Let’s Talk Destiny

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Tucker Phillips: Hold square to talk about Destiny. IT IS. YOUR DESTINY.

Kyle Matthews: You mean hold X, to sum up the campaign. Step one: Go here. Step 2: rule of three. Step 3: ??? Step 4: Profit.

Michael Frett: You forgot “smart quip from Ghost*”

*No relation to Guilty Spark or Covenant Ghost

TP: So yeah, Destiny has some problems with how it…is. But maybe we should start off with what it could have been. The Destiny in our minds. So Destiny is the first non-Halo game from Bungie Studios since they parted ways from Microsoft, no? They were coming off a pretty damn good track record.

KM: If you don’t count ODST. Boom. Shots fired.

MF: Wait no. ODST was awesome. At least aesthetically.

TP: I hear it’s pretty jazzy. But yeah, I haven’t played a Halo since the 2nd one. So I’ll take your guys’ love of the later games as gospel and roll with it. The point being I guess: Bungie have proven multiple times that they can make a good shooter.

MF: Definitely. Even beyond Halo, you’ve got Marathon and other titles attesting to this (apparently – I haven’t played these games).

TP: We keep Oni in the upstairs bedroom. She doesn’t get along well with others.

KM: The hype for this game and its story was fairly large. But for me, the firing of so many employees hurt it so much. Especially Marty McDonald.

MF: Didn’t they fire the main story writer?

TP: I guess in a larger sense, it’s important to note that Bungie moved from partnering with Microsoft and started working with Activision. Hence (mostly) the firings.

MF: Wait, no, the writer left for Telltale.

TP: Was Marty the music guy?

MF: Martin did music. And wasn’t booted until after the soundtrack was done.

TP: Which is awesome. And helps explain why the music is so good, and why it sounds so much like Halo music. Minus, sadly, the monks.

MF: Muh muhnks.

TP: The expectation then would be that their new project, Destiny, would retain that Bungie charm. And boy! That didn’t happen at all!

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KM: I think if the gameplay had more diversity in missions it would have been 100x better. Also, post release, the way they defended their game was a bit off.

TP: So yeah, the missions. Well, first of all, Destiny is definitely not a Halo game. It’s more like an always-online Borderlands.

KM: Very true. Except Destiny is not a single player game.

TP: I played it as one, but that definitely doesn’t seem like it was the intention.

KM: Yeah, it most definitely was intended to be played as a game with 3-5 friends.

TP: But not because it’s, like, too hard to play by yourself. It seems like they knew it would be more fun to play with friends, and kinda banked on that.

KM: Lately, with the new updates, it’s been heading that way.

TP: Towards being harder?

KM: Weeding out the singles. It is really a lot harder. All of the raids and ways to get good gear have been increased by two levels. And for someone who is an infrequent player, it has gotten really hard to keep up and have motivation to keep playing.

TP: I mean, you can’t even play raids without already being in a group, right? And I’m fine with that idea, MMOs have been doing that forever, but MMOs are also not all that fun to play by yourself. Destiny definitely feels like it’s mimicking MMOs in that sense also. Even without having to grind for materials, which is just abou the worst thing ever.

MF: I’m okay with it becoming increasingly difficult to play solo. Keeps it interesting at the higher levels. Or at least challenging. Especially since it varies the combat and such, which is a good change of pace after such a poor, go-here-and-shoot-stuff campaign. I think one of my issues is that there’s no sense of community. At least not one fostered by Destiny itself. I mean, for other MMOs, there’s ways to set you up with groups for raids and such. Destiny, on the other hand, seems to assume we all have high-level friends we can turn to with the game.

TP: Definitely. I never felt like I was part of a wider world. I felt like I was phasing into, well, levels. You’d see other people wandering around but I mostly just avoided them. After I danced with them, natch. Can we talk about the story, though? It’s the one thing that still blows my mind. How they set up this world, and all this fiction, and none of it makes any sense or is explained in any way except if you go to a webpage. It’s fascinating.

