Destiny has no soul

Destiny: So far…

  • Destiny’s game play is great – a solid shooter and one of the better co-op experiences we’ve had on the new gen consoles.
  • Multiplayer is very well balanced both in PVP and PVE scenarios
  • The classes compliment each other well when working together in a fire team.
  • The visuals are very nice and the art style gives each environment a unique feeling.
  • There’s a plethora of gear with genuinely useful upgrades and a selection of powerful feeling weapons

Despite all this we have some serious concerns with Destiny’s narrative and player immersion in the world.

— MINOR SPOILERS BELOW —

 

The Tower is beautiful, but feels empty

The Tower is the main hub & social base of the game but it’s liking walking in a graveyard. You see ghostly NPCs wandering or sitting with no purpose or reason and no option to interact with them. The tower seems important, militaristic, centered around arming up players but it has random civilians wandering about not really doing anything.

Whilst playing the story, the essential NPCs are given a short cut scene with little introduction or background info. After this, all you’ll ever get from friendly NPCs is a ‘How ya doing?’ and you don’t particularly feel invested in them or any desire to help them out beyond the reward of gear.

An important factor in making a player care is a strong leader character. Leaders of factions need to have a strong personality and charisma to help the player to care and follow them. Although The Speaker is fantastically voice acted by Bill Nighy he is not a striking character. He lacks any significant dialogue simply being another person to tell you he could explain… but of course there is no time. One of the problems shared by many characters is the masks, although these do look cool it also makes many of the people around faceless, soulless soldiers.

The closest you come to having any meaningful interaction with another character is dancing with someone.

Pick a race, not that it matters

An aspect of the game that is never addressed are the different playable races. In the world of Destiny it seems that the Guardians are not simply just human beings but also the Exo and the Awoken. Although all 3 of these races have very different cosmetic appearances that is where the detail ends. None of the races have any specific skill sets or bonuses, there is no reference to you playing as any particular race from supporting characters or any explanation of your background. Hell, if you’re Awoken and you visit the Reef (home of the Awoken) no one there recognizes thats your race at all.

Gameplay and leveling centers around your character’s reputation – in the Crucible for PVP or Vanguard for PVE – but it all seems utterly pointless when you aren’t even sure why you were brought back to life. Why am I special, why do I need to save the world, why me?

“I don’t even have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain”

The game presents you with a mass of content – worlds, races, enemies… but no context. You’re told that your solemn duty is to protect the city, but then you end up flying around the solar system performing actions that don’t feel helpful at all, over and over again.

New enemies are presented to you with barely any explanation as to who they are, it even feels like your ghost isn’t really sure who they are but still manages to find tasks for you to stop them destroying humanity. Without any real identity you don’t really feel much animosity towards the enemies in Destiny. There is no overarching villain that gives them a face or personality to hate, simply drones with generic names and silent strike bosses who – without any dialogue or cut scenes – simply feel like a bigger tougher version of what you have already been fighting.

“It’s all starting to make sense”

One moment that is particularly grating is on the last mission of the game, your ghost is scanning some inane piece of scenery and says “It’s all starting to make sense!” When you have spent the whole game having nothing explained to you, being told that there is no time to tell you anything it’s infuriating to hear this. It almost feels like a taunt, especially when your ghost could easily tell you what is making sense since all he is doing is floating around while you wait for a door to open, however he remains stubbornly silent.

The lack of explanation or elaboration from any of the supporting characters become ridiculous to a point where you feel like they are deliberately keeping you in the dark for no reason – of course we all know that reason is DLC. Missions are presented as if they are going to have massive significance which are essential to saving humanity… but without anyone telling you why, you just feeling like a tool being used by characters you barely even know or care about.

Other MMOs (the unavoidable example is WOW) see players divided into competing factions and even though the player isn’t made to feel like they are making a strong individual contribution they do feel like they are helping their faction to survive and achieve their goals.

It’s a good game but the world is wasted.

Destiny has all the potential, all the basic ingredients to be a fantastic engaging game but the creators have given us a safe, stereotypical FPS sci-fi game. Even with a big budget everything seems locked behind a pay wall and they’re laughing at you from the other side.

Bungie has boasted that they are going to create a world as in depth and rich in lore as Tolkien, with another 10 years of content to keep players hooked. This is a very bold claim, and unfortunately with such a tiny amount to go on now we feel that the foundations of this are looking pretty shaky at best.

It’s so frustrating, the gameplay is great – particularly enjoyable with friends – but there’s only so many times you can play the same missions before you feel like you’re having zero impact on the game world. I sit looking at my TV screen thinking “Destiny, you’re a good game but you should be so much better!”

Will we be buying the future DLC? If they cut the mysterious bullshit and give us some narrative meat we can sink our teeth into we’ll happily fork out but another vague shooting mission? No thanks.

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