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Found 18 results

  1. Today, Bungie held their explosive worldwide reveal of Destiny 2's gameplay. The event showed the opening mission of the game, titled Homecoming, in action as well as a new trailer and plenty of details on what Destiny 2 will do differently from the original Destiny. The event opened with a neat backstory trailer, which you can see here at 14:10 of the livestream. This new bit of story follows Zevala, one of the Guardian Vanguard, as he is resurrected to be a defender of humanity. He fights and dies and then fights again. We see him helping to build the Tower and securing the city... but all of that is just set up before the fall that begins Destiny 2. With just that cinematic, it's clear that Destiny 2 will be more focused on story and building up characters. Luke Smith, Destiny 2's director, took the stage to confirm that Destiny 2 would be tackling many things differently than its predecessor, really hammering home that this was a fresh start for both the franchise and its fans. Smith laid out the the number one priority of Destiny 2's vision by saying, "this is about having a story you can relate to. It's about having characters you want to hang out with, characters you want to work with. This is about having enemies, of course enemies, that you want to face. it's about the way we build our environments at Bungie. We want to create experiences that make you want to seek what's around every corner." The second focus of Destiny 2 will be to provide players with a robust assortment of activities. Exploration has been reworked to include side-missions, treasure maps, global objective events, and more. Those side-missions will have a storytelling focus involving vocal NPCs and send players into Lost Sectors, dungeons that are filled with enemies, loot, and bosses. They have also reworked how PvP will work in Destiny 2. In the upcoming incarnation of the Crucible, all PvP will take place in 4v4 matches. The HUD has been changed to include information on opponents, such as their loadouts and whether their super ability is ready to fire. There will be new game modes, such as the now revealed Countdown mode - the first attack-defend game type. There will be new strikes, a new raid, and more. Players will be able to launch all of these new things while exploring the alien worlds of Destiny 2 without going into orbit. Speaking of the planets, Destiny 2's campaign, titled The Red War Campaign, consist of Earth, Titan, Io, and Nessus. The Earth area is known as the EDZ (European Dead Zone) and it represents the largest in-game space Bungie has designed to date by a factor of two. This is where humanity has retreated to after the fall of Tower. Titan is an oceanic moon on which humanity built massive stations during its golden age. Now the Titan stations are slowly falling into its waters. The Vex have infested Nessus and transformed it into a new machine world covered in their technology and weaponry. Finally, Io stands as a holy world for Destiny 2's warlocks. It was once touched by the Traveler and now presents a number of mysteries that could aid Guardians in their fight to reclaim Earth. The final part of Destiny 2's vision is always having someone with whom to play. Luke Smith estimates that about 50% of Destiny players weren't able to access the multiplayer endgame content like raids or high level strikes. This was largely due to Destiny lacking a matchmaking system. Bungie made the choice to drop matchmaking for Destiny because they believed the toxic nature of gaming communities could lead to too many terrible experiences for players if they were matched with strangers. In Destiny 2, they feel as if they have a solution. Clans will be directly integrated into Destiny 2. Players will be able to fill their own rosters, create clan banners, and fashion descriptions of their respective clans. Bungie plans to implement a reward system that will benefit everyone in the clan when players collectively achieve goals. Not everyone will have to be a part of a clan to care about the clan system. In order to solve the matchmaking conundrum, Bungie has created what they call Guided Games. Solo players looking to raid will be able to pick clans with which they want to play. Clan descriptions can be perused to find good groups of players. This will, in effect, work as a sort of matchmaking curation directed by each player. In Bungie's view, this acts as a win-win. Clans will be able to fill empty spots and solo players will be able to access that endgame content. Bungie showed a portion of the Homecoming mission. Players experience the attack on Tower first hand as fleets of ships deploy troops and artillery bombardments. This slice of gameplay displayed the new class super abilities in action. Hunters can summon the Dawnblade, a fiery sword that grants players the ability to fly, slice enemies, and shoot plasma slices into the distance. Titans can make use of the Sentinel, a shield that both protects its bearer and can be thrown to serve as a powerful attack that ricochets between enemies. Lastly, Warlocks have the ability to summon the Arcstrider, a mystical monk staff empowered by electrical energy that sends its wielder with acrobatic combat energy. The story of Destiny 2 follows the aftermath of a major invasion of an alien called Dominus Gall, the leader of the Red Legion. Gall is an extremist who believes the Traveler chose poorly when it selected humanity to receive its power. He aims to take that power away and use it for its own ends. In taking that power, he destroys the Tower, the last safe human city on Earth. Destiny 2 is a game about loss and then recovery. Players will be starting fresh, having lost everything. The main objectives will be to reunite the leaders of the Guardians, the Vanguard, who have scattered across the solar system. In finding the Vanguard, players will hone and recover their abilities, perhaps building up enough power to challenge Gall. The game will include more cinematics than Bungie has ever created before and more story missions, all in service to the more narrative focused approach the studio is taking for the follow up to Destiny. To cap it all off - Destiny 2 will be available on PC for the first time. That's not news, but now we know how Destiny 2 will be available: Blizzard. Bungie is working with Activision to create Destiny 2 and Activision is calling in Blizzard to support the title via Battle.net. People interested in buying Destiny 2 on PC will only be able to buy it through Blizzard's platform to exist alongside games like StarCraft 2, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch. The Destiny 2 Beta will launch sometime this summer, so be sure to free up the 68Gb of space needed to store the game on your hard drives! You can watch the entire livestream of Bungie's event below. Destiny 2 officially launches for PS4 and Xbox One on September 8. The PC version doesn't have an official release set. Bungie says that they want to do the PC version right, so it is possible the PC version of Destiny 2 will be released sometime after September 8. View full article
  2. Today, Bungie held their explosive worldwide reveal of Destiny 2's gameplay. The event showed the opening mission of the game, titled Homecoming, in action as well as a new trailer and plenty of details on what Destiny 2 will do differently from the original Destiny. The event opened with a neat backstory trailer, which you can see here at 14:10 of the livestream. This new bit of story follows Zevala, one of the Guardian Vanguard, as he is resurrected to be a defender of humanity. He fights and dies and then fights again. We see him helping to build the Tower and securing the city... but all of that is just set up before the fall that begins Destiny 2. With just that cinematic, it's clear that Destiny 2 will be more focused on story and building up characters. Luke Smith, Destiny 2's director, took the stage to confirm that Destiny 2 would be tackling many things differently than its predecessor, really hammering home that this was a fresh start for both the franchise and its fans. Smith laid out the the number one priority of Destiny 2's vision by saying, "this is about having a story you can relate to. It's about having characters you want to hang out with, characters you want to work with. This is about having enemies, of course enemies, that you want to face. it's about the way we build our environments at Bungie. We want to create experiences that make you want to seek what's around every corner." The second focus of Destiny 2 will be to provide players with a robust assortment of activities. Exploration has been reworked to include side-missions, treasure maps, global objective events, and more. Those side-missions will have a storytelling focus involving vocal NPCs and send players into Lost Sectors, dungeons that are filled with enemies, loot, and bosses. They have also reworked how PvP will work in Destiny 2. In the upcoming incarnation of the Crucible, all PvP will take place in 4v4 matches. The HUD has been changed to include information on opponents, such as their loadouts and whether their super ability is ready to fire. There will be new game modes, such as the now revealed Countdown mode - the first attack-defend game type. There will be new strikes, a new raid, and more. Players will be able to launch all of these new things while exploring the alien worlds of Destiny 2 without going into orbit. Speaking of the planets, Destiny 2's campaign, titled The Red War Campaign, consist of Earth, Titan, Io, and Nessus. The Earth area is known as the EDZ (European Dead Zone) and it represents the largest in-game space Bungie has designed to date by a factor of two. This is where humanity has retreated to after the fall of Tower. Titan is an oceanic moon on which humanity built massive stations during its golden age. Now the Titan stations are slowly falling into its waters. The Vex have infested Nessus and transformed it into a new machine world covered in their technology and weaponry. Finally, Io stands as a holy world for Destiny 2's warlocks. It was once touched by the Traveler and now presents a number of mysteries that could aid Guardians in their fight to reclaim Earth. The final part of Destiny 2's vision is always having someone with whom to play. Luke Smith estimates that about 50% of Destiny players weren't able to access the multiplayer endgame content like raids or high level strikes. This was largely due to Destiny lacking a matchmaking system. Bungie made the choice to drop matchmaking for Destiny because they believed the toxic nature of gaming communities could lead to too many terrible experiences for players if they were matched with strangers. In Destiny 2, they feel as if they have a solution. Clans will be directly integrated into Destiny 2. Players will be able to fill their own rosters, create clan banners, and fashion descriptions of their respective clans. Bungie plans to implement a reward system that will benefit everyone in the clan when players collectively achieve goals. Not everyone will have to be a part of a clan to care about the clan system. In order to solve the matchmaking conundrum, Bungie has created what they call Guided Games. Solo players looking to raid will be able to pick clans with which they want to play. Clan descriptions can be perused to find good groups of players. This will, in effect, work as a sort of matchmaking curation directed by each player. In Bungie's view, this acts as a win-win. Clans will be able to fill empty spots and solo players will be able to access that endgame content. Bungie showed a portion of the Homecoming mission. Players experience the attack