Destiny is a failure. It is a failure in the sense that it has reviewed poorly for “the next great game from the creators of Halo.” It is a failure in that fan reaction is mixed. It is a failure in the sense that, no matter how much “potential” it has, the only reason it will earn the right to follow through and earn that potential is because it has Bungie and Activision and that $500 bajillion dollar budget that it can’t live down. An indie-developed game making the kind of missteps that Bungie has made would not turn around and become a 10-year-long franchise, but Destiny surely will.
That’s the vibe I’m getting from the world, from the reviews, from the news, and the chatter around the game so far. I understand it, I don’t think it’s unjustified. It just makes me glad that I don’t have to review the game and glad that my experience with it has been so wildly different.
I have not played a game with this kind of voracity since I was skipping classes in college to get a few more Halo 2 matches in. I’m an adult now, with a job and responsibilities. I attempt some semblance of well-roundedness, and I didn’t think it was possible to commit 40 hours to a game in a single week anymore. Yet here I am. I’ve still got my job, my girlfriend doesn’t hate me (except in the sense that I’m 3 light levels higher than her), but when I’ve got free time? It’s nothing but Destiny.
It’s hard for me to write about the game because writing assumes critical thinking, and critical thinking inspires thoughts like: “the story is thin and poorly delivered”, “the mission structure is uninspired”, “the early loot game is too linear”, “the strike bosses don’t do enough cool things”, “all you do is shoot aliens over and over and over”, “Patrol doesn’t have enough activities”, and so on. There is legitimately a lot to complain about and there is a lot that Bungie could have done a better job on.
But good god…when I’m playing the game? All the incessant shooting is just a non-stop blast. My friends and I are laughing and doing cool things with our space magic. The alien and real human opponents alike are keeping me on my toes. I’m enjoying the story, laughing ironically at the absurdity of Peter Dinklage’s and Lance Reddick’s performances, yet curious as to what hides within those Grimoire cards I keep unlocking. I’m getting chills whenever the fantastic soundtrack swells and a big fight begins. I’m always *this* close to the next great reward which will give me what I need to take down the next challenge. Now I’m level 26 and I’m hearing crazy things about the Vault of Glass and the challenges within and I CANNOT WAIT to join in.
Within this mess of poor decisions Bungie has made, they clearly made a lot of very good ones. They’ve got their hooks in me once again and there is no sign that they will let go. For me, if this is a heavily-flawed game, empty of soul and wit but full of potential, I’m scared to think of what I will do when they start truly delivering on that potential.