Destiny review: with Beautiful visuals, Addictive gameplay, Superb loot and weapons
Meet Destiny, a game that reportedly cost Activision $500 million to make, thus ranking it as the world's most expensive game ever. Just to give you some scope, sci-fi extravaganza Guardians of the Galaxy was made at a budget of $170 million and the original Star Wars was at $11 million. However, what we've seen from Destiny during it's development cycle has been brilliant, especially if you consider that Bungie, the creators of Halo, are behind the game. Let's see if Destiny is worth all the money put in it.
The story and world
The arrival of a mysterious sphere only known as the Traveller has enabled mankind to reach the stars, and centuries later Earth is the last known bastion of human civilization. As mankind teeters over the edge of extinction as a dark alien race is muscling in on human territory, it's up to you as one of the numerous Guardians, protectors granted an unknown power called "The Light" by the Traveller, to destroy this new darkness.
The world of Destiny has Earth as a hub, and the rest of the colonized planets you need to travel to along the course of the story to eradicate the alien infestation. The story and mythology is fleshed out through your companion Ghost, voiced by Tyrion Lannister himself from Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage, who has caused quite a stir with bad voiceover work in the demo, where he spewed the famous like "The Wizard came from the moon" which went on to gain meme fame.
However, to be fair, Dinkalage and the rest of the cast does a fantastic job with the lore-heavy script. With a $500-million budget, Bungie should have hired proper script writers to do the mythology some justice, especially since the outlying world is a veritable hotbed for really good stories.
And what a mythology it is. Destiny's lore is deep and very well fleshed out, presenting a futuristic world with a lot of elements from old tales of knights, wizards and other elements from popular science fiction movies, spaghetti westerns and more. You start the game by selecting one of three races, Human, Awoken and Evo. Whereas the Awoken look distinctly inspired from fantasy creatures like the Fae or Elves or even Vampires, the Exo are a humanoid robot-like race, very reminiscent of cyborg movies but designed like the undead.
Classes and levelling up
Once you select your race, all of which play the same way, you get to chose from three basic classes. Hunters are Destiny's gunslingers and act as masters of weaponry with a wicked blade when things get up close and personal. Warlocks combine modern weapons with their harnessed magical powers from The Traveller, sort of a mage class. Lastly, Titans are armoured to the teeth, very much like knights of olde; Titans are focussed on defence and unleash all hell with heavy weapons and brutal melee attacks.
Much like a RPG, the more you fight or the more quests or sub-quests you complete (even multiplayer matches) in this game, you earn XP, which then allow you to gain levels and unlock more abilities. Each of these classes can be further categorized as you go along, like Hunters can choose to specialize in Blade Dancing, which lets them use their blade a lot more than guns. Titans can be strikers or defenders, focusing on melee or shields. Warlocks can subclass as void-walkers, using the void to derive their powers from.
The levelling-up is quite normal up until you reach Level 20; once you do that, the game changes. XP is then earned and used to earn and upgrade your abilities and skills. However, levelling-up is then tied to wearing specialized weapons of light. Levelling-up staccato usually gets to be a rinse-repeat process, and changing things up post Level 20 really adds a layer to the game.
Destiny doles out some really good abilities and rewards from levelling up, and this progression system makes an otherwise monotonous game brutally addictive. You will find yourself re-playing levels and taking part in multiplayer matches way into the wee hours of the morning just to earn that one more level-up.
You battle from Earth and across the moon as well as other planets in large open world levels. The game is standard first-person shooter fare, with controls similar to those in Halo series or any other FPS on consoles. Sure, aiming with a controller is not as smooth as playing with a mouse and keyboard, but Destiny was surprisingly easy to get into.
You kill waves and waves of baddies that look pretty much the same. One thing about Destiny is that it never runs short of cannon fodder to throw at you. Thankfully there's a plethora of weapons and armour to find and kit out your Guardian with. The loot system is very reminiscent of Diablo, where you find rare and powerful weapons by killing the big baddies or in loot containers. Some of them will need to be decoded at the hub world before you use them.
The action is furious, but the game seamlessly lets you use gunplay, melee and magic. You can switch between three weapons (Normal, Special and Heavy), though if you realize you want to switch your special from a shotgun to a sniper, the character screen is just a button press away, where you can switch weapon slots or armour. Each map is quite massive, and moving on foot can be tedious, so early in the game you get to summon your own vehicles, very much like Halo. You also get Star Wars-like bikes to mini-tanks, all of which look very cool, eEspecially the Sparrow, which lets you boost through snaking canyons cinematic style.
While Destiny has a single player mode, there's always a layer of multiplayer over it. It does have a multiplayer mode, but during the course of your missions you will see other Guardians going 'bout their business in each map. Though things can get very lonely in the large areas. Destiny shines the most when you have a bunch of friends along for the ride in your very own fireteam, who can help you take down waves and waves of enemies, split the loot and just have some fun in firetime strike missions taking down tough bosses amidst waves of enemies.
Bungie keeps things interesting by throwing lots of things to do alone or with your friends. There's lots of reasons to revisit locations, to complete small missions to earn valuable XP as well as you can take up lots of bounties. Bungie also introduces events into the world. At the time of this review, there is an ongoing event called Queens Wrath that introduces new bounties and enemies to kill that send veteran players scrambling forth to gain legendary loot.
While you can play for free in any of the story and co-op missions, playing multiplayer will need you to have a Xbox Gold or Playstation Plus membership. Once you have either of those, you can enter the player vs player arena by unlocking the Crucible. Then you can take your player character into the fray in many game modes which are variations of deathmatch, team deathmatches, capture the flag and a skirmish mode. All very familiar to those who play a lot of multiplayer, though the online and story worlds work seamlessly with your character's progression.
We tried out a few matches as a low-level character and found we were getting slaughtered by Level 20s and above with devastating magic attacks. We did return after levelling up a a bit to hold our ground, but Bungie nevertheless needs to get the matchmaking fixed so as to allow an even mix of levels. At present, newbies unfairly end up becoming level up fodder for high-level players with advanced weaponry.
Graphics and sound
Destiny is nothing short of a breathtaking visual extravaganza. Every Destiny map somehow conveys that sense of scale, with massive cloudscapes and starscapes, beautiful vistas and amazing lighting as your Guardian's cloak flaps in the wind. Stand on the moon and watch a beautiful Earthrise; stand on the Earth and gape at the billowing clouds and be awestruck with the beauty and scale of the Traveller. It all gets better as you get to the outer Saturn and Jupiter colonies. Character models are detailed, reflecting a vast array of armour, helmets, leg guards and cloak. Even the loading screens are works of art as they shows your spaceship in orbit enroute to your destination. Destiny is just otherworldly in its beauty.
The sound engineering is top notch and if you have a 5.1 or 7.1 DTS system, the game surrounds you in an aural soundscapes as you can hear fearsome enemy howls in the distance hear the wind blowing around you.
Destiny is a big and ambitious project, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you like first-person shooters and want something that has action and RPG elements, then Destiny is it. If you can ignore the monotonous drone of a story, you will be addicted to Destiny's fantastic online features, brilliant progression system and top notch gameplay, weapons and magic systems.
Destiny is priced at Rs 4,599 for PS3 and Xbox One and is only available on Amazon India.