on Tower first hand as fleets of ships deploy troops and artillery bombardments. This slice of gameplay displayed the new class super abilities in action. Hunters can summon the Dawnblade, a fiery sword that grants players the ability to fly, slice enemies, and shoot plasma slices into the distance. Titans can make use of the Sentinel, a shield that both protects its bearer and can be thrown to serve as a powerful attack that ricochets between enemies. Lastly, Warlocks have the ability to summon the Arcstrider, a mystical monk staff empowered by electrical energy that sends its wielder with acrobatic combat energy. The story of Destiny 2 follows the aftermath of a major invasion of an alien called Dominus Gall, the leader of the Red Legion. Gall is an extremist who believes the Traveler chose poorly when it selected humanity to receive its power. He aims to take that power away and use it for its own ends. In taking that power, he destroys the Tower, the last safe human city on Earth. Destiny 2 is a game about loss and then recovery. Players will be starting fresh, having lost everything. The main objectives will be to reunite the leaders of the Guardians, the Vanguard, who have scattered across the solar system. In finding the Vanguard, players will hone and recover their abilities, perhaps building up enough power to challenge Gall. The game will include more cinematics than Bungie has ever created before and more story missions, all in service to the more narrative focused approach the studio is taking for the follow up to Destiny. To cap it all off - Destiny 2 will be available on PC for the first time. That's not news, but now we know how Destiny 2 will be available: Blizzard. Bungie is working with Activision to create Destiny 2 and Activision is calling in Blizzard to support the title via Battle.net. People interested in buying Destiny 2 on PC will only be able to buy it through Blizzard's platform to exist alongside games like StarCraft 2, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch. The Destiny 2 Beta will launch sometime this summer, so be sure to free up the 68Gb of space needed to store the game on your hard drives! You can watch the entire livestream of Bungie's event below. Destiny 2 officially launches for PS4 and Xbox One on September 8. The PC version doesn't have an official release set. Bungie says that they want to do the PC version right, so it is possible the PC version of Destiny 2 will be released sometime after September 8.
  3. It can be easy to forget the hype machine leading up to a potential big release. When Destiny was first announced, the excitement was palpable. Bungie's promotional images and appearances played up how big the Destiny universe would be. It was a bold new frontier full of alien threats, unknowable constructs, and visually striking heroes. The story seemed larger than life, promising the kind of broad space opera that captivated the world with the release of Star Wars. Accordingly, Destiny's initial trailers adopted a tone fitting those expectations. The first gameplay reveal from E3 2013 offered glimpses of the game Bungie had so carefully crafted, backed by a reverent voice over with a building orchestral score. We saw broad vistas that offered adventure and imposing enemies that threatened us. This experience would surely be something monumental; it would change games forever. Of course, that's not what happened. Destiny turned out to be a highly polished game with some glaring flaws that couldn't deliver on the full promise of what our minds had imagined (as few games truly do). Over the years, Bungie has slowly worked to claw back that dream, adding features, fixing flawed systems, expanding the story, and more. This ongoing development helped Destiny retain its player base. I suppose that's why the drastic shift in tone in the reveal for Destiny 2 has me scratching my head. Revealing a new game in a series not known for its comedy with a joke trailer is unusual to say the least. The trailer and its accompanying teaser are fine and functional, but the tonal shift is something I think warrants a little bit of a think. The trailer for Destiny 2 is a very far cry from how Bungie had initially pitched the franchise. Nathan Fillion reprises his role as the Hunter Exo named Cayde-6 in both the teaser and the trailer proper. Fillion adds a comical punch to what had once been played very straight and earnest. I'm not entirely opposed to the idea of Destiny taking a more tongue-in-cheek approach to its previously self-serious lore, but it does seem rather at odds with the story and tone thus far, especially given that Destiny 2's inciting incident sees humanity all but wiped out and its last line of defense scattered throughout the system. If we continue to see this style of marketing in the lead up to E3 and beyond, it is very possible that Bungie and Activision have decided to steer Destiny's sci-fi epic into more of a Borderlands-like jaunt for loot and humor. If that's the case, it's entirely possible that the developer and publisher have been seeing the reach of Destiny-related social media. We could be seeing an entirely different type of game from what Destiny's player base has come to expect from the quality of life adjustments and expansions to the original Destiny. How that potential revision of the Destiny brand might go over with long-time Destiny fans remains to be seen. Destiny 2 releases September 8 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
  4. It can be easy to forget the hype machine leading up to a potential big release. When Destiny was first announced, the excitement was palpable. Bungie's promotional images and appearances played up how big the Destiny universe would be. It was a bold new frontier full of alien threats, unknowable constructs, and visually striking heroes. The story seemed larger than life, promising the kind of broad space opera that captivated the world with the release of Star Wars. Accordingly, Destiny's initial trailers adopted a tone fitting those expectations. The first gameplay reveal from E3 2013 offered glimpses of the game Bungie had so carefully crafted, backed by a reverent voice over with a building orchestral score. We saw broad vistas that offered adventure and imposing enemies that threatened us. This experience would surely be something monumental; it would change games forever. Of course, that's not what happened. Destiny turned out to be a highly polished game with some glaring flaws that couldn't deliver on the full promise of what our minds had imagined (as few games truly do). Over the years, Bungie has slowly worked to claw back that dream, adding features, fixing flawed systems, expanding the story, and more. This ongoing development helped Destiny retain its player base. I suppose that's why the drastic shift in tone in the reveal for Destiny 2 has me scratching my head. Revealing a new game in a series not known for its comedy with a joke trailer is unusual to say the least. The trailer and its accompanying teaser are fine and functional, but the tonal shift is something I think warrants a little bit of a think. The trailer for Destiny 2 is a very far cry from how Bungie had initially pitched the franchise. Nathan Fillion reprises his role as the Hunter Exo named Cayde-6 in both the teaser and the trailer proper. Fillion adds a comical punch to what had once been played very straight and earnest. I'm not entirely opposed to the idea of Destiny taking a more tongue-in-cheek approach to its previously self-serious lore, but it does seem rather at odds with the story and tone thus far, especially given that Destiny 2's inciting incident sees humanity all but wiped out and its last line of defense scattered throughout the system. If we continue to see this style of marketing in the lead up to E3 and beyond, it is very possible that Bungie and Activision have decided to steer Destiny's sci-fi epic into more of a Borderlands-like jaunt for loot and humor. If that's the case, it's entirely possible that the developer and publisher have been seeing the reach of Destiny-related social media. We could be seeing an entirely different type of game from what Destiny's player base has come to expect from the quality of life adjustments and expansions to the original Destiny. How that potential revision of the Destiny brand might go over with long-time Destiny fans remains to be seen. Destiny 2 releases September 8 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. View full article
  5. Destiny released back in 2014 to a lukewarm critical response and blockbuster sales. Developer Bungie managed to somewhat salvage a game they had once toted as an ongoing, decade-long project (a claim that the company denied a year after Destiny's release). Implementing many, many patches, overhauls, and DLC expansions, Destiny finally began resembling the title that had shown such critical promise running up to its release. Today, after a small tease earlier in the week, Bungie pulled the curtain aside and gave a glimpse at what they have planned for Destiny 2. A new enemy has emerged from the depths of space: Ghaul, leader of the Red Legion. Following a devastating attack on humanity's last city, players will be forced into the wilds of the solar system to seek anything and everything that could be used to take back the city and defeat Ghaul. The trailer shows that the sequel to Destiny will indeed be axing the Tower hub that players have come to know over the past few years - along with all of the accumulated gear - in favor of something new. What exactly that new hub players could call home might be remains to be seen. After ignoring the PC market for the first entry, Destiny 2 will be coming to the computer gaming space, too. It will be interesting to see how the co-op shooter fares outside the confines of consoles. Perhaps mod support? That could be very interesting indeed. Destiny 2 releases September 8 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Those who pre-order will receive access to the beta period of Destiny 2 and possibly some other goodies depending on the retailer. View full article
  6. Destiny released back in 2014 to a lukewarm critical response and blockbuster sales. Developer Bungie managed to somewhat salvage a game they had once toted as an ongoing, decade-long project (a claim that the company denied a year after Destiny's release). Implementing many, many patches, overhauls, and DLC expansions, Destiny finally began resembling the title that had shown such critical promise running up to its release. Today, after a small tease earlier in the week, Bungie pulled the curtain aside and gave a glimpse at what they have planned for Destiny 2. A new enemy has emerged from the depths of space: Ghaul, leader of the Red Legion. Following a devastating attack on humanity's last city, players will be forced into the wilds of the solar system to seek anything and everything that could be used to take back the city and defeat Ghaul. The trailer shows that the sequel to Destiny will indeed be axing the Tower hub that players have come to know over the past few years - along with all of the accumulated gear - in favor of something new. What exactly that new hub players could call home might be remains to be seen. After ignoring the PC market for the first entry, Destiny 2 will be coming to the computer gaming space, too. It will be interesting to see how the co-op shooter fares outside the confines of consoles. Perhaps mod support? That could be very interesting indeed. Destiny 2 releases September 8 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Those who pre-order will receive access to the beta period of Destiny 2 and possibly some other goodies depending on the retailer.
