I’m just going to come right out and admit it… I have been a terrible fashion blogger lately. Besides obligatory events or business meetings where dressing up is required, I have been living in my sweat pants and comfy tees. I feel so ashamed every time I scroll through my instagram feed and see adorable fall OOTD pictures from fellow Dallas style bloggers while I’m over here wondering if I should eventually run a comb through my hair and put on some lipgloss. The culprit for my haggard appearance? DESTINY.
You see, instead of heading to my favorite department stores to stock up on fall staples like booties, leggings, or cardigans, I’ve been saving up glimmer and strange coins to purchase new exotic armor and upgrades for my character. After 3 weeks of gameplay with my level 27 Warlock (and a bit of my husband’s level 22 Titan), I feel like I’ve seen enough of the Destiny universe to sit down and collect/share my thoughts.
In my humble opinion, the storyline was the weakest part of Destiny. In fact, even after completing the storyline and repeating several strikes since completion– I still couldn’t quite give you a detailed plot of the game. Something to do with a giant white sphere called “The Traveler” which terraformed planets and moons allowing humans to inhabit them. Yay! Until something called The Darkness attacked and destroyed most of humanity. Boo! Guardians are the army of survivors that fight the many evils of the world, including the Fallen, Cabal, Vex, and Hive. The Tower is the last safe space for Guardians. (Think Sanctuary in Borderlands 2)
If you want a longer summary, I recommend watching this official reveal trailer:
I didn’t feel personally invested in any of this. Some of you may know that I’m an extreme Borderlands 2 loyalist. *Spoiler alert* I cried not only when Roland died, but also when they showed the monument built in his honor during the Tiny Tina DLC. When Destiny’s story ended, I looked up at my husband and asked– “Was that it?” Neither of us realized that I was on the final mission or what I had done up until that point to reach this conclusion. The visuals are breathtaking and the music soundtrack is stellar, but there was just not enough back story behind the monsters I was killing or allies for whom I was fighting. To Bungie’s credit, they apparently have more detailed lore on their website– but ain’t nobody got time for that!
Besides the mediocre writing and lack of character development, the story quality was also hindered by the main narrator- which was perhaps the biggest let down of the game- Peter Dinklage. My beloved Tyrion was the voice of the Ghost who guides you along your journey. His monotonous tone was too easy to tune out. I didn’t want to pay attention to anything he was saying, because his lack of enthusiasm made it seem like he either hated reading the words, or hated me as a person. I really wish they had cast Nathan Fillion as the Ghost instead of the Hunter Vanguard (I almost created a Hunter just so I could have an excuse to hear his voice more often). Either way, I found myself feeling relieved when the cut scenes would end and I could go back to thoughtlessly shooting things.
Game Mechanics and Gameplay
Speaking of shooting things… this is where Destiny really shines. Not to sound like a sociopath or serial killer, but shooting things in Destiny feels so satisfying. The guns deal enough damage to keep things challenging, but not dejecting. The amount of variety is less than Borderlands 2, but the weapons have their own skill trees and upgrade options, so the customization options keep it interesting.
I initially found Destiny’s loot system to be a little flawed, but Bungie just released an update today that addresses some of these issues. I’ll wait and update this section after I’ve had a chance to walkthrough the latest version (I’m graciously letting Holden level up his Titan, at the moment).
Destiny does a good job of tying all the different secondary aspects of the game together, such as the PVP section, strikes, raids, and patrols. It’s easy to switch between types of gameplay in order to stay interested without losing momentum towards your end goal– whether it be leveling up your character, farming for loot, or gaining reputation.
I appreciate that Bungie steered away from a traditional MMORPG, opting instead for a “Shared World” experience. There’s no pressure about having to choose a server and being stuck there for eternity. It’s nice that the maps are never overcrowded. I haven’t encountered any KSers when patrolling the planets. Patrols are mini missions you can find and accept in order to gain reputation and experience. I like to do patrols while I’m farming planets for crafting materials. My favorite farming spot is Ember Caves on Venus (lots of hidden loot chests filled with Spirit Blooms!)
