Game Vivisection: Destined for Disappointment


Yes, I know, I missed last week. I have a special rant here as recompense. Don’t kill me please.

What’s this big, special rant about you ask? Ever cautious as you fire up the whipper-snipper for possible flensing. Well, back in 2013 E3 had me hooked on one particular offering, the sci-fi space opera sure to be 10/10 then known as Destiny. Of course, the promise of limitless exploration, awesome guns, a cool setting and deep story had me hooked, so I anxiously followed the games progress. I got gradually more and more hyped as the footage and the info rolled in, got access to both the alpha AND beta, pre-ordered and got half my friends in on the action.

Destiny is the single game responsible for my hatred of preorders, E3, hype culture, game publishing bullshit, day one DLC and a multitude of other things that all mashed up into this single, sinful product. So we all know what to do now. We rip apart the best 6/10 of the 2010’s and make it into what it should’ve been, was advertised as, and would be in a perfect world. Oh boy this one should be fun.

Destiny Image 1

For those who are uninitiated to the amount of bullshit surrounding this game, there are links below. In short, throughout development and marketing, the game was proposed as this Mass Effect style space opera mixed with the scale of Just Cause, MMO aspects of WoW and the gunplay of Halo with the variety of Borderlands. It was a big thing, and was in development for reportedly around four-ish years, with a huge 500 million dollar budget. Yes, Bungie did say this was inaccurate, but for some reason I’m thinking they dropped that after the 6/10’s rolled in, maybe to soften the blow? Late in development, close to 6 months before launch, something f**ked up, actually more to the point everything f**ked up and they had to stitch back together what was left, like some weird Frankenstein’s monster made of semi futuristic weaponry and jargon that constantly muttered “random number generation” over and over again. What remained was a monstrosity, which traps children in it’s strange Stockholm Syndrome inspiring grind to this day. It’s in essence: criminal.

So let’s get the pro’s out of the way, because surprisingly they are somewhat present. The soundtrack, for instance, is tight. Easily one of the best that year had to offer. Unfortunately they fired the composer, so no more of that in Destiny “Expansion 4: The Pinched Dosh. The gunplay is also pretty good, it feels smooth and responsive enough to complement the movement system. In fact in terms of general gameplay the game feels at least competent. Yes and of course it looks nice as well, but that is something we as a species need to really get over already, and which we all eventually do as we trek through the same areas over and over and over and over and over and over etc etc. The general ideas and concepts for the universe is at least promising, but that doesn’t do much more then show you the design document of the apple, that has long since turned into nothing but worms which routinely need tiny defibrillator’s applied to their skulls to at least make them intriguing. The Taken King rip off does at least try to improve on the games faults, and even has some vestige of character and plot, but is ultimately still that same amalgamation of worms, except this time covered in sprinkles.

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So what are these worms I continuously speak of? Well, here comes the fun part, it’s literally everything else. So in the “story”, and I use story in the weakest possible term, humanity is once again living in a post apocalyptic future where everything is all hopeless and whatnot. See, some cosmic golf ball called “The Traveller” showed up one day on Mars or something and made it rain. So from there it went and pimped out the rest of the solar system, with humans along with it. Unfortunately, the Traveller’s less reputable mate showed up, generically called “The Darkness”, this darkness then went and trashed everything with it’s supporting generic humanoid alien dudes. So the humans decided to do the stupid thing, and let the golf ball tank it out with the generic evil thing. Mr golf ball got absolutely smashed, but somehow managed to stick it to the evil dudes, hover over this last city and create a horde of tiny Rubix Cubes called Ghosts, capable only of
either awful Nolan North or Peter Dinklage impressions. But now, we have a call to action, as you and hundreds of other idiots fight the same enemies over and over and over and over and over and over etc. All to eventually reclaim the Solar System. Or something like that there’s never any reclaiming that happens. In fact despite having some interesting lore, it doesn’t even implement it into the game. So not only is all the cool stuff on the Bungie website in stupid “Grimoire cards”, the story in the game is beyond rubbish. It justifies every mission with this brief and boring sentence which is basically an overly long way of saying: “Go to the place you’ve already been to and shoot the dudes, then scan the thing”. That’s every mission in the vanilla game by the way. Every. Single. Story. Mission. So by two thirds of the way you get some robot woman who shows up, asks if you’ve heard of some Black Garden, which of course you haven’t because the game doesn’t tell you anything, then buggers off without further ado. So off you go to kill the Black Garden. Now, with some reading into this I figured out how awesome this bit actually was, because I had context, but in the game my reaction was “Oh look, everything is kinda green”. So you kill a boss three times then you win.