  7. Bungie’s newest game, the most pre-ordered new IP in history, is entertaining. The gameplay is tight, the environments are gorgeous, and the character designs ooze cool. In fact, it seems like many of the design choices in Destiny revolve around a rule of cool, as if Bungie was constantly asking, “Will this be cool? If not, scrap it.” The result is a game that looks superb set in an inviting universe populated by interesting and diverse enemies. If that’s the case, why then does Destiny feel so hollow? Note: As of the writing of this review, end-game content such as raids have not been unlocked. The review will be updated when raids unlock next week. Playing Destiny just feels good. Players are given a kit of abilities and weapons and tasked with eliminating groups of enemies that all behave in different ways. Do you want to save your rocket launcher ammo for the boss or is the large group of clustered enemies rushing toward you worth the shot? Take the time to reload your auto rifle or go in for the melee attack? Use your super move or attempt a headshot with your throwing knife? These are questions you’ll be asking yourself constantly, often with only a split second to come to a decision. All of these choices come together and feel fluid in-game. The same feeling of fluidity carries over into competitive multiplayer. Initially, there will only be one game type to choose from, but others will unlock as players level up. Control is similar to many capture point-style modes found in other games, while Clash is traditional team deathmatch under a different name. Rumble is a standard free-for-all brawl. The Skirmish mode is interesting. It pits two teams of three against each other, emphasizing the importance of team work. Finally, Salvage tasks teams of three to battle over possession of relics. With a decent number of well-balanced maps, multiplayer is sure to be a draw for a number of people. It does have a few problems, though. Notably, despite the tag of “Level Advantages Disabled” it seems like there is still a noticeable power difference between well-geared or leveled people and players who are just starting out. Hopefully a patch can balance the competitive multiplayer a bit better. There are also a great deal of weapons that can insta-kill: shotguns, fusion rifles, headshots with the hand cannon, sniper rifle, and each playable class’ super move which has the capacity to instantly kill multiple enemy players. Not to mention the vehicles which, though nerfed since the beta, still empower people to a frustrating degree. These instant death situations are plentiful and they lead to a lot of deaths that feel cheap. Though players can team up on story missions or wander the large maps in Patrol mode, Strikes are the highlight of Destiny’s cooperative multiplayer. They require a degree of teamwork to claim victory and can’t be pulled off alone. They tend to culminate in large boss battles against enemies with ludicrous amounts of health. They are long, feature tons of bad guys, and test the limits of player skill. In other words, they’re one of the best parts about Destiny. Destiny truly shines when it comes to the visuals. I would love to see a feature in an upcoming patch that allows players to completely disable the HUD. The vistas are so gorgeous that it seems a shame to have some of them hidden behind objective markers, a radar, and ammo counter. It is refreshing to see that, even though Destiny has aspirations to be a serious shooter, it isn’t cut from the same washed-out cloth as many other FPS games. Destiny isn’t afraid to access a rich and vibrant color palate. Each area feels different, distinguished in part by variances in architecture, color schemes, and terrain. The pitted grey surface of the moon feels totally distinct from the rainy and tropical climes of Venus. Similarly, the human buildings on Earth feel at odds with the alien fortresses on Mars. Every change in scenery is accompanied by a new enemy entering the mix. There are four alien races so far: the Fallen, Hive, Vex, and Cabal. Each race has their own unique enemy types and tactics. The enemies are distinct from each other to a pleasing degree. It is easy to recognize the difference between the lumbering forms of the Cabal from the wiry, mechanical forms of the Vex. I got the sense that each of these races has a history, a reason for why they are in the Sol system and utterly hostile toward the human race. But I only got an impression, never any moving story sequences or moments to illustrate why I should care about them, other than the fact that they look cool. As players progress, they will unlock portions of lore in Destiny’s Grimoire. However, the Grimoire is inaccessible through any in-game means. You are forced to either go to Bungie’s website or download the free Destiny app to a mobile device. To me, locking off the background information to separate devices seems like a bizarre design decision. There is so much to like about Destiny. When it comes together, it feels sublime and there are glimpses of greatness. However, more often than not, it comes up short on its potential. A major contributor to this is the narrative, which feels like it was treated as a secondary or maybe even tertiary concern when balanced against the gameplay and visual design. Whenever someone might want Destiny to be more than functional, it can’t seem to rise to meet that desire. That’s a shame because there is so much potential in the Destiny universe, so many events alluded to that would be interesting to explore (at one point the Peter Dinklage-voiced robot casually tosses out that at one point the entire planet of Mercury was transformed into an evil machine!). **Spoiler Warning** Here is a brief synopsis of approximately half of the story present in Destiny: A sentient mechanical eyeball voiced by Peter Dinklage resurrects the protagonist to help defend the last city on Earth from the coming Darkness. The two then go off on a series of excursions that put them in contact with an old AI named Rasputin that somehow is connected with the Moon. While on the Moon, the duo crosses paths with a mysterious person (with no connection to Rasputin) who indicates they should check out Venus, because there is an even worse evil there than the aliens that live underneath the surface of the Moon and have been invading Earth. This is indicative of where Destiny’s story goes wrong. It doesn’t bother to create coherent events that run together or make sense. Instead, it opts to go for just a series of events that happen. The Rasputin AI is used to get players from Earth to the Moon and is never mentioned again until one of the last missions in the game (which happens to be a side mission, not one of the core story missions). There is this concept known as economical storytelling which just means that every element of your story should be essential. Nothing is gained by including Rasputin into the narrative of Destiny, other than getting the player to the Moon. Furthermore, Bungie associates a lot of important language with the AI. Destiny refers to the AI as a Warmind and tells the player that it has the potential to save mankind from extinction by reactivating old defenses, but we never see any of that happen, aside from a giant communications array rising from the ground. The tell-don’t-show approach spills over into other parts of Destiny as well. The most obvious example of this is the stakes into which players are continually asked to invest themselves. The old “aliens want to destroy the world” cliché just doesn’t hold up as well when you are trying to tell a compelling narrative in video games these days. Why should we care about the last city on Earth? For all the player knows, everyone in the city is already dead since we never see any of them. Guardians all seem to live in Tower, the central hub of Destiny. You can see a few non-guardians wandering around or running shops, but other than that, there are large stretches of buildings far below. Those buildings are as close as players ever get to having a reason to care about the human race (other than the fact that the people holding the controller and playing Destiny are, presumably, human themselves). Then there are the other issues with the narrative like the constant use of ambiguity. At times it feels like players are fighting against concepts instead of factions of aliens with their own goals and agendas. The clearest example of this is the often mentioned “Darkness” that is coming. What is it? I’ve finished the story and I have no idea. The game just tells you it is bad and that it almost destroyed all human life. I guess it is hard to see the threat posed by the Darkness when Earth is already overrun with several different alien races that want to destroy the remaining humans and the nearest planets house aliens that also want to kill everything. Why even mention the Darkness at all if it has nothing to do with the central plot? Clearly it is a set up for future expansions, but it serves no purpose in the narrative of Destiny as it stands currently and is bafflingly present in many of the dialogue exchanges throughout the game. This is the opposite of economical storytelling. I understand that video games contain different story structures than more traditional forms of media, but the fact remains that Destiny wastes a lot of its narrative time on inconsequential elements of its universe. I think that is where Destiny’s story went wrong. It took the building of a giant universe as its story’s central mission instead of building the world as a part of the narrative. We are meant to envision a large, rich game universe as Destiny throws around terms like Warmind and concepts like the Darkness. It is an attempt at world building that largely succeeds, at the cost of a coherent narrative that players will be able to enjoy. Now, this could all simply be attributed to lazy writing, but it seems to me that a project as big as Destiny would have to be a bit more self-aware. I have a suspicion that the narrative is intentionally structured this way. Destiny is rated T by the ESRB, which means it can be sold to younger gamers under the