning team. You come to find that, while Destiny’s multiplayer certainly favors certain classes and weapons, it is pleasantly balanced. While your level may be lower than many other players, all of the weapons and abilities do the same amount of damage for all players and everyone has the same amount of health and shielding. There isn’t a huge variety of gametypes, but they keep the basics around. Clash satisfies your cravings for team deathmatch, Control is a hybrid between team deathmatch and base controlling, Rumble is your standard free-for-all, and Skirmish is a three vs. three objective based game. I feel like the hardcore fans of Destiny will be playing the multiplayer for years to come, but (much like Titanfall) I think most players will find a replacement for their multiplayer fix when something better strolls along.
Destiny is drop-dead gorgeous. It’s one of the first things you notice after popping the game in and it was still on the tip of my mind after beating the campaign. Textures are detailed and crisp, lighting changes with every possible variable, and character models (while all looking the same) are well designed and look natural. Even though Destiny is being released on every console, it doesn’t seem to look bland on any platform. Even the previous generation of consoles can still run Destiny beautifully. The soundtrack to this game is a tough nut to crack: on one hand, it is a very pleasant collection of epic orchestral composition. On the other hand, it all sounds like the Malt-O-Meal version of the Halo soundtrack. Which really shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering the composers of the Destiny soundtrack are Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori.
I think that the real problem with Destiny was the hype that it accumulated over its years of teasing. It was toted as Halo meets Borderlands, but once everyone got to playing it, we realized that it wasn’t as good as either of those. Sure, it’s got a lot of potential to be a great franchise (and after earning $325 Million in five days, there will be a sequel), but Destiny fails to achieve anything significant of its own. This game is a lot like that pretty girl you meet at the bar: she’s gorgeous, sleek, and can strut around the room, but she’s empty between the eyes and can’t hold a decent conversation.
I give Destiny 3.5 “Robot Companions” out of 5
By Blake Edwards