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Patrick Hope: ‘Destiny’ is waiting

Now that fall has arrived, we can finally hit the meat of the game schedule. And this year, there's no bigger title that has been, and possibly will be, released than the Bungie-Activision vehicle "Destiny."...

Now that fall has arrived, we can finally hit the meat of the game schedule. And this year, there’s no bigger title that has been, and possibly will be, released than the Bungie-Activision vehicle “Destiny.”
Of course, this is one of those games that more or less was going to be a hit no matter what, as Gamestop reported that it received the most pre-orders for any new piece of intellectual property ever. Also, “Destiny” pretty much had to be a hit, as Activision reportedly - at least according to Reuters, Forbes and every gaming media outlet out there - sank $500 million into its development. And as “Destiny” lives up to this considerable hype, the answer is a resounding “I’m not sure.”
Now, as you may or may not know, “Destiny” takes two really popular genres, first-person shooters and massively multiplayer online role-playing games, and smashes them together. It’s like “Borderlands,” but with a more serious plot and even more of an emphasis on the multiplayer aspect. It’s a really bold idea and considering how much flak the gaming industry gets as a whole for stagnating all the time, it’s pretty surprising a major company like Activision decided to try this.
Considering the odd blend of genres here, it only seems fair to address them separately. First is the shooter aspect. With Bungie’s track record with the “Halo” series, it’s not surprising that this aspect is done very well. Everything feels really spot-on and there is a nice variety of weapons for you to choose from. If this were a regular shooter, it’d be well-regarded, but probably not the potentially groundbreaking title that it is. The whole massively-multiplayer-online part is what sets it apart.
Creating a shooter that exists entirely in a multiplayer world has been done before, notably this year with “Titanfall.” But while those were competitive games, “Destiny” focuses heavily on cooperative play. Like any MMO, you’re going to have a variety of quests to complete to earn experience points that will help you level up. And you can team up with a group of friends, called a fireteam here, to gallivant across our solar system, with locations on Earth, Mars, the Moon and Venus, killing baddies and collecting loot.
And here’s where a lot of people have problems with “Destiny.” While each location is open and you can go after quests in whatever order you want, provided you complete a few prerequisites, there aren’t a ton of them. So you’re going to find yourself doing a ton of grinding to get up to the levels needed to the big end-game raids where your team actually joins another team in tackling a dungeon and its contained bosses. But it’s going to take a really long time for you to get to a high enough level to do that. Veterans of “World of Warcraft,” like my undergrad roommate, will remember back when the cap was level 60 and you ran out of quests and were left killing yetis in Winterspring forever until you finally maxed out. It’s a big problem to have endgame content that requires a substantial amount of tedium to reach, but that’s where “Destiny” is right now.
On a positive note, “Destiny” does avoid a lot of the pitfalls that new MMOs see. The servers don’t crash all the time. There aren’t tons of bugs. The game looks gorgeous and you don’t really experience any slowdown. So technically, “Destiny” is pretty much a marvel.
In any event, I said I’m not sure if “Destiny” lives up to the hype because it’s still a work in progress. Bungie has stated that it wants a 10-year plan for the game and its expansion content, so they’re clearly planning for the long haul.
This also means that Bungie and Activision will care enough to tweak things as needed to make a better experience. At this point, “Destiny” is still a fun, but imperfect adventure that, assuming content gets added periodically, can keep you busy for a long time. And that’s just fine, as if Bungie’s vision works out, none of us will be able to escape our “Destiny.”

Hope is a local attorney and video game enthusiast. He’s still kind of disappointed “Destiny” only has three class choices, but what can you do? He’s playing as a Ranger.

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