age of 17. While Destiny’s plot might not make much sense on paper, in practice it moves at a breakneck pace through vastly different scenery and enemies. Propelling players forward as fast as possible through the story is much easier when you don’t worry about things like character development, stakes, drama, etc. Many younger players, ages 12-16, could very well be utterly beguiled by the stylish combat, gorgeous scenery, and downright cool vibe Destiny throws out. The big sounding words and concepts impart a sense of scale that will leave the upcoming generation of gamers feeling like Destiny is one of the coolest games they’ve ever played, though they will struggle to articulate exactly why that is and what makes it so great. Though Destiny slips up and falls completely flat from a dramatic standpoint, it is still blast to play, which is why I can’t find it within myself to feel angry toward what it does or fails to do, just a bit of realistic disappointment. The opening mission holds such promise. Resurrected from the dead by a Ghost, it is a mad dash away from oncoming Fallen forces through rusting cars and timeworn corridors. Things seem so large and big as Ghost rattles off crucial details of the situation. Then you acquire weapons and armor and learn how to use them in your first real encounter. The fighting is fast, flashy, and leaves you feeling great as you take off in your newly acquired spacecraft. It feels so reminiscent of Star Wars that it kindles a bit of hope that the experience of Destiny might be something utterly unique and magical. What else could the game have in store? As you spend hours and hours making your way through the various missions and game worlds, it becomes clear that there isn’t much more to Destiny’s gameplay than what you experienced in the first mission. In fact, I can only think of one mission where I was required to do something other than shoot bad guys until the game allowed me to continue and that was a mission where I got a sword to slice up bad guys until the game allowed me to continue. The potential of the first mission is never realized. In fact, as Destiny continues there are more and more opportunities for interesting scenarios and interactions, but nothing ever comes of them. By the end of the campaign it felt like all that had been accomplished over the course of several days was the creation of a blank slate universe to which Bungie can add content as they wish. Conclusion: It is hard for me to conjure any animosity toward Destiny. It plays well and looks great, but the story is deeply flawed on numerous levels. It has nothing to say about which I feel offended other than way it undermines its own narrative, which just makes me feel kinda sad. The multiplayer is fun, though frustrating at times, and teaming up with friends to blast away at digital aliens in a Strike is good fun. Destiny is a worthy first-person shooter if all you are looking for is a shooter with neat visuals and tight gameplay. If you are looking for a story that will stick with you for years to come, Destiny is not that game. Perhaps the expansions will contain a story worth your time and attention, but until then enjoy the fun. Time will tell for certain, but I think the lesson to be learned from Destiny in five to ten years is that while a fun experience is pleasurable, it is also ephemeral. High quality stories are pleasuarable, too, but they also last. Destiny is currently available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. This review will be updated when raids are released next week. Update: Having experienced Destiny's raids, they do not significantly alter my opinions regarding Destiny's end game content. The lack of matchmaking for raids will prove to be a considerable barrier for players with less than the five highly levelled friends required to participate.
  8. Anyone with an early copy of the upcoming sci-fi shooter should be able to play it before the official launch. The servers have been up since 6AM CST this morning to allow members of the press and anyone fortunate enough to get their hands on a full-release copy a head start on Destiny's content. Expect to see social media going bananas over the next twelve hours as we close in on the official launch of Bungie's next first-person shooter. According to Activision, Destiny's launch has taken on historic proportions by becoming the most pre-ordered new video game IP ever. This isn't terribly surprising since over 4.6 million players participated in the Destiny beta, setting a high bar for future betas this generation. "Destiny is the game we've always wanted to make," said Bungie's president, Harold Ryan. "We've dreamt of this universe for years, so we couldn't be more thrilled to swing open the doors and let fans shape this experience as they tell their unique stories in the game. For us, the next generation of games is all about allowing players to collide and interact with each other as they take on epic, action-packed adventures all their own." Destiny releases September 9 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
  9. Over the past few days I had the opportunity to take a break from reviewing the incredibly long PC RPG Divinity: Original Sin (68 hours in with the end still not in sight!) by suiting up as one of humanity’s last Guardians. After three focused days with the beta, I can say with confidence that Bungie has put what it learned from years developing Halo and successfully read the gaming landscape to create an FPS title that will stand the test of time. The Destiny beta was previewed on PlayStation 4. How does one describe Destiny? Destiny seems like a hodgepodge of various elements copped from other famous science-fiction games, movies, and books that were then rolled up into one package, streamlined, and then given some of the characteristics of an MMO (I thought about putting in the dictionary definition of destiny here instead, but decided that would be too obvious). The physics of the movement is very Halo-esque, giving the player a sensation of great power and fluidity, while eschewing the frantic pacing of titles like Call of Duty or Titanfall. Meanwhile the gunplay is heavily influenced by Borderlands. The aesthetics and setting have Star Wars influences written all over along them (imagine that the Deathstar was sentient, good, and didn’t blow up planets and you basically have the premise for Destiny). Finally, the story is a mix of Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End both of which were written by Arthur C. Clarke. And here is the thing: All of those disparate elements come together feeling new and fresh, which is a real achievement! I walked away from my weekend with Destiny having enjoyed myself and feeling optimistic about the game’s future. However, I don’t think it is enough to tell you that I had this positive reaction to Destiny, instead I’m going to attempt to explain why. One of the main attractions of Destiny is how it empowers players. It goes about this in a variety of ways, but first and foremost, it conveys power through movement and terrain traversal. As usual for an FPS, players can toggle between normal running and sprinting, the pace of which is not frenetically fast, but instead instils a feeling of accuracy and control. It is a small touch, but it works. Jumping represents a major contributor to the empowerment of movement in Destiny. At first it seems like a more toned-down version of Halo’s high, floaty jumps, but upon reaching level three or four, players unlock the double jump and it changes everything. In my mind, Titanfall was the first FPS that truly embraced the notion of verticality and freedom of movement. I played Titanfall and felt like I was seeing what the new trend in multiplayer would be; Bungie, much like Respawn, realized that it needed to get away from the landlocked mentality of last-gen’s shooters. I won’t say that Bungie looked at Titanfall and tried to emulate it; Destiny has clearly been in development for years, too long to make such a fundamental change to its entire structure and gameplay dynamics. Destiny and Titanfall both happened to hit on the idea that giving players more options in how they move makes the game a great deal more fun and allows for a more flowing feel to the entire affair. Oh, and the speeder bikes that you can summon almost anywhere control very well and lend the maps a sense of scope while finally allowing you to see what it would be like to ride one of the speeders from Return of the Jedi. Those are pretty sweet. Beyond movement, Destiny takes a running leap (har har) right out of the gate in regards to progression. Completing missions and killing enemies grants experience that adds up over time to level characters. Over the course of the first few missions players level up frequently, about a level per story mission, and find new equipment everywhere. Each level rewards players with a new ability, a variation of one of their existing abilities, an upgrade for core power, or a boost to base stats. New equipment comes in the familiar rarity color coding made omnipresent by Diablo (now go ahead and tell me that Diablo wasn’t the first game to start this sort of color scheme, Diablo was the first I could recall), though the best equipment typically drops in the form of schematics that must be decoded. Uncommon or rare weapons also gain experience the more they are used and can be upgraded once they’ve been used enough in battle. All of this comes together to give players a real sense of escalating power. Now, I can’t speak as to how this will continue on in the full version of Destiny, since the beta caps progress at level 8, but I’d imagine that, similar to other MMOs, the pace of power growth will slow dramatically during the mid to late game compared to the early sections. And make no mistake, Destiny is an MMO despite the marketing of it as being a “shared world.” Destiny takes many design decisions found in a typical MMO and applies them to a first-person shooter in a remarkably deft manner. The elements are there, from random events, to raids (called Strikes), to sidequests that branch off from the main story