Good morning, afternoon and evening!
Destiny is a game that has caught my attention for quite a few months for unusual reasons. Usually I’ll be drawn to games due to positive word of mouth. Destiny though, well, has been cut down by fans and critics alike. Instead, I’ve been drawn to the somewhat unusual nature of Destiny. It has it’s similarities to Borderlands, and yet differs in some unusual ways. Giving me the chance, and reason, to do a written Let’s Play of Destiny.
The plan is to play 2 to 5 hours of Destiny and then write about it. Maybe it’ll just be what has happened, perhaps some analysis, likely both with some odd behaviour thrown in. Generally it’ll be a very off-the-cuff manner. I’ll play until I hit some form of completion, and then do a final review. “Why not do it on a video?” you may be pounding on your keyboard to ask me. Mostly because it’d make for a very long video, what with the grinding away the game apparently embraces like a Korean MMORPG. Partly because I don’t video too good.
Oh, and if this all seems familiar, it is a very similar gig to what I did with Venture into the Borderlands. Check that out too right here.
Now, let’s cut to future me who has some things to bang on about in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…
A stroll on Mars with assault rifles during the present day, because you remember that time right?
…WHOAH! Let me take a breath. Deep breath in, deep breath out. It feels like Destiny is a wildly different beast to Borderlands 2. Rather than the game unfolding gently, like an origami guide in reverse, Destiny flings all it has at the screen before running away. Two hours in, and a lot has happened. So, let’s do the logical thing and start from the beginning.
Before we leap into my character’s story, I first actually need a character. I was give the choice between Fighter, Rogue and Mage. Sorry, Titan, Hunter and Warlock. As I had toyed with Warlock (just to test the first 10 minutes to see if there is substance) and I like to be a cloak-and-dagger scoundrel who rolls chaotic neutral characters during tabletop nights, I went with Hunter. Oh, and human too because given the choice between “flour-fight human” and Geth, I thought I’d go with the real McCoy.
Like my previous series, my character’s narrative starts with a robot coming across your body. Rather than wiping the snow out of your eyes, I’m made human again by an unfunny little robot. Before being given a chance to try to remember how I came to be dead the first time around (and if I remember the afterlife), I’m told to run. Bug beasts want to suck my insides out, and I don’t want to die a second time
…If I can die a second time? Maybe this is purgatory? Where is Gene Hunt?
I’m led through linear corridors, showing me the tools available to me as someone who can channel light to some level. At the end, I shoot a named boss in the face that has no build up and then fly away on my ship. Meanwhile, not only a second enemy boss crawls out to wave me off with gunfire, but a mysterious cloaked figure watches me fly off into the distance.
I admit I wanted to dive into some gameplay before I talk about the first initial thing that leaped out at me: Technobabble.
Technobabble is one of many terms to describe the same thing. That is to convince consumers of the believability of the setting, by making it so alien in concept and terminology that the viewer has to take the author’s word it is plausible. It tends to be a hallmark of a mediocre science-fantasy narrative or of an incredibly poor science-fiction story. As it makes buying into the impossible/improbable undeserved and unrewarded.
I bring this up as Destiny appears to strangely overshoot dodging inflicting technobabble on its audience. When describing things we are unfamiliar with (e.g. the main antagonist), it uses accessible English terms such as “The Traveller”, “Fallen” and “The Collapse”. While in a rare circumstance it clicks well (e.g. “Guardian” is self-explanatory), usually the English definition only serves to raise more questions.
Speaking of raising more questions, “I could tell you” IS SUCH A BAD ANSWER. OH GOD. I don’t think I need to analyse why this paragraph is diabolical.
While it is healthy to create questions, to feed curiosity and mystery, too many can leave the player passive and apathetic. The first ten minutes left me just bamboozled, but my mind finally evacuated about ten minutes later. It was when I was being sent on a mission to a place called New Russia. Considering the game had yet to prove they’ll actually answer anything at all at that point, I simply gave up trying to pay attention to the lore in a meaningful sense. Maybe I’ll focus on the background to the story later on, but for now that trust feels unearned.