KM: I never really looked up the wider story. Wasn’t that interested, I guess.

TP: I don’t blame you. But the game goes along like it’s telling a story, even though it’s not. It’s so bizarre. Like, things happen, but there’s no conflict or resolution. Who was the robot lady? What was that thing you fought at the end (besides the evilest evil dude)? What’s that giant sphere doing?

KM: The gaps in knowledge are remarkable. It’s like “get a robot brain for creepy poorly-rendered-hair lady/brother.” And then “hit up the next obvious planet” cuz they said so.

TP: It’s so weird. I’d almost rather have a mediocre plot than whatever it was Destiny had. At least I’d know what was going on.

KM: Yeah. But the gameplay is so addicting that the story almost doesn’t matter.

TP: I hate to admit it, but I agree.

KM: So at the end (spoiler alert) when the lady that was poorly introduced floats into the ball…was that supposed to show that she was a projection of the ball itself or something?

TP: I’d buy it! I have absolutely no idea.

MF: It floors me that they have all this remarkable (or potentially remarkable) lore but won’t engage with it. Like, I feel like someone fucked up when you need to go online to know why you’re killing something.

TP: Destiny feels like the sequel to a game nobody’s played. A sequel that ends halfway through.

MF: DESTINY: THE PRE-SEQUEL WHEN?

TP: A Destiny where I care what’s happening would be a pretty alright game.

MF: Maybe they should just add more jet packs and Kevin Spacey. In all seriousness, a huge part of my problem with Destiny lies with teh fact that it’s so damned incoherent. And dull.

TP: It shouldn’t be dull! It’s got robots and space elves and sick capes! And jetpacks!

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MF: So what were people actually expecting with Destiny? Because I was expecting another engaging universe (a la Halo) and more MMO qualities. And less hologram Paul McCartney.

Paul Theis: Yeah, I just felt like the game never actually moved. It was just the same 3 missions over and over again.

TP: ‘s cuz it was! I expected Borderlands meets space Diablo. Which I guess is technically what happened, but only at a very basic level. They got the skeleton right but forgot to put all the pecs n’ glutes on it.

PT: Although you could dance…

TP: You could dance. Oh lord, could you dance.

PT: There was never a better feeling than meeting some guy on a mission, killing some aliens, dancing with each other, then bowing before moving on.

MF: And lord, if they didn’t dance, they were no friend of mine.

TP: My favorite part of the whole game was probably jumping off the Tower, dying, and then watching other people follow me off the edge.

PT: Also, playing soccer was fun!

TP: Nobody ever played me. I was a league of 1. Honestly, running around the Tower, listening to the music, and dancing with people was some of the most fun I had.

PT: You were the best there ever was.

TP: Where’s my space dance simulator, Bungie? We haven’t talked about the Crucible at all yet. The Crucible being Destiny’s version of competitive multiplayer. Bungie are a company who know their way around a team deathmatch.

PT: We can still win this.

TP: NEUTRALIZED. ZONE…B.

MF: It was my favorite part of the game. HEAVY WEAPON AMMO INBOUND.

TP: It was my favorite part too but that might just be because competitive shooters are kinda my favorite thing.

PT: You could mess people up with heavy ammo!

TP: Solar gunning people left and right. But the action was really not satisfying to me.

PT: Meaning what?

TP: You’d kinda pump people full of bullets until they triggered their death animation. It felt really floaty and weightless. Whereas in, say, CoD, you can feel each bullet hit. It feels like you’re shooting someone. Destiny didn’t really feel that way to me. I always felt kind of weirdly distanced from what was happening.

PT: Not really gameplay though, it’s more how they programmed the controller to vibrate.

TP: Even when you were shooting somebody though, it didn’t feel like you were hitting them.

PT: I think the style of fighting allowed you to be more distant.

