Saturday, September 20, 2014

WORD OF THE DAY! 9/20/14! (DESTINY: FUN BUT FLAWED)

destiny [dest-in-ee]
noun
1. Something that is to happen to a person or has happened to someone.
2. The predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistable, course of events.
3. The power of agency that determines events; fate.

EX. Destiny has been out for two weeks and I've played a lot of it. With that in mind, I wanna give my thoughts on the game. It is... my destiny.

Just letting you know that first list is gonna be brief but to the point. I really like playing this game with friends, but it has some issues. In fact, I love playing this game, but is has some serious problems. I mean, this is the MMO I've been waiting for, but it has flaws.

Let's get on with it.

FIVE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT DESTINY

1. The first person shooter gameplay in conjunction with your class's grenade ability, jump ability, and super ability creates satisfying gameplay reminiscent of Bungie's Halo tenure (especially Reach onward).

2. The environments of the various planets and the atmosphere created by visual effects, combined with a top notch score composed by Marty O'Donnell, fill the game with amazing places to explore and kill stuff.

3. The designs of the four enemy factions, while reminiscent of other enemies/archetypes, are quite interesting. For similarities reference:
  • The Fallen are space pirates reminiscent of the Elites from Halo.
  • The Hive are undead enemies resembling pretty much any generic zombie-like or demon-like enemies...so basically Doom or the corrupted enemies created by the Reapers in Mass Effect. Oh and the Flood from Halo.
  • The Vex are artificial intelligent robotic enemies like Skynet & the Terminators from the Terminator franchise, Sentinels from the Matrix trilogy, or the Geth from Mass Effect trilogy. Oh and the Prometheans created by the Forerunners in Halo.
  • The Cabal are giant space marine monsters like a more sophisticated version of the Brutes from Halo.
These aren't really criticisms. Similarities are bound to happen. The enemy designs are cool.

4. Marty O'Donnell's score is a perfect fit that creates tense and awe-inspiring moments that I've never experienced in any MMO I've tried.

5. Creating a three-man party, made up of characters of multiple levels, to do missions in the game is easier and more convenient. This is a game meant to be played with friends and the teamwork involved created some amazing experiences.

6. The dancing is bliss.

These elements kept having me say "I frickin' love this game!" for about a week. Then I got to the end game, the honeymoon period ended, and I really began to notice some of the game's more frustrating flaws.

Before I get into the flaws you need to understand that I understand that the game is an MMO, a work in progress, and basically a released Beta. As long as the game releases updates, tweaks, and new content it could go from a 3/5 experience to a 4/5 or better. But at the moment, I feel like the game was released in a form that doesn't feel like it was worth 60 and I'm worried it won't have any staying power with all but a small audience.

This game is supposed to have a ten year lifespan?! Um, oh dear.

FIVE THINGS I HATE ABOUT DESTINY

1. The story mode is pretty short and ends abruptly. Furthermore, while there are some brief glimpses of intriguing characters and lore, the former only really comes in the form of your dealings with the Stranger & the Reef and the later is hidden away on a grimoire you have to access using Bungie's website. After you beat the story, you basically have the options of a few side missions and the game's PVP mode, The Crucible.

Bungie reinvented the wheel with Halo's multiplayer but in Destiny...

2. ...the PVP mode isn't really anything special. It reminds me of Halo's most basic multiplayer with a few flaws; the imbalance in matchmaking means you'll wind up playing with players with vastly different levels of skill and equipment. There are only a few maps. Ultimately, the PVP's strategy comes down to who has the best equipment, best twitch muscle, and best knowledge of the maps. There is no strategy in trying to control anything on the map, besides a few turrets and vehicles (the latter of which is overpower), and the only way to really have a chance is traveling in packs. The only way to deal with multiple enemies is with your super.

Basically, shoot at anything that moves and hope you have the right weapon/right range and that your weapon deals more damage than your opponent. Or that they don't have their supers which have no counters. They might have counters if you could predict which super the enemy has...but you can't because...

3. ...the class's most significant differences come in their supers. Because all classes can use all weapons and they look so similar in design, you cannot tell the difference between a Titan, a Warlock, or a Hunter in the heat of combat. In other class based games, they take special care to make these differences more pronounced.

If I know my enemy is a hunter, at a glance, I can be prepared to counter their super with a stun grenade or just running like hell but if they turn out to be a titan instead they're probably just gonna dunk me.

But yeah, my main beef with classes is they all seem too similar even when you get to "max level, which speaking of that...

4. ...getting to "max level" doesn't take very long; I'm not a hardcore player, but I managed to get to level 20. The problem? After you beat the story mode and hit level 20, your options are to replay old missions on harder difficulties or wait for content like this week's Vault of Glass. The majority of this game will be played after level 20 and, after you reach level 20, the only way to get progress is to get rarer and better equipment. The only way to get the better equipment is with hours upon hours of grinding or playing the multiplayer.

The problem? Playing on higher difficulty and playing difficult raids requires better equipment that you can only get through hours of grinding. And playing on higher difficulty...
5. ... just means you have to fight more enemies with more health that can do more damage. The enemies don't get any smarter, in my experience, and tend to just chase you down, mindlessly, and use abilities. Some will hide behind cover when shot at, but no enemies really pose any challenge unless they've been overbuffed with health or damage. They don't dive out of the way of grenades, they don't really have good maneuverability, they don't flank, etc.*

* Some people may disagree with this opinion more than my others.

But the point is that the enemies are not diverse enough and, as aforementioned, you cannot hope to defeat them without a high level of patience and weaponry. Every enemy, on higher difficulties, is a bullet sponge. You spend minutes dashing around, firing to try and take down their shields, deal a little damage, and dash away. Rinse and repeat.

Speaking of rinse and repeat, I'm done ranting mindlessly and need to beat Link to the Past, do some dishes, and get to work writing some D & D material.

I know this is just, more or less, a ramble, so I'll say that, in the future, I might try and do a more in-depth review or analysis of Destiny.

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