Destiny: Good Gunplay Doesn’t Equal Good Gameplay

The job of a marketing team is a precarious one. Previous to the release of most high budget AAA games, there is a notable increase in advertisement for the coming product, be it on TV, Facebook, Twitter, or any other popularly consumed medium.

The purpose behind this is almost as straight forward as they come: generating consumer interest in the product with flashy and well directed trailers in order to inflate early sales. However, this fundamental method of increasing sales often tends to influence customers’ opinions of the final product when it stops being a scripted trailer embellished by imagination and starts being numerous interactive pixels.

Over-hype is a terrible sickness that has crippled many a game in the past that failed to live up to the lofty expectations created by a good marketing team, a fancy logo, and a small dash of consumer idealism. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, crushing disappointment, passionate outcries regarding the integrity of the producer, steadfast arguments denying the existence of flaws within the product, and excessive amounts of smug indifference for those that predicted this outcome a mile and four yards away.

Destiny’s failure is not that it is a below average game overall. On the contrary, the streamlined, action packed gunplay and tasteful variety of weapons will entertain any hard-nosed FPS player for some amount of time. In addition, the gorgeous graphics and multilayered environments do an admirable job of caressing the player’s eyeballs as they gundown waves and waves of strikingly similar NPCs.

But, this is where the game starts to quickly lose its well polished sheen. Repetition runs rampant throughout almost every facet of the game from the copiously reused set pieces to the rehashed and reskinned bits of cannon fodder thrown forward to soak up and regurgitate bullets like demented vacuums. Headshots are essential if auto rifles are beneath the player’s consideration, and when going on a strike mission, make sure to bring a small snack because that boss at the end has in fact eaten the whole box of Wheaties including the cardboard.

In terms of plot, the game might as well not have one. In game lore is restricted to a pitifully small number of cutscenes that are four parts atmosphere and one part dialogue to very brief, pre-mission infodumps. The majority of the lore is contained within so called “grimoire cards” that each contain interesting snippets of information to help flesh out this unknown world and culture the player has been introduced to.

Cool right? Too bad these cards cannot be accessed in game. Unlike in a game such as Skyrim where the lore is sprinkled throughout the world in readable books, Destiny forces the player to stop playing and hop his/her happy tuckus online to view this lore essential information. This completely interrupts game flow and forces players to break their immersion if they wish to learn about the world to increase their immersion in the setting.

The loot system is has its fair share of troubles as well. Being based solely on level and a dice roll, loot drops in Destiny reward grinding low leveled NPCs over taking on the high profile, combat-intensive strike missions that resemble the traditional dungeon runs of more MMORPG oriented games. Additionally, the system does not allow interplayer trading, even when loot drops have a chance to be outside of the player’s current class and therefore unusable. With the late game leveling also being solely dependent on the “light” attribute of the player’s armor, progress in late game turns into a tedious grind fest that encourages the player to stand in front of an easily exploitable enemy spawn point with a rifle for hours on end.

For the first ten or so hours of gameplay that it takes to complete the main storyline, Destiny is a game that is well above average relative to most FPS games even with its notable flaws. However, as it stands, late game is a combination of repetition and tedium that make the game more like a chore than is often expected of video games, especially of the FPS variety.

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