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So About That “Destiny” (Videogames, September 2014)

September 16, 2014

Hey folks! Video game monthly time, and since I haven’t been playing anything new (save for Diablo 3, which I’ve talked about plenty in the What’s Up? section, the only game I’ve been putting a ton of time into (and I do mean a ton of time into) has been Destiny; so here’s a rambley bit talking about what I think of both the game’s pve and pvp content:


Single Player/Cooperative:
While I cleared my personal schedule on the Tuesday of its release and played through the entirety of the (~10 hour) Campaign and then did a hefty helping of versus multiplayer and cooperative strikes, and found that the game played just as smoothly as it did in the Beta, there were numerous jagged edges protruding in ways that had me, even on the day after, wondering whether I would put as much time into Destiny as I have a feeling its developers hoped players will.
Unlike games of its type, which encourage you to replay the same content over and over, Destiny falls behind because the game’s dungeons (called Strikes) play out exactly the same every time, and the game’s multiplayer is severely lacking on modes, and due to high damage and low health pools, is just as flimsy feeling and unsatisfying as recent Call of Duty games.
I’m fine with the game’s loot feeling more stringent than your Borderlands or your Diablo, because you get to spend more time with each item (more notably the weapons), but it would have been nice to see more kinds of weapons. The idea of the game spanning three planets and a moon, yet you will only find the same eight or nine styles of weapons seems kind of strange to me, especially when you consider how there are numerous enemy factions in the mix who each use weapon types you never fire yourself.
Bungie made such a point of getting out there prior to release to say “You’re going to be playing our game for a long, long time. Don’t worry about content.”, yet here I am a couple days after release and I feel like I’ve already wrung just about everything this game has to offer from it in its current state (save for Raids, which require you to bring along 5 friends, as there is no matchmaking, so I won’t be doing those anyway).
I could continue playing it for a huge chunk of time to come, though not because there are still things to see, but because the limitations they have placed on endgame rewards are tremendously limiting. Pieces of gear regularly cost 100+ Marks to purchase (Marks are given at the end of Strikes and Multiplayer matches at ~3 per), alongside a requirement of Rep level, and not only are these Marks and Rep levels monotonous to grind out and require you to replay the same half-handful of Strikes and the same TWO multiplayer gametypes over and over and over, but there is also a weekly cap on how many you can earn.
I did the math at one point, and realized that (not counting rep, which is the slowest of all to grind out), one piece of gear (120 marks @ ~20 minute Strike) would take twenty hours of repeating the same 5 or 6 strikes over and over to get. And that’s for one piece of gear.
It’s almost as if Bungie acknowledged the fact that their game wouldn’t have a ton of content in it at launch, and placed all of these grindy hoops in it to keep players playing. It makes me feel like I’m being manipulated into putting more time into a video game than I otherwise would.

Versus Multiplayer:
It’s incredibly frustrating that a large chunk of the currently available purchasable endgame gear is locked behind participation in this game’s multiplayer, as I personally do not think Destiny’s versus offering is very good at all, and I have yet to have any fun with it.
In a good multiplayer shooter (or any multiplayer game period, I suppose), you have enough fun with the mechanics and the player versus player dynamics found within it that you want to hop in the fray for another match or two, even if your team just lost. In a bad multiplayer game, even if you win by a landslide, the game is not fun enough in the moment to moment gameplay to give you any feeling other than irritation.
Much like vanilla World of Warcraft, Destiny’s multiplayer feels like a game tuned for PvE, and this comes across in the enormous number of ways instant death can be dealt to players. Grenades, power weapons (which every player spawns with), some brands of melee, as well as player Super abilities enact instant, and more often than not un-defensible death. Much like it is in recent Call of Duty games, being on the giving end of these deaths is boring, and being on the receiving end is frustrating.
This is something I wouldn’t have expected from a Bungie-developed shooter’s multiplayer, given their past exploits with the much more methodically-paced Halo series. Getting the drop on someone and having them pop their Super and kill you because they’re all but invincible during its activation, or unloading a full clip of ammunition into someone as they sprint at you with their Super to kill you is not what I consider “fun” in a multiplayer game.
The weapon classes all have their place in multiplayer at least, although I think the map design is pretty awful for the most part. Several of the maps are too cluttered, making it a chore to figure out where players are and/or shoot at them, and the two vehicle-based maps are horrendous. Out of the seven or eight maps (I’m guessing, since there is no Custom Lobby to see the actual list.), maybe three of them are decent.
The biggest nail in the coffin for Destiny multiplayer for me however, is its laughably light number of available multiplayer gametypes. Two. You get two. There will be slight alterations to those base gametypes where the player count is 3 on 3 instead of 6 on 6, but it is largely the same experience.
Again, coming from Bungie, who gave us Headhunter, Oddball, and Stockpile, this was a shock to see. At least give us Capture the Flag guys, come on.
Each weekend they appear to be pushing out temporary gametypes, but I haven’t seen any good explanation as to why these aren’t available at all times. Team Deathmatch is boring, and Domination too often caters to premade groups to be any fun for us Pull Up Group guys.
Like several multiplayer games I’ve come across, you can see how Destiny might be tuned to allow for a more interesting versus experience (weaker weapon damage versus players mainly), but it’s frustrating because you know those changes are very likely not to happen.

The game is no where near as big as I expected it to be by terms of content, and while it’s a bummer to have to grind away at the same five or six Strike missions endlessly to seek better gear (to grind away at slightly more challenging versions of the same five or six missions), it’s disappointing to find the versus offering so sparse, and again, so frustrating.
It’s a lovingly crafted video game, but I have a feeling that, much like with cooking, it takes a certain type of person or certain state of mind to accept a meal that didn’t sit well with you after its consumption, even if the one with the cooking apron has their heart in the right place.
It’s well made, and there are a number of neat ideas interacting with one another, but there are an equal if not greater number of misguided design decisions pushing me away from it. I want very much to love it, but it’s making it very difficult to do so, even if it has some of the best feeling shooting I’ve played recently. When it’s firing on all cylinders, Destiny is a complete blast to play, with some of the best art, some of the best shooting, and some of the best music you’ll find in games; but when it’s at its worst, you want to toss your console through the wall.
No matter how irritated I get with it though, I haven’t given up on it outright yet, and when I’m not playing it, I’m thinking about how much I wish I were playing it, so that goes to show just how satisfying the shooting alone has gotten them. I’m curious to see how much content they add either with patches or DLC (they already have two “expansions” planned, with the first hitting this Winter), and to see how they tune currencies and weapons.

That’s all I have to say for the most part! Hope to see you at the Anime monthly. I have some serious watching to do to get all caught up.

From → Games

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  1. Spitz’s Year End Wrap Up 2014 | Spitz's Soapbox

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