Seeing the seams of a game is never a good thing.
Now, usually seeing the seams is a graphical failure – seeing the skybox corners, obvious loading zones, and impossible doors to name a few. But Destiny is unique in that the seam is the game itself.
Two things are obvious after playing through Destiny. The first is that Bungie obviously has grand ideas and a sweeping narrative that would support a deep, engaging storyline. The second is that they realized it wouldn’t last 10 years.
I wanted to get deep into Destiny’s lore. I wanted to play missions again and again. I wanted to enjoy unique single-player segments like every other Bungie game. I wanted to love this game. But I can’t. I just can’t.
When you start Destiny, you must first make a character and select your class. I say that, and yet the only important thing is selecting your class, because the customization only manifests in the “Social” area, and in cutscenes, the number of which I can count on one hand. Afterwards, you’re treated to a breathtaking introductory cutscene that seems to set the stage for the multitude of stories to come.
There is no multitude of stories.
In fact, there’s barely one.
And I’m going to spoil the story right here. You go to a place on a planet (starting off in the same location every time), shoot some enemies you don’t know why you’re shooting (other than “the darkness) and eventually go to Venus. There you meet a robot lady. She tells you something about the “Black Garden.” What is this Black Garden? How do I get to it? I don’t know, she never tells you. You just go to the next story mission, shoot more enemies, fight a big robot, bring it’s head to a mean blue lady, then go fight more robots, jump through some portal, fight even more robots, fight three bigger ones, then are shown a cutscene that might as well say “Congratulation. Now go and rest our hero.” for as much content as it has in it.
No, really. That’s it.
Now, there is a ton of lore associated with this game. But next to none of it is in the game. Instead, you are expected to read the Grimoire cards (unlocked by completing certain feats) that exist only on the mobile app and on Bungie.net. There is absolutely no way to understand the lore inside the game itself.
“But Trevor!” you scream at your monitor, “The multiplayer is where the real game is! It is a Bungie game after all.” And you’d be right, insofar that this is, in fact, a Bungie game. The multiplayer, while fun, has less options than Halo 2 did. From 2004. You have Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Conquest, and…little else. There’s a 3v3 mode where you can revive your teammates, but that’s the only other game mode. There is no Capture the Flag, or King of the Hill. Big Team Battle is on a cycle, and only available on certain weekends. So obviously, the game isn’t in the multiplayer either.
So where is it? Where is the video game?
The short answer is that there isn’t one, not yet. Bungie promises more content over the years to come, and two DLC packs were announced before the game released. But in it’s current state, Destiny is better titled Loot Grind Simulator 2014. The only compelling thing in this game is waiting for, begging for a good weapon drop. And what will you use that better weapon for? Grinding for more, even slightly better gear.
There are only two redeeming factors to this game. The first is the gameplay itself. The gunplay is really solid, fast paced, and fun. It feels like a mix of the best parts of Halo and of Call of Duty. The second is the absolutely incredible soundtrack, oddly the most compelling part of this game at large. This could very well be Marty O’Donnell’s best work. And while I could talk about his firing, this is neither the time nor the place. For now, just sit back and enjoy the music.
Don’t buy this game. Not now. To do so would simply be a waste of money. Buy the soundtrack as soon as you can – but not this game. Maybe in 10 years, the game will be different. Hopefully it’ll be different a lot sooner than that. But for now, hold off. It just isn’t worth it.
If you’re still so inclined, you can buy Destiny on the Xbox.com Store or on the PlayStation Store
Ethics Disclosure: The reviewer purchased this game.