Destiny seems to be one of those games that you love to hate and hate to love, yet three years after release I still find myself neck deep in this highly contentious but clearly robust shared-world shooter. Developed by Bungie and published by Activision in 2014, Destiny generated a lot of excitement in the lead up to release, but sadly it left a lot of gamers feeling shortchanged when they finally got to play it. With the hype train having well and truly left the station for Destiny 2, I thought it might be prudent to cast a retrospective gaze back on a game that has both driven me insane and stolen hundreds of hours of my life.
My journey with Destiny started, as most did, with some lofty promises and a tonne of kick-ass concept art. Bungie had big shoes to fill after departing from their hugely successful Halo franchise, but if anyone could build a solid and exciting sci-fi shooter, these were the guys to do it. When the beta landed and my Guardian was resurrected for the first time (of many), I truly felt a sense of wonder at the potential of this game. My PC always leaned closer to the potato side, so I had almost no experience with MMORPGs and the prospect of diving into the post-golden age wasteland with my friends was thrilling. The world was beautiful, the enemies were awesome and finding sweet-looking loot made the journey feel all the more rewarding. During the beta I felt like I was already building my legend and it was an almost painful wait to jump back in once the beta eventually closed.
After what seemed like a lifetime, D-Day finally arrived. I was working the day the game launched, but on the promise of ten guilt-free cups of tea, my wife made the trek into town and picked up my super-duper collector’s edition. Not only that, she also installed the game and day one patch so that it was ready and waiting for me to come home. Despite having played through the opening of the game before, that night I fell for Destiny all over again. It really is a lovingly crafted experience and forging my Hunter into a hero of light was such a great feeling. I tore through the story and with my friends we conquered all that ‘The Darkness’ (Destiny’s main adversary, not the glam rock band) could throw at us. I have so many great memories of fighting back hordes of enemies as my mates franticly searched for ammo, or using my super ability at the perfect time, saving the team from a complete wipe. I even made more friends along the way, randomly stumbling across a public event and offering help, turning strangers into allies. Playing Destiny in the early days is definitely something I thoroughly enjoyed, but that’s not to say the game was infallible.
Attack on Titans
Almost from day one, Destiny was plagued with complaints about a lack of content. While everyone loved the beta, what we didn’t realise at the time was that we’d already played pretty much a third of the final game. Only hours after release, a lot of gamers had already reached the end game and were left with a sense of, “Is that all?” It seemed as though the developers had chosen to banish most of the lore and story to a card system, accessible only outside of the game. Not only that but the main narrative was so convoluted and sparse, beating the final boss had almost no pay off. The release of the six-person raid injected some life back into the game and rallied its quickly declining fan base, and undeniably made for some amazing gaming moments. However it didn’t take long for the Vault of Glass to also feel repetitive, forcing you to grind for hours with the small chance that you might get some better gear.
Of course, Destiny also offers a competitive PvP mode, which still boasts a dedicated player base to this day. A multitude of frenetic game modes pit you against other Guardians and on a good day, fighting against other players in the Crucible can feel intensely rewarding. However, even this side of Destiny is not without its complaints, with countless reports of cheating, intentional lag-switching and of course, grossly unbalanced weapons and abilities. To their credit, Bungie have always worked hard address these concerns, which is why you can still see thousands of players on Destiny every weekend for the Trials of Osiris.
Rare image of a hammer getting nailed
If you find yourself asking, “So, why do you keep playing this game?” you’re not alone. For all its flaws, Destiny still manages to retain players in a way that similar games (like The Division) just don’t. In the years since vanilla Destiny, Bungie have released some outstanding expansions, adding layers of depth to the lore and more importantly, playable content. Conquering the intense and complicated raids became a weekly ritual and the ever-growing Grimoire felt like a favourite novel. Despite the hefty price tag, these DLC packs allowed me to reunite with friends and once again experience that feeling of shared excitement and sense of achievement. Sure, we could have played other games together, and sometimes we did, but there was just something special about Destiny that made the experience different and ultimately worthwhile. As awesome as the world of Destiny is, it was that sense of community that kept drawing me back in. Some of my favourite nights of gaming were spent in a party of six, showing off, bickering and of course, saving each other’s skins.
So as my time with Destiny draws to a close, I look back fondly at the almost 1000 hours I’ve spent in the game. Sure, I played the same repetitive content over and over again, but I did it with such a great group of people, each time felt like a new experience. As all the weapons and armour I gathered over that time turn into digital dust, I’m ready and waiting to dump another 41 days into Destiny 2, just as long as I have an awesome fire team to do it with.
Tl;dr: It’s a problematic fave.