Soulless, goalless and ball-less: why Destiny has already failed

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Destiny has taken a lifetime to release; from its leak, announcement and subsequent drip-fed reveal, the game has had a slow and well-paced development period. And it worked. Who wasn’t intrigued by Destiny?

So the real question is, for a game that has seemingly taken a lifetime to develop, how did it end up so lifeless?

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Every time Bungie discussed the game, it was proudly flaunted as the next-gen shooter; an FPS that is ambitiously alive and dynamic. And this was a believable feat, what with the developer’s pedigree and hordes of fans that clamour for their products.

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The clamouring hordes of fans was an image that resonated with Bungie, as all Destiny has to offer – bar the solid PvP modes and gorgeous backdrops – is clamouring hordes of indistinguishable aliens mindlessly shooting or clawing at your poor soul.

The enemies you face and the friendly bots you trade with are all high-res characters that lack any character. Enemies only come with a wait‑around‑to‑attack‑guardians mode of personality and allies can be boiled down to a single paraphrase: ‘Here is [item whatever]. Use it on the darkness.’

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The game has a distinct personality complex. At times, your very own Ghost, voiced by Peter Dinklage himself, attempts to draw you in to the horror or intrigue of your situation. Yet, this is only apparent because of the subtle change of the soundtrack or Dinklage informing you directly.

There is no exposition in this game; you are bombarded by a narrating companion who is hell-bent on using declarative and imperative sentences to drive you forward. This fails to motivate when it becomes apparent that the only destiny that awaits involves corridor shooting topped of with a few waves of enemies. The game is boiled down to one goal: kill.

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In every nook and cranny you will either find loot, the path you will take during the next level or absolutely nothing. Exploration is only rewarded with slight armour or weapon upgrades, and the large part of the game’s story is told through the Grimoire Cards – Bungie’s apparent attempt at forced cross-media storytelling which fails and only divides the story from the game.

The dialogue throughout fails to inspire and you have to question why Bungie bothered with ham-fisted cut scenes and any pretence of narrative.

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The only drive is grinding through ranks and the few moments in which you genuinely feel kind of badass: this usually involves the sparrow – read: speeder bike – or double jumping around the moon with a revolver in team deathmatch.

Despite its success, Bungie played it safe and made a gorgeous and adept shooter with good enough PvP to keep the Halo fans quiet but little else. Let’s just hope the inevitable sequel explores new ground like the space exploration that inspired it.

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