TP: More just that you were making their health bar shrink. Maybe a better comparison is Halo. The rhythm of a fight in Halo is so satisfying. Bringing somebody’s shield down is a big event. You see it kind of shatter, and then you know you can go in for the kill.

MF: At least… it used to be.

PT: In CoD you are running around, and the action is super intense. But in Destiny, you would die too quickly, so you had to be a lot more careful.

MF: *Nostalgic Michael*

TP: I still had fun in the Crucible, but it didn’t get that Pavlovian thing going that CoD does. Mostly I was playing it to get stuff, whereas I play CoD cuz it’s fun on top of getting stuff.

KM: I think the same fun gameplay that is in the campaign is transferred well to a multiplayer setting. However, there are just too few maps to play on. The leveling is done really well, so nobody is too crazy powerful.

MF: I think the maps were well made, for sure! I mean, Bungie’s done better, but that might just be my nostalgic love for Halo kicking in. But there wasn’t a whole lot of variation amongst the maps, and none of them really challenged the player to rethink their approach to combat.

KM: True, but that rush when you’re playing FFA and you’re in first place and the other guys are catching up? Damn, they know how to make good multiplayer experiences.

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PT: I think one of my favorite parts were the group missions.

MF: Strikes were cool, yeah.

TP: The boss fights?

PT: Not really the Crucible but not the campaign either. The optional ones you can do.

MF: Especially once they threw in the matchmaking playlist.

TP: I thought the strikes were really dumb. But I haven’t played any of the new ones.

PT: You’re really dumb.

TP: No Paul. You’re really dumb.

MF: Honestly, once the level 24 playlist kicked in, strikes might’ve actually been my favorite part. SPIDER TANK. HOVER TANK. DUDE WITH FLAGS. AND MACHINE GUN.

TP: My experience with strikes was mostly shooting at something for 10 minutes while my teammates died over and over.

MF: My experience with strikes was working with solid teammates who helped me shoot things for 10 minutes.

TP: Still though, you’re just shooting a bad guy’s weak point for a long time. If there wasn’t the promise of loot at the end of it I can’t see why anyone would do it.

KM: The raid battle mechanics (at least for Vault of Glass) are way better.

MF: It felt like you had to be more careful when you shot at the bosses, though. Like there was a  little more strategy to moving around the room and getting your shot off.

TP: Mostly I just found a choke point and let the bad guys line up to get shot. But I have heard that the raids were way more interesting. I never actually played them, what was your guys’ experience like?

KM: I thought the bosses took way more strategy to take down. Especially the last boss; you really need a solid plan and great teamwork.

MF: Never found a team for it. ALAS, I DESTINY’D ALONE.

TP: If that’s the case, I understand why they’d separate the strikes from the raids, and require you to go in with a team already formed.

KM: I only knew one guy, the rest came from people inviting from the Tower. I think no matchmaking is a marketing ploy from Bungie. And I am very against it.

TP: I think it saves them from having to worry about griefers/jerks. Less need for GMs and that kind of thing.

MF: What I think is awesome is all of the informal communities that that need inspired. Destiny kind of spawned an unofficial community online and such. And even in game. And it was really cool to watch that grow.

TP: True. But for someone like me, all it meant was that I didn’t play raids. Though, to be fair, World of Warcraft has matchmaking and I still don’t do raids there.

MF: My roommates turned to reddit to throw together raiding parties. And specialized websites started popping up and such. Now they’ve got genuine online raiding buddies. I just think Bungie missed out on something when it didn’t capitalize on trying to build these communities.

TP: I think that’s a credit to people and not necessarily the game.

KM: The ones I’ve been on are kinda seedy.

TP: Is there guild support in the game?

MF: Not that I’m aware of.

KM: I totally agree: it is because the game is broken, not because the game is well produced. No guild support. They finally put in fire team voice chat.

TP: That’d be good to have!

