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09/09/14 Activision
09/11/14 Sony Computer Entertainment
09/09/14 Activision

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Destiny (PS4)

By Nick Pantazis 15th Sep 2014 | 18,895 views 

Not all it's cracked up to be.

Hype is a cruel mistress. It’s a powerful tool to push pre-orders and interest. Hype creates positive word-of-mouth long before a game’s launch. It also makes a product which can never be what it was promised to be. Destiny is such a product. The promises were grandiose, the expectations through the roof, and it meets almost none of them. What it is, though, is very fun.

A nondescript powerful creature called the Traveler (I’m serious) arrives on Mars, putting the human race into a golden age in which they terraform and settle other planets in the solar system. An evil called the Darkness (still serious) spreads to the system and eliminates most of the humans, nearly killing the Traveler. You are a Guardian (sigh), one of the last defenders of humanity, ready to fight back the darkness across the solar system.

It’s not necessary for world-building to be completely unique to be good, but Bungie’s work here is maybe the biggest disappointment of the experience. Everything about the world design feels like it was created on auto-pilot. Nothing pushes the envelope of science fiction in any direction, and a story delivered so robotically it actually makes me laugh by Emmy-winning actor Peter Dinklage doesn’t help. It feels like no one involved really cared about what was happening in the narrative, and because they didn’t care, you won’t either.

Guardians come in three main flavors: Hunter, Warlock, and Titan. If these sound like your standard thief, mage, and warrior roles, that’s because they largely fill them – at least as much as is possible in a shooter. The Titan is a beefy tank, made to play up in your face. The Hunter is quick, deadly, and light-weight. The Warlock is the closest thing the game comes to a caster class. Each class also has two subclasses, which differ pretty significantly from each other. The Warlock, for example, has the Voidwalker damaging caster and the Sunsinger, a more support-focused caster.

Classes and sub-classes feel sufficiently different. It’s interesting experimenting with different classes, and you can swap your build/abilities out at any time after you’ve unlocked them, creating a system that encourages experimentation and customization. The push for customization and character advancement extends into the weapons and armor. Weapons and armor also level up in the game, and you can select from a variety of improvements for each of them.

If you’re used to the craziness of Halo’s weapons, you may find Destiny’s weapon variety a little disappointing. The weapons of Destiny are most of what’s expected out of a modern shooter (shotgun, sniper, rocket launcher, auto, burst, and single-shot rifles, etc.). However, because I wasn’t constantly running around picking up disposable, identical guns, I found myself much more attached to my equipment. I also found the feel of the weapons an excellent balance of the arcade feel of Halo and the “real” feel of Call of Duty.

And there’s plenty to kill with them. The game has four enemy races to fight, each with their own troop types, strategies, and weaknesses. You can draw a clear line from Bungie’s enemy design philosophies in Halo to Destiny. Mechanically, Destiny has some of the best firefights I’ve ever experienced in a shooter. My favorite part of Halo was its intense, action-packed gunfights of exploiting enemy weaknesses, and Destiny has that part in spades.

While the enemies are great, the worlds they inhabit feel pretty empty. They are large, but lack content. Scattered enemies populate the various locations, but other than the occasional chest there’s little to discover. Unlike the MMOs to which it’s often compared, Destiny doesn’t offer a real sense of exploration and discovery. The only action in which you can take part is finding enemies and killing them. The saving grace of this system is playing with friends.

Otherwise dull worlds feel more alive if you party up. Running missions in teams keeps the experience more entertaining. World events (in which something drops down and you have to rush in to participate) are exciting, and give some insight into what the game could be with better content options. Strike missions are the game’s version of dungeons, and these also offer an exciting challenge when played with friends. If you’re going to solo Destiny, expect to get much less bang for your buck.

Of course there’s always PVP as well, and Bungie continues to show they are master class at online play. Destiny’s competitive multiplayer is exciting, fast-paced, and fun. The maps, while lacking a little in visual variety, play great. The guns, powers, and abilities feel powerful, and two of the maps are larger, allowing for the use of vehicles as well. Playing multiplayer is also not wasted time for your character; you’ll earn new equipment as well as experience while you play.

Two things hold the multiplayer back from perfection. One is the scarcity of maps. There just aren’t enough in the game, at only 11 maps at launch. The other, more egregious problem, is the netcode. There is a lot of hit detection lag in Destiny. It’s not always present, but any consistent time spent with the game will show off unregistered melee hits and traded kills due to late hit detection. This can be extremely frustrating in matches where it happens often, and it needs immediate attention.

