By OldManLight 21 Comments
I've been playing Destiny since the end of its launch week back in September. Over the past month, i've had some fun moments, a bit of frustration, and moments of being purely baffled by it. In that time, i've thought frequently about the game and why i continue to play. A month after launch, with a titan nearing level 28, and i still can't make up my mind if i should recommend this game to other people.
I'll go ahead and put out that i've never been into MMO's in any form. The closest i've ever come is barely scratching the surface of WoW by putting in roughly 5 hours and never going back to it. I know that's not much at all but that's the extent of the source of my MMO knowledge. I understand a lot of the systems or common themes between Destiny and MMO's from listening to friends who enjoy that genre. For me, it's something i've grown to understand slightly more because of Destiny, so for that i'm thankful. I still don't see myself signing up for an MMO and leveling a character to a cap to do raids with people, but i understand the appeal now.
For me, the most fun i've had with Destiny has been when the game actually binds groups of players together. The way players wisp in and out of existence while out in the world is a real bummer, they may as well not even be there. Nobody can talk to each other, they hit some invisible wall and "poof" they're gone forever. What's the point of this? I've tried a few times to party up with random people heading into zones and i've been unsuccessful enough times that i've given up. The tower that should be a social hub is bland area. Here is a location where people are streaming in and out of it all the time but most people only hit a vendor, and return to orbit. Launch week this was different. you'd see people at least attempt to communicate (even it was only by dancing). None of that happens any more. The game seems like "a social wasteland" which is a huge bummer for something ambitious like this. While I've never enjoyed the gameplay loop of an MMO, i've always respected them for their emphasis on social structure and attempting to bring players together. Destiny fails at that completely. The most social event in the world i've encountered was people shooting into the now infamous "loot cave". People stood on the firing line, fired their ammo stores dry, then raced to collect their goodies. a few times, dance parties even erupted from someone getting a good drop. I didn't feel cheated that it wasn't me, i was just happy for that person. Now, because of its exploitative nature, that has been patched out of existence.
Where the game does succeed for me is in the gameplay loop. I've always been a huge Halo fan and Destiny's core combat feels exactly like that. The Crucible, while being a huge departure from the structured mayhem of Halo multiplayer in terms of balance, mechanically feels the same to me. Bungie has excelled at making console competitive shooting work well and this is still on display in Destiny. Also, the PvE strongly resembles the small combat encounters of the Halo series ensuring that you always are wanting to fight more stuff. Sadly, that's all there is. Shooting endlessly respawning AI and a slim multiplayer suite.
Where it begins to really fall apart for me is the loot system and its effect on balance. While damage numbers and health are normalized in competitive play, the perks attached to weapons and armor are still in effect. For some pieces of gear, this can lead to an incredible advantage. Anyone who has continued to play the game past the soft level cap of 20 should have by this point been exposed to players wielding exotic weapons and gear. While some benefits of these can be equated to "Call of Duty perks", others can be devastating. The past 2 weekends, i've resorted to visiting Xur, the strange coin vendor, in the tower in order to buy exotics. These items simply do not drop for me during the normal course of the game. I've played missions/strikes on hard difficulties, completed daily and weekly challenges, played hours of crucible, and nothing. I rarely even see a legendary drop. As a matter of fact, all of my legendary items i have equipped save for 1 have been purchased from faction vendors. As of this writing, i've played 58 hours of destiny and in that time the only legendary drop i've seen that actually became a legendary item and not a rare or some form of crafting material has been my pulse rifle named "Fair and Square". Can you imagine if other loot based games had as little of content as Destiny and doled out high level loot as stringently?
So now, i live in a post legendary/exotic item world and i begin to see the weaving of Destiny's game balance fray with regard to PvP.
I now run a class with...
- an exotic sniper rifle that regenerates ammo, can be used to quick scope and can emit AoE fire damage to nearby enemies of anyone i hit.
- an exotic chest piece which allows me to carry additional heavy and special ammo, and provides me 2 grenades instead of the usual 1.
- a primary pulse rifle that hits hard enough to win most gun fights at any medium and short range and has the perk of allowing me to keep my radar visible even when aiming down sights.
Now, having put in the almost 60 hours of grinding the game's needlessly complicated progression i do appreciate feeling more powerful than other low level players but i also think about how that's not fun for them. Before i got to this point with my main character, I started a second character intending to level them up too. Now that i see what an uphill battle that will become once i get to level 20, i'm not sure i actually want to do that.
So where does that leave a Destiny player after he or she has reached the top of the mountain? Do they stand at the top and throw rocks at people trying to climb up themselves. Do they start over? What about the DLC packs or the numerous areas that announce their presence but when you begin to transition to them but are inaccessible? I'm glad i got in on the ground floor of this game because i'm genuinely interested to see where it goes from here. Will i still be interested in the DLC when i comes out months from now? I don't know but I hope so. I'd love to see new stuff in this game. I've still yet to attempt the vault of glass raid as of this writing but intend to try it soon.