MF: Yeah, how the Hell was that overlooked on a game that was supposed to be a community experience? BUNGIE, YOU USED TO BE SO GOOD AT THIS MULTIPLAYER SHTICK. THIS WAS PRETTY MUCH YOUR THING.

TP: I mean…they’ve got dancing.

KM: And pointing.

TP: ‘s all you need, really.

KM: Way better than talking to your team.

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MF: Okay, one experience that I was watching happen when Destiny was being played constantly at the apartment: my roommate was digging around for upgrading materials and someone else must’ve been doing the same. Without really talking to each other, they developed some kind of system where they’d dig for chests on Mars, and they’d dance or point whenever one of them found something so the other would be able to find it. Which I think was a really cool, impromptu community experience that came out of this poor setup. I guess the moral of the story is that dancing is the best part of Destiny.

TP: Dancetiny.

KM: Also, most of the upgrade materials can now be bought with glimmer. Which makes me happy and disappointed all at once.

MF: Yeah, suddenly a huge chunk of the game is replaced. Granted, it was an awful chunk, but it was one of the big things to do.

KM: Yeah, now it’s like, you spent half your life mining Mars rocks? Here, have 20 of ’em for hardly any glimmer.

MF: “Yeah, those hours you spent collecting spirit bloom? They mean nothing!” – Bungie

KM: Anybody else like the weekly trips to the guy that sells suped up guns? Except he only gives out bad things.

MF: That was like an event at the apartment.

KM: And the same ones week in and week out.

MF: For like two months, the main Friday conversation was “Xur have anything good this weekend?”

KM: Answer: no. Answer: daily double.

MF: You forgot to answer in a question, Kyle! Now Xur has twice as much nothing! (And a helmet only Titans can wear).

KM: And all of the things he sells are DLC exclusives.

MF: …you’re joking.

KM: Nope, last week all of the good things were DLC exclusives. Made me a tad bit pissed.

MF: That’s ridiculous. It’s just more bait to buy the add-ons.

TP: Is anyone playing Destiny still who haven’t bought the DLC? That seems like an improbability.

MF: Well, I was up until right after the DLC dropped. It was my go-to when I had time during the day to blow off steam online. Now I’m pretty ambivalent to the whole game. AND AM ANGRY ON PRINCIPLE, YOUNG TUCKER.

KM: Me and my two friends play without the DLC.

MF: Well there you go.

KM: We are so much worse than everyone else but we try.

TP: So I’ve been pretty down on the game so far. I figure it’s maybe time to talk about the stuff I do like. First and foremost, the shooting is excellent. For all my complaints about the rest of the game, the core action definitely helped to keep my playing.

MF: Bungie definitely knows how to make damn good gunplay.

TP: Satisfying headshots, too.

MF: Any story highlights for anyone? I know that seems silly at this point, but I’m genuinely curious.

TP: When robot lady walked off into space and then the credits rolled I felt kinda insulted. But…I felt something! Bungie wins again!

MF: I liked how, when you first get to Mars, Ghost takes on this “fuck it!” attitude and just opens shit indiscriminately. It’s exactly how I felt at that point! It was like whoever was writing at that moment realized the story was shit and just decided not to care. Also, first mission was a neat set up.

TP: All their technical jargon made me think the same thing. Like, “this is all just nonsense anyways.” First mission was cool, yeah.

MF: … um… sword mission? Mostly because it kind of changed the gameplay for, like, five minutes.

TP: Sword mission was also cool!

MF: Last mission = worst thing ever. IS MY CLOSING STATEMENT. Unless anyone wants to chime in on that.

TP: By the standards of the game I thought it was ok. I’ve definitely played games with worse final levels.

MF: I dunno man. That last Destiny mission kind of embodied everything I disliked about the game. The awful plot. Repetitive gameplay. I mean, to beat the game, you fight a boss you’ve already beaten three times in a row.

TP: At least it wasn’t a quick time event. Is all I’m saying. LOOKIN’ AT YOU, MORDOR.