Crit Hits: Are We Overhyping Destiny?

Controversial opinion time: I thought the Destiny Beta was only okay. I recognize that this is based on only the first 8 levels of the game, and not even close to all of the content. What I hear from other players makes the game out to be the second coming of Jesus in video game form, a “game-changer.” Shouldn’t we check our expectations a little bit first?

First off, let me say that there were parts of the game that I did really REALLY like. The music was some of the best I have heard in a video game this year, bar none. Bungie has a number of composers working on the game after they unfortunately fired their longtime composer Marty O’Donneli and they are doing a wonderful job. The opening cinematic theme ii in particular was incredible at, by itself eliciting emotion out of me.

Another high point was the graphics and the general aesthetic of the game. It’s a very pretty game, and the minimalist UI was very easy on the eyes. The world design was interesting, characters looked suitably cool, and in general it was a delight to explore just because everything looked so damn good.

According to an infographic Bungie released recently, 4 million people got in on the beta making 6.7 million characters.This cemented it as the most successful beta in Bungie’s long and storied history.  That aside though, I don’t think very much else matches all of the praiseiii being thrown upon it.

That's a lot of players. And a lot of stuff.
That’s a lot of players. And a lot of stuff.

For one, I thought the story seemed relatively uninteresting when compared to the interesting world. While some of the ideas and places in the game were interesting, the whole idea of a Traveler being consumed by darkness and having two rival factions just seems like a less interesting retelling of Halo, messy even. Even Peter Dinklage, wonderful as he is, just seemed to be phoning it in for his voice performance as The Ghost.

Gameplay in the game, while solid, also seemed to feel a bit too similar, and yet not as well executed, to Borderlands. The idea of shooting in combination with having an array powers at your disposal based on your character’s class was a very distinctly Borderlands idea. But Destiny felt more limited in the way powers worked, and offered much less in the way of customization.

I don’t mean to keep drawing similarities to Borderlands, but I also feel an open world questing system like the one seen in Borderlands would have been a much better fit for the game than the mission based questing shown in the beta. This is where comparisons to Borderlands should end though, as they are two very different games trying to push very different ideas.

The one point in the game I found to be flat-out bad though was the competitive multiplayer. It felt incredibly unbalanced and just plain un-fun. The game was meant to be played as a co-op game and certainly works best as a co-op game. Needless to say I won’t be venturing much into the competitive arenas.

Just to be clear, I did like the Destiny Beta a lot, and I will be picking up the game when it drops next month. It was just a Beta after all, and a short one at that. Odds are that many of the things I addressed iv will change greatly.  I just feel like we may be putting a little too much faith into the game by calling it a game-changer. I would tend to call it more of a game-refiner.

Destiny will be out for PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PS4 on September 9th.

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