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[As Destiny's final piece finishes off the game, I thought I'd compare and contrast what I wrote after playing the original (or "Vanilla") release of Destiny, prior to any DLC releases, with what the game's like now. If nothing else, this part is a nice, nostalgic look back what we had with Dinklebot]
Released: September 9, 2014
Genre: First-Person MMORPG/Shooter
First Impression: "What the goddamn hell is going on around here?"
About a year ago, I played Destiny for the first time at a friend's place. I was visiting for the weekend, the kids were napping, and he and his wife were... well, appreciating the unpaid babysitter staying with them for a weekend. Kidding, they were napping too... no one with toddlers gives up the chance to rest. Anyway, I switched on his PS4, and started playing Destiny. Beautiful game--seriously, graphics are absolutely not a problem or issue, even your character emotes (rather than the drugged-up staring and awkward gestures of Mass Effect 3, say). Lovely game. Not much for context though. I played it for a weekend, and made a mental note that, when the price dropped, I ought to give it a shot.
Fast forward a year, and into my life pops this second-hand copy of Destiny. Can you say excitement? At a discount?
So, I switched on my XB1 and off I went into the world of Destiny. In this game, you can choose between humans, robots, and Awoken--a race of rave humans that live out in space and are basically the 'elves' choice of this little troika. Want your character to seem deep and mysterious? Elves! I mean, Awoken!
You spawn out in the middle of the barren wasteland called Russia--no, really, you wake up in an old spaceport in Russia--having been resurrected from the dead by definitely-not-the-aggravating-construct-from-Halo. He's named Ghost, and while he used to be voiced by Peter Dinklage, that got switched out to Nolan North because Dinklebot sounded too robotic. No, really, that was apparently the problem people had. For some reason.
So Ghost wakes you up, tells you you're dead, you both pretend there aren't any Jesusy undertones to this, and then you're told that the Traveler (a somehow powerful giant blank mini-planet) is dead. Sort of. But isn't. And your job is to help you bring it back to life. Because you're forged of light. Lost? Yeah, me too. I'll be honest, throughout the game I never really got the whole story about the Traveler, because I'm not a mind-reader or diviner of any sort.
It doesn't really matter though! Because the game is pretty good at telling you where to go next, the story doesn't actually matter all that much. As you progress, you start to put together bits and pieces, and also to appreciate that science really wasn't the strong point of any writer on the game (looking at you, cities on Venus). Also as you go along, you tend to have more flexibility in what you can do, and the whole game takes on a larger feel than you'd get from a linear-story FPS like Halo, while still having more structure than an open world game like Skyrim.
What's also evident almost right away is that you're playing with actual other people. Rather than a generic collection of NPCs that you can select in your squad, or who accompany you like lost sheep, you're placed in a world with genuine, actual people in it. If you have online access (Xbox Live Gold, in my case) you can even make fireteams for missions, and chat, and all that other stuff that people more social than myself do. As a multiplayer game, Destiny is great for the variety of options you have. As a single-player game, it's great because if you squeeze yourself into a difficult situation, there's a chance some big and mighty hero will come along and bail your arse out of it.
I went along with the game to Earth, to Venus, the Asteroid Belt, and Mars, and as time went along, I found I was actually enjoying the dynamic. Once you get used to the odd blend of MMORPG and FPS, it's actually a pretty elegant setup, and Destiny was doing a very good job of it--or so I thought.
After finishing off a particular boss on Mars, at level 22 (out of a possible 40), I had a cinematic with a mysterious stranger telling me that the galaxy is very large, and evil is still out there. Excellent, I thought, a game with looks, innovation, AND content!
Well, yes. If I want to cough up another $80.00 for it. Otherwise, I can bugger off, go level, and replay missions on multiplayer--because that's all the content there is!
The Bottom Line: I know companies need to make money, and that a game like Destiny is expensive; I get that, but that doesn't mean that they get to sell incomplete games! Because that's what Destiny feels like: incomplete. It's like tuning into porn, finding some you really like, and then having your internet go out--anticlimax. The most annoying part is that the new release (Destiny: The Taken King) also has the original Destiny, along with every single expansion so far put out--basically, anyone who bought the original Destiny can immediately begin using the original disc ($60 retail on release) as a scooper for their dog, cat, or incontinent toddler.
But, if you want a really cool, pretty open, beautifully made game--go get Destiny: The Taken King. Just bear in mind, if they've re-released it once, they'll likely do it again. At $80 a pop, that'll get expensive. Let's see if it's worth it.
Recommendation: Get the Digital Download. Also, make sure you have multiplayer capability. The game has a good campaign but its real value is in the Multiplayer.