EW will be investigating that question in an ongoing Destiny journal. This post is the second entry—read the first entry from Joshua Rivera here, and continue on for more thoughts on Bungie’s new shooter.
9.12.14: To the beta and back again
I’m of two minds in my experience with Destiny so far. So far, I’ve had an absolute blast with the minute-to-minute gameplay. Bungie knows how to make a shooter, and whether in story missions or competitive matches, the gunplay shines through. But as I journeyed through the game’s story missions on Earth, levels I had already played in the beta, demonstrated the one major sin I was worried Destiny would commit in the early going—the lack of a driving force foryour Guardian.
I understand the world around me is supposed to matter. Bungie clearly developed a world full of history and lore, and it’s gorgeously apparent on screen. I’m told my Guardian matters, and that the bad guys I’m gunning down do too. But it’s all a case of telling and not showing as my Guardian treks across Old Russia. Replaying the game’s first few missions, I struggled to find a reason to feel invested in the game.
Then I played in the competitive Crucible mode, and something clicked into place for me.
Now, I’m hardly a multiplayer shooter aficionado, but unlike you, Josh, I spent more hours than I’d care to admit playing Halo 2. In the couple nights I have spent in Destiny‘s competitive mode, I could sense the return of the fun, frustration, and (quickly dashed) elation that accompanied my time with the Halo franchise. I’ll never be a top-tier player, but the design strengths of Destiny really began to shine for me in the multiplayer
Sticking solely to a single trusty rifle and sniper rifle, as I had in the story missions, was no longer an option. Close quarters required a shotgun and a hand cannon, with my sniper rifle only proving useful when maps opened into wide stretches of Mars’ surface. I died, frequently, but the comfortable loop you mentioned, Josh, shines through in the multiplayer. Playing with friends is recommended—it’s better to commiserate about losing with a few buddies rather than the unknown masses—but even in solo outings, I found myself adapting to my unknown teammates’ behavior and enjoying the process.
At the end of each session, I came away feeling that, despite an in-game backstory that positions me as humanity’s last hope, Bungie ultimately wants me to play Destiny with others. Experiencing the missions on Earth once by myself and once with friends, I can overwhelmingly point to the time spent in a group as the better option. That statement surprises me, as I almost universally choose single player over multiplayer experiences in other games. Yet, playing alongside a friend returned me to a place I hadn’t been since I first discovered how easily my pals could whoop me in Halo.
I’m holding off on much judgement in regard to the loot, the story, and the gunplay until I’m a bit deeper (I’m only a level nine Warlock, after all). I have my concerns about the first two, and the third certainly lives up to the Bungie pedigree. But, at the very least, Destiny accomplished something for me that few games have—it made a multiplayer experience fun for me.
Iintend to go back to the story soon and see what the Moon and Mars have in store for me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my next few nights with Destiny focus solely on the multiplayer warfare of the Crucible. —Jonathon Dornbush