Destiny, the Anti-MMO: Levels 1-10

I will freely admit it: I totally bought into the hype. I’ve been excited to play Destiny ever since I saw the demo being played at E3 during the PS4 reveal. I’ve always really liked Halo, but not for the multiplayer – I loved the story, the atmosphere, the presentation, and that stunning score. So, there was always this little thought in the back of my head: “What if I hate this?” I’m not a fan of multiplayer PVP. I hate Capture the Flag. I don’t like waving a digital dick around to show how great I am at everything. So, what could I possibly think of a game designed primarily as a multiplayer experience? Well… I kind of love it.

I’ve always really liked MMOs, but the problem I have is the sort of investment you have to make in other people. I, myself, have played many MMOs, getting bored a few weeks to months after the endgame. This is usually because I really want to do the hardcore stuff, the raids, but I also like having a fairly loose gaming schedule. When you raid, you’re playing with some hardcore people that may have more time and talent to pull off some of the things necessary to raid. I just can’t guarantee I’ll ever have that time. I can’t read every guide to min/maxing, and frankly, I don’t want to.

Destiny, so far, feeds right into that sensibility. I can jump right in and play, and if I want, anyone currently playing on my friends list can be invited to join up. That’s cool. But I don’t have to deal with any of them if I don’t want to. Also cool. So, the social aspect is there, front and center, but it’s ultimately optional. Sure, if you want to get the most out of the game you’ll have to make some friends, but I’m 10 levels in and I’ve been keeping to myself for the most part while I get use to the mechanics. I like that.

The mechanics themselves are fairly basic, almost rudimentary. The FPS aspect is almost exactly like every other FPS ever made. The vehicle controls and acquisition are very Halo-like. The shops don’t have multiple scrolling levels of stuff to offer. Even the loot system is like a simple version of Diablo: make no mistake, this is a pants-gathering game, just a lot larger in design and a LOT smaller in scope.

There are some classic boss moments, and some overwhelming-odds moments, the kind of turn-the-tide battle scenarios Bungie excels at. It can make you feel stupid for making a mistake, and it can make you feel heroic for taking down an ogre in one shot. You feel like you’re doing something to change the outcome of the fight. You really do feel like a hero, and you feel like you are destined for something great.

Unfortunately, that’s all there is.

The story is practically non-existent. It’s the kind of thing you might hear if your college roommate were on ‘shrooms and decided to tell you his next great screenplay idea:

“You see, there’s like, this evil, the darkness. And, like, it’s totally bad. And humans, they all colonized Mars and shit, but then the darkness fucked that shit up. So there are wizards on the moon… goblin robots… like, the fallen too, they’re bad… and… … zzzzzzzz…”

Now, I’m totally cool with a game that isn’t chock-full-o’-story. I played in the 80s. Sometimes all you need are the basics. But they jam this thing with so much nonsensical dialogue that it’s clear they wanted a big over-arching story, just not enough to run out over the decade-long course I’m assuming they’re planning for this game.

Let’s be blunt: Destiny is the anti-MMO. It’s going for a piece of that elusive MMO pie, while trying to lure in the audience of the Call of Duty franchise and relying on the history and popularity of Halo to do so. It’s a fine game. I really like it. It has a lot of what I like about MMOs without the need to wave around your e-peen too much.

Sadly, the kind of audience that sticks with a game like this for a decade loves waving that e-peen around. I suppose they’ll have to rely on trophy boards to wave their e-peens in their friend’s faces, but I doubt they will. Considering some of the reviews out there, I’m thinking Destiny is more like the kind of game you play for a week to a month, then put down until an expansion comes out. Sure, it’s fun, but it’s not going to generate WoW numbers, no matter how many copies it sells.

I suppose this is all a little unfair. Destiny never really had a chance with a lot of people. It is the epitome of “overhyped.” My thoughts? It’s a fine game. It’s certainly better than Titanfall in a lot of ways, and I’ll play through to 20. After that? I may try to rope a few friends into trying a raid or two, because I do find the combat exceedingly fun, even for someone who typically hates First Person Shooters.

Of course, these are all general thoughts for levels 1-10. I’ll check back in when I’ve played with some of the multiplayer aspects and hit 20. Back to the stream for now!

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