missions, to seeing the numbers indicating damage dealt pop up with ever successful shot to an enemy. At any given time I could see three or four other Guardians pursuing side missions or participating in random events, but social interaction never felt forced on me or like it took me out of the experience. The strange part is that this all comes together very well. I have my gripes with the Borderlands series, but being able to team up with friends and shoot your way through a campaign was undeniably fun. Destiny captures the essence of that co-op experience and applies it on a wider scale. In fact, the gameplay really does remind me of Borderlands, albeit with more mobility, except that Destiny manages to both make the gameplay its own and appropriately tone the entire affair. That tone is what will make Destiny such a success. Undoubtedly many kids under the age of 17 got their hands on the M rated Borderlands and Borderlands 2, but think of how many more copies Borderlands would have been able to sell with a T rating from the ESRB. On June 26 the ESRB announced that Destiny will be rated T, which widens the audience quite a bit. Combine that with the Star Wars vibe that the title exudes, the sweeping scope, the gameplay which can be enjoyed with friends, and the lack of a subscription fee (ignoring, for a second, PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live), and to me that seems like something that will be astronomically big. It will be innocuous enough to get by most parents while still appealing to the youth demographic and it will be interesting and edgy enough to pull in the older crowds. Now, from all those glowing statements about what Destiny does right, you might be thinking that this is the most perfect game to have ever existed or that I am a goon paid for by Bungie. Neither of those assumptions are correct for there are a number of areas in Destiny that fell short. Many people have pointed to Peter Dinklage’s voice acting performance as something that detracts significantly from their experience. I would never presume to try and invalidate the feelings that other people have, because gut reactions to things can never be “wrong” in any quantitative sense. However, I do think that this is a case of people signaling out a surface-level, lackluster element and pinning their frustrations on it. While Peter Dinklage at times certainly gives a phoned-in performance* (which could very well detract from some players in-game experience, it just didn’t significantly alter my own), the main problem with Destiny isn’t that the performances aren’t as nuanced and deep as they could be; the main problem is that Destiny’s narrative doesn’t know how to begin its story. I don’t want to be overly critical here because Destiny is still months from release and could very well have some of the beginning story elements locked away. However, the product on display in the beta is clunky. It is never sure of how much or when it should dole out information. My character awakens to the line, “you’ve been dead for a long time,” and immediately, without any questions asked, the game placed me into the action. Now, this is a good way to grab a player’s attention, but it comes with a number of questions that demand answers after that action is concluded. Those answers never came. I was whisked away to the last human city, Tower, where I was given general background information about the state of the world and my character’s place in it, but those don’t satisfactorily answer why or how my character was brought back from the dead. There are lots of logic things that can be overlooked in the name of drama, but it was really irritating to me to hear my character speak and somehow fail to ask how he was brought back from the dead. That’s kind of a big deal. If technology is advanced enough to bring people back from the dead after “a long time” how is humanity in bad shape? This serves as a great example of one of my biggest complaints regarding Destiny, because there are numerous times when important details about the world seemed to go unexplained or ignored. Players are simply told to accept the quirks of the various races and events in Destiny’s story without enough context to make sense of it all. The previous paragraph was a minor complaint. That might seem odd, but the story of Destiny is such a secondary (possibly tertiary) concern that it won’t be something that affects most players experience with the game, because the refinement of Destiny’s gameplay trumps most of the minor quibbles it has, story or otherwise. One of those nitpicks goes to the AI, which seem to encounter invisible walls from time to time that can be used to pick off enemies or manipulate them into doing stupid things like running out of cover for no reason. Melee enemies in particular seem to be hit on the head with dumb. Jumping to a high elevation causes them to mill around helplessly like lost puppies. If I had to pick one more smallish complaint, it would be that the sidequests scattered throughout the exploration mode are largely uninteresting and seem to exist mostly out of obligation. Despite the annoyances and the narrative concerns, the heart of the matter is that Destiny is fun. The diversity of inspirations works to make the journey through a devastated Earth and beyond seem new instead of rehashed. It is visually exciting and delivers moments of tense action, comradery, and a sense of adventure. All other concerns aside, the bottom line is that Destiny is such an enjoyable experience that trumps almost any other criticism you could level at it. Destiny releases September 9 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. * Regarding Peter Dinklage: Here’s the thing, folks, Peter Dinklage is a very talented actor. He has a real flair for the dramatic and is capable of turning an audience to putty in his hands through his tone of voice. While it is true that the end result of his voice acting in Destiny sounds less than stellar, we don’t know why he sounds that way. Making a video game is a highly collaborative process. It could be that he found the lines too ridiculous to say seriously; it could be that he just didn’t care; it could be that Dinklage acts best when physically present on a set (to my knowledge, he has only ever done voice work for one other property and that was for Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012); but it could also be that the people directing him didn’t know how to get what they wanted or they made the call that what they recorded was an acceptable final product. It is important to remember that Peter Dinklage doesn’t have the final say on what goes into Destiny and that others are making the call that those lines were read appropriately. Finally, in Destiny, Dinklage voices a robot and, to me, he sounds very robot-like and detached in-game, which could contribute to why some of his lines sound so lifeless. He’s undeniably a great actor, capable of compelling work (Here is a brilliant scene from Game of Thrones Season 4, spoiler warning and all that), but for that talent to shine it require people in a number of other capacities to recognize what the game needs and bring it out of Dinklage.
  10. Just a friendly reminder that the Destiny beta hits on July 17 at 10 AM Pacific for PlayStation owners and July 23, also at 10 AM Pacific, for Xbox. Also, there is a new Destiny trailer. Oh, and a couple spiffy, expensive collector's editions. It is important to remember that people who pre-order Destiny are guaranteed a spot in the beta and that PlayStation Plus will be required for certain features on PlayStation systems and Xbox Live required to function on the 360 and One. The Beta will be offline for scheduled maintenance on July 21 - July 22 and open back up to pre-order participants across all platforms until 11:59pm PDT on July 27. "Wait," you might be asking yourself, "What about those different versions of the game you mentioned earlier, Mr. Writerperson?" Activision and Bungie also revealed today three different collector's editions of the game as well as how much they are going to hurt your wallet. The Destiny Ghost Edition and the Destiny Limited Edition both include a SteelBook case with physical disc; a Guardian Folio containing Postcards from the Golden Age, Antique Star Chart, and an Arms & Armament Field Guide; a digital content pack consisting of a unique ghost casing, player emblem, and ship variant; and the Destiny Expansion Pass which grants access to two of the post-launch Destiny expansions. The first expansion, titled The Dark Below, will take players beneath the surface of the Moon to battle an alien god that leads an evil army of Hive forces against Earth. The second expansion has no details as of yet beyond its name: House of Wolves (Editor's Note: I originally typed this Hose of Wolves, which I imagine would be a game about wolf fire fighters). PlayStation platforms will also include additional exclusive content for The Dark Below and House of Wolves that will remain exclusive until at least Fall of 2015. And that is only what the two editions have in common. Continuing on.... Destiny Ghost Edition comes with a replica of Ghost, complete with motion-activated lights and sounds voiced by Peter Dinklage; a letter of introduction; Golden Age Relics which include a photo, patch, sticker, and two chrome slides of the Traveler. Digital pre-orderers will be receiving the Digital Guardian Edition of Destiny which includes a digital download copy of the game, the Destiny Expansion Pass, and the Collector's Edition Digital Content Pack. All pre-orders will include access to the Vangaurd Armory that includes early access to weapons, gear and exclusive player emblem. That's a lot of cool stuff. Now for the bad news: Ghost Edition will retail at $149.99; the Limited Edition will cost $99.99; the Digital Guardian Edition will bite at $89.99. Destiny's Expansion Pass alone will be $34.99 and the expansions individually will cost $19.99 apiece. All of these editions are available now. I suppose it is nice that we seem to have ourselves quite a few options. Destiny fully releases for all platforms on September 9.