There are other guardians that you’ll encounter when exploring, and they can interact by reviving you or inviting you to join their fireteam, but I don’t think it’s a very user friendly process to do so. I wish you could invite someone to a party within the game, not just through PSN. It took me a few times to realize that voice chat didn’t even work within members of a fireteam– you had to first be in a party on PSN and set your audio priority to party chat. Kind of a pain. This is something they have said they will be addressing, including adding optional voice chat to the PVP area.
Another thing that I feel is missing from the game is matchmaking for raids and daily/weekly strikes. I don’t have that many friends who are playing on PS4, so whenever I want to tackle one of the difficult Weekly Strikes, I usually endure it alone. I joined a clan on Bungie.net, but maybe they don’t like me… I never get invited to fireteams when I’m online.
Characters and Classes
When creating your character in Destiny, you have the initial choice of three different classes. Hunter, Warlock, and Titan. These are then broken down into two subclasses from which to choose. While gameplay is pretty similar across the board, each subclass is differentiated significantly by their super ability. You will eventually unlock all the skills in your subclass tree, in a predetermined order, so you don’t have to worry about messing up your character by putting points in the wrong skill like other games. Once you’ve unlocked them all, you can just pick and choose based on your preferences or mission.
The armor for each class is different, but they all use the same weapons. You can transfer items between characters on your own account, but there is no trading between other accounts or merchant functionality in place–yet. I’m pretty certain that a robust economy system is part of their long-term plan. The rarity of items is categorized as Basic (White); Uncommon (Green); Rare (Blue); Legendary (Purple); Exotic (Gold). You can only equip one exotic piece of armor and one exotic weapon at a time. Exotic weapons can be received as random rewards or in loot chests or purchased from a special vendor who only appears on the weekends. I bought my first piece of exotic armor last weekend!
Armor is especially important after you reach level 20. Beyond this point, you don’t level up based on experience, but rather through the armor you wear. Armor has “light” which determines how high your character’s level is. As you upgrade the defense of armor, the light will increase. Some pieces have a built-in amount of light, too!
I haven’t noticed significant differences between the classes. They all have their nuances, but it’s not set up to where you need one of each class in your fireteam to be successful. I always create supportive mage characters in RPGs, and was a little disappointed that my Warlock didn’t have skills that could heal or revive my teammates. It’s always nice being needed. Again– with the level cap currently being a mere 30, I’m sure there will be new skill trees or abilities added as time goes on.
In addition to choosing a class, there are three races from which to select for your character: The Awoken are a mysterious species, with dark blue and white skin tones. Humans are the most common race, having lived on Earth for thousands of years. Exo are machine-like race, known to be ruthless and powerful.
My Warlock is Awoken. The character customization options are also pretty basic at the moment, but those are more things that can be added in DLC. It’s a smart business model for Bungie/Activision– they want us to get just hooked enough that we’ll dole out more money down the road. I love that you can buy or earn ships. I got a sweet ride from doing the Queen’s Wrath mission!
The Crucible section of Destiny is probably where I’ve spent most of my time since finishing the storyline. First person shooter players will recognize this area as the traditional competitive multiplayer section. Standard Crucible game modes include Control, Clash, Rumble, Skirmish, and Salvage. Control is the point capture game type (capture the flag), Clash is a team deathmatch mode, Rumble is free-for-all killing (ie Halo’s Rumble Pit), Skirmish is a small team vs team battle where you can revive teammates, and Salvage involves capturing relics and defending your ghosts while it probes the relic.
The beautiful difference between Destiny multiplayer and say, a Call of Duty game, is that your participation in Crucible adds experience to your character, upgrades to your armor/weapons, and the potential for a loot reward at the end of each match. Even when matches start feeling repetitive, you push through because you know you’re leveling up in the process. You also earn marks and reputation for each match, which you can use towards purchasing legendary gear. Completing Crucible bounties can help you earn those at a faster pace (more on bounties later).
Playing Call of Duty games, I’ve never really ventured outside of Team Deathmatch. But I’ve actually learned to love the Control mode. After becoming familiar with the maps and control points, you can really start dominating. Part of me wishes that the loot reward at the end of each match was less random and more rewarding for a good performance, but then again– it’s a nice consolation prize to keep from rage-quitting when you do poorly. Still, I was pretty miffed that I had the highest amount of kills and didn’t get one lousy loot reward!