The rest of the game is the multiplayer: which is broken and unbalanced to this day, the free roam: which is constrictive and repetitive, the longer Strike missions: which are go and kill the big dude with lots of health, or the Raids: the only well made bit of the entire game. There’s only one raid in the base game. All the guns look and feel near identical, with some even sharing gun models regardless of rarity, all except the rarest, which have custom models. Obviously same goes for armour. The games good loot actively conspires to avoid you to a point where rare drops used to have a chance to turn into common stuff. Even now everything is such a grind to get it’s hardly worth the weapon at the end, which will undoubtedly get nerfed due to PvP people whining. The ships don’t do anything, the jet bikes barely do anything, the emotes don’t do anything, the NPC’s don’t do anything and for the entire game nothing happens. There are brief moments where things do happen, like when enemy numbers in free roam randomly surge and everything turns into total chaos, but there really isn’t any appeal to fighting the same people some more after doing it 500 times. Speaking of enemies, the design for all the enemy types is ridiculously uninspired. Basically anyone who isn’t just a humanoid “dude with a gun”, is a bigger dude with a gun or a floaty thing with a gun. There is absolutely nothing else. They released a totally new region for recent DLC, with a new enemy type, which are literally reskinned models of already made enemies. They had some story justification but it’s hardly an excuse. See, in essence, the game is the definition of style of substance. That’s why it’s so unbelievably mediocre to a point where it’s offensive. I could go on and on and on and on and on etc about this game’s issues, but really, I just want to fix it up and watch it finally do what it was meant to.

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Actually, I want it to get tripped up after it takes its first step so I can bash it’s skull in but anyway how do we fix this absolute mess.

First up, go back to basics. The concepts for this game are what I saw so much potential in. A mysterious universe that you wake and must find answers in. See this isn’t a universe of order and logic, this is a system of broken worlds with a dysfunctional but constant stalemate in place. That’s the scene you need to set. You have to establish who everyone is, why they’re there and whats happening. For example, the multiplayer can go back to what I think it was supposed to be, this ongoing battle for control between the three Factions in the tower. Just give us two more and you’re golden, your multiplayer now has context. Now for the rest of it, i’m not gonna start fresh here, i’m gonna use the original ideas and surviving good ones from this game and use them to build something. In terms of gameplay, it’s serviceable, just drop the silly loot system and make it based on resource gathering for smaller modifications and customisation. Everyone needs to look like the survive off scraps, so guns should have random stuff just bolted on, so it stills looks serviceable, but it’s been through some real war. Basically just ditch everything but the exotic weapons, or base designs and whatnot. See, you’re in a setting where technology is kinda regressed, lots has been lost from your Golden Age. The enemies need this sense of lost glory too. See, the visual design of what is in the game does vaguely show that, especially with the generically named Fallen and Vex. The Fallen look like brigands who were once noble. You can see it in the environments they chill in, with all these tattered banners and archaic weapons that look like they were made for duels. The Vex, on the other hand are totally unremarkable except in the areas like the Black Garden and Raid area. See, these guys are supposed to be time travellers, so in the raid area you see Vex machines from both past and future. And in the Garden they just look really old and abandoned. There’s this one section where Vex robot statues literally come alive as you pass them, kinda like really slow Weeping Angels. Now that stuff is cool, because it visually shows these themes of lost glory and some rebirth and a new age of cool stuff.

Ok, so in terms of single character stories, make one for each individual race or class, which then all joins together as you get into the main meat. So the first few missions serve as introductions, where you establish the who, what, went, where etc. You grab your guns, your class powers, your space ship, and you embark on the missions for the city. Except, maybe you don’t. See, you could go literally anywhere with this. Maybe you explore the galaxy, encountering a myriad of interesting characters as you endeavour to take down the big bad threat to the last city or whatever. Maybe

you search for the deeper truths, perhaps uncovering that the city and it’s golfball guardian are actually evil or something. Maybe you just decide to piss off and live on Pluto, who knows. The whole point is that you have near limitless possibilities, make everything. Give people branching paths based on quests given to you by NPC’s. Maybe faction allegiance changes aspects of the game. Maybe you go on your raids motivated by a search for knowledge, treasure or patriotism. Here’s an idea, your race changes where you start and what “getting up to speed” missions you do, then your class establishes what storyline your character travels down. That makes everyone seem at least slightly different. You can have the Hunter roaming around for treasure or just the thrill of the hunt, maybe engaging in some manhunts or dealing with criminals, maybe that isolation distances him from his fellow Guardians and even humans. The Titan can be the basic warrior, fighting off the big threats to the city like a true hero, then getting all the medals, but maybe he grows jaded about the reasons he fights. Meanwhile the Warlock can go on his search for knowledge, which could test his loyalties to the Traveler and city. All the classes would eventually join in terms of story, where they establish that literally everyone in the system is a bad guy.

Well, that got depressing fast. Oh, also you better add space battles, or its an automatic 0/10.

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Profile photo of Charlie Eastwood
Charlie is a British-Australian-Irish writer, Destiny hater and general cynic. When he's not denying the existence of things more important than video games, Charlie writes short stories, binges Game of Thrones and finds a way to complain about anything.

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