“Humans haven’t been on the moon for hundreds of years”
Destiny starts with character creation. Of course it does. Three classes to choose from. Titan, Hunter and Warlock. That’s Barbarian, Thief and Mage in normal talk. Once you make your choice its time to select a Male or Female version of that class. The final choice after this is race selection. Human, Awoken and Exo. Humans are, well human. Awoken are blue skinned descendants of humans and Exo’s are self-aware war machines. Or simply a robot. But could be a Terminator…nothing is really explained. No back story to these classes.
Weapons, Armor and other stuff to equip
Destiny allows your character to equip one weapon from each of the different weapon classes, Primary, Special and Heavy. Primary weapons are Auto Rifles, Hand Cannons, Pulse and Scout Rifles. Special weapons are Fusion Rifles, Shotguns and Sniper Rifles. Heavy weapons are Machine Guns and Rocket Launchers. In game these are represented by different coloured ammo drops. White, Green and Purple. On the armor side of things its possible to equip four pieces. Head, Arms, Chest and Legs. A fifth slot is available to equip faction clothing. Characters can also equip different armor colours, ships, emblems, ghosts and sparrows. These can be upgraded as you level up the character.
Levels and Upgrades
Gaining levels and upgrading your weapons and armor is pretty simple. You gain XP for your character by completing story missions, strikes and taking part in multiplayer activities in The Crucible. You gain XP for your weapons and armor simply by using them. As your character levels up it unlocks skills on the skill tree. There are quite a few skills to choose from but a few are things like grenade upgrades, special attacks, jumping height, melee attacks and armor bonuses. Weapons also have a upgrade tree allowing to add sights, explosive ammo, damage upgrades and how fast it takes to draw the weapon. It’s presented very clearly and easy to understand.
Give the subclasses some love..
Each class also has a secondary subclass which can be leveled up like the main class. Subclasess can be equipped from the inventory screen. For example, the Titan’s main class is Striker which is heavily combat orientated. Grenades are explosive, special attacks are combat focused etc. The Titan’s subclass is Defender. This as the name suggests enables the Titan to become a more defensive character. Grenades become more suppressive, special attacks give defensive abilities such as a shield dome and melee attacks absorb incoming damage. The Hunter’s main class is Gunslinger and subclass Bladedancer while the Warlock’s main class is Voidwalker while the subclass is Sunsinger. It’s highly recommended that you level up your secondary subclass once you have maxed out the regular class.
Location, Location, Location
When Destiny was first announced people were excited at the prospect of jumping in their ship and exploring planets, meeting other players and carving out a piece of the galaxy for themselves. These people are going to be disappointed. At the moment Destiny has five locations you can visit. The Tower, Earth, The Moon, Venus and Mars. The Tower is a central hub where all the merchants and faction leaders are located. The rest are the locations are where the story missions, strikes and Crucible matches take place. Each location is one large map. Sort of a mini open world with five or six unique areas. These areas are pretty empty though with enemies spawning and re-spawning at the same location over and over. This is somewhat underwhelming. There is nothing to really explore on the planets. No secrets or hidden missions to stumble across. When you do find something vaguely interesting like a hidden cave or the basement of a abandoned building which is guarded by high level enemies, the payoff is naught. No loot or anything. You wonder why Bungie made such decisions. It would have made more sense if you stumbled across a heavily guarded area, battled your way through and was rewarded with something. Anything! The locations are stunning though, absolutely beautiful. It’s a pity there isn’t more of it to discover. There are a few locked off areas such as King’s Landing and the mysterious RAS 2 Bunker complex which are probably awaiting a DLC unlock. For those excited for space travel, don’t be. At the moment the ship you spent money on is used as a loading screen. Each planet has a map screen where you can select to play or replay story missions, take part in strikes or go on patrol. The patrol mode is basically a free roam mode where mini missions can be undertaken.
Just give me the LOOT!
