News Article

Soapbox: Why Destiny Still Has a Lot to Prove to Me

Posted by Sammy Barker

Sammy Barker takes Bungie's latest to task

I hate being the jaded gamer. Ever since Push Square’s inception, it’s always been my mandate to celebrate the industry from a perspective of positivity rather than cynicism. That negativity seeps into every facet of the medium these days; whether it's obsessing over resolutions and framerates or complete overreactions over the minutest details on message boards, I’ve always wanted to steer clear of that darker side that needlessly inhibits an otherwise entertaining pastime. This is a critical site, though, and despite approaching the recent Destiny beta with my pearly whites on display, I’ve found it difficult to indulge in the hype to quite the same degree as some of my colleagues. These are the reasons why.

All of the elements are there, but why should I care?

Without wanting to undermine the entire point of this somewhat more personal post, I suppose that I should stress that I think Destiny is going to be a good game. In fact, when all’s said and done, it’ll probably be great, and I am eager to get my hands on the full release. From what I’ve seen, however, I won’t be itching to play based on the plot. Despite carrying a reputation for being world beating world builders, I’ve never thought much of Bungie’s storytelling. Halo, in my opinion, was always burdened with pretentious sci-fi mumbo jumbo, and the developer’s new universe appears to suffer from similar issues.

I certainly enjoy the idea of the Traveler, a seemingly celestial city-sized sphere that hangs over a post-apocalyptic Earth, protecting its few remaining denizens from a darkness that deems the deity its adversary. The problem is that outside of the few lavishly produced – yet still ambiguous – cinematics in the beta, this fiction appears to be a passenger to the action. Missions seemingly comprise of markers and combat arenas, with the scantest of exposition from the Peter Dinklage personified cube that accompanies your travels. Co-operative titles always have a problem in this area, of course, as they favour immediacy over illumination – but if the narrative is merely there to contextualise my XP seeking ambitions, then I’m not sure why I should even care.

Strike and out

There was a time when I woke up in the morning and played games all day, only stopping to pour some boiling water on a dried noodle-based snack for sustenance. Those times are long gone, as I now occupy more of my day writing about games than enjoying them. I’m not looking for a sympathy card – I absolutely adore my job – but with less and less opportunity to play, it means that I appreciate it when games value my time. For me, Destiny struggles to do that in a number of areas – others I’ll allude to later – but the Strikes appear to be the worst.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the developer’s desire to challenge experienced players with some more difficult co-operative missions. These multiplayer-based objectives seem designed to provide veterans with something to replay for loot and fake finances once the campaign’s over, but I found The Devil’s Lair in the beta to be quite literally the video game equivalent of Satan’s cesspit. Bullet sponges are perhaps my biggest industry pet peeve – they’re part of the reason that boss fights are rarely entertaining – but both foes in this particular objective take tedium to intergalactic tiers. I appreciate that there’s probably a knack to taking down the Death Walkers and Servitors here, but I don’t glean enjoyment from sitting in a cove firing my weapon for several minutes straight in order to butcher a baddie that should have been dead a long time ago.

Why am I not getting any real loot lust?

Destiny has been billed as Diablo in space, and that’s very much what it appears to be. In fact, it’s better than that subtractive description would lead you to believe, because I think that the moment-to-moment combat is much more satisfying in Bungie’s outer space affair. The gunplay is particularly great, with armaments striking a perfect balance between fun and fierce. However, while its action may be much more entertaining, I’m not convinced that it has the loot lust that its contemporaries contain. Indeed, after several hours with the impending release’s beta, I never once felt myself yearning for a particular piece of kit.

As with many of the points in this post, it’d be unfair to make any firm conclusions based on a clearly limited slice of content – but there were certainly enough options in the server stress test to give me a taste of the kind of weapons that I can expect in the full game. And I’m not convinced that they’re all that interesting. Granted there are different types of firearms – from shotguns and machine guns to assault rifles and more – but the whole system seems to lack that sense of randomness that made opening green crates in Borderlands such a joy. Outside of differing stats and perks, there doesn’t appear to be the same sort of variety here, and I found myself purely making mathematical decisions over what kit to take into battle.

