In Defense of Destiny by Pete Dodd


I've found myself a bit confused by a lot of the discussion surrounding Destiny since it launched a week ago. What I've come to figure out is that Destiny was assumed to be different things to different people and Bungie delivered something that didn't fit into those definitions. It's a ballsy move for a company to spend so much money on what is essentially a new style of game (in the console space, at least) and if the loudest negative voices are right, they failed miserably.

During the Alpha and Beta I heard "It's Borderlands mixed with Halo" so many times that I think that was the defacto opinion on that was what the game was. Having followed the development closely, trying to make sense of Bungie's "ten year plan" and the announcement of two expansions so quickly after launch I was expecting something much different. I was expecting exactly what was delivered. A game that has far more in common with Phantasy Star Online or even World of Warcraft than it does Borderlands. Those who were expecting a Borderlands type game and blasted through it only to find that there were factions to grind, loot to grind, and that the first raid wasn't just a fun stroll you could take a pub group through got very frustrated. 

I don't blame those people for being frustrated. Bungie and Activision have not done a great job explaining what the game is. They knew that people enjoyed the Beta and basically just shut their mouths so they could capitalize on that good will. For people who feel duped, I understand and I don't think you're at fault. A lot of the flack that Bungie is getting currently is deserved as they held back reviews and never fully explained that this is modeled after the modern MMO and not something like Borderlands.

I will make a defense of this style of game, however. There are many complaints about how all AAA games are very similar, something that was really apparent while playing Watch_Dogs which played exactly like every other major Ubisoft franchise. It could have been called Assassin's Creed: Modern Day and I don't think anyone would have known better. Titanfall is one of my favorite games of the year but the description "CoD with parkour and mechs" isn't really that far off the mark. Bungie is trying something new in the shooter and MMO space and even if you don't like the results, I believe they deserve credit for trying something different.

The game is difficult. The game does not crap out loot like Diablo or Borderlands. Early footage of the first raid show something that is extremely demanding both in terms of gaming difficulty, but also utilizing different weapon types on different enemies, and having to use different flanking techniques to take the AI down. They are bullet sponges, of course, but this isn't Borderlands. I beat the last boss in Borderlands by strafing back and forth and holding down the fire button.  Hell, just the other day I beat Diablo (as in the monster... in the game named after him) by holding down the X button... and this was on "expert." I didn't even move! I stood still, held down X, and won the fight. 

The fact that many people are upset that there is no matchmaking in Destiny raids also tells me that they don't know what they are getting into. Again, Bungie could have explained this better. The idea behind the raids is that they are intensely hard, they reset weekly, each week you hope to make it a bit further. This is exactly the style of raid made popular by Everquest and World of Warcraft. It's hard and it takes a coordinated group. If even one person isn't on point they will doom the entire group to failure. Does that sound like something you would want to rely on matchmaking with strangers for? Especially since your progress in the raid is saved for the duration of the week, so you would need the matchmaking to also magically find people who fit your schedule. This level of content is for dedicated people, who can setup a schedule in advance, who can talk strategy, and who can be relied upon. This is a hell of a gamble for a console shooter that is in a market full of games with low difficulty that throws rewards at you constantly. If that is your baseline, Destiny is going to seem awfully boring, and then too difficult, and then you're out.

I find Destiny to be a breath of fresh air in the AAA space which is very much copycat driven. I don't think Bungie hit their goal of the perfect shooter MMO, but I also can't think of a MMO, World of Warcraft included, that didn't need patches and expansions to reach its full potential. The question that remains now is... will the console audience be patient enough for the game to continue to grow? Do they even want it to? I know I do, but looking around it seems I may be in the minority. 

Then again, it's usually the people who are upset that are the loudest. Bungie and Activision have themselves to blame for not explaining the concepts of the game fully. I just hope they don't dumb it down now that there is a loud resistance.




