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Are The Cracks In Destiny Starting To Show?

Destiny 360Destiny was released to much fanfare about two weeks ago. By this time most gamers can tell if they’ve got something they’ll use up and trade in or a game that’s going to keep them entertained on a much larger scale. Considering that Destiny is intending to be an MMO, and one that’s had a huge amount of funds poured into it, you’d have to assume that this title must still be entertaining swathes of gamers if it hopes to top another MMO with a certain abbreviation that sounds like an exclamation.

So, does Destiny beat WOW? Is it likely to be the next big MMO on games consoles since…. ? I actually can’t think of any big MMO’s for consoles off the top of my head so there can’t be that much competition.

Uh, not really?

The Good, The Bad and the WOW-y

First off, I want to say that I love Destiny. I bought the vanguard pack for my 360 and queued up for the midnight launch (which wasn’t really well organised compared to other midnight launches I’ve attended). Got home, opened it up and enjoyed playing the levels I’d completed only a few weeks previously for the Beta.

The first hour of Destiny, beautifully outlined by Ctrl+Alt+Del

The first hour of Destiny, beautifully outlined by Ctrl+Alt+Del

The game is still just as enjoyable as that sneak preview. Fights are often overwhelming, the levelling system is very slow and satisfying. When you get the right to throw a GRENADE after the first hour you feel as though you bloody earned it. I still love the story, a tale of humanity overwhelmed by dark forces to the extent that there is only one city – one final bastion – left in all the solar system. You enter at the point that humanity is about to lose and you feel it when wandering around the maps overwhelmed with enemies. I love that the game gives a good reason for all these other wannabe heroes: Guardians raised from the dead by small metallic creatures called “ghosts”. You feel like you’re part of a grand army that is hopelessly outnumbered and it makes the fights even more enjoyable. It’s a great game and I would recommend it highly.

But as an MMO? That’s where things start to get more complicated…

Destiny has an excellent storyline but as I ploughed through the story missions I noticed that we were hurtling through at quite a pace. Things seemed to be evolving and developing, something that cannot happen in an MMO for obvious reasons. That guy you meet in WOW who has you fix his broken cart will still be standing next to a broken cart the next time you head back his way. He will always have a broken cart: that’s the only reason this early level mission exists at all. Destiny is attempting to give you a grand world where you are a cog in an attept to save humanity from destruction but you also go on hero-styled missions. In fact, you always have the option of being part of a 3-person fire team but the game refuses to ackowledge this in cut scenes. If you were watching someone else play you could easily mistake it for a story-led FPS. To this extent, I wonder if Destiny is trying to have its cake and east it. Just like how having thousands of “dragonborn” in Skyrim is less cool than it sounds, styling me as a singular hero can only go so far. The story only has so far it can reasonably go without ending the MMO elements.

When we were first given details about the final product, many of us were surprised to find that Destiny would have six areas to explore. That’s only a few more than the beta. You even visit some of them more than once during the story missions, meaning that Destiny doesn’t have a lot of room to grow without creating all new mission areas. To be fair, they have plenty of space for this considering they have several PLANETS to create areas for, I simply mean that this kind of gameplay evolution is going to take a lot of development. It would be as if WOW came initially with much, much smaller areas and they had to expand them slowly but surely, rather than giving us whole new lands with expansions. Compared to any MMO I can think of, Destiny does have the downside of feeling very small. The story feels epic and has great potential but the actual world I can experience simply hasn’t quite caught up.

There are also issues with communication. Obviously because this is a console game there is no access to a keyboard for quick communication. You have some options on the D-pad (Wave, point, dance and sit down) but these are quite limited. Those who have played Halo will no doubt be frustrated that the company who invented the ability to speak within multiplayer based on your distance from other characters have simply left this feature out of Destiny. You can only ever speak to your fireteam, everyone else you just have to point at and dance with. This is a shame because I’ve seen plenty of guardian’s help out their fellow players, it would be nice to be able to thank them in some way other than a happy wave.

Destiny hunterOf course, I’ve focused a lot on the bad points of Destiny as an MMO, there are still plenty of elements of this game that I am just loving. The strike missions are BRUTAL, giving you a great oppertunity to flex your abilities. More often than I care to admit, my partner and I were stating “you’re the last guardian standing”, which would cause the final player to seek shelter until the respawn timer was up. The difficulty scale in Destiny is actually a very fine-tuned beast that can easily be taken for granted. But when you go back to an earlier level character you really feel the difference. It’s also the same when you fight enemies that are too high a level; you can HIT them but you barely HURT them even if you sharpshoot their weak points. The crucible allows for PVP, which is also shockingly brutal. Some players have already mastered the nuance of their abilities and you have to be of a high standard to even compete on most days.

As a final point for additional playability, you can also pick up bounties from the Tower. These work like mini achievements, you just need to reach the specified goal and you can get money and additional items. Going down to a planet just to do “patrol” missions (non story) and get your bounties is a great way to make some credits and investigate the world. There are also golden chests to find in every area, which drop sweet loot. However, when I do patrols I’m very much aware that I’m grinding. I feel that there needs to be a middle place between epic story missions where I’m a hero and grinding to get money and skills.

Too Soon to Call

I am optimistic however, as Destiny has a lot of additional content coming out. The Dark Below is expected in December and House of Wolves will hopefully be coming out in early 2015. There is also a special event occurring until the 6th of October: The Queen’s Wrath, which includes additional bounties, unique weapons and shades and tons of other incredible items that I WANT. If they keep developing and introduce enough varieties of bonus gameplay then I believe Destiny can stand out as a fantastic example of an FPS based MMO. But if what I have now serves as the almost entirety of the game, then no epic backstory is going to make this feel any larger than an action/adventure story line game.

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Kayleigh is a copywriter and video game geek from the South West of the UK. Find me on Xbox Live @Kazuwacky!

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