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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

Your Destiny awaits, Guardian.

Posted by BadSpock Monday September 15 2014 at 10:13AM
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Nearly everything about this game is superb. Yet it is only the beginning.

The story literally drops you into the middle of an epic saga. So much has happened, yet so much of it is shrouded in mystery - information lost in the near-extinction of the human race. Think "Dark Ages" times a few billion.

We start at the beginning of the turn - the moment where a battered, beaten group of survivors has finally gathered the strength to begin pushing back and retaking and rediscovering all that was lost.

A lot of reviewers just don't get this. They don't like the story because it isn't a nice, clean little box that gives them a start, middle, and ending that neatly wraps everything up and explains it all do you. There is no spoon here. It isn't fed to you. It is neither really shown to you or told to you - but it is there. The Grimoire gives a lot of great detail, yet sadly most gamers will never read a word of it. The story is also not the typical dark, gritty, edgy affair that dominates the video game world, as well as the box office. If something isn't edgy and emo, dark and gritty it's not "hip" enough for the modern consumer. Destiny is a story of hope. Of a new beginning, a return to the light. Even though it is set many years after a great apocalypse, it is not really a post-apocalyptic setting. People just don't get that. They don't understand a story about hope. The music really gives it away, if you take the time to listen.

As much about the past and history and why things are the way they are will be revealed as the timeline moves forward as well. It's a bold move - a choice by Bungie. They probably new people would can the story, but they know how much more of it is left to tell. They are willing to take the hit on the nose in the short term, because they believe at the end of this 10 year saga we'll look back and marvel at the universe they've created. The decade or so of an experience unique to the gaming world they have marvelously crafted for us. 

There isn't much to be said about the core game play. The moment to moment game play loop mechanics are flawless. I expected no less from Bungie. Abilities and weapon feel, look, and sound amazing and are fun to use. Enemies, especially at the higher difficulties, will challenge you, intimidate you, and bring great satisfaction when they finally fall. There is as much variety in enemy type here as any shooter, or Halo game, with the interesting use of D&D inspired naming convention. These enemies are thralls, wizards, knights, and acolytes -what WE call them, as so little is still known of their origin, their ties to the Darkness, and their true motivations.

Team play is splendid as well. You'll be doing yourself a great disservice playing this game alone. This is certainly once of the aspects taken from the MMO playbook, yet Bungie's own history of incredible co-op play in the Halo series is on full display here as well. 

Another piece taken from the MMO lineage is the repetition. The grind for better loot. This is, after all, an ARPG is it not? Like any Diablo or World of Warcraft, you best content in order to gear up to best the next tier of content. Repetition is the name of that game. What makes it engaging is the core game play, the excellent team play, and the clever use of modifiers and placement of elite/champion mobs to challenge you and make each run a unique experience. 

In the post-20 game, firefights are frantic, nearly chaotic affairs only beaten by a steely reserve and itch trigger finger. Strategy, tactics, clever use of abilities, and coordination are the only way you will ever beat the Weekly Strike challenges. They give us a glimpse into what Raiding will be like, and it is truly amazing how much of the role-based group dynamics Bungie was able to successfully meld into the core shooter game play. 

Bungie said it themselves, you will do things in these high level encounters you have not done in other shooters before.

The game is not without flaws, however. Travel between destinations is an annoyance, the ability to travel directly from game play space to game play space without having to congregate in orbit first would be a welcome addition. Even forming a fire team and getting everyone to party up and be able to use voice comms is often a challenge. Voice comms in PUG situations, or even in a proximity basis out on Patrol or in the Tower would go a long way - as long as there are easy methods to mute and report music blarers, singers, static disruption, and the hopefully rare jerk/troll/etc.

The 3 player group limit is an odd choice. Yes, there are 3 classes and 6 total sub-classes, but 4 players has been the standard for competitive and cooperative multiplayer on console since the days of Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast. I'd like to see the Strike/Story cap raised to 4, and the Patrol cap raised to 6.

There also needs to be level 20+ levels of all planets for Patrols, not just the Story/Strike instances. They've proven the tech for great phasing, dynamic instancing, etc. as well as content and difficulty scaling. I do not see why we cannot have a level 20+ version of Old Russia for Earth-bound patrols and Public events.

This makes many of the bounties seem completely pointless once you are level 20 and above. It is not like there is any interaction on the Moon between a level 25 grinding through 6 Patrol missions for a bounty and a level 8 there for the first time doing the campaign. I have run into high level areas hidden on the planets, however just randomly - not led their specifically by a bounty or patrol mission due to my high level.

Competitive multiplayer, PvP in the Crucible, is fast and fun. It certainly has a learning curve, being just different enough from Halo and just different enough from Call of Duty to have its own niche. The movement abilities and Guardian powers add a dynamic to the PvP that is unique to the game, though you certainly get a vibe from Halo, Titanfall, Call of Duty, and your standard MMO battleground experience.

Loot can be earned through earning and spending marks and reputation, similar to any MMO gear grind, or via the luck of the drop both during a mission or in the post-completion wrap up. RPG mechanics are vague, with three core stats the difference is only noticeable once you gear up enough to build up considerable values. As it stands now I am up to Light level 25 with 2 legendary (purple) pieces of armor, one looted and one purchased, and the rest level 19-20 Blue (rare) pieces.

There is a lot of variety in the weapons, even two say Auto Rifles will play vastly differently based on their rate of fire, accuracy, stability, range, and the modifiers earned by leveling up these weapons to add special effect.

I'm just starting to appreciate the differences in your character's Guardian class build and how much impact they can have. I found an entirely different skill set required for the Crucible versus playing PvE, and when grouped with others on higher difficulty content, yet another build. I'm close to completing one subclass, and barely half way into the second on my Titan. The difference in play style and tactics is extreme. I move from jumping head first into the thick of the fray to skirting around the edges, timing my grenade and ability uses for maximum impact. I cannot wait to equip Exotic pieces of gear that will allow me additional access to class abilities and traits, further diversifying my build choices.

I'm excited to see what the future holds. Raiding is the first goal on the horizon for myself and my clan mates, and I am curious to see what kind of events Bungie is planning to sprinkle into the game each week. I've purchased the Expansion Pass, so there are at least two new content additions on the horizon, and hopefully the PS exclusive Strike will come my way in time as well. 

Destiny needs more content, but thus can be said for any game - old or new. Bungie has given us plenty do until then, and an extremely enjoyable experience to keep us enthralled for many years to come. It's not for everyone, just like MMOs and ARPGs aren't for everyone, but Destiny successfully melds the best of both genres into a unique experience, that flaw aside, is a brilliant masterpiece of game design and execution. 

Your Destiny awaits, Guardian.