My weak spot is the Rumble matches. It stresses me out too much. I enjoy participating on teams, so I feel like I have someone watching my back. Skirmish is fun, but the lack of voice chat (unless you are friends with your team and in a party) makes it difficult to strategize. It’s really important to stick together because if you happen to wander off and encounter the other team, it will be hard to kill all three of them without a super ability.
I truly enjoy the multiplayer maps in Destiny, which is such a breath of fresh air coming from Call of Duty: Ghosts. I prefer smaller maps (a la Nuketown 2525 in Black Ops 2) over the more expansive ones. I’m rather impatient and get stressed out wandering around large maps without finding enemies to shoot only to get sniped when I finally encounter someone. Most of the maps in Destiny are reasonably intimate, with the exception of Bastion (Mars) and First Light (Moon). At first, I hated these maps, but Destiny adds in vehicles and turrets that makes the gameplay more interesting and tolerable. Destiny’s low-gravity environment also makes it easy to cover the maps efficiently.
The one issue I have with Crucible is that I don’t quite understand how/if Destiny levels the playing field for players with more experience, better gear, etc… From what I observed, the damage done by weapons is even, but the rate of fire and magazine size of a legendary weapon versus a rare one is a huge advantage. Being matched against level 20+ players when first starting out was pretty frustrating. Maybe it’s just a rite of passage?
When you reach level 16, the Vanguard Strike Playlist will be unlocked. Your Strike Playlist will be unlocked in the navigation menu in orbit, next to the Crucible option. My issues with the Vanguard Strikes were pretty much addressed in the storyline discussion. I didn’t really enjoy the missions the first time around, and so going through them again to earn Vanguard marks and reputation is tiresome. Granted, there are additional difficulty options that affect the strike, and the co-op aspect of the fireteam adds a new dimension, I can’t help but experience déjà vu.
Vanguard Strikes are not my favorite. I’ll do the Weekly Strike to get strange coins, or if I’ve used up all the Crucible bounties and have time to kill. Following completion of each strike, you have the chance at receiving a random loot reward (just like Crucible matches or completing storyline missions). I’ve been disappointed at what I’ve received from my strikes– it just didn’t feel satisfying enough after all the blood, sweat, and tears I poured out to finally kill that end boss. I think they may have made some changes to this, too, in today’s update, so we shall see!
Spend some time exploring the world of Destiny and getting used to your character, but make some important decisions early on in the game to keep you from wasting time or experience. For example, once you’ve decided which types of guns you prefer to use, visit the Faction leaders to see what legendary armor and weapons they offer. Eventually, you will want to pick one of the factions so that your Crucible, Vanguard, and patrol reputation is distributed to it.
Speaking of reputation– always have active bounties in your inventory. Decide where you want to spend your time for that session. If you’re in the mood for PVP, stock up on Crucible bounties.You can have five at a time. Turn them into the Bounty Tracker in the Tower as soon as you complete them so you can get a new one.
Before you turn in a completed bounty, make sure you’ve visited the Cryptarch to decode any engrams you may have received. Equip any items (and choose a subclass) you want to upgrade so that when you turn in the bounty, the experience will go towards those you’ve chosen.
Watch the map carefully, both in Crucible and during storyline/strikes– it gives you three indicators regarding enemy distance: a red arch on the edge of the map means an enemy is relatively far away, a red cone within the map means they’re pretty close, and a red circle around your position means they’re right next to, or below you.
Have fun. Don’t take the game too seriously. I’m the biggest culprit when it comes to developing an unhealthy obsession with video games, especially RPGs. Don’t get hung up on the lame story or redundant strikes, because I would bet good money that you won’t stay bored for long. For all the shortcomings people, including myself, have found with Destiny, it really is an ambitious franchise with a lot of promise. This is just the beginning of what Bungie and Activision have said will be, at least, a ten year endeavor. I’ll keep playing and make sure my Warlock is ready for whatever they throw at us next!
Any PS4 Guardians reading this? Add me and let’s party!! PSN is stephaniedrenka. If you’re nice, I may even serenade you through my Turtle Beach headset 😉 If you’ve been playing the game, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! See you in the Cosmodrome!