When Destiny’s gameplay demo was shown off at E3 2013, gamers went wild. It was one of the bigger games shown at E3, and it was a nice change in pace from yet another Call of Duty, or even another Halo. It’s also at the top of many “Most Anticipated in 2014” lists, and there’s definitely already a level of hype around it. Although I’m a personal believer that hype isn’t always bad, and Destiny looks new and promising, there are a few reasons I am not quick to jump on the bandwagon.
Bungie and Halo
There is no doubt in my mind that Bungie has given gamers some of the most memorable experiences in gaming, especially when it comes to their most popular series Halo. If you haven’t heard of Halo, I’d like to meet you because I wasn’t aware that was possible. There’s also no doubt that Bungie knows how to make a solid, immersive experience while telling epic tales that make you fall in love with with characters you meet and play as. I’m mainly talking about Halo if you haven’t gathered that already. One of the biggest reasons I’m cautious of Destiny though is just that, Halo. Halo is one of the most successful series of all time, and definitely Bungie’s staple. Destiny is one of the most ambitious projects for NextGen gaming and definitely one of Bungie’s most ambitious projects yet, but I’m worried Halo will get in the way. I’ve heard many people describe Destiny as a hybrid between Halo and Borderlands, which scares me to death. If Destiny feels too similar to Halo when fans are finally behind the controller, will it be a hit? With Halo 5 right over the horizon fans don’t need another Halo style game clogging up their already expensive list of games. Of course Destiny will offer a completely different experience when it comes to gameplay, story, random events and even basic functionality. I’m simply worried about how it will feel. Halo has a very unique feel to it, especially compared to games like Call of Duty or the Battlefield series. I’m hoping that Destiny is different enough to give it the stand alone power that it needs. This is something that we won’t know until the beta this summer, but it’s something I worry about.
I come from a background of MMO’s so one thing I always tend to focus on is class and weapon balance. This, for me, is a make it or break it in a game. I’ve never thought a game was fun if there’s something that looks really fun to play or suits my play style, but can’t stand against the simple raw power of other classes. When I play, I don’t want to be punished for playing how I want to play. Although there’s no way to tell if Destiny will find the right balance, it’s definitely something to mention. I am confident in Bungie’s abilities to develop, test, tweak, retest and so on, but this could pose a major problem for the game if they don’t nail it at launch. If the first month of launch is dominated by DPS builds destroying everything by themselves and getting all the epic loot, and other classes failing to solo the simplest of things, there will be an issue with players who chose “the wrong class”. It’s never fun to hear how your friends are racking up money, kills, gear and weapons because they’re simply playing something that does it’s job better. Balance is key, especially in a game like Destiny. Let’s hope that when the public gets their hands on the beta, Bungie will make the necessary changes (if any) to keep it as fair as possible, and offer a fun experience no matter what decisions you make. It’s never fun being underpowered.
When it comes to a game like Destiny, there are a lot of different angles to take when playing the game. Maybe you want to play to the end as all the classes, maybe you want to build the same class a few different ways, maybe the story is so engaging that you just want to play it again. All these examples are something that I believe give a game “Replay Value”. One of the things that makes a game fun, in my opinion, is the ability to play it again and again, wether this be online or single player. For example, standard online modes such as the classic Team Deathmatch (or slayer, depending on your fanboy preference) add an almost unlimited replay value. Will Destiny be diverse enough that you’re able to play it from a different class, or just play it again and still enjoy it? This is one of my main worries. I want to love Destiny so much that I play it again and again, max every class and find epic weapons that make the game all worth playing, but I’m not going to assume this is how it will be. It’s important to note that not every great game needs a replay value, for example, Bioshock Infinite. I only played the game once and it is still one of the best games I’ve ever played. Destiny though, leans more towards the MMO or RPG genre, which is defined by replay value. One major thing that adds to the replay value is end game content.
End Game Content
Because Destiny has you invest in your character through leveling up, finding weapons and customizing the play style to your liking (much like an MMO), end game content is going to be a big factor. While a game can survive on leveling content alone, some of the greatest games are defined because of their end game content. I don’t want to put 60+ hours into my Destiny guardian only to be bored when I finally get towards max level or beat the game. Will the random evens be epic enough so that higher level players will go searching for something giant to kill? For example, I don’t want to get to level 80 and have nothing to do, not that I’m pointing any fingers (Guild Wars 2). I want all the time that I put into my character to feel worth it in the end. The reason that games like World of Warcraft are so popular is because they offer epic rewards for the amount of time you put in. Yes, I’m comparing Destiny to World of Warcraft. If Destiny can’t deliver in the end, what’s going to keep people playing?
Finally, my last worry is the combination of multiplayer and story in Destiny. The last big game that we saw do this (Titanfall) didn’t exactly deliver a memorable experience. While I have full faith in the story telling ability of the team at Bungie, I just hope that they can get the combination down. I want the experience to be just as epic for people that play it alone as it is people that play it with friends. I don’t want Bungie to focus only on the MMO aspect and in turn butcher the story that they’re known to deliver. This could be a major issue in the success of Destiny. If it’s not fun to just pick up and play without friends, it’ll be hard to enjoy it as a whole. While of course, online is a major aspect in games these days and you want to share the experience with your friends, people don’t always have online but might still want to enjoy Destiny. Again, we don’t know how well this will work because we haven’t gotten our hands on the game yet. Just something to be cautious of.
Don’t get me wrong, I have faith in Bungie. I want to be excited for Destiny, but I want this game done right. These are a few of the main things to be cautious of before getting totally invested in Destiny without having actually played it. No matter how good the game looks, these are some things that could easily be done wrong and nobody would know until playing the game. Of course there are some other worrying factors, such as the PS4 version seemingly being favored (exclusive content, early beta access) but maybe I’m just skeptical. There’s no doubt that Destiny looks like a phenomenal game, but I wouldn’t fully trust everything that you’ve seen from Bungie until we get to play it.