There’s a final gameplay feature coming to Destiny , but it’s not here yet, as of the time I write this review. It’s also an insult to players. The first raid will arrive in Destiny about a week after launch. Don’t get too excited though, you probably won’t ever get to play it. Bungie requires you to be in a party with five friends to enter a raid, and they offer no matchmaking. Gamers on the internet are already working to find ways around this abusive system, but Bungie will offer no solution. These end-game dungeons are promised to be the most exciting feature of the game, and most players can’t access them or their high-end loot.

Visually, Destiny is a beautiful game. The PlayStation 4 version runs at a rock solid 30 frames per second and 1080p. I never saw a hiccup in the framerate. The four primary locations have a nice variety of art styles, and it’s certainly one of the best looking games on the platform. The music, by industry legend and Halo veteran Martin O’Donnell, is suitably epic, and some of his best work yet. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the voice acting is awful. Peter Dinklage in particular really phones in Ghost, who is the primary speaker in the game. Bungie threw an awkward and kind of hilarious robot auto-tune filter over his voice to make his wooden delivery seem more like part of the character.

"Destiny is no doubt a showcase for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but some readers may be wondering how older generations fare. Aside from decreased resolution and higher aliasing, Destiny on PS3 runs surprisingly well given its scope and ambition, maintaining a rocksteady framerate based on my time with it. Features-wise it's very much the same experience as its next-gen brethren, and a cross-save option allows players to seamlessly transfer their characters, progress, and loot between PS3 and PS4. The lack of cross-generation multiplayer between console families is kind of a bummer considering many other cross-gen MMOs offer this feature, but then again Destiny isn't quite an MMO. That minor gripe aside, Destiny is a worthwhile venture for those not quite ready to upgrade to the new generation." - [b]Jake Weston on the PS3 version.[/b]

Value will be hard to gauge for potential players. Just playing through the story, you will get maybe 10-12 hours out of it. If you enjoy the mechanics and like competitive multiplayer, you can extend it a lot through that. If you enjoy the mechanics and like cooperative multiplayer, running Strikes and patrols with friends can extend your time as well. Loot whores will have plenty to love here as well. Acquiring better gear adds a Diablo-like replayability to the game. If there were more to do on the planets, it would easily be one of the best value products out there, but as it is your value probably depends on how much you like shooting things to acquire gear and get better at shooting things.

If I sound like I’m coming down hard on the game, it’s only because I see the potential. The core mechanics of Destiny - the shooting, classes, loot, and abilities - are all excellent. The visuals are stunning, and the music is epic. The cooperative and competitive multiplayer are a blast, despite some netcode issues that need to be resolved. All of this would make for a great game, if the details of it weren’t so hollow. The worlds are sparse in a way that can easily bore uncommitted players, and the story is just awful. As it is, Destiny is still very fun to play, but despite its best attempts, it doesn’t feel like the future we were promised.

VGChartz Verdict


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Sales History

Total Sales
1 90,326 874,010 761,327 423,744 2,149,407
2 12,957 182,904 159,088 88,637 443,586
3 6,518 115,982 99,531 55,984 278,015
4 3,434 87,751 68,243 41,183 200,611
5 2,046 50,133 39,101 23,548 114,828
6 1,488 33,930 29,562 16,452 81,432
7 1,166 23,432 24,395 12,022 61,015
8 432 19,570 24,859 10,784 55,645
9 971 22,969 31,020 12,964 67,924
10 851 21,115 28,881 11,978 62,825

Opinion (57)

oniyide posted 12/01/2016, 09:03
im torn, i actually have fun playing the game BUT there is so much nonsense being put upon it its distracting, especially for whoever got it before the Taken King DLC.
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teamsilent13 posted 19/11/2015, 11:46
I'm with puggsly on this one. Multiplayer is a cluster fudge and way too easy. Then, there is literally no penalty at all in the game for death or failure. You get stuff done more efficiently by rushing through it recklessly than playing smart. They put a carrot in front of the player to chase and every DLC make all your progress for the past several months irrelevant. It's got everything I dislike about MMOs in it and not in any way the best FPS mechanics.
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metalgear3 posted 15/07/2015, 03:39
More than likely I am going to be gameflying this game when I get my PS4.. I have a lot of catching up to do since most of my friends had the game for a little over a month.
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Mr Puggsly posted 11/07/2015, 05:10
@tokilamockingbrd - I was just at Gamestop earlier today, its $20 brand new. Same goes for Amazon and cheaper used.
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HEMSTAR posted 08/07/2015, 03:19
@fireburn95 - Haaa! Destiny better than COD4, come on now.
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tokilamockingbrd posted 06/07/2015, 07:56
give it up Puggs. I have seen you hate on this game for over year. Leave it alone. You don't like it fine, you have your reasons. The game is still in the top 30 after 10 months on the market that alone speaks for how most people perceive its quality. If it were as bad as you say the used game market would be flooded and few would be buying it new because used versions would be dirt cheap,
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