  11. Bungie's next project doesn't come out until early 2014, but fans can get early access to the beta by pre-ordering the title from participating retailers. To check which sellers are participating in the per-order beta giveaways, check www.destinythegame.com/wheretobuy. Entry codes will be printed on receipts, flyers distributed at the time of purchase, or sent via email through a retail rewards program. Fans that pre-ordered before October 1 and qualify for this offer are automatically entered into the beta and will receive their entry code from their retailer via email. Use the code on bungie.net/beta and follow the instructions to access the first glimpse of Destiny. The beta will begin next year on all systems that Destiny will release on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. Additionally, Bungie released a new gameplay trailer called "The Moon" which highlights the enemy race known as the Hive.
  12. If you are looking for some new things to put on your walls to impress friends, family, or that special person in your life, Bungie has released the first part of their Destiny concept art collection through the online art dealer Cook & Becker. Used during Destiny's development process, the collection includes work by Bungie concept artists Jesse van Dijk, Jaime Jones, Dorje Bellbrook, Ryan deMita, Kekai Kotaki and Joseph Cross. The first part of the released work consists of twelve different pieces. The second half of the collection will release sometime later this year. The giclee art prints are severely limited, meaning some of the pieces have already sold out. They can be quite pricey, retailing anywhere from $100 to $300 for the base image and upwards of $600 for framing and preservative treatments. Check out the first half of Bungie's gallery for yourself.
  13. If you are looking for some new things to put on your walls to impress friends, family, or that special person in your life, Bungie has released the first part of their Destiny concept art collection through the online art dealer Cook & Becker. Used during Destiny's development process, the collection includes work by Bungie concept artists Jesse van Dijk, Jaime Jones, Dorje Bellbrook, Ryan deMita, Kekai Kotaki and Joseph Cross. The first part of the released work consists of twelve different pieces. The second half of the collection will release sometime later this year. The giclee art prints are severely limited, meaning some of the pieces have already sold out. They can be quite pricey, retailing anywhere from $100 to $300 for the base image and upwards of $600 for framing and preservative treatments. Check out the first half of Bungie's gallery for yourself. View full article
  14. Bungie’s newest game, the most pre-ordered new IP in history, is entertaining. The gameplay is tight, the environments are gorgeous, and the character designs ooze cool. In fact, it seems like many of the design choices in Destiny revolve around a rule of cool, as if Bungie was constantly asking, “Will this be cool? If not, scrap it.” The result is a game that looks superb set in an inviting universe populated by interesting and diverse enemies. If that’s the case, why then does Destiny feel so hollow? Note: As of the writing of this review, end-game content such as raids have not been unlocked. The review will be updated when raids unlock next week. Playing Destiny just feels good. Players are given a kit of abilities and weapons and tasked with eliminating groups of enemies that all behave in different ways. Do you want to save your rocket launcher ammo for the boss or is the large group of clustered enemies rushing toward you worth the shot? Take the time to reload your auto rifle or go in for the melee attack? Use your super move or attempt a headshot with your throwing knife? These are questions you’ll be asking yourself constantly, often with only a split second to come to a decision. All of these choices come together and feel fluid in-game. The same feeling of fluidity carries over into competitive multiplayer. Initially, there will only be one game type to choose from, but others will unlock as players level up. Control is similar to many capture point-style modes found in other games, while Clash is traditional team deathmatch under a different name. Rumble is a standard free-for-all brawl. The Skirmish mode is interesting. It pits two teams of three against each other, emphasizing the importance of team work. Finally, Salvage tasks teams of three to battle over possession of relics. With a decent number of well-balanced maps, multiplayer is sure to be a draw for a number of people. It does have a few problems, though. Notably, despite the tag of “Level Advantages Disabled” it seems like there is still a noticeable power difference between well-geared or leveled people and players who are just starting out. Hopefully a patch can balance the competitive multiplayer a bit better. There are also a great deal of weapons that can insta-kill: shotguns, fusion rifles, headshots with the hand cannon, sniper rifle, and each playable class’ super move which has the capacity to instantly kill multiple enemy players. Not to mention the vehicles which, though nerfed since the beta, still empower people to a frustrating degree. These instant death situations are plentiful and they lead to a lot of deaths that feel cheap. Though players can team up on story missions or wander the large maps in Patrol mode, Strikes are the highlight of Destiny’s cooperative multiplayer. They require a degree of teamwork to claim victory and can’t be pulled off alone. They tend to culminate in large boss battles against enemies with ludicrous amounts of health. They are long, feature tons of bad guys, and test the limits of player skill. In other words, they’re one of the best parts about Destiny. Destiny truly shines when it comes to the visuals. I would love to see a feature in an upcoming patch that allows players to completely disable the HUD. The vistas are so gorgeous that it seems a shame to have some of them hidden behind objective markers, a radar, and ammo counter. It is refreshing to see that, even though Destiny has aspirations to be a serious shooter, it isn’t cut from the same washed-out cloth as many other FPS games. Destiny isn’t afraid to access a rich and vibrant color palate. Each area feels different, distinguished in part by variances in architecture, color schemes, and terrain. The pitted grey surface of the moon feels totally distinct from the rainy and tropical climes of Venus. Similarly, the human buildings on Earth feel at odds with the alien fortresses on Mars. Every change in scenery is accompanied by a new enemy entering the mix. There are four alien races so far: the Fallen, Hive, Vex, and Cabal. Each race has their own unique enemy types and tactics. The enemies are distinct from each other to a pleasing degree. It is easy to recognize the difference between the lumbering forms of the Cabal from the wiry, mechanical forms of the Vex. I got the sense that each of these races has a history, a reason for why they are in the Sol system and utterly hostile toward the human race. But I only got an impression, never any moving story sequences or moments to illustrate why I should care about them, other than the fact that they look cool. As players progress, they will unlock portions of lore in Destiny’s Grimoire. However, the Grimoire is inaccessible through any in-game means. You are forced to either go to Bungie’s website or download the free Destiny app to a mobile device. To me, locking off the background information to separate devices seems like a bizarre design decision. There is so much to like about Destiny. When it comes together, it feels sublime and there are glimpses of greatness. However, more often than not, it comes up short on its potential. A major contributor to this is the narrative, which feels like it was treated as a secondary or maybe even tertiary concern when balanced against the gameplay and visual design. Whenever someone might want Destiny to be more than functional, it can’t seem to rise to meet that desire. That’s a shame because there is so much potential in the Destiny universe, so many events alluded to that would be interesting to explore (at one point the Peter Dinklage-voiced robot casually tosses out that at one point the entire planet of Mercury was transformed into an evil machine!). **Spoiler Warning** Here is a brief synopsis of approximately half of the story present in Destiny: A sentient mechanical eyeball voiced by Peter Dinklage resurrects the protagonist to help defend the last city on Earth from the coming Darkness. The two then go off on a series of excursions that put them in contact with an old AI named Rasputin that somehow is connected with the Moon. While on the Moon, the duo crosses paths with a mysterious person (with no connection to Rasputin) who indicates they should check out Venus, because there is an even worse evil there than the aliens that live underneath the surface of the Moon and have been invading Earth. This is indicative of where Destiny’s story goes wrong. It doesn’t bother to create coherent events that run together or make sense. Instead, it opts to go for just a series of events that happen. The Rasputin AI is used to get players from Earth to the Moon and is never mentioned again until one of the last missions in the game (which happens to be a side mission, not one of the core story missions). There is this concept known as economical storytelling which just means that every element of your story should be essential. Nothing is gained by including Rasputin into the narrative of Destiny, other than getting the player to the Moon. Furthermore, Bungie associates a lot of important language with the AI. Destiny refers to the AI as a Warmind and tells the player that it has the potential to save mankind from extinction by reactivating old defenses, but we never see any of that happen, aside from a giant communications array rising from the ground. The tell-don’t-show approach spills over into other parts of Destiny as well. The most obvious example of this is the stakes into which players are continually asked to invest themselves. The old “aliens want to destroy the world” cliché just doesn’t hold up as well when you are trying to tell a compelling narrative in video games these days. Why should we care about the last city on Earth? For all the player knows, everyone in the city is already dead since we never see any of them. Guardians all seem to live in Tower, the central hub of Destiny. You can see a few non-guardians wandering around or running shops, but other than that, there are large stretches of buildings far below. Those buildings are as close as players ever get to having a reason to care about the human race (other than the fact that the people