The Tower seems somewhat out of place

The absolute best thing about Destiny is how streamlined it seems to be. Menus are ergonomic and easy to navigate, despite the relative complexity of the game. Meanwhile, it’s incredibly easy to join up with your friends and explore the galaxy together. The Tower seems to fly in the face of all of this, however, as it’s merely a menu masquerading as some kind of third-person social hot spot. There were occasions during the beta where I found myself wandering around, desperately searching for a specific vendor among crowds of shape pulling space men; it’s an interesting idea for sure, but it feels a little out of place.

Part of the problem is that it doesn’t appear to serve any real purpose other than to turn in quests or fritter away glimmer. There are a few balls that you can play makeshift sports with, but it’s a buggy, glitchy, and seemingly accidental addition that highlights just how undercooked this part of the game really is. Reading through associate editor Robert Ramsey’s excellent beta diaries underlined just how purposeless this portion of the package seems to be, as he discussed a tree climbing exercise as one of his highlights in the space. I’m sure that the area will evolve over time, and become a more meaningful hub as a consequence, but at the moment it seems like a self-indulgent interface that sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise reductive release.

Do you agree with the above concerns, or is it far too early to be criticising a game that we’ve seen so little of? Fight back in the comments section below.

Game Screenshots

User Comments (52)



FullbringIchigo said:

you know after playing the beta I cancelled my pre-order, the game was fun yeah but it didn't scream "this is a day one buy" to me



Davros79 said:

They should have kept the campaign offline imo, that way it would have been a more personal, story driven , cinematic experience. Instead of "this mission ends in 20 seconds"



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

Snap and ditto. I'll still enjoy this game but now I'm looking to the division for that something special. This ain't it. Good game though and still day one for me despite the obvious tedious bits. Seeing next gen sales figures im guessing they'll be regretting the cross gen aspect. It could have been so much more, hopefully it will be in the future. Why release a game they expect to add to over the next 10 years maybe on previous gen consoles when clearly they won't for the life of the ip? Never mind.



scarecrowknife said:

Strangely I agree with everything you said. Cant justify spending fifty odd quid. Seems to miss the open world mission selection and random weapon drops of borderlands. Spent my pre order money on garden warfare instead.



adf86 said:

A nicely written piece Sammy, when you you think about it, everyone can highly praise a game or heavily criticise it. But what's more difficult is to be really constructive with your said praise or criticism.
With a game like this, that requires many hours to get the most out it then I need something that will compel me to keep playing. Usually it's the story that does that, it's was Borderlands 2's plot & characters that made me put over a 100 hours into & without friends. But I'm not convinced Destiny will have that for me, having said that I may just get it anyway cos the gunplay feels very satisfying. You mentioned Diablo 3, I'm getting it on PS4 even though I've heard from many the plot isn't really good but after I played the PS3 demo, I was addicted to get my character levelled up to get better loot.



THEundying27 said:

@scarecrowknife I don't know how much 50 quid is but you seriously can't justify spending it on a game that's easily over 100 hours?

It may not be revolutionary but the value is above and beyond.



RawShark said:

I enjoyed the beta, although I wished I could have spent more time with it... obviously it's a stunning game to look and it will really show off my PS4, but I'm also going to hold off on a purchase. With Borderlands 2 still sitting in my backlog, I think it might be a good idea to play through that to see if I can really dig the loot n' craft style games. I'm sure it will look just as good one year down the line.



imtom2002 said:

This is exactly how i felt after playing the alpha. I just couldnt care about it and didnt really see the point of any of it. I just found it so slow and the enemies that re spwaned as soon as you turned around also the hive (aka the flood from halo) just seemed to be the same old thing. The bullet sponge enemies also just made its ridiculously difficult when you finally dropped one turned a corner and they had respawned. I wanted to like this game but i think i may be double dipping on tlou until far cry 4 comes out.



scarecrowknife said:

@THEundying27. I doubt I would spend 100 hours playing it. I think I may be bored far before then. From what I hear initially there isnt that much still a fair bit but to be expanded with dlc. Theres quite a few hours to be had in gauntlet but I wouldnt play that long.



