Destiny Day One Impressions

Yes, the Nintendo stuff is coming. I’m trying to space out seven countdown posts over a few weeks.

So I just finished up an 8 hour long session with Destiny, Activision and Bungie’s gigantic videogame project that launched today pretty much worldwide. I very rarely play any game for that long in a single day, especially not a brand new one, so I feel like if I don’t write something about it I will be rather uncomfortable with myself. I played the whole time in a fire team with two friends, which if I understand correctly is the way the developers intended, and I’ve just hit Level 10 (half of the level cap) as a Warlock class. I hadn’t played the beta beforehand. I’m unlikely to ever write a review for such a gigantic, expandable title, so here are my scattershot, knee jerk thoughts on the game so far:
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WHAT I LIKE

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Dedicated Australian servers that haven’t yet crashed on me. That’s a fantastic start to any online-heavy game, let alone an online-only one. Installation and start-up were relatively painless. Bravo Bungie.

Gunplay. Most of Destiny‘s weapons feel really, really good to use, even if some aren’t all that effective. I’m particularly partial to fusion rifles and their concentrated laser barrage of destruction.

Visuals. Game’s damn purdy on PS4.

Mmm, moon rocks.

Mmm, moon rocks.

The game’s User Interface. Have you seen how clean Destiny‘s menus look? All big numbers and minimalist icons and right angles. Delicious. There isn’t a lot of unnecessary fat to be found anywhere.

Flexible difficulty. Never before have I played a game with such a shackle-free approach to difficulty. A wide range of missions constantly seem to be unlocking at both above and below my current level, meaning if I’m up for a mindless item grind I can do that, and if I want to spend over half an hour in one room death-gripping my controller trying to kill a super powerful, legendary sword-wielding alien boss, I can do that too.

Speeder bikes. It’s such a cool Star Wars-y thing to be able to call in a speeder bike at nearly any moment while outdoors, making speedy transport and crazy tricks a breeze. And you can upgrade them!

Woo-hoo!

Woo-hoo!

The Crucible. Initially I thought the game’s arena-style PvP mode, the Crucible, would shake out as a bit of an afterthought, but it’s absolutely far from that. The Halo influence is at its most obvious in these tightly designed 6 vs 6 arenas, and it manages to flow very nicely from the main stuff without feeling unfair. There are vehicles, too, and some of my favourite moments of the game thus far have come from playing the Control mode.

Trophy/Achievement balance. The games set of achievements is, true to recent Bungie games, rather balanced, encouraging players to check out just about every way of playing that Destiny currently offers. That’s the ideal purpose of the things in the first place.

Dancing. Destiny has a sense of humour and mischief, particularly in the game’s hub area, “Tower”. I’ve messed around with soccer and beach balls, attempted to scale decorative buildings and gestured wildly at complete strangers. It’s a nice break between grindy missions.

And this is how we celebrate after every mission.

And this is how we celebrate after every mission.

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WHAT I DON’T LIKE

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Restrictive fire team sizes. Before launch I was scratching my head as to why you can only group up with two other players for most of Destiny‘s gameplay. Now that I’ve played a decent chunk of it, I’m still confused, as outside of the game’s thematic obsession with the number three (three classes, three races, three objectives in most missions etc), it just feels like someone is missing out.

No player-to-player item trading. Allegedly this feature will be added to the game later, but it’s a little baffling that such a crucial feature as loot trading between players is missing at launch. There isn’t even a way to drop items for other players to pick up. Hmm.

I mean come on, they're right next to each other. They can't reach into their pockets and drop their gear?

They’re right next to each other. They can’t reach into their pockets and drop a gun or two?

Mission pacing. This isn’t a widespread issue at all, but a few of the missions I’ve done so far have seemed a bit cobbled together and not altogether well thought through. I have very little experience with MMOs, so thgis might be par for the course, but I thought it worth mentioning.

Public event design. OK, so I’ve only seen one of these so far, but it wasn’t the greatest experience. The excitement of a random event popping up during a standard mission is palpable, but what happens if only one fire team shows up for a fight designed for three or four of them. A frustrating encounter, that’s what.

Ho-hum writing. So far I wouldn’t call either Destiny‘s writing nor its voice acting bad per se, but it hasn’t yet done anything to distinguish itself from any other sci-fi property out there. The story and lore haven’t grabbed me.

This robot has boobs. Why.

This robot has boobs. Why.

Fleeting visual customisation. This is a really petty complaint, but I’m not a huge fan of having to change a good-looking armour design for a disgustingly ugly one just to get better stats. Having to say goodbye to an amazing Hawaiian shirt-like chest piece was a real bummer, and I wish there was a way to lock in appearance features.
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Of course, there is still a lot of Destiny I still haven’t seen, and I’m keen to dive in some more, but these are my thoughts as they currently stand. Very impressive stuff overall!

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