Comments:

#1
Solryn
I really like Destiny a lot. There are a lot of well reasoned criticism about how the game handles story. But, I find that I love the way the story is being told. I've only played through Venus but I am level 20 already due to the insane amount of things to do between patrols, strike missions and PVP. I find that I can go to the story portions whenever I want to and pick up without missing a beat. The real narrative for me in this game are my adventures that occur between story missions. Not perfect by any stretch but wow I keep coming back to the game and I keep having fun every time.
#2Beardybrave
Couldn't agree more. I've also been banging the Phantasy Star Online drum for a wee while now. It really puts me in mind of PSO. It has the same vibe. I think, seeing how busy it is, is the real indicator - especially among my mates who are a picky bunch at times. I've actually not seen a single review. I haven't sought out a single one, for the first time in a long time. To me, especially after the beta, reviews are largely redundant. And from what I'm hearing, I think they might stay that way for me from now on.
#3
Kurichan
I didn't plan to buy Destiny, but I did. I love the mechanics, and the world is great. The only problem is that it's a bit boring playing it alone.
#4Anonymous
I like Destiny, but I feel the co-op comes at the expense of the single player / story. I don't feel that in Diablo III and I didn't in Borderlands, where co-op is additive and not required, so that's were Destiny went wrong. And now I'm concerned for Assassins Creed Unity, I hope the co-op there is purely optional and additive.
#5
braveryexists
I am also really enjoying Destiny, but it's worth bearing down on the point you made that Activision and Bungie really didn't do a good job of explaining the game. I'm coming from a background where I primarily play campaign FPS and I've never played an MMO. Due to that some of the mechanics have been a learning curve, which I'm open to, but wasn't fully prepared for. I would have preferred if Bungie would have come out and said "this is going to be significantly different from Halo, but we're going to show console players some mechanics they haven't seen before and ease them into it." Ideally, this would have been done via the single player narrative, but that doesn't seem to be the case (haven't completed it yet). Instead, they kept repeating the 'shared world shooter' line and offloaded most of the information about the game mechanics and lore to their website and app. I'm level 17 and I'm still not fully clear on what, for example, Vanguard rank means for the game and my character. I'm not asking to have my hand held, but more of a bridge would be appreciated.
#6
Rain City Gamer
Great write up Pete. While I am enjoying Destiny so far, there are things that I have issues with. Also, I am one of those "It's Borderlands plus Halo" people, which is partially my fault. I agree that the communication of what this game actually is, is causing the negativity more so than the game itself. But what else am I supposed to compare it to if I have never played PSO or WOW? I would assume there are a lot of people just like me who are predominately console gamers (playing a console only game from console only devs) and don't have that point of reference. So naturally you gravitate towards Borderlands because it's a co-op shooter with loot and Halo because it's Scifi + Bungie. I personally don't think there is enough loot, and not in combat aftermath but in the world at large. Because of that, it hinders the WANT to explore. Over a dozen times already I have walked into a cave or went off the beaten path hoping to be rewarded for my efforts only to find nothing at the end of the rainbow. So while the world looks great and the art style is outstanding, I am not encouraged to explore every nook and cranny because it's a waste of time. Also Is there even a difference between classes other than special? I played with my friend for 3 hrs the other night and didn't even know what class he was until I asked after we were done. Shouldn't that be more evident? shouldn't each classes have strengths and weaknesses? Be able to use certain types of guns better than others just to give them their own personality? I am only level 16 so maybe I will understand it the more I play and will realize how ignorant I sound but as of now I don't see it. At this point I like the game, but I don't love it and I am hopeful that changes as I get to level 20 and beyond.
#7
ugsome