rhaines said:

They develop multiplatform games to take advantage of the install base and assure the best chances of a return on investment as quick as possible. I owned a launch ps4 but sold it to Invest in my pc(story for another time) . My point is the beta was fun on the ps3 so I don't see the point in owning a ps4 for quite a while....other than battlefield 4, all the games (2?) I enjoyed on my ps4 where available on ps3. They need to start taking advantage of the new gen hardware if they want to wow people into taking the leap . A coat of shine just doesn't cut it.



rjejr said:

I haven't played the beta - keep getting the "Ethernet cable is not connected" message, even though I know damn well it is, has been for 5 years and everything else works fine, but this just sounds like more of the same to me. And it's Halo, w/ a Sphere, so I'm not sure what anybody expected? (Disclaimer, I never ever played any Halo either, but the single player experience seems stronger than this.)



Demi_God said:

I think this game is going to rock. After playing the beta, which I'm already now going through withdrawls for the game :/



wunsen said:

Yo, this article is lame, destiny is amazing, its not the games fault your not skilled enough and you have to hide and shoot bosses, also there's not gunna be much good loot on the beta, its a beta!!!!! Finally its a ever developing so wen it comes out there's gunna be a buttload of other things getting added to it. I didn't use to like bungie cause halo was poor apart from custom games but this is by far the best release coming out this year, and for the people commenting saying the bosses are too hard, got play little big planet, i want them to be harder!!! only thing i am worried about is what the level caps gunna be



Punished_Boss_84 said:

I agree with the first two points, you've nailed the main issues I've had with with the beta and recently stated on another Destiny article.

The beta's (i know a glimpse of the full game) story missions essentially amounted to kill a waves of enemies, defend your location/ send your ghost to do stuff and/or kill the big guys/bosses/bullet sponges (Tank) with cutscenes & commentary inserted in. The enemies & story had no personality to them.
Plently pros such as the classes, music, responsive gameplay, differing AI intelligence, smooth and functional online connection even with my connection!



alphadrago5 said:

@wunsen While you probably could've worded that a lot better, I do agree with what you said. Personally I think the bosses are too easy after beating them a dozen times throughout the alpha and beta. Even the enemies leading up to the bosses have gotten nerfed since the alpha, as I can easily finish a strike alone without dying at this point. Although I can agree with every single point that sammy made, I don't think that they are meant to be so focused. Bungie has stated before that they want the end-game to be the primary focus for Destiny. We haven't even seen any raids yet or the other pvp modes, so there is no reason to cancel pre-orders off of what we've seen alone. Plus i'm expecting holiday updates, so i'm curious as to how they'll do those...



NathanUC said:

I wouldn't say I was disappointed, but it wasn't what I expected really. I was hoping for more of a densely populated world of enemies with crazy bosses. OBVIOUSLY it was just a beta and the things I'm looking for could very well be in the full game.

Maybe I've just been playing too much Warframe, but Destiny just felt a tad slow.



get2sammyb said:

@voodoo341 I tried to word things very carefully here, as I appreciate that many of the criticisms here could easily be squashed by the beta. I definitely do appreciate that this isn't the full game, and hope many of these issues are addressed in the final thing.

@rjejr What happened to the massive comment about me being in my late 20s and old?! No blonde highlights anymore, sadly, but still not reached 'late 20s' yet.



Remixora said:

@wunsen I agree with this. I Loved L.O.V.E.D this game. And i do think is going to get better when it realeses. Like wunsen said, it's just a beta.



Bliquid said:

Can i print a t-shirt with the premise of this article, Sammy?
Besides that, i pretty much agree with everything else you said.
I thought Destiny to be something like "Halo meets WoW", while the feel i got from the beta was that of a standard FPS with some tweaks. In that regard i found the gunplay and visual direction (from landscapes to menus) to be top notch.
But i guess the hype led me to expect more "grandeur" overall.
I don't see myself pouring hundreds of hours in this, especially since the beta itself got me uninterested a little bit too fast.
On the other hand, it is very well crafted.
Just not THAT special as the press and the budget would like me to believe.
Now, if it was a persistent loot frenzy open world...



