The Destiny Problem

I disagree with most of Destiny’s latest reviews. 6/10 seems a little harsh. Yet I can’t help but agree based on the dearth of content. There’s only 6 strikes I keep playing through over and over on the Strike playlist (it’s 5 if you have this on Xbox) and, sure, the PvP is fun. But I feel like Destiny just somehow isn’t expansive enough. As I finished with the story quickly, and I’m sure you all have too, one has to wonder: “What’s left?”

Bungie is opening up the Vault of Glass raid at 2:00 am, but most people won’t be able to play it. The minimum level for entry is 26, while many people are stuck at 24. 24 is the maximum level you can get to with blue (rare) gear. After that, you’ll need to start collecting purple gear, and that can be about as related to luck as anything. Whether you decrypt a blue engram and get a lucky purple, or you find a legendary engram, or get an exotic bounty, it’s something you don’t have control over unless you grind for reputation. Because we know how fun grinding for reputation is. /sarcasm

If there’s one thing I like about Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, is that there’s always something to do. I have all kinds of dungeons to run, even raids, or short single fights; in other words, based on the amount of time I have, I can make the choice about what I want to do. There’s even some grinding to do, but somehow even that feels interesting. If I want to grind in Destiny, I have two choices, essentially: Strikes or Crucible.

But didn’t I just say that 6/10 was too harsh? I think the PvP is decently fun, and there is something interesting about the gear treadmill. Maybe it’s a 7? I felt like it was an 8 until I got to the end of the story. Quite frankly, I don’t trust the reviewers. I don’t think any of them got to 20 and I don’t think any of them played the endgame much. Don’t forget the old credo: MMOs start once you hit the maximum level.

Also, don’t forget the other credo: People who review games for a living are just god-awful at them. Except me. Alex too. Sometimes Ari.

Perhaps the other factor that I don’t trust reviews is that they don’t account for an ever changing game. Now those reviews are completely valid because the moment a company ships a game and you can pay money for it, it is fair target for a review. That said, IGN’s review of League of Legends, back when that game launched for example, is hilariously outdated. Not IGN’s fault, but games can evolve over time. League of Legends doesn’t even really resemble what it was at launch, from game mechanics changes to new game types.

Destiny has already had a temporary 3 vs 3 mode come and go. It will come back again. The Vault of Glass will be a permanent addition to the game. More than that, there are additional events coming before the end of the month that haven’t even been described. Does that make up for the lack of content? Maybe. I think that it’s unfair to expect the audience and reviewers to give benefit of the doubt based on ephemeral content that WILL exist, but doesn’t yet. Destiny wasn’t advertised as an MMO, but it has gear, gear with rarity, classes and subclasses, reputation grinding, and even a weapon upgrade system that sort of looks like crafting. It has dailies, weeklies, raid lockouts… this walks AND talks like a duck.

It seems odd that the unassailable Bungie released a game that got 6 out of 10 and seems underwhelming though. Let me talk as a fan of Bungie now.

I’ve been a fan of Bungie longer than you. I have my original floppies and manual for Pathways Into Darkness, Bungie’s game from 1993, the first texture-mapped title for the Macintosh. I own the Marathon strategy guide, the only guide ever made for a Mac-only game. I was a devotee of the Marathon’s Story web page, and I even have a letter to Bungie that was published back in ’98 or so. So I like to think I know them. To wit, I present two explanations:

1. This isn’t the Bungie we know. Alex Seropian left long ago. Harold Ryan is kind of a dweeb as president. We’ll never know what the deal is with Marty O’Donnell but it sure doesn’t seem right. It may say Bungie on the building, but the people that work there just don’t seem like the same people. Don’t get too attached to the name “Bungie”. It’s just a name after all.

2. This is a giant swerve. Bungie has been known to put giant swaths of well-hidden content in games. While it could be helped with the upcoming expansions and other rotating content, there is a chance that Bungie expected this kind of reaction, and it’s all part of their master plan. Maybe sometime down the road, some invisible curtain we never saw will be pulled back, and the world of Destiny will grow larger than we expected. For four years they worked, and these 4 reasonably small to medium sized areas are what we get to roam around in? I don’t think it adds up. I think there’s more coming here.

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