Great writing Mort. The launch of Destiny has been interesting. It is obvious the studio was very happy to be making an mmo-shooter and the marketing department at Activision was unhappy they were making it. As long as they can keep the content rolling in a timely manor the game should be able to build a nice base. If they actually sold enough units to cover the cost of development that is a huge user base. If Bungie can keep them around they should be ok.
#8
hol666
As another who took the Halo/Borderlands stance, I've been pleasantly surprised. Really enjoying the grind and even though I've not put a huge amount of time in, only level 10, I'm unlikely to get bored quickly. For me, it's a near perfect mix but then grinding isn't something new for me, 500+ hours on MAG & veteran on all factions. :)
#9
DrDamn
I think you nailed it in the first paragraph. It isn't what people expected/wanted - but the conclusion that this is automagically a bad thing is not necessarily true. The other point I would make is that they totally and utterly nailed the combat for me, in a gaming world of 'reward me, make my counters go up, constantly shower me with shiny things' it's that which is most important. If I do a strike and I finish without useful loot, without levelling, without completing a bounty or getting a trophy - I know that I still had fun actually *playing* the game.
#10Anonymous
I agree with all points mentioned in the article. I do find this to be a breath of fresh air. I am not sure how many people will be playing a year from now, but I think this game has probably made enough solid fans to keep it going for a long, long time to come. Time will tell. It is a flawed game, and I would probably give it a 3/5 on the Dodd scale and probably a 7/10 on other, most utilized scales. Still, that 'breath of fresh air' aspect means a lot to me. I was playing last night with someone, and they said they were surprised by a lack of content. For me, I am probably going to pump more time into Destiny than almost any shooter I have played in years, and can't understand that criticism.
#11
AskewedOne
I can understand that particular criticism insofar as if someone isn't looking for the deeper late-game content, the whole game will come across as hollow. The level cap comes quickly, and there's not really a ton of different locations. Heck, the only reason I discovered that one of the larger battle segments from the Devils' Lair strike mission connects to the Forgotten Shore was through playing around in a Patrol mission that I decided to take an hour and half on. I haven't done the same amount of exploring on the other maps, but I'm sure there's plenty of nooks and crannies I just haven't had the time to pour into the game and find yet. I'm also starting to hit the wall of grind, myself, having to stockpile the different crafting materials, but it's not the first time I've had to push through something like that. It is admittedly a game with flaws, and I'm kind of disheartened a bit seeing some of my friends from a different community considering walking away from this game due it not being the next coming of Halo.
#12Ford74
Great article. Great points. I really like Destiny. It is a breath of fresh air. It is close to the level of Call of Duty 4 when it first came out. The one difference is that you CAN play it by yourself or hop in with your friends. With all the reviews and comments coming out I tend to ask, is there really a game that people will love again? It feels like every game that comes out, there is some kind of backlash. I rarely look at reviews anymore and with Playstation Live, I will just watch streams of games that I am on the fence with and see if it entices me or not. I will be playing this game for a while and then I will play The division and truly appreciate where games have come.
#13dasmule007
ugsome wrote:
Great writing Mort. The launch of Destiny has been interesting. It is obvious the studio was very happy to be making an mmo-shooter and the marketing department at Activision was unhappy they were making it. As long as they can keep the content rolling in a timely manor the game should be able to build a nice base. If they actually sold enough units to cover the cost of development that is a huge user base. If Bungie can keep them around they should be ok.
Activision-Blizzard reported Wednesday that the game hauled in more than $500 million on its first day, making it the industry's biggest new game franchise in history. Scene from "Destiny" Bungie Scene from "Destiny" "The sales, which equate to roughly 9 million copies sold, were even higher than most analysts had forecast, which bodes well for the long-term strength of the game. It bodes even better for Activision and Bungie, the developer of the game. "Day one reported revenues are roughly equivalent to the company's costs in building the game, and thus follow-on sales will occur at higher incremental margins," RW Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said." Quote from CNBC, but I don't think Bungie has to worry about losing money.