Mrskinner said:

@wunsen who said the bosses were hard? Bullet sponge and hard are different things. Bullet sponge is boring and repetitive, hard is rewarding and satisfying.



lupine said:

Hi guys, i've been reading the reviews for a while here but only just been bothered to register. That aside, myself and my friends have really enjoyed Destiny, even if we had to repeat the final mission various times. I enjoyed gathering what loot i could (trying to get a green helmet before the beta ended was a challenge well succeeded) to try and get a complete green set. However, as mentioned before, the bosses and even the random mobs are a little spongy, but i think this is mandatory. Playing wow and fighting bosses or just random mobs really does have that same feeling, they do absolutely no damage to me yet they take damage as if there eating my arrows. However, this is a completely different game in that aspect. I think the bosses are currently perfectly fine and I'm going to be a day one buyer



GraveLordXD said:

The beta is great if you were for any reason disappointed your expectations were to high
Destiny doesn't have anything to prove to me I pretty much know what to expect and also know what to expect from bungie
Edit:"that's not to say I don't have my concerns one especially being a level cap of 20 considering it didn't take me long at all to get to lvl 8
Well written little article Sammy
Oh and welcome to the site @lupine



Paranoimia said:

Enjoyed both alpha and beta. Even uploaded some mission videos to YouTube. But still not convinced enough to pre-order.

As I said elsewhere, given the press for the game so far, I was expecting something... more. Bungie's revelations about this being a big chunk of the 'first version of the game' makes it sound like there's going to be a lot of DLC milking going on, and I'm not sure I want any part of that.



Squiggle55 said:

I really enjoyed the beta. As long as the final release has lots more various landscapes, lots more loot, and lots more different kinds of bosses then I couldn't ask for a lot more. And really I can't imagine why that wouldn't be the case.



JaxonH said:


I actually have to agree with you there Davros. Offline campaign all the way. I hate this new trend of online gaming. Taking away from the personal story and campaign in favor of playing "together". That's what co-op modes are for. Shouldn't be forced into your single player game.

With that said, I'm still excited for it. Not SUPER excited, but a normal, "it's gonna be a pretty fun game" kind of excited



banacheck said:

Obviously the First Look Alpha & Beta was a small part of the game, well I'm hoping so anyway. But what I did play was good but like others have said the missions are all very the same, I'm hoping the full version will have a lot more variation.



chazaroonie said:

Really interesting read this article, I have to admit I share many of Sammy's views on the game. I played the alpha and was blown away! However, after the beta I must admit I was less enthused. Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of cancelling my pre-order and am confident that I will enjoy the game and spend plenty of time with it. I just don't think that it will give me the same thrill that games such as the Mass Effect series or Skyrim. The co-op mulitiplayer element is probably the main reason I'll keep playing the game because at the end of the day it's enjoyable to play. While I don't think Destiny will be as important as the previously mentioned classics, there is the potential for sequels to get close. Obviously my opinions are based on a snapshot of the full release, I may be wrong and Destiny could be the next big thing. I'd love it if that were to happen.



Paranoimia said:

@banacheck If you read Sammy's previous article, it seems the beta was actually quite a hefty chunk of the game...

...and if you consider it didn't take that much time to get through, it seems that this "first version" of the game is actually going to be a lot smaller than we were perhaps led to believe. Which again leads me to believe that there's going to be a ton of DLC to build this into the game we thought it was going to be from the start.



Fenriswolf- said:

@SimonAdebisi So I notice people still like to refer to this whole "cross-gen" thing as being a big negative. So I've decided to start asking people to elaborate a little when they say this. So, could you please? I'd like to know exactly why and how it would've been much better had it not been cross-gen? Thanks in advance!



jayclayx said:

nothing else to prove here, day one buy, the game is awesome, graphics are the best on my ps4, it is like halo with extra features, I like it.



