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Thoughts on Destiny

Many intelligent people have said lots of accurate things about Destiny over the past two weeks. I have little to add. I’ll mention that I’ve enjoyed it, though my primitive lizard brain is already wondering how Bungie will keep myself and many others entertained for the foreseeable future. This is not a game I will come home to for months.

Destiny is not an MMO. If Bungie had any aspirations of replacing World of Warcraft (or any other game with hundreds of hours of content), it has far to go. This is the crux of its weaknesses. At present, it has neither the content nor the deep engagement necessary to grab and hold the hardcore gamer.

It has other problems. Its PvP combat is frenetically fun, but unbalanced and poorly optimized. Netcode issues result in plenty of kill trading and unfair deaths. This poor multiplayer showing from the creators of the subliminal Halo multiplayer experience is surprising. Loot drops are often unsatisfying and non-diverse.

The call to “Become Legend” has quickly devolved into thousands of people shooting at the mouth of a cave. This is a damning start to a franchise that Bungie and Activision expect to last for a decade or more.

Though I just finished a two-hour session with the game, coming away from it does not make me want to tell stories about my night to my Destiny-playing friends at work. What can I really say to them? “I killed Sepiks Prime last night, guys! Have you gotten to him yet?” Bungie can’t seriously expect us to play the same six strikes (and twenty story missions) for three more months and thoroughly enjoy the experience every time.

It also can’t promise new modes that don’t live up to their descriptions. The “Combined Arms” mode promised an “all out war on a massive scale” and “vehicular combat” while really delivering two existing game modes with no new vehicles and increased heavy ammunition drops. Again, Bungie has done vehicular combat brilliantly in the past, but only offers three pilotable vehicles in the entire game, one of which is a weaponless personal transport.

The writing in the Grimoire and weapon blurbs is intriguing, but the writing of the actual main storyline of the game? Atrocious. How in the world do you prioritize content that is largely seen outside of the game?

There are so many unfulfilled hopes and underdelivered systems that it’s difficult to see how Bungie can pull themselves out of the hole they’ve dug. It reminds me of Assassin’s Creed, a game with much promise and little realization.