#14dasmule007
Mike Zupan wrote:
I agree with all points mentioned in the article. I do find this to be a breath of fresh air. I am not sure how many people will be playing a year from now, but I think this game has probably made enough solid fans to keep it going for a long, long time to come. Time will tell. It is a flawed game, and I would probably give it a 3/5 on the Dodd scale and probably a 7/10 on other, most utilized scales. Still, that 'breath of fresh air' aspect means a lot to me. I was playing last night with someone, and they said they were surprised by a lack of content. For me, I am probably going to pump more time into Destiny than almost any shooter I have played in years, and can't understand that criticism.
Couldn't disagree more with your scores and overall how harsh reviewers have been in general. Maybe because of the hype...but I'd give it a solid 9 out of 10. Said before, but this is only the 2nd game the past year on any system I can't put down (1st was Titanfall.) I think Bungie hit a homerun with Destiny!
#15
DrDamn
[url=http://www.doddscientifics.com/board/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&un=dasmule007:2mbjwxvs][b:2mbjwxvs]dasmule007[/b:2mbjwxvs][/url:2mbjwxvs] Agree - best online gaming for me for a long time. I love the variety of gaming experiences on offer, and the core gameplay is just sublime.
#16
ElTorro
My main complaint about how Bungie described Destiny is that they, at least during some E3 gameplays and Q&As, emphasized its large and living persistent world. One Bungie developer panned the camera over the landscape in the background of the area where new characters spawn, and he literally said that he "could go there" but did not in the interest of time. This turned out to be spectacularly false. The world consists of a relatively limited set of relatively small and relatively linear locations. Everything else is just background decoration, and you magically die if you cross the area's invisible borders, as it happened to me on the moon. The areas themselves are static and offer no incentive for exploration. This all in itself is fine, but after the promise of being able to explore seemingly vast landscapes, it is disappointing to see that the game is not about such exploration at all. I can't figure out why this developer even uttered this weird statement. Destiny is a lot of fun as a co-op shooter with WoW-style instances, since the core gameplay and the AI are very good.
#17Anonymous
Fair enough dasmule [emoji5] I don’t disagree with the ‘unable to put it down’ part, though, don’t get me wrong. For sure, it’s up there as some of the most fun I’ve had in 2014, and I have burned through a LOT of games this year. On a factor of pure fun, I’d definitely give it more of a 4/5 or an 8 or even 9 out of 10. I haven’t gotten to level 20 yet though, nor have I gone through all the story missions. I’m level 15 or so at the moment, and I’ve been dividing my time pretty well between patrols, story missions, and Crucible. The reason why I say a 3/5 or a 7/10, is that the game has some inherent flaws… as much fun as I’m having, I find myself constantly at odds with how ‘good’ the game is. The worlds are so open and detailed, yet at the same time feel quite hollow and sterile. And I’m not just talking about the moon, but of course Earth and Venus, too. Looking up to the stars or glancing at the scenery beyond a playable area is absolutely astonishing, but then I look at my immediate surroundings at times and say, “Hrmmm…” And yeah, I find that the invisible death borders in certain parts of the worlds at our disposal can take me out of the experience. I haven’t reached level 20 yet (currently at 15), but while I LOVE getting new loot, I’ve found a bit of frustration in certain aspects of it: I’m encouraged to upgrade my gear, but it isn’t long before I find a new piece. I know this is about to change, as last night I FINALLY had an upgrade that required dismantling another piece of gear, but it’s been questionable in practice in the hours I’ve played thus far. Crucible, while normalized, does allow people to use SOME of their high level perks, which DOES create something of a disadvantage for players on a lower rung than they are. Fusion rifles and shotguns have also created something of a messy ‘insta-death’ scenario in Crucible, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Bungie nerfs these to some degree in the future. But the positive things about this game far outweigh the issues it has. I absolutely love that there’s almost no real ‘loading screen’… when you’re waiting for the next area to load and the matchmaking to happen, watching your jump ship soar through