Destiny PS4 Review
Publisher: Activision Developer: Bungie Genre: FPS Players: 1-12 Age Rating: 16+
Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
After creating a game with as much impact as Halo, there was always going to be high expectations for whatever developer Bungie did next. The developer moved on from their most famous work long ago but it’s only now we get to properly see what they’ve been working on since.
Destiny is an FPS and RPG hybrid in the vein of Borderlands, which sees you shooting lots of things to grow more powerful and obtain more equipment. The game brings little fresh to this formula, which will be disappointing to those that expected Bungie to shake things up in the way that they did with Halo 15 years ago.
You take on the role of a Guardian, a protector of one of the last cities on Earth, whom you create the appearance of from a somewhat disappointing amount of options, as well as his/her class, which aren’t as different from one another as one might hope. Destiny’s universe is rich, though the game itself certainly doesn’t display this; your Peter Dinklage voiced robot companion, Ghost, speaking much, but telling you little, with all information required to make sense of the story becoming available on Bungie’s official website and a companion App as you advance through the game instead, which is an unsatisfying method of telling a story to say the very least, and certainly doesn’t draw you into the aesthetically pleasing universe.
With the busy battles, crafty enemies, recharging shield, fizzling lasers/grenades and soaring score, Destiny has a definite Halo feel to it, which is no bad thing whatsoever given how accomplished the series is in all those respects. The art design is also excellent, with all four planets offering up some magnificent vistas.
Weapons meanwhile feel great to use, but are surprisingly conventional with the likes of handguns, submachine guns and sniper rifles functioning much as you’d expect them to. Characters also have abilities, which can turn the tide of battle and, in RPG like fashion, most will require a cooldown period before you’re able to make use of them again.
The RPG elements however separates it from Halo, which is also a good thing, particularly for those that are hoping for something different from the developer, and it adds a compulsive layer on top of the lovely shooting. Killing enemies and completing quests will grant you XP, which will eventually level you up and in the process reward you with new abilities, unlocked through a skill tree, which is surprisingly linear, taking away from the satisfaction of levelling up somewhat.
Loot in the form of weapons, armour and consumables is dropped by slain enemies, or hidden around the environments, though it’s compulsive, it can be surprisingly meagre in this regard, which could leave RPG fans hungry for more.
Whilst the games story can easily be played in single player, multiplayer is clearly where the true focus lies, though it’s not the MMO that it was often branded prior to its release. Up to three players can team up with one another, whilst you often see two or three other people around your map, of which you can choose to help, and the Tower where you purchase equipment and get quests, has around 20 people in at once. There are also MMO style public events, which occur randomly and which any player on the map can participate in, encouraging teamwork. There is no form of matchmaking for the primary missions, which means you must invite or be invited to a party, before you can properly team up, which is sure to be frustrating for those that prefer to play with random people.
There’s not much variation in gameplay, with you commonly fighting off hoards of enemies whilst Ghost hacks into something, with no real Halo style large scale set pieces and such to break things up, though the chance to find new loot and gradually grow more powerful will keep certain players engaged. Outside of the primary missions, Strike missions have you teaming up with two other players, whilst Patrol has you exploring the planets and completing simplistic missions along the way at your own pace.
Competitive multiplayer is also on offer and is an accomplished part of the game and your level (though certain level advantages are understandably removed) and equipment is shared across all modes, whilst the action takes place on well laid out compact maps but, at this point, it’s somewhat basic and doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre.
Level 20 is the game’s level cap, though Endgame content brings about a new levelling system that replaces the traditional XP gathering with a light statistic that is attached to the most powerful armour that the game has to offer, levelling you up once you have a certain amount of the attribute. The heroic difficulty level will also become available after completion of the story
It was always going to be hard for Bungie to follow up a game as impactful and cherished as Halo, and Destiny will likely leave a large number of people that were expecting something as genre defining as Halo disappointed. Even with its surprising lack of freshness however, Destiny is a mechanically robust game that combines Halo’s winning FPS pieces with an RPG and, provided you can forgive its lack of invention, it’s also one that is well worth playing.