Pink_Floyd said:

Sadly I wasn't impressed with both betas. The whole time I played I thought "this is halo for the PS4". In the end it's just another FPS nothing rememberable about it. Shame because it could of been a lot more.



rjejr said:

@get2sammyb - Damn, you aren't even in your late 20's yet and you've done all this? Guess we can't go blaming it on burnout then, you'ld better just learn to like the game

Glad I edited all that stuff out since I was so way off base. Glad to know you're still good to go. You should have seen the original post when I blamed it all on Damo



Boerewors said:

Great piece Sammy, really recognizable as well. You know what bothered me the most of Destiny? The first hour or so in I was really enjoying the FPS part; took me back to Halo and it was smooth as silk. Than after a while it started to annoy me, because of the aim-assist which makes the game way too easy. Factor in the somewhat dumbed down AI (not hard to read what enemies will do) and at a certain point I was just taking cover, aim somewhat in the direction of the foes and wait for them to come out: my aim assist would do the rest and I was just pulling triggers and making headshots. Than it dawned on me: this is 2014, not 2004. With the resolution possible on the ps4 and a targeted fps of 60 (which they don't target, probably because of the old gen installments), there is no need for a shooter to have such an obtrusive aim-assist...and ofcourse I'm not gonna switch it off if no one else is. In that respect I really admire Killzone, for smoothing out their game so that aim-assist is no longer a must.
Destiny had the chance to bring console FPSs to a whole new level, they decided to rest on their laurels however and just bring us what we've come to expect from them. If this was an 8 hour single player campaign with possible co-op, I'd play it once, maybe twice never to return to it again. But now they expect me to keep coming back to it and I just don't feel it. It feels more like fast food, where I expected a refined, well balanced Michelin star meal.
With time being my scarcest commodity by far I knew I had to pick between Diablo 3 and Destiny. And although I think Destiny is okay and enjoyable, Diablo 3 is awesome.... So my pre order is cancelled of a game which had all the potential to become my GoTY, but eventually refused to let the old-gen thinking go. I had hopes for Bungie to revitalize the console shooter genre once again and bring it to the next level, they chose to stick to the old game plan. A strange strategy for a company that wanted to show the world they were more than just Halo; they're Halo with customization options.



ohhaime said:

I was going to write a comment about how I agreed with Sammy,and then list a few other things I thought were wrong with the beta.But then thinking it about I realized I don't even care enough about the game anymore to write a detailed comment.

It just doesn't feel good enough for being so close to release.The auto-Aim,dumb AI,weak story and the RPG elements making Multiplayer feel unbalanced.I don't think any of that will be fixed by release or ever.So now I just don't care.

It tries to be everything but in the end it just feels like a watered down RPG or a Water Downed FPS.
They can't decided which side of the river to swim to, so they're going over the waterfall.

The reason the Auto-aim is there (and can't be turned off BTW) is to mimic RPGs with stat based auto attacks. It's there to purposely take away the skill advantage of a player,Presumably to appeal to RPG players who may be intimidated by FPS games.



Boerewors said:

Funny how I call it "aim-assist" while you say "auto-aim"... Your term is actually spot on: assisting is helping you a bit, this is straight up auto-aiming. The game will probably please the masses, but I feel this is the next step in dumbing down console games. You would expect us all moving towards a higher difficulty level as gamers, but for some reason the industry in General is getting more and more focused on catering to the weakest link. I remember this girl in elementary, Monique, who was dumb as f*ck. She was holding other kids back because the teacher had to explain everything 3 of 4 times in order for Monique to understand. Monique was sent to a special school and turned out okay, where we carried on and got the early education we needed. The game industry should be striving to raise the bar so games challenge our intellect and ever growing knowledge and skills, not cater to the Moniques of this world and expect the rest to have fun while climbing trees and kicking a ball around because the game that is provided is simply too easy and boring.



ThreadShadow said:

In regards to gameplay, I believe their hearts are in the right place. Build a shooter with some depth. That's a good goal. But I felt the enemies, situation, and narrative lacked clarity, including why the activity on the map is happening. But as said before that's the nature of the mmo. But I don't think that is inherently the nature of co-op multiplayer. So I certainly wish the campaign was offline with support for System-Link and split-screen.

