Destiny is here, and now we can see what Bungie, unshackled from being a Halo factory, has in store for us. Perhaps unsurprisingly, despite it being an entirely online game, it feels an awful lot like Halo, except it stars space wizards.
Bungie won't call Destiny an MMO, but it sure has a lot of the trappings of one. Let's check them off, shall we?
- Leveling your character is largely a means to reaching the glorious Endgame.
- Said Endgame is primarily a loot chase, to render formerly difficult content meaningless in difficulty.
- There are a plethora of different currencies to acquire and faction reputation to grind to acquire said loot.
- The loot is color-coded based on quality.
- The PVP involves bringing in your character with its gear and abilities (though normalized damage), so players with better gear or more ability options can overcome skill gaps.
- You're going to spend a lot of time doing instanced content in the form of Strikes and Raids to acquire even more gear.
- There's a dance command.
Did I miss anything?
You begin the game by being resurrected by your Ghost, voiced by Peter Dinklage, whose performance is, well, appropriately robotic. You learn that you are a Guardian, who must protect the last of the human race from The Darkness, a series of races hell-bent on destroying both humanity and The Traveler, whose light gave us the ability to travel beyond the stars and access to Citadel space via the Mass Relays. I may be crossing games here. Put simply, there are bad guys and you need to put bullets in their heads.
And you will do that, and because Bungie crafts some of the best console FPS action out there, it feels good. Real good. Shooting things in Destiny is remarkably entertaining, even if the enemy AI doesn't approach the quality of their previous efforts in the Halo series. I suppose making the entire game multiplayer at (nearly) all times meant sacrifices needed to be made, but it's a little disappointing.
There are three character classes in Destiny - the Titan, Hunter and Warlock, with each containing two subclasses for you to choose from, though you will need to level one character to 15 in order to unlock selecting between them for all of your characters. Strangely, every class can use every single weapon type, so differences between them come from the abilities they acquire along the way.
Each subclass has its own skill tree which slowly unlocks nodes as you gain XP. Each class will earn a Grenade ability, a movement ability, a special melee attack and a super attack, each of which can be altered (sometimes significantly) by other selections you can make in the skill tree. For instance, my Warlock's super attack, Nova Bomb, can be split into three separate projectiles via the Shatter perk. My Glide ability can be turned into a short-range teleport via Blink, and so on.
You earn gear by completing story missions or finding it in chests, and for most of the game your stats will simply alter cooldowns on your various abilities. Unfortunately, for the bulk of the game (pre-level 16 or so), it's not very interesting, and you can just put on what cools down the ability you like most, and what does the most damage. It should be noted that later on, your gear also starts having skills you can unlock, such as choosing between faster reload times or less recoil.