Tuesday, September 9, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

It wasn’t until I completed The World’s Grave mission on the moon that I had finally started loving Destiny.

Wielding a ballistic trifecta of a scout rifle, a sniper rifle, and a rocket launcher, my stand-off with the Hive put both my skills and arsenal to the test as I popped headshots from afar, blew up clusters of enemies from above, and held back the sprinting sub-class of the disgraced race while dancing around creatively using any vantage point imaginable. This is what Bungie’s Halo was, and this is what Bungie’s Destiny is.

This type of encounter is quite common in Destiny. In fact, most missions I’ve seen thus far have ended in an enemy flooding stand-off. It’s Bungie’s way of showing off the dynamic interaction of multiple enemy types ranging from close quarters, to shielded mid-range, to hard hitters from afar. But as common as they may be, they’re spectacular finales that are distilled from yawning environmental combat and traversal.

Thus far, Destiny is in some cases the Halo game that I wanted. I’ve always held onto my Ghosts and rocket launchers for as long as possible, but in Destiny, you carry everything with you, and the game is very much designed around that. Wide stretches call for summoning Sparrows, and different sized battle grounds appropriate themselves for whatever you may have in your arsenal.

I’ve taken a particular liking to the Hunter class which I didn’t get a chance to try out in the Destiny beta that I started writing about this past July. The suitably named Golden Gun acts as a temporary 4th weapon that disintegrates foes on impact, with an additional two shots to the body if they’re of a heavier class.

I find the Golden Gun particularly useful in multiplayer over the Fist of Havoc and the Nova Bomb because it’s deadly at any range. Speaking of multiplayer, I’ve already spoken atlength about Destiny’s Crucible, and my opinion hasn’t changed much 5 matches in. I still, however, can’t get over how persistently brilliant the level design is regardless what map I’m playing on. Bastion feels painfully familiar from some of the large scale maps between Halo 3 through 4, and Fire Base is an unusually brutal close quarters map with automated doors blocking your view in hallways, and insidiously placed points of elevation that welcomes death from above.

Despite how much I’m enjoying the game, there are some concerns that linger about. Unlike what I experienced in the beta, I’ve yet to run into a Public Event, which effectively ruins any incentive to interact with any other players that I come across on my venture. I haven’t investigated whether or not if this is gated behind a level. If it is, I apologize.

After the beta, many questioned the size of Destiny. Bungie’s aggressive assurance that Destiny will be a big game because it’s “the biggest game that they’ve ever made” doesn’t say much looking back at their legacy. Looking at the complete map, it doesn’t seem all that big at first glance with a handful of “planets” (planets including the Moon in this case), but I’m hoping that Destiny will surprise me.

Surprises could lurk in areas where I’m out leveled. I’m sure we’ve all ventured into a cave, only to be pulverized by a powerful enemy whose level reads “??”. And while this is an exciting incentive to return later in the game, it often dis-incentivized me to explore in fear of facing another unknown leveled enemy. As a shooter RPG, I’m conditioned into exploring and finding loot. But why would I chase loot when death could literally be waiting for me around the corner?

Nonetheless, these are early game woes, as I’m sure that Destiny will turn out to be much more than it is at first glance. Check back in within the coming weeks for my Destiny review.

Image courtesy of The Fuse Joplin 

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