holding the controller and playing Destiny are, presumably, human themselves). Then there are the other issues with the narrative like the constant use of ambiguity. At times it feels like players are fighting against concepts instead of factions of aliens with their own goals and agendas. The clearest example of this is the often mentioned “Darkness” that is coming. What is it? I’ve finished the story and I have no idea. The game just tells you it is bad and that it almost destroyed all human life. I guess it is hard to see the threat posed by the Darkness when Earth is already overrun with several different alien races that want to destroy the remaining humans and the nearest planets house aliens that also want to kill everything. Why even mention the Darkness at all if it has nothing to do with the central plot? Clearly it is a set up for future expansions, but it serves no purpose in the narrative of Destiny as it stands currently and is bafflingly present in many of the dialogue exchanges throughout the game. This is the opposite of economical storytelling. I understand that video games contain different story structures than more traditional forms of media, but the fact remains that Destiny wastes a lot of its narrative time on inconsequential elements of its universe. I think that is where Destiny’s story went wrong. It took the building of a giant universe as its story’s central mission instead of building the world as a part of the narrative. We are meant to envision a large, rich game universe as Destiny throws around terms like Warmind and concepts like the Darkness. It is an attempt at world building that largely succeeds, at the cost of a coherent narrative that players will be able to enjoy. Now, this could all simply be attributed to lazy writing, but it seems to me that a project as big as Destiny would have to be a bit more self-aware. I have a suspicion that the narrative is intentionally structured this way. Destiny is rated T by the ESRB, which means it can be sold to younger gamers under the age of 17. While Destiny’s plot might not make much sense on paper, in practice it moves at a breakneck pace through vastly different scenery and enemies. Propelling players forward as fast as possible through the story is much easier when you don’t worry about things like character development, stakes, drama, etc. Many younger players, ages 12-16, could very well be utterly beguiled by the stylish combat, gorgeous scenery, and downright cool vibe Destiny throws out. The big sounding words and concepts impart a sense of scale that will leave the upcoming generation of gamers feeling like Destiny is one of the coolest games they’ve ever played, though they will struggle to articulate exactly why that is and what makes it so great. Though Destiny slips up and falls completely flat from a dramatic standpoint, it is still blast to play, which is why I can’t find it within myself to feel angry toward what it does or fails to do, just a bit of realistic disappointment. The opening mission holds such promise. Resurrected from the dead by a Ghost, it is a mad dash away from oncoming Fallen forces through rusting cars and timeworn corridors. Things seem so large and big as Ghost rattles off crucial details of the situation. Then you acquire weapons and armor and learn how to use them in your first real encounter. The fighting is fast, flashy, and leaves you feeling great as you take off in your newly acquired spacecraft. It feels so reminiscent of Star Wars that it kindles a bit of hope that the experience of Destiny might be something utterly unique and magical. What else could the game have in store? As you spend hours and hours making your way through the various missions and game worlds, it becomes clear that there isn’t much more to Destiny’s gameplay than what you experienced in the first mission. In fact, I can only think of one mission where I was required to do something other than shoot bad guys until the game allowed me to continue and that was a mission where I got a sword to slice up bad guys until the game allowed me to continue. The potential of the first mission is never realized. In fact, as Destiny continues there are more and more opportunities for interesting scenarios and interactions, but nothing ever comes of them. By the end of the campaign it felt like all that had been accomplished over the course of several days was the creation of a blank slate universe to which Bungie can add content as they wish. Conclusion: It is hard for me to conjure any animosity toward Destiny. It plays well and looks great, but the story is deeply flawed on numerous levels. It has nothing to say about which I feel offended other than way it undermines its own narrative, which just makes me feel kinda sad. The multiplayer is fun, though frustrating at times, and teaming up with friends to blast away at digital aliens in a Strike is good fun. Destiny is a worthy first-person shooter if all you are looking for is a shooter with neat visuals and tight gameplay. If you are looking for a story that will stick with you for years to come, Destiny is not that game. Perhaps the expansions will contain a story worth your time and attention, but until then enjoy the fun. Time will tell for certain, but I think the lesson to be learned from Destiny in five to ten years is that while a fun experience is pleasurable, it is also ephemeral. High quality stories are pleasuarable, too, but they also last. Destiny is currently available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. This review will be updated when raids are released next week. Update: Having experienced Destiny's raids, they do not significantly alter my opinions regarding Destiny's end game content. The lack of matchmaking for raids will prove to be a considerable barrier for players with less than the five highly levelled friends required to participate. View full article
  15. Anyone with an early copy of the upcoming sci-fi shooter should be able to play it before the official launch. The servers have been up since 6AM CST this morning to allow members of the press and anyone fortunate enough to get their hands on a full-release copy a head start on Destiny's content. Expect to see social media going bananas over the next twelve hours as we close in on the official launch of Bungie's next first-person shooter. According to Activision, Destiny's launch has taken on historic proportions by becoming the most pre-ordered new video game IP ever. This isn't terribly surprising since over 4.6 million players participated in the Destiny beta, setting a high bar for future betas this generation. "Destiny is the game we've always wanted to make," said Bungie's president, Harold Ryan. "We've dreamt of this universe for years, so we couldn't be more thrilled to swing open the doors and let fans shape this experience as they tell their unique stories in the game. For us, the next generation of games is all about allowing players to collide and interact with each other as they take on epic, action-packed adventures all their own." Destiny releases September 9 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. View full article
  16. Over the past few days I had the opportunity to take a break from reviewing the incredibly long PC RPG Divinity: Original Sin (68 hours in with the end still not in sight!) by suiting up as one of humanity’s last Guardians. After three focused days with the beta, I can say with confidence that Bungie has put what it learned from years developing Halo and successfully read the gaming landscape to create an FPS title that will stand the test of time. The Destiny beta was previewed on PlayStation 4. How does one describe Destiny? Destiny seems like a hodgepodge of various elements copped from other famous science-fiction games, movies, and books that were then rolled up into one package, streamlined, and then given some of the characteristics of an MMO (I thought about putting in the dictionary definition of destiny here instead, but decided that would be too obvious). The physics of the movement is very Halo-esque, giving the player a sensation of great power and fluidity, while eschewing the frantic pacing of titles like Call of Duty or Titanfall. Meanwhile the gunplay is heavily influenced by Borderlands. The aesthetics and setting have Star Wars influences written all over along them (imagine that the Deathstar was sentient, good, and didn’t blow up planets and you basically have the premise for Destiny). Finally, the story is a mix of Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End both of which were written by Arthur C. Clarke. And here is the thing: All of those disparate elements come together feeling new and fresh, which is a real achievement! I walked away from my weekend with Destiny having enjoyed myself and feeling optimistic about the game’s future. However, I don’t think it is enough to tell you that I had this positive reaction to Destiny, instead I’m going to attempt to explain why. One of the main attractions of Destiny is how it empowers players. It goes about this in a variety of ways, but first and foremost, it conveys power through movement and terrain traversal. As usual for an FPS, players can toggle between normal running and sprinting, the pace of which is not frenetically fast, but instead instils a feeling of accuracy and control. It is a small touch, but it works. Jumping represents a major contributor to the empowerment of movement in Destiny. At first it seems like a more toned-down version of Halo’s high, floaty jumps, but upon reaching level three or four, players unlock the double jump and it changes everything. In my mind, Titanfall was the first FPS that truly embraced the notion of verticality and freedom of movement. I played Titanfall and felt like I was seeing what the new trend in multiplayer would be; Bungie, much like Respawn, realized that it needed to get away from the landlocked mentality of last-gen’s shooters. I won’t say that Bungie looked at Titanfall and tried to emulate it; Destiny has clearly been in development for years, too long to make such a fundamental change to its entire structure and gameplay dynamics. Destiny and Titanfall both happened to hit on the idea that giving players more options in how they move makes the game a great deal more fun and allows for a more flowing feel to the entire affair. Oh, and the speeder bikes that you can summon almost anywhere control very well and lend the maps a sense of scope while finally allowing you to see what it would be like to ride one of the speeders from Return of the Jedi. Those are pretty sweet. Beyond movement, Destiny takes a running leap (har har) right out of the gate in regards to progression. Completing missions and killing enemies grants experience that adds up over time to level characters. Over the