Friday, 3 October 2014

Whiskey Reviews: Destiny

Platform: Xbox One
Release Date: 9 September 2014
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Activision
Where to get it: (or anywhere that stocks Xbox One games)
Price: £49.99

A little while ago I gave the Destiny beta a glowing write-up in which I gushed over the lovely graphics and space bollocks and gave the rest of the experience a fair shake. You can consider this more of an update than a full review and we'll inevitably be returning a lot to what I've already said and reexamining the experience.

There's a lot more content in Destiny now, and more to come, but does it live up to the hype and expectations? Are those different things? Will little Timmy get out of the well? Click the link to find out in the next thrilling installment of Whiskey Reviews!

It's... It's... Kind of okay I guess. Little Timmy's fucked in that well though, Lassie buggered off to eat poop.

Lets open with a paragraph from my original preview corrected for accuracy;

Bungie's knack for writing a mysterious and compelling lore has once again come out to play, we've got a giant space bollock called The Traveller that's come to humanity for... actually that's not explained but there's a big evil thing called The Darkness that's chasing The Traveller and has, in the past few centuries, beat the piss out of humanity and The Traveller and now there's only one city on Earth and a bunch of dead people are being resurrected as Guardians by spiky little robot bollocks called Ghosts that are made by the giant space bollock. Pretty straightforward so far.

See how one small change has completely changed the tone of that whole paragraph? It's the same kind of change that getting time with the full game produces in those excited for it, or those who played the beta. It's a subtle shift in opinion that undermines the experience slowly and fatally like letting out a long squeaky fart at Vlad The Impaler's dinner party.
Destiny's lore is largely presented through a moderately lengthy opening cinematic and then in tidbits of voice over from the Ghost, Speaker and Stranger and that's about it. 
There's some Grimoire cards that you unlock by playing and show up on the Bungie website but you have to go digging to get at those which in many ways mirrors the lore from early Halo games in that you had to go digging in the extended universe to get at the meat of it.
Unlike Halo however the extra lore hidden away outside of the game isn't compelling or even additional stories all on its own; it's little virtual cards that have a picture on one side and some small dry writing on the other. 
Here's a tip to designers, if you're going to stick your lore on a bunch of cards you have to make those cards highly accessible, desirable and worthwhile and engaging. Miss any one of those things and you fail. Collectible card games like Magic The Gathering have got this down pat, some cards are rarer and therefore more desirable, they're worthwhile because you can play with them and they're engaging because the play has deep strategies. Naturally they're also accessible thanks to being sold all over the world.
Destiny's cards have none of those things, they have a little bit of XP attached to unlocking one in game. Imagine if you will a delivery, say... pizza. The delivery guy knocks on your door and he's like "here's your pizza, and I found this piece of paper on your doorstep" you'd politely take them both, might even give him a little tip for his diligence (and because he's the bringer of delicious pizza) but you still don't give a shit about the little piece of paper, it's an annoyance, an afterthought once it's left your immediate attention.

Gunplay was also something I touched on in the preview, it has a lot in common with Borderlands in that you need some degree of skill to get headshots or critical hits but even though it feels smooth and accurate it isn't particularly satisfying. It's kind of like "oh great, I hit another one in the head and numbers bigger than the normal numbers came out.".
Even with the exotic weapons (usually a days or week long ordeal of tasks to earn) are just more of the same. Sure they'll have a spiffy model and skin that's unique but at the end of the day you're just making your enemies cough up slightly larger numbers until they fall down.

All in all, Destiny is fun. It's decently designed and it works. The community is competent for the most part and despite the lack of communications people tend to be helpful, reviving you when you need it even at danger to themselves and pointing you towards loot chests or resources that they've picked up if they see you passing by.
But the honeymoon period has ended to be perfectly honest. The new game joy has worn off and now every session just feels like running through an MMOs daily quests for some more meaningless reputation points that unlock the ability to buy more things with bigger numbers for other bigger numbers.
I can't say it's a bad game, it really isn't. However it's a bit light on content, there's essentially only a handful of maps for both SP and MP (though some of those maps are quite large) and once you hit level 20 and finish the story missions you're just  going to be grinding out bounties and rep for better gear and while that can be fun in short bursts the game essentially doesn't have anything else to offer. The multiplayer PvP component doesn't feel as robust, or community-like as Halo does and the lack of voice communications (you can only voice chat to your fireteam, joining a mission through matchmaking lets you play with other players but they're not in your fireteam) and trading and such means I've not made a single friend while playing either, again unlike the Halo games.

Final verdict: It's okay. Just don't pay full price for it. Get it for £20 later on, or pick up one of the second hand copies that're no doubt floating around already. Depending on how much you like doing MMO daily quests or PvP your mileage will vary massively once you finish the story missions and hit the level cap.

Score: 4 out of 10 guardians play Hunter. True fact.

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