Having broken away from the stifling exclusivity deal with Microsoft, Bungie wanted to make a worthy successor to their work on the legendary Halo franchise. What came from that desire was a space opera that gives people the opportunity to fight evil forces far beyond comprehension for the fate of the galaxy, while still giving it the type of flair that Halo was known for. Enter Destiny.
Title: Destiny (The Taken King Edition, Review Copy Given as Gift)
Platform: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Image courtesy of Bungie and Sony
The story of Destiny is fairly simple, with most of it unfortunately relegated to Bungie's website. You play as a Guardian (one of three races - the rebuilding Humans, the enigmatic Awoken, and the robotic Exos), resurrected and chosen by the floating orb creature known as the Traveler to protect its Light from the forces of the Darkness. This struggle will take you all over the Solar system, from the terraformed Venus to a war-torn Mars and even the ship graveyard in the rings of Saturn. The fight for the Light sprawls out amongst many factions, from the fledgling Fallen to the robot hoards of the Vex, the Warhammer 40K inspired Cabal, the insectoid warmongers that are the Hive and the corrupted servants of Darkness known only as the Taken.
The overall design of Destiny really sets the mood of civilization being on its last legs. Music is rarely played in-game, and each place that you explore tends to give an acute feeling of isolation and desperation. Skyscrapers and military facilities lay abandoned and damaged all across the planets, only occupied by alien forces that wish for nothing but your death. Weaponry you obtain can look slapped together, especially if it happens to be reverse-engineered from alien technology. Out of the two places you can seek refuge, both look like the tattered remains of what existed in the Golden Age of the game's history, all huddled together just to keep hope alive in the galaxy. Even the Guardians are further divided into factions, with the eager-to-run Dead Orbit, the battle-obsessed Future War Cult and the borderline-fascist New Monarchy.
Image courtesy of Bungie and Planet Destiny
Gameplay is pretty much your standard sci-fi first-person-shooter fare. People who played Halo regularly will feel right at home due to how floaty everything feels, from grenade-throwing to jump and vehicle physics. Where it really starts getting crazy is when the RPG-style mechanics come to the forefront. Weapons have their own elemental damage types, and can have crazy effects tacked on depending on the weapons' rarity. Killing enemies and accomplishing objectives not only gives your character experience, but also gives both equipped weapons and your chosen sub-class experience. The Sub-classes themselves offer unique playing style configurations that can be tweaked to your heart's content as you unlock more and more of their abilities. Like MMO games, players can assemble online groups (known as Fireteams) and guilds to take on raids and instances to deal with high-powered bosses and tricky-to-navigate sections. Given equal importance in Destiny is its competitive online multiplayer section, the Crucible. Within the Crucible lies a variety of modes expanded upon further with the Taken King expansion, from the king-of-the-hill-like Control and Zone Control to the reverse-capture-the-flag Rift and many more, along with the typical free-for-all and team deathmatch variants.
However, even with all of this to offer, Destiny does have its fair share of problems. The learning curve can be a bit steep, especially with having to get used to things such as waiting for grenade and ability recharge, the existence of fall damage, or not being able to run while reloading. Some of the quests pertaining to the Crucible also get ridiculous (such as winning a match with a precision kill streak of 7, requiring you to not die until then). The DLC campaigns (The Dark Below, The House of Wolves, and The Taken King) all cost extra unless you buy the Taken King edition of the game. Additionally, higher-level content such as the raids, higher-difficulty strikes, and the extra missions of the Prison of Elders and Trials of Osiris all require you manually assemble a Fireteam instead of being put into matchmaking, which can be extremely frustrating when you don't have friends to play with online.
Image courtesy of Bungie and Northern Blood
With all of this in mind, Destiny is still one of the better games to come out in recent years. With the final major content update having recently been put out, now is as good a time as ever to catch up with everyone else. Hopefully, you'll be entertained and more interest from newcomers and Bungie fanboys will result in an improved sequel.