Destiny (Bungie, 2014)

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Destiny, developed by Bungie and published by Activision (2014).

Score: Outstanding, pure fun.

See, I was once in love. A dashing young game appeared in my life and made me fall for space opera. Its name was Mass Effect. It eventually broke my heart. As much as I wanted to believe in the indoctrination theory, I knew it could not be true, and was left thinking I couldn’t aspire to anything better. And then Destiny came along.

It’s not the same kind of game, though. This is an MMOFPS and you have to take that into account when you’re experiencing it. The storyline is sketchy and vague, but that’s what it should be, when it’s a multiplayer, gameplay centered game. The storyline was sketchy at best with Skyrim and it’s still the most fun I’ve ever had playing a videogame. It’s about having fun, not being enlightened by the storytelling. You can like both kinds of games and there’s nothing wrong about it, but most games can’t indulge you with both.

The plot involves an artifact called The Traveler that somehow contributed to terraform most planets in the Solar System. Humanity colonised them and thrived but after some kind of cataclysm most of us died and those planets were invaded by alien races. Now the Ghosts, aided by the Speaker, are resurrecting humans and dubbing them Guardians, with the goal to restore humanity’s old splendour.

The level design is really well-thought. Some people have been complaining that levels are reused, but I don’t see how that’s a problem. Virtually every multiplayer shooter has just a few maps that keep repeating themselves and nobody ever complained about that. Every cave in Skyrim and every spaceship in Mass Effect looked exactly the same and everyone was fine with that. You’ve got these huge, insanely detailed levels in Destiny which are reused for story, strike and patrol games and suddenly the game is repetitive. Fuck it, I prefer to play lots of times in a gorgeously designed level than in modular levels that look exactly like each other and have worse design.

People have complained that story missions are repetitive because most of the time they involve Ghost a.k.a. Siri to hack into something while you fight off waves of enemies. GTA IV was the most repetitive game experience I’ve ever had (i.e. drive your cousin around and shoot some gangsters once in a while) and that didn’t prevent anyone from sucking its cock. If shooting waves of monsters in the head is not what you came for, you’re not going to like the game anyway, so don’t pretend that’s the reason why you didn’t like it.

The game is essentially multiplayer but to different degrees. Story missions can be played alone or in cooperative mode with no matchmaking. In these you can see and interact with other players in the common areas, but when you enter the story-exclusive area you are alone or just with your fire team. Patrol missions are in open stages where you interact with other players mostly in upcoming events, which happen randomly and have a time limit to complete. Strikes have a matchmaking system and are the mid-level PvE cooperative experiencepar excellence. Crucible matches are basically THE PvP experience in several modes. They both give you reputation and a currency (marks), which allows you to buy higher-level equipment. Because here’s the thing: up to level 20 you level up with experience the regular way, but after that you need equipment that grants you light. This means the piece of armour will have Light +x and you level up according to your light rating. So at this point of the game your farming starts. The cryptarch, the NPC that will decrypt loot that gives you a random piece of equipment, had to be patched recently because he was a bit of a miser. Still you’re sometimes stuck with a sweet ass piece of armour that you can’t wear because it’s for the wrong class, something that doesn’t happen with lower level equipment. And then there are the raids. Difficult as fuck. But still I find the system fun because at every level and every point of the game you have sorts of missions that are challenging and you always have stuff to do. Bungie has announced that Destiny is a project for the next ten years and expansions are already in the way. I can definitely see myself playing most of them. I’m expecting them to add new planets, strikes and raids (once you’ve beaten the story missions you don’t care much about those), and hey, maybe they could throw in some new game modes. Ten years is a very long time.

The music makes me nearly jizz and deserves another review just for itself. I love that they have avoided this cliché that science fiction or futuristic games need to have an exclusively electronic soundtrack because apparently brass instruments will be extinct in the future. It’s so satisfying to blow heads to bloody bits while an overly dramatic and epic orchestral piece is blaring through your home cinema. It also has the more quiet and reflective parts, perfectly suited for the exploration bits, and it uses different resources wisely, such as orchestral instruments, electronic sampling and human voices and choirs.

As for the voice acting, there isn’t really much speaking, especially once you’ve already beat the story missions. I think Peter Dinklage did a neat job, though you might argue he falls in the inexpressive side of the scales. I didn’t like the Spanish dub as usual, since it falls more to the histrionic and overacted side, which is considered good acting in the Spanish voice acting industry, god knows why (as a silly side note, we would call Ghost either Siri or Tyrion or Pepper because the Spanish voice actor is the same as for Modern Family’s Pepper). Shoutout to whomever did the angry babble the Fallen speak when you’re fighting them, it’s hilarious.

This game is fun as fuck and a great example of the good science-fiction I’ve grown to love. It has been terribly hyped, to a level absolutely nothing can live up to, but it’s not garbage like a lot of people want you to believe. As someone I read on a forum put it: people who like Destiny are playing it, the ones who’re not playing are the ones that have time to talk shit about it.

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