The biggest part of Destiny is loot. Lots and lots of loot. Loot is gained by killing enemies and getting a random drop, completing strikes or taking part in multiplayer matches. Loot is available in Regular (white), Uncommon (green), Rare (blue), Legendary (purple) and Exotic (yellow) flavours. These are then split into weapon and armor classes. So if you are lucky you could get a Legendary heavy weapon drop or a Rare helmet armor. Some loot drops are encrypted and need to be unlocked by the Cryptarch. The biggest issue with the loot system is that you don’t seem to get anything decent from doing strikes, replaying missions at a higher difficulty or competing in the Crucible. It’s hard to get anything good. You could say that is good. Legendary items should be Legendary. But if you don’t have hours on hours to grind the gear, your character is going to be stuck with mid level items. When loot is given out it at the end of matches or strikes it is randomly given to players. You could have been the best player in the Crucible or had the most kills in a strike mission but you could get nothing while your team mate gets a Legendary item. These rewards are usually encrypted which leads to…
Son of a bitch, Cryptarch..
The Cryptarch. The most evil person in the whole game. A scumbag. This is the guy who unlocks your hard earned random loot drop when it is encrypted. Picture the scene. You have spent hours doing the same few strike missions or hours on patrol and you finally see a purple drop come from an enemy. Joy! You check the inventory. It’s a piece of armor that you wanted. You can now have a full set of Legendary armor. Off you go to see Mr Cryptarch. You get him to decode it and what happens? You get a helmet. A green helmet. Worthless! Yes. Just because you managed to get a Legendary drop doesn’t mean that it will get unlocked as a Legendary. How about this. You get a Legendary drop, you take it to be decoded and amazingly you get a Legendary item. Yes! You open the inventory to equip it and it won’t equip. Why? Because the stupid Cryptarch gave you a Legendary item for a different class. If I’m a Titan, I have no use for a Warlock item. This is absolutely insane and stupid. I’m sure many players have raged at the Cryptarch.
Strikes are three player missions that depending on the difficulty can take up to one hour to complete. However the time decreases as you level up your gear. Strikes see you fighting through waves of enemies until you get to a boss. Sometimes there could be two bosses within the strike. The bosses are bullet sponges and take an age to kill. When are you are doing it for the tenth time, it gets old fast. They don’t drop loot either. The loot reward is given randomly at the end. The majority of the time the loot you get is not worth the time and effort, especially when you are a high level character. Strikes are fun to play a few times but there need to be more. Substantially more.
The Crucible is where the competitive multiplayer action goes down. There are four playlists at the moment, Control (capture and hold points across the map), Clash (Team Deathmatch), Rumble (Free-for-All) and Skirmish (3v3 Deathmatch with revives). There is a fifth playlist that changes week to week. Last week it was Salvage and this week it is Combined Arms (vehicle heavy combat). Multiplayer as you would expect is excellent. It’s fast and fluid and a hell of a lot of fun. Map designs are the usual Bungie gold standard and play well. Where as Halo centered on weapons scattered around the map, Destiny drops that and scatters ammo drops around the map. These are secondary and heavy drops. If you get a heavy ammo drop, then you need to use it before you die because your heavy weapon will reset to zero ammo after death. Players worrying about high level vs low level player needn’t be, weapon and armor stats are leveled across the board for a fair game, A new playlist called Iron Banner is coming soon where your weapons and armor are not leveled and you go in with the stats of your weapons and armor as is. Not all things are rosy though. Some special attacks are way overpowered. The Warlock and Hunter ones especially. The lack of chat in game is one of the strangest omissions in the game. There is no proximity chat, no team chat, nothing. The only chat you get is if you create a fireteam. The maximum number of players in a fireteam is three. If you have six friends then you can only talk to two of them. It is a very strange choice. In fact this lack of chat carries over into the rest of the game. You cannot talk to anybody unless they are in your fireteam.
Life after 20
With all the missions and strikes and multiplayer, your character should reach level 20 in no time. In fact completing the story and it’s side missions gets you to level 20 pretty easily. Once level 20 is hit a few things open up, There are daily and weekly challenges, a strike playlist and story missions can be replayed at different difficulties. The XP you gain from now on doesn’t rank you up. You need to find armor that has a light value affixed to it. When you equip you begin to level up. This is quite addictive as it forces you to loot hunt. However it forces you to change the look of your character. If you have a set look that you have spent hours putting together you need to remove it and wear something stupid looking because it has a light value to help you level up. Again another very strange choice. The light level caps out at 30 at the moment.
