Main course: Destiny review

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When I first sat down to play Destiny, I had readied myself with six A4 pages to jot notes on. After a few weeks playing I have only scribbled on three of those pages. This doesn’t indicate how good or bad Bungie’s latest is, but it certainly shows how little there is to say about it.

Destiny is good; the polished visuals and tight controls ensure that it is fun to play on a high level. If you enjoy one minute of shooting in Destiny then you will somewhat enjoy the entire experience because, well, that is the entire experience.

The main failings of Destiny relate to Bungie’s promise for an epic new experience. While Bungie may be showing off impressive server technology that – mostly – handles the vast amount of users well, this promise ultimately boils down to nothing we haven’t seen before; i.e., interaction that is limited to shooting with others or at others. Destiny will not be associated with innovation in years to come.

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The – now controversial – story fails to excite. The Grimoire cards, while intriguing, should not have been the main channel for Bungie to exhibit the politics beneath the world they created. In game, we merely see a light-vs-dark story that has been more fully realised a thousand times elsewhere. Maybe Bungie assumed that gamers do not want the political and sometimes poetical writings of the Grimoire cards interrupting the constant barrage of enemy skulls to embed bullets into.

Instead, Bungie has opted for the minimalist approach. That’s fine, some of the best video games have done this (Portal, Limbo, and Shadows of the Colossus to name but a few) but they seem to have dropped the ball by not taking this further. Every cut scene feels forced and does little to improve the understanding of the story. Maybe they should have just dropped them.

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It’s a shame, because the empty worlds are undeniably pretty and the game has some brilliant voice actors that fail to shine. Sure, Peter Dinklage brings little light to the Ghost, but Nathan Fillion as Cayde-6 is the real tragedy; woefully underutilised, the actor of one of the most revered sci-fi characters is very easy to miss.

There is not a single character in this universe with personality: some have menace, some show boredom and some wax lyrical about pushing back the darkness, but character development and depth is nowhere to be seen. The enemies also suffer from a similar problem; once you are introduced to a type of enemy they will forever pop up for your killing spree to continue.

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But Destiny is about shooting. It only takes an hour of playing to realise this and the game sure is lucky it does this well. PvP matches are a blast and teaming up with friends in a fireteam is a fun way to pass the time. The shooting is fast enough to prolong that one-more-go feeling other multiplayer games wish they could wield.

Otherwise, the sound is very good and adds to the atmosphere, but it sometimes lacks that bit of oomph you would expect from this spacefaring tale. The overall presentation is clean enough to be appreciated but perhaps too clean to incite awe.

Alas, of all its greatness, one question still remains: what the hell did Bungie do with all that money?

Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m asking for too much from things No matter, they’ll make it back.

Medium

Edible, yet slightly over cooked with a hint of what could have been.

Please consult the rating guide.

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