space feels like a PART of the experience, not some cut-scene that’s making you wait. I also love how I can jump in and out of PvP, story and patrol stuff whenever I want, because that’s all been integrated so well. Leveling up has been fun, running with friends from Dodd Sci has been a blast, and I love how the world offer a lot of open space to ride around in and/or explore, while there’s also ‘dungeon’ type areas that you can descend into and explore… … but if I were to give a fair review score for what I’ve played thus far, taking a lot of flaws into consideration – design or otherwise – leaves me at a score that’s around a 7 out of 10. Destiny isn’t a perfect game, no… but despite the complaints people have lobbed out there about the game being light on content, here’s something I know for a fact: I’ll spend more time playing this game than most other shooters that make their way to retail shelves, without a doubt. I mean, I’ve already spent a fair number of hours playing and getting myself up to level 15, and I JUST finished the moon last night. The more I play, the deeper certain game mechanics get, and the more stuff I find through exploration. 7/10 or not, I think everyone needs to give this game a shot and just let themselves get sucked into the experience. There’s hardly anything more satisfying than joining a couple of friends and playing a Strike!
#18
Jbone29
The back of the box says "rich cinematic storytelling" lol
#19dasmule007
Mike Zupan wrote:
Fair enough dasmule [emoji5] I don’t disagree with the ‘unable to put it down’ part, though, don’t get me wrong. For sure, it’s up there as some of the most fun I’ve had in 2014, and I have burned through a LOT of games this year. On a factor of pure fun, I’d definitely give it more of a 4/5 or an 8 or even 9 out of 10. I haven’t gotten to level 20 yet though, nor have I gone through all the story missions. I’m level 15 or so at the moment, and I’ve been dividing my time pretty well between patrols, story missions, and Crucible. The reason why I say a 3/5 or a 7/10, is that the game has some inherent flaws… as much fun as I’m having, I find myself constantly at odds with how ‘good’ the game is. The worlds are so open and detailed, yet at the same time feel quite hollow and sterile. And I’m not just talking about the moon, but of course Earth and Venus, too. Looking up to the stars or glancing at the scenery beyond a playable area is absolutely astonishing, but then I look at my immediate surroundings at times and say, “Hrmmm…” And yeah, I find that the invisible death borders in certain parts of the worlds at our disposal can take me out of the experience. I haven’t reached level 20 yet (currently at 15), but while I LOVE getting new loot, I’ve found a bit of frustration in certain aspects of it: I’m encouraged to upgrade my gear, but it isn’t long before I find a new piece. I know this is about to change, as last night I FINALLY had an upgrade that required dismantling another piece of gear, but it’s been questionable in practice in the hours I’ve played thus far. Crucible, while normalized, does allow people to use SOME of their high level perks, which DOES create something of a disadvantage for players on a lower rung than they are. Fusion rifles and shotguns have also created something of a messy ‘insta-death’ scenario in Crucible, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Bungie nerfs these to some degree in the future. But the positive things about this game far outweigh the issues it has. I absolutely love that there’s almost no real ‘loading screen’… when you’re waiting for the next area to load and the matchmaking to happen, watching your jump ship soar through space feels like a PART of the experience, not some cut-scene that’s making you wait. I also love how I can jump in and out of PvP, story and patrol stuff whenever I want, because that’s all been integrated so well. Leveling up has been fun, running with friends from Dodd Sci has been a blast, and I love how the world offer a lot of open space to ride around in and/or explore, while there’s also ‘dungeon’ type areas that you can descend into and explore… … but if I were to give a fair review score for what I’ve played thus far, taking a lot of flaws into consideration – design or otherwise – leaves me at a score that’s around a 7 out of 10. Destiny isn’t a perfect game, no… but despite the complaints people have lobbed out there about the game being light on content, here’s something I know for a fact: I’ll spend more time playing this game than most other shooters that make their way to retail shelves, without a doubt. I mean, I’ve already spent a fair number of hours playing and getting myself up to level 15, and I JUST finished the moon last night. The more I play, the deeper certain game mechanics get, and the more stuff I find through exploration. 7/10 or not, I think everyone needs to give this game a shot and just let themselves get sucked into the experience. There’s hardly anything more satisfying than joining a couple of friends and playing a Strike!
