While the Destiny hype train was plowing through everyone’s news feed last summer like a tsunami through a sand castle, I was able to aptly avoid being pulled in. The game’s core concepts of being this sort of sent-from-on-high MMO shooter that had an in-depth plot to it just didn’t strike right with me. I had done the World of Warcraft scene before, and I knew that MMO’s weren’t really my thing. Plus, I was already in the middle of my 17th playthrough of Dark Souls. You just can’t stop on your 17th playthrough. As the year rolled on, so did my memory of Destiny. Instead, games like Wolfenstein: The New Order and Alien: Isolation kept me occupied well enough. Which is why when a friend offered to let me buy his copy of Destiny from him, I decided to take him up on the offer.
He was already ordering The Taken King version of the game. You know, the one that only costs $60 but includes the vanilla game and all the DLC. I decided, to feign my interest of the game, that I’d nab it from him for no more than $10, to which he was more than fine with. Once I started playing Destiny, though, I realized that the game has an automatic dislike towards players like me.
Playing through as a level 1 titan, almost every mission I completed between that and level 30 were done alone. The game’s end-game content causes few people to remake new characters. And now with the ability to just buy a level 25 character, there’s little reason to make a new one. Trying to convince friends to stop their level 40 raiding to make a new character with me was also near-impossible. Every now and then at a harder boss level there’d be one, or maybe even two, people that would join in halfway through, but other than that it was a lonely trip to max level.
Don’t get me wrong, the game was enjoyable to a certain extent. I enjoyed how the weapons fired, and even though I’d trade weapons out consistently for the next one with a higher number than the one I was currently using, they all felt like proper guns. It felt less like Halo where every gun fires glowsticks and can be heard making actual “pewpew” sounds. The game looks gorgeous, even if the maps were small and unexpansive. And while the missions and plot were lackluster, getting to the final mission was enjoyable enough that I rarely stopped to play something else, get some work done, or sleep.
But once that last plot mission was finished, I was left hanging. A paltry three PvP modes were left to repeatedly play, some minor repeated missions turned into raids, patrols, and a bunch of locked missions asking me to pay for the DLC were all that was left for me. Engrams only randomly assign my character items between levels 26 and 32, meaning that every item I’ve gotten since level 32 has been underwhelming and useless towards my character. I use a 5-shot revolver and a shotgun not because I enjoy them, but because those two weapons are the highest level items I’ve been able to find ever.
My hike from the last plot mission to level cap wasn’t horrible. I was level 29 by then, so the push for five more levels wouldn’t be too excruciating, I thought. Figuring out how to do the PvP well was worth it, but my lack of weapons and gear made every other match frustrating. I didn’t have a few different loadouts to try out. I had my revolver, my shotgun, and my titan abilities. And while the first few times were fun to play, it became excessively repetitive. With only two different types of team death match and free-for-all available to play, I eventually switched back to PvE missions.
It was here where the generic MMO features of Destiny really started to kick in. There was the option of replaying the campaign missions in a sort of raid-esque fashion, or performing patrol missions. Patrols open up an entire planet’s map for you to ride around in your Sparrow, find recordings around the map, and then go collect 10 spindle fibers. Or killing a bunch of Hive soldiers. Or running through a bunch of rings in a certain amount of time. My end-game progression officially felt like the introduction missions for the Alliance in World of Warcraft.
There’s a solid game inside of Destiny, but it’s not the one that I bought. Bungie took notes from MMO’s like World of Warcraft and Eve, but instead of lengthening the time each expansion is released or release them for free, they were all clumped together as this weird growth of the vanilla game. Now it’s just packaged alongside the vanilla game experience for about $40, which tells you how quickly Bungie realized their base game was just barren wasteland less populated than the Glowing Sea.
Bungie’s goal with packaging The Taken King with the rest of the game was because they realized how little there was for vanilla game players to actually do. It’s actually hard for me to think of ways this game could be marketed as costing $60, because so much content is locked out for me behind a pricetag. What’s even more surprising is that you still can buy just Destiny, without the DLC, both new in stores and as a download. As if this could compare to buying the Taken King version with more content and weekly events. I get it, Destiny, you don’t like me. The feeling’s mutual.