Bungie is primarily known as the developer of the “Halo” series. Even three years after it split off from Microsoft, its staff remained loyal to the franchise that helped make them famous. Now, in 2014, they’ve delivered a brand new intellectual property for all platforms, except PC, much to the ire of some enthusiasts: the ambitious massively multiplayer online first person shooter role playing game — that’s MMOFPSRPG, for the abbreviating type — “Destiny.”
Unfortunately, while it does get a lot of things right, it often fumbles the many ideas it’s trying to convey.
On an expedition to Mars, present-day humans discover a moon-sized object called the Traveller, which gives them the secrets to planetary exploration, terraforming, longer lifespans — basically, think of a larger, spherical version of the Monolith from “2001.” A couple hundred years after humanity’s new golden age, alien barbarians from space sack everything. Only one unnamed city on Earth remains as civilization’s last stand, and it’s up to the players, known as Guardians, to bring back what was lost.
It’s an unimaginative world with cliches and tropes that players should be familiar with a thousand times over. Races have boring names like the Awoken or the Fallen, with areas known as the City or the Crucible. It’s names like these that are indicative of lazy writing, and while the graphics certainly are quite pretty, the generic nature of the artistic direction doesn’t help.
The first thing players are bound to notice is that “Destiny” plays an awful lot like “Halo.” The physics, monsters, gunplay, and even the melee attack seem ripped straight from that series. That’s not quite a bad thing, though; “Halo” had several unique systems and design philosophies that helped it achieve mainstream success, and it’s nice to see those return here. It feels familiar and comfortable.
And it’s a good thing that it feels familiar and comfortable, because there’s a lot of grinding in this game. “Destiny” makes it clear that it is an MMORPG first, and the FPS and MMO elements don’t mix well at all. Grinding for experience points and levels is an absolute slog, and players who think they can jump into missions underleveled are in for an incredibly boring and slow experience. Not a difficult one, mind — the enemy AI is pretty terrible — but enemies just soak up damage like a sponge, and that can drag out firefights that already feel far too dragged-out.
Players who were good at “Halo” multiplayer can earn experience in player vs. player matches, which play out like “Halo” fans remember, but players who aren’t very good at it are stuck either taking on missions underleveled or grinding previous missions for experience. It’s just not fun if you’re not ahead of the curve.
Don’t take this the wrong way. “Destiny,” as a shooter, is great. The gunplay feels fantastic, and players who fondly remember the multiplayer from “Halo” are in for a nice treat. But as an MMORPG, it’s pretty terrible. The mixing of these elements was an ambitious endeavor from Bungie, but in the end, it just couldn’t happen. While it shines in many areas, “Destiny” ultimately fails in what it tried to do.
Platforms: PS4, PS3, XBO, 360
Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online RPG
Release Date: Sept. 9, 2014