In the summer of 2014, we got a beta event for Bungie’s Destiny and the excitement for the game was palpable. By September when the game came out, lines of people were clamoring to get their hands on this sci-fi MMO-FPS juggernaut and history was indeed made. Then the reviews started coming as people played through the game and the results were mixed at best. The story was found to be very thin; there were exploits like the “Loot Caves” which made the game ridiculously easy; no one seemed interested in going to Bungie’s site to explore these “Grimoire” cards for lore; and the list goes on and on.
Bungie however has responded as best they can to the community and fans responses. For the past six months, patch after patch has been released trying to dial into just what’s going on and give the developers a chance to “fix” issues. Again, the critics cried foul that the players weren’t given a full-fledged game experience from the start. By the time December rolled around and it was time for the first DLC to go live, fans had already abandoned ship and “The Dark Below,” despite updating and patching some big issues fans were upset about, didn’t seem to do much to improve Destiny’s mediocre ratings.
So now it’s six months later and something very interesting is happening with Destiny that doesn’t happen as much as it used to in gaming: people are still talking about and playing Destiny actively. For a game that users just can’t seem to stop complaining about, they’re still logging in and playing regularly. Bungie is still as active as it ever was engaging with the community and finding out what it can do to fix issues and mold Destiny into a more pleasing end result.
But maybe that’s not the reason why we’re still talking about it. How is that possible? I think it’s because what Destiny gets right is the game theory they basically copy from gambling casinos. The biggest evidence of this is the much hated Cryptarch and his role as “RNG-esus,” where you turn in mystery drops in hopes of landing a useful item like pulling the handle at the slot machines. (ProTip: 99% of the time you won’t).
The gameplay overall is a grind and very repetitive. But like World of Warcraft has taught us, as long as the grind and repetition has “some kind of purpose,” be it weapons upgrades or reputation to purchase upgrades, most players will keep up the grind. Perhaps it’s the fact that despite replaying the same levels and content over and over Destiny can still be very fun. As you upgrade and tweak your characters or even try new classes, the differences are subtle but more fun. It’s gratifying to go back to a level and melt faces when that very level gave you fits the week before.
My biggest complaint at this point is that Destiny, while fun, seems like a console version of a poorly done mobile “pay to win” kind of game. I keep waiting any second after a wipe in a darkness zone for something to pop up and offer me a huge weapons boost for 50,000 glimmer or $4.99. Between a lackluster story, mediocre if not horrid voice acting, and overwhelming repetitiveness, the game seems more Candy Crush than a console game should be in my opinion, especially since Destiny is the most expensive video game ever produced. But again, that isn’t stopping me from logging in and popping Cabal heads with my scout rifle at least two or three nights a week for some relaxing fun.
And maybe that’s indeed the “it” factor. Destiny, for all its shortcomings, is simple, mind-numbing fun. You shoot bad guys and you ride around on your rocket bike. The PvP is imbalanced, but still not as repetitive as say Call of Duty has become (you know, the cussing 15-year-old who plays non-stop and calls in the perks and nukes you over and over and over…and over). You ultimately get a rather simple FPS experience more in the vein of a Borderlands 2 than Halo or the Call of Duty series.
I’d personally like to see Weekly Strikes and Nightfalls get the option for matchmaking as finding friends on my PS3 (yes, I know…but PS4s are expensive) is becoming harder and harder, which keeps people like myself from experiencing the end game content. But I am excited to see that Bungie is actively updating and adjusting the game to keep up the fun and is always touting about how they are learning from their mistakes. That translates to Destiny being a starting point and looking like the game that will “eventually” be as big as the hype leading up to its release made us think it was going to be.
Now is the perfect time to get involved if you haven’t already. You can get Destiny used pretty easy now (as a lot of people got frustrated and traded off), or if you want to buy it new it’s available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS4 Digital, PS3, Xbox 360, or PS3 Digital. I would also recommend you go for the PlayStation versions if you have the option, as you will have access to the DLC well in advance of the Xbox versions.
What are your thoughts on Destiny? Are you still playing with hopes that it will eventually pay off, and if you are still playing are you still having fun doing so? Or are you one of those who were massively disappointed in the game and moved on to something else?