The State of Destiny

 Published on: Mar 7, 2015 @ 14:45

Contributing authors: Anson C, Taylor Biar, Joel

Half a year ago, Destiny was released out into the wild. The community had varying expectations of what the game was going to be, but despite our uncertainty, we dived in and have played it thoroughly.

This article will analyze some of the things Bungie got right, some questionable decisions, and how they might affect you moving forward.

If you’re feeling Destiny burnout, we have a complete breakdown of how you can overcome it.

The Cryptarch

For the many that bought the game on the first day, the Cryptarch was the ultimate enemy, turning your purple engrams into items that were often less valuable than the packaging they came in.

Today, he decodes Engrams into items that usually match the rarity, though more often than not he still tests your patience by giving away Ascendant Shards and Energies rather than usable items.

With no indication from Bungie that his rewards are going to overhauled yet again, it is likely that his name will still be spoken of with dread and anger in the future, ensuring his place as the least reliable way to acquire good loot.

The Cryptarch is a friend to those with new characters though: Plasteel Plating, Sapphire Wire, and Hadronic Essence doesn’t come cheap, but when you can toss engrams from other characters into the vault and seek the expertise of the Cryptarch, those class-specific materials start to flow.

Vendors

Thanks to the implementation of the Commendation and Exotic Shard system, new players simply have to wait longer to acquire items that make them raid viable. Whereas once, one could simply acquire a full set of Legendary gear by earning enough Marks, now it requires leveling up a given faction to at least level 3 for the requisite three commendations required for a full set of Legendary armor.

Furthermore, Exotics are harder for new players to level up just based on the fact that they would need at least one other Exotic, or 7 Strange Coins, to earn the Shard required for the final upgrade slot.

The combinations of these factors serve only to widen the equipment gap between new and old players, artificially extending the game for the new and providing an annoyance to the old.

Thankfully Bungie is going to address loot concerns in the House of Wolves.

Repetition

Quite possibly the biggest issue that many have with the game (at least if you stuck around since launch) is the amount of content available. With 10 strikes and 2 raids available, it is undeniable that there is a dearth of high-level PvE content.

While the raids themselves are fun to play, it’s just a question of how often are you (or your friends) are willing to play the same content over again, especially once you have acquired all of the loot you want from it.

destiny review analysis

Events such as the Iron Banner provide extra gear and a different PvP experience, and events like that are needed to spice things up. Iron Banner’s gear provides some diversity in means of reaching the maximum level, but there is always the element of RNG. The available rewards have been shuffled for subsequent IB rotations, but it’s safe to assume that more reward options during the event would be appreciated.

The Queen’s Wrath is nowhere to be seen after its first season, even drawing a quizzical “What’s that?” from new players when the subject is broached. This event will undoubtedly be reintroduced when the House of Wolves is released, hopefully much improved from its first iteration.

The Crucible itself has also seen very little change since the beginning of the game, with the same 4 gametypes each boiling down to killing other Guardians to win. Salvage, the only other objective mode, is rarely seen.

While the balance of power between weapons have shifted since launch, the Crucible itself is more or less the same.

Updates

Arguably one of the best ways to see how dedicated a developer is to their game, regular updates are often a good sign, even if they don’t provide noticeable changes. Destiny is no exception, and the ability to purchase planetary materials and move items back and forth via the app have proved to be very popular updates.

Most of the patches have made the game more enjoyable for newer players and improve the overall gameplay to be less clunky, but some updates have proved to be more questionable, the prime culprit being the Exotic upgrading system.

An admitted mistake, Exotic upgrading disproportionately punished those who played from launch,  while paradoxically affecting newer players the least. The tax on available resources (time, Glimmer) to upgrade the weapons that Bungie encouraged collecting was dishearteningly steep, and struck a sour note with many longtime players, who felt slighted by the callous mechanism.

Some requests that revolve around bug fixes have also yet to be acknowledged, particularly those revolving around the Vault of Glass, which is still home to the Praetorian in the right portal that doesn’t want to die, Oracle shenanigans, and members of the portal team being detained.

Story

One of the recurring accusations lobbed at Bungie since Destiny’s launch (despite the Peter Dinklage debacle) revolves around the quality of the story. While the Grimoire cards have provided some elaboration on characters and events that come across as muddied in-game, new story missions with the Dark Below expansion haven’t done much to alleviate people’s fears.

Disembodied voices delivering a few lines of set-up at the beginning and end of missions – well, that hardly constitutes a good storyline.

destiny story review

Looking to the future, it will be interesting to see if Bungie is capable of telling a compelling story in the framework they have created. They have reportedly hired a Lore editor, John Ryan, to “edit, work with writers, and keep an eye on lore and style.”

This hire may or may not mean a meatier storyline in the House of Wolves expansion. We can only hope.

Bounties

Bounties have changed very little since Destiny’s launch, and so some might say, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” But when coupled with the content issues discussed, bounties have become dry affairs. A handful of story missions to repeat, another 9000 experience to find, and killing 25 more Warlocks in the Crucible – really? Must we do that again?

With the launch of The Queens Wrath and Dark Below, fresh bounties were showered upon us – but the Queen slunk back into her throne soon after, and Eris Morn taunts us with her batty sayings while we run to “Fist of Crota” on Earth for the thousandth time just to grind out her repetitive bounties.

Will the future look the same? House of Wolves will introduce the Queen again, and certainly some new bounties will come along with her, but it will be interesting to see if some fresh ideas are infused into the current offerings from Vanguard, Crucible, and Eris Morn.

As suggested in a this article, Destiny desperately needs more bounties.

Mechanics

On a positive note, Bungie has done a fantastic job with Destiny’s look and feel; it’s a platform that easily can – and will be – built upon.

The shooting mechanics, how the weapons feel, the reaction enemies make as you pummel them with rockets, and the variety of choices – is undeniably stellar. The balance between weapons is strong enough that different maps require you reconsider your arsenal, whether it be in PvE or PvP, and what is consider a weak weapon might have specific applications that make it the best of its class.

destiny analysis review

And this has only improved with time. 1.1.1 has made shotguns viable and exhilarating choices in PvE, auto rifles a little less appealing in all circumstances, and pulse rifles… well… people apparently love them now. Those weapons we had shoved into the depths of our vault come back and find new life, which is a win in anyone’s book.

Looking forward, it’s safe to say tight gameplay will continue to be Bungie’s strong suit. Solid gunplay has always been at the heart of their projects, and they have honed the skill to a fine art.

Certainly House of Wolves will come with its own minor issues, but the future is bright for anyone looking to Destiny for a solid shooter that not only looks good, but feels like a dream.

It’s Not All Bad

In fact, I think we can agree that most of it’s awesome.

Destiny is a game of repetition, where the grind provides familiar comfort, buoyed by an impressive core of gameplay.

Its joys are found in the social sphere: in teaming up with friends, in dance parties in the Tower, and in sharing your experiences with other Guardians.

Bungie’s updates and decisions have proved perplexing at times, but the overall trajectory is undeniably upwards. We’re looking forward to seeing this game grow. Bring on the House of Wolves!

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