The first thing players will notice on the Moon is how vastly different it is than Earth. The same thing is true once you reach Venus and Mars. The unique environments of each world are a treat to behold. While this is a console game Destiny looks spectacular and there is no mistaking one planet (moon) for the next. Of the places I have visited Venus is the most colorful and varied in its locales. While the Moon was a welcome reprieve from being on Earth its environments were so drab they quickly became boring. Things were a little better underground.
These different environments are necessary not just to set the tone of the game but to keep a player's sanity. I noticed this quirk in Old Russia but hoped it would not be a trend for the entire game. Each time you start a mission in a zone you start off at the same spot. Typically during the first mission will you establish communications that allows your guardian to call down their speeder, I mean sparrow, which allows you to traverse the zones more quickly. At this point once you have seen the path you typically just make a mad dash for whatever invisible line you need to cross to get to your mission’s instance. These instances branch off at different parts in the zone. The starting point isn’t central to these missions either. You will end up repeating the same path 4 or 5 times, each time you will just have to go a little further. Once or twice you may have to go off the beaten path but not enough to justify why you can’t start closer to your objective. Your Ghost companion seems pretty intelligent. Why can’t he figure out how to drop you off closer to where you need to be? Also I never saw a single dynamic event while on Venus. This could be due to poor luck or bad timing but at the same time they might need to pick up the frequency of these events. This would be a good first step in getting players off their sparrows and relieving Star Wars fantasies and more into the world of Destiny.
In the previous review I also mentioned my dissatisfaction with the social systems. Not to beat a dead horse but I want to bring up something that really bothered me the other night while playing. During a mission on Venus that took part in the open area before you cross into a zone that you can’t respawn, which means you have entered a private instance, I randomly teamed up with another playER to take down some tougher than average Vex to complete one of our objectives. This unlocked a door behind which was the invisible demarcation line that meant we could no longer easily play together. We both waded in and disappeared to the other never to be seen again. It would be nice if there was a way we could have quickly formed a fireteam together that is seamless and allowed us to continue our adventure together that did not require us to become friends on PSN first and go to orbit.
Speaking of going to orbit. At first it looks like a clever way to mask load times, and it is, but eventually you will get sick of going to orbit after each mission. If players are not planning on leaving the planet allow them to go from mission to mission without having to go to orbit first.
I find I am rather enjoying the story. While Bungie may not be breaking entirely new ground with the motives behind our protagonist I want to see how this plays out. (Mild spoiler warning...) Why are old enemies working for our possible new friends? Who is the ghostless rogue that has been spying on us from the beginning? These questions keep me pressing on in hopes of finding a satisfactory answer. I’ve also had some laugh out loud moments with the merchant one liners. Early on in the campaign you will pick up a weapon as a mission reward. Once you select your weapon the merchant will say as your guardian is walking away, “that may not scare your enemy but it sure scares the hell out of me!” Bungie does need to work on some elements of their story delivery in future DLC, however. Having Ghost tell us all the background in monologues gets old after a while.
Bungie also uses the Grimoire on Bungie.net to convey background to players. I think this is a fantastic tool. Anytime you can pack a game with more lore and flavor the better. The only problem is you should be able to access this stuff in the game too! Driving players to find out more about a boss they just killed on the web just doesn’t make sense. They could have easily put the card based grimoire in the game with a radial menu. This to me seems like something that should have been in the game at launch but possibly just made its way to the cutting room floor in a cost saving measure. Hopefully we will see it make its way into the game with future DLCs. It’s absurd to assume that players are going to sit there and play their console with a laptop or tablet by their side to find out who that boss really was. All things considered, I would rather have this as a companion app thnn nothing at all. Maybe Bethesda can take a note from Bungie’s playbook here and come up with an app like this for the Elder Scrolls Online's multitude of lore.
The longer I play, the more I notice that loot seems less prevalent than it was in beta. During the beta experience the game was a veritable loot-a-palooza. Now I can go an entire mission without picking anything up. The fun of games that are repetitive (Action RPGs, Borderlands, etc) is the fact you get all that extra loot to either enhance your character or to break down and use the parts for something later. I’m not suggesting Bungie give away the farm and drop legendary quality engrams each mission, but while ammo drops constantly I think the game could do with kicking the loot drops up a notch even if it is just white items that you end up breaking down for glimmer. That extra little suspense of picking up an item and hoping you got something good is a great feeling. Maybe Bungie will notice the impact that Blizzard had by increasing the loot drop in Diablo 3 and follow suit with Destiny.
I’ll wrap this week’s observations up on a good note. The game handles great on a controller. For someone that is used to playing most games from a third person over the shoulder perspect with mouse and keyboard I’ve quickly been able to make the transition to a first person shooter with a gamepad. The UI layout is intuitive and things makes sense where they are placed. The abilities are mapped to easy to remember buttons and it’s an enjoyable controller scheme.
Next week I’ll cover strikes and PvP and wrap up the review and put a score on this title. Let me know what you think and how your experience are so far. Also if you have been able to get into the House of Glass I’m interested in what you think from a MMO gamers perspective. Let me know in the comments below.
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