Out with the old…
While out and about on the various planets you will probably noticed various materials you can collect. Each planet has a specific material you can look for and bag. Earth has Spinmetal and Venus has Spirit Blooms for example. Other rare materials can only be got by playing strikes or Crucible matches. Materials are used to upgrade your weapons and armor. This is fine early on but becomes very,very frustrating later on when you are trying to upgrade Legendary items as they need materials that cannot be got by searching the planets. So you need to grind through strikes or multiplayer hoping you get the material you want. My Legendary auto rifle upgrade unlocked a few days ago but I have to upgrade it because I need six pieces of a rare material.
Factions and Spending
Factions in the game also unlock once you hit level 20. There are three factions in total, with a possible two more at a later date. Currently the factions are Dead Orbit, Future War Cult and New Monarchy. It is entirely up to the player if they want to join a faction. To do so, go meet with the faction leader and buy the faction mark. this is equipped in the fifth slot of your armor. From know on when you complete missions and bounties the experience will go to that faction. Level up a faction and you can get some pretty good weapons and armor from them. To buy weapons and armor from the factions or merchants in the Tower you need either Crucible Marks or Vanguard Marks. Crucible Marks are earned by playing multiplayer, while Vanguard Marks are earned by playing the Vanguard Strike playlist. You can only earn 100 Marks per day. It is a good idea to join a faction because once you level them up a bit they will give you Legendary items each time you rank them up.
Agent of the Nine
Xur, Agent of the Nine is a merchant who only shows up in the Tower between Friday and Sunday night. He only sells Exotic items. This is a good chance to own your first piece of Exotic but you need the right currency. Xur only accepts Strange Coins and Motes of Light. Both of these are random rewards from playing strikes or multiplayer.
Raiders of the…
The first of many raids opened up recently, The Vault of Glass. Raids are huge areas with many bosses and puzzles. Bungie said that they are the biggest most complex things they have done. Raids are for level 26 and above characters. They are very hard and take along time to complete. Between three to ten hours depending on your teams skill. The glaring issue with the Raid at the moment is that there is no matchmaking. You need to have five other level 26 friends to join you in your quest. Very difficult. Most people are leaving their gamertag on the Bungie forum and hope they get a invite. That is how I got my first experience of a raid. It was intense, difficult and tiring. You need teamwork and good communication, so no mics get the boot.
Story? Forget about it…
You may have wondered why I have not mentioned the story yet. This is why. Destiny has a story made out of rice paper. It’s that thin. I truly cannot tell you what the story of Destiny is even though I finished it. Something about The Traveler protecting Earth from The Darkness which is out to destroy both. The main enemy you fight are The Fallen, a nomadic race of space pirates. Do they belong to The Darkness? Not sure. Later on in the story you have to fight The Vex, an army of time travelling robots. Do they belong to The Darkness? Again, not sure. Probably not because they attack you and The Fallen. Destiny does a poor job at explaining anything or presenting the story to the player. There are only a handful of cutscenes within the campaign which in all honesty don’t tell you anything. The main thrust of information is given to you verbally by your handy little Ghost, a somewhat annoying A.I robot floating thingy that sounds like it’s not interested in anything. It is a shocking campaign that is basically a horde mode all the way through. Go to destination, scan something and fight off the waves of enemies until the scanning has finished. Where is the beautiful crafted story like Halo?
So is Destiny a good game? Not at the moment. It can be, it is an addictive game for sure. It has some big issues but I can’t put it down for some reason. The loot system needs fixing, chat needs to be implemented, enemy spawns need to be addressed, the emptiness of the worlds need sorting out and more content needs to be added. Things like a trading mechanic is sorely needed. How about being able to sell items to other players? Matchmaking on Raids, Daily and Weekly challenges. What is the game going to be like in a months time? Does Bungie expect us to be playing the same strikes over and over, shooting the same enemies in the same locations over and over? they have added content to the Crucible but not everybody is in to that. We know paid DLC is coming to expand the story but what are they going to do from now until say Christmas? It will be interesting to find out. If nothing much has changed, I doubt I will be playing.
Destiny is available now on PS3, PS4, XBOX 360 and XBOX ONE.