And I thought they said you could play through the whole game and not see anyone else, and yet everywhere I went after the introductory mission had other people running around. I don't want to interact with or see anybody else accept a co-op partner, even in the Tower. I thought it might be part of the server test for the Beta, but I've a feeling I've been tricked into online interaction! Having other players around pulls me out of the game, as do the enemies respawning for the next group of tourists to shoot.

I thought the player side gunplay was great and to me is really the only echo of Halo that remains. The new scoping method is strange but works quite well. Am I right to think it's similar to CoD methods? Not completely satisfied with the control layout, but puppeteer was as close as I could get it. The soundscape was excellent across the board. Even Peter Molyneux as the Speaker, er, I mean...
But the Servitors were a stand out for me. Their vocalizations sounded great.

Taken at face value the fiction(what there is of it) is somewhat interesting but there are always layers. Usually mildly subversive to outright PC doctrine. I'm just not interested in it, especially since Disney already taught me to believe in myself and that I'm the best Disney Princess ever...along with everyone else!!

Anyway, it all boils down to this; Destiny is an MMO/MMO lite.
1. MMO's are not for me.
2. Disconnects, and server outages make Destiny a coaster.
3. I exaggerate but in a couple(few) years Destiny will be a coaster for all. When they switch off the Destiny servers for reals. Lights out for "this version" of Destiny. It's an MMO, it is it's "destiny"! You don't even have get any resale value.
4. This is an MMO, but it's also a lootfest MMO. That seems cuts the personal narrative back even further. Loot is the draw, not story.
5. Granted, that's the nature of the MMO, and Bungie is determined to create MMO's for the foreseeable future.
Conclusion. Destiny is not for gamers like myself, and thus Bungie is no longer making games for me.

But I can carry three weapons!!!! Now there is something I wish Halo had. The well meaning additions I see in the Beta are additions I would like to see in a Halo. I've always thought a hybrid mix of Halo and Legend of Zelda gameplay would be great and increase the depth. But Halo isn't for me anymore either since MS and I have parted ways and left each other behind.

Have a good week everyone!



OnlyGrant said:

Such a well written piece, i think it's a over hyped game...ill buy it just not day 1 for me. It's not smack me in the face awesome



SecondServing said:

Sam has done it again! Love these soapbox pieces man!

I had some similar concerns with Destiny btw, so I'm glad I'm not the only one.




I agree with most of the article, but for me it was even worse. It seemed to be a case of "Borderlands - fun + Halo = Destiny".
I played the story missions on the beta (I don't like competitive multiplayer, haven't got the time for it) and was completely underwhelmed. It looks fantastic, but it's just Halo with other players dropping by occasionally, punctuated with the odd trip to a tower to read messages and listen to NPC's mumble incoherently.



larry_koopa said:

Great read, Sammy. I'm in the same boat as you in that I too have less and less of an opportunity to enjoy games these days. I am a teacher and am currently doing my Masters part time, so when I do have time to sit down with a game I want to be sure that it's something that's worth my time and that I am going to enjoy my time with it.



Alpha said:

You know I was planning on buying the $100 limited edition but after playing the beta and reading this article... I may way to get it... For a price drop too. There's another thing that bugs me... Is it only a mmo game? There's no offline whatsoever? That makes me not want it at all....



Fenriswolf- said:

@SimonAdebisi Hahah, Yea that's pretty obvious(PS4 vs PS3). Well at least your worries are reasonable! But as for splitting resources, I'm sure they formulated a plan from day one and accounted for all the resources needed to accomplish their goals, with deadlines in mind. After all, this is Bungie we're talkjng about haha. Not to mention the game has been in development for how many years now(?) I doubt that was much of an issue.



Compudoc said:

Got bored pretty fast in the beta (PS4) and gave up after reaching the level cap.
Cancelled pre-order and started playing Borderlands 2 again on PS3, which I am thoroughly enjoying...again
Bungie please take note: not everybody wants a hardcore gaming experience and 3-hour missions for people who have a real life are just not acceptable to me

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