course of the first few missions players level up frequently, about a level per story mission, and find new equipment everywhere. Each level rewards players with a new ability, a variation of one of their existing abilities, an upgrade for core power, or a boost to base stats. New equipment comes in the familiar rarity color coding made omnipresent by Diablo (now go ahead and tell me that Diablo wasn’t the first game to start this sort of color scheme, Diablo was the first I could recall), though the best equipment typically drops in the form of schematics that must be decoded. Uncommon or rare weapons also gain experience the more they are used and can be upgraded once they’ve been used enough in battle. All of this comes together to give players a real sense of escalating power. Now, I can’t speak as to how this will continue on in the full version of Destiny, since the beta caps progress at level 8, but I’d imagine that, similar to other MMOs, the pace of power growth will slow dramatically during the mid to late game compared to the early sections. And make no mistake, Destiny is an MMO despite the marketing of it as being a “shared world.” Destiny takes many design decisions found in a typical MMO and applies them to a first-person shooter in a remarkably deft manner. The elements are there, from random events, to raids (called Strikes), to sidequests that branch off from the main story missions, to seeing the numbers indicating damage dealt pop up with ever successful shot to an enemy. At any given time I could see three or four other Guardians pursuing side missions or participating in random events, but social interaction never felt forced on me or like it took me out of the experience. The strange part is that this all comes together very well. I have my gripes with the Borderlands series, but being able to team up with friends and shoot your way through a campaign was undeniably fun. Destiny captures the essence of that co-op experience and applies it on a wider scale. In fact, the gameplay really does remind me of Borderlands, albeit with more mobility, except that Destiny manages to both make the gameplay its own and appropriately tone the entire affair. That tone is what will make Destiny such a success. Undoubtedly many kids under the age of 17 got their hands on the M rated Borderlands and Borderlands 2, but think of how many more copies Borderlands would have been able to sell with a T rating from the ESRB. On June 26 the ESRB announced that Destiny will be rated T, which widens the audience quite a bit. Combine that with the Star Wars vibe that the title exudes, the sweeping scope, the gameplay which can be enjoyed with friends, and the lack of a subscription fee (ignoring, for a second, PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live), and to me that seems like something that will be astronomically big. It will be innocuous enough to get by most parents while still appealing to the youth demographic and it will be interesting and edgy enough to pull in the older crowds. Now, from all those glowing statements about what Destiny does right, you might be thinking that this is the most perfect game to have ever existed or that I am a goon paid for by Bungie. Neither of those assumptions are correct for there are a number of areas in Destiny that fell short. Many people have pointed to Peter Dinklage’s voice acting performance as something that detracts significantly from their experience. I would never presume to try and invalidate the feelings that other people have, because gut reactions to things can never be “wrong” in any quantitative sense. However, I do think that this is a case of people signaling out a surface-level, lackluster element and pinning their frustrations on it. While Peter Dinklage at times certainly gives a phoned-in performance* (which could very well detract from some players in-game experience, it just didn’t significantly alter my own), the main problem with Destiny isn’t that the performances aren’t as nuanced and deep as they could be; the main problem is that Destiny’s narrative doesn’t know how to begin its story. I don’t want to be overly critical here because Destiny is still months from release and could very well have some of the beginning story elements locked away. However, the product on display in the beta is clunky. It is never sure of how much or when it should dole out information. My character awakens to the line, “you’ve been dead for a long time,” and immediately, without any questions asked, the game placed me into the action. Now, this is a good way to grab a player’s attention, but it comes with a number of questions that demand answers after that action is concluded. Those answers never came. I was whisked away to the last human city, Tower, where I was given general background information about the state of the world and my character’s place in it, but those don’t satisfactorily answer why or how my character was brought back from the dead. There are lots of logic things that can be overlooked in the name of drama, but it was really irritating to me to hear my character speak and somehow fail to ask how he was brought back from the dead. That’s kind of a big deal. If technology is advanced enough to bring people back from the dead after “a long time” how is humanity in bad shape? This serves as a great example of one of my biggest complaints regarding Destiny, because there are numerous times when important details about the world seemed to go unexplained or ignored. Players are simply told to accept the quirks of the various races and events in Destiny’s story without enough context to make sense of it all. The previous paragraph was a minor complaint. That might seem odd, but the story of Destiny is such a secondary (possibly tertiary) concern that it won’t be something that affects most players experience with the game, because the refinement of Destiny’s gameplay trumps most of the minor quibbles it has, story or otherwise. One of those nitpicks goes to the AI, which seem to encounter invisible walls from time to time that can be used to pick off enemies or manipulate them into doing stupid things like running out of cover for no reason. Melee enemies in particular seem to be hit on the head with dumb. Jumping to a high elevation causes them to mill around helplessly like lost puppies. If I had to pick one more smallish complaint, it would be that the sidequests scattered throughout the exploration mode are largely uninteresting and seem to exist mostly out of obligation. Despite the annoyances and the narrative concerns, the heart of the matter is that Destiny is fun. The diversity of inspirations works to make the journey through a devastated Earth and beyond seem new instead of rehashed. It is visually exciting and delivers moments of tense action, comradery, and a sense of adventure. All other concerns aside, the bottom line is that Destiny is such an enjoyable experience that trumps almost any other criticism you could level at it. Destiny releases September 9 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. * Regarding Peter Dinklage: Here’s the thing, folks, Peter Dinklage is a very talented actor. He has a real flair for the dramatic and is capable of turning an audience to putty in his hands through his tone of voice. While it is true that the end result of his voice acting in Destiny sounds less than stellar, we don’t know why he sounds that way. Making a video game is a highly collaborative process. It could be that he found the lines too ridiculous to say seriously; it could be that he just didn’t care; it could be that Dinklage acts best when physically present on a set (to my knowledge, he has only ever done voice work for one other property and that was for Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012); but it could also be that the people directing him didn’t know how to get what they wanted or they made the call that what they recorded was an acceptable final product. It is important to remember that Peter Dinklage doesn’t have the final say on what goes into Destiny and that others are making the call that those lines were read appropriately. Finally, in Destiny, Dinklage voices a robot and, to me, he sounds very robot-like and detached in-game, which could contribute to why some of his lines sound so lifeless. He’s undeniably a great actor, capable of compelling work (Here is a brilliant scene from Game of Thrones Season 4, spoiler warning and all that), but for that talent to shine it require people in a number of other capacities to recognize what the game needs and bring it out of Dinklage. View full article
  17. Just a friendly reminder that the Destiny beta hits on July 17 at 10 AM Pacific for PlayStation owners and July 23, also at 10 AM Pacific, for Xbox. Also, there is a new Destiny trailer. Oh, and a couple spiffy, expensive collector's editions. It is important to remember that people who pre-order Destiny are guaranteed a spot in the beta and that PlayStation Plus will be required for certain features on PlayStation systems and Xbox Live required to function on the 360 and One. The Beta will be offline for scheduled maintenance on July 21 - July 22 and open back up to pre-order participants across all platforms until 11:59pm PDT on July 27. "Wait," you might be asking yourself, "What about those different versions of the game you mentioned earlier, Mr. Writerperson?" Activision and Bungie also revealed today three different collector's editions of the game as well as how much they are going to hurt your wallet. The Destiny Ghost Edition and the Destiny Limited Edition both include a SteelBook case with physical disc; a Guardian Folio containing Postcards from the Golden Age, Antique Star Chart, and an Arms & Armament Field Guide; a digital content pack consisting of a unique ghost casing, player emblem, and ship variant; and the Destiny Expansion Pass which grants access to two of the post-launch Destiny expansions. The first expansion, titled The Dark Below, will take players beneath the surface of the Moon to battle an alien god that leads an evil army of Hive forces against Earth. The second expansion has no details as of yet beyond its name: House of Wolves (Editor's Note: I originally typed this Hose of Wolves, which I imagine would be a game about wolf fire fighters). PlayStation platforms will also include additional exclusive content for The Dark Below and House of Wolves that will remain exclusive until at least Fall of 2015. And that is only what the two editions have in common. Continuing on.... Destiny Ghost Edition comes with a replica of Ghost, complete with motion-activated lights and sounds voiced by Peter Dinklage; a letter of introduction; Golden Age Relics which include a photo, patch, sticker, and two chrome slides of the Traveler. Digital pre-orderers will