Great response and reasoning for your score! Agree w/a lot of the flaws you mentioned as well. Early on, also thought the levels seemed sterile and hollow like you. I would start another "story" level, and you'd be backtracking through the same world seemingly. But, eventually as I progressed in each story level, another portion of that level seemed to open up that I hadn't passed through before. The backgrounds are gorgeous and stunning in this game, also find myself just panning around at times taking it all in! But, the world right in front of me and the textures of the characters, not bad, but nothing I haven't already seen in other games. I'm running Destiny on PS4, but for a comparison, Titanfall at 900p on XB1 looks as good (minus the backgrounds.) On Crucible, agree about shotguns especially being way too powerful. One match, I was getting my ass handed to me by a level 26 player with a shotgun that killed ya in one shot. Frustrating as hell! Haven't played Crucible enough yet, but think maybe they can do a better job matching players up with similar level/skillz. Mentioning pure fun score, that's my most important basis for my game ratings. Basically, how much fun and and how long I continue to play a game after launch. So far, fun level is almost a 10 at this point for me!
#20dasmule007
Jbone29 wrote:
The back of the box says "rich cinematic storytelling" lol
Another area I agree could've been better. I wish they had more cut scenes, important NPC's to interact with to add to the story, etc. I'm thinking something along the lines of Mass Effect how they did their plot and "storytelling."
#21dasmule007
Myself included, but every time I turn on my PS4...80-90% of my PSN friends are playing Destiny every day and time of the day, since it was launched! That has to say something about the game...
#22
Pete Dodd
Yep. Lot's of hate online, but I typically have 30-60+ friends playing it, depending on time of day.
#23Beardybrave
[quote="dasmule007"].... Another area I agree could've been better. I wish they had more cut scenes, important NPC's to interact with to add to the story, etc. I'm thinking something along the lines of Mass Effect how they did their plot and storytelling.[/quote] I dunno, they're pretty hamstrung about how they treat that because it's always online, possibly with randoms. On the one hand you can't make it skippable because someone might not have seen it yet; on the other, if you make it too long and too often, then your going to piss off everyone who's already done it several times. I'd imagine they've tested the length of their cinematic scenes extensively and come up against a wall at some point. I like them, but I already have friends who complain about not being able to skip them. But that poor random guy in your fireteam, may not have seen it. edit : is the quote button broken? I've tried removing quotes within quotes, even extra quote marks, but can't get the quote working
#24dasmule007
Pete Dodd wrote:
Yep. Lot's of hate online, but I typically have 30-60+ friends playing it, depending on time of day.
Gave Destiny a rest for once on PS4...but noticed different habits on XB1 in comparison. Myself included, but I think the XB1 is utilized A LOT more as a media hub, at least 50% of my Xbox friends are always watching TV, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc. instead of playing games. And the games being played for most part, are sports titles for the most part. A lot different habits and more varied preferences on XB1 with gamers it seems. I literally don't think I've ever seen a PSN friend on PS4 using media apps hardly ever. I turn on my PS4, almost everyone is on Destiny and nothing else at all. Just a random observation I thought was interesting!
#25superjp
Great article indeed. I know the game is designed to do raids, levelling , to go to social hubs, etc but I guess some people thought it was just another halo and want to shoot each other on a map. I really like what destiny is, but I can understand that there is a public that just wants to do quick multiplayer sessions. In order to take into account those players, it would be nice to get another user interface with just boards. So people not wanting playstation home experience could play at destiny the standard way of other shooters and people who prefer the whole experience can play it the usual way. I know it wont happen, but it was just a thought.

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