Back to the Destiny experience. I finally arrived at the last city safe from 00s English rock band The Darkness. I was then dragged around by the ear to various crucial locations, while not actually really being told of the importance of each spot (e.g. still not sure the importance of varying spaceships). After I proved myself capable of stumbling around the hubworld, I was told to return back to whence I came. In my panic to fly away from people I could have just shot, I forgot to get a vital component that would get me off Earth. So, with a heavy sigh, I did the equivalent of returning to the supermarket to get the milk I forgot to pick up.
Back in New Russia (also known as the point I sighed and resigned myself to the lore), I ended up stumbling around while my not-Claptrap hacked items. Finally, after I hacked my way through enough enemies and the robot hacked its self through enough computers, I finally was told where I could get my techno-thingy-majig for my ship. In a revelation as surprising as the sun rising, the guy who tried to shoot down my ship earlier had it.
I’m still not sure who is powering all these computers so my robo-companion can hack them.
A couple of hundred bullets to the face later, he fell down and I went back to the city world. After poking various NPCs, I was told that I needed to return to New Russia as there was reports of activity near a satellite. So I walked back there and begun mulling about shooting mobs in the face. At least, I tried to. This is where another huge problem occurred.
Dating when this part was originally written, this was during the lead up to the release of The Rise of Iron expansion. So some of the achievements were being shut down soon. I literally can’t think of any other reason why level 40s (the highest level in the game) were kill-stealing level 2 to 5 enemies from me.
Sadly, due to the semi-open-world nature of the game, I couldn’t work out a way to leap into a challenge on my own. The closest was the rare moments where I was expected to go alone into a zone where if I died I had to start again, which often sadly felt like a breeze in difficulty. So the inter-zone areas was just spent walking on the corpses of foes past, as though The Chinese Room made a sci-fi game.
Upon arrival at the dish, I found it wasn’t just The Darkness and The Fallen, but now The Hive was tucking into the fragile apocalyptic state that Earth has been left in. So I found a Wizard who was commanding over the collection of mobs and showed it what a high powered rifle can do to an alien skull. Apparently, quite a lot.
Well, like when I took out this boss, eventually do to an alien skull.
I then went back to the tower, got spoken at for a cutscene, learnt nothing, and went stumbling back into the only place on Earth: New Russia. This time, upon hearing activity of the local evil wildlife harassing machines, I was to crash a scavenging party to see what on Earth they could even want.
I admit I was dubious of this plan. It seemed the over-arching plan to fight against the 1992 horror classic The Army of Darkness was to just react to activity by swooping in and stealing what they were gathering. I was beginning to wonder if this vaguely menacing force weren’t just purposely creating false reports of activity to distract from important advances, especially as it doesn’t feel like an finite opposition at the locations I went to. Then again, vague infinite tides aren’t known for their intellect.
On the bright-side, this scheme did come with a boon. My local friendly ghost did decide that walking all the way to the various rumour locations would be hard on my boots and leather wasn’t a common item these days. So after some tinkering, I got my own bike that… Well… Feels anti-climatic. I mean, I do go faster than walking, but I wished for a significant short-term speed-boast of some kind. Something akin to Borderlands’s vehicles. Instead, the boost lasts as long as I hold the button and only speeds me up a small amount.
So I turned up at the main rumour location, felled The Fallen and then stumbled upon what they wanted at the site of activity. I found out that, out of all the names New Russia would want to name their security system, it would be a faith-healer that constantly gave bad ideas to the last Tsar. Alas, nothing is known of New Russia at all and I suspect surface level intentions behind the name.
Yeah, nothing else springs to mind about the name Rasputin.
Rather than shuffle on the plot, I thought I’d check out the bounty system going on. These are mini-quests (e.g. “kill so many without being harmed”) that reward with a variety of things. While currency is included, another is XP. It is at this point I accidentally levelled up to level 7 and found out my purchase of The Taken King DLC did not clear me of the trial setting. At this point, I stumbled off the game, disgruntled I would have to pay more money to repurchase DLC just to get a digital copy of the game. Something I did actually do.
For all my complaining of Destiny, it does feel far from a bad game actually. There are areas it seems to do stronger than others that we’ll get to, as well as more interesting rooms for improvement. Overall, Destiny is interesting. While it is grappling with familiar elements, like FPS-RPG gameplay, it does remember to make it their own with some experimentation. I’ll definitely be continuing on this series, examining my journey as I Venture into Destiny. Come back next week for more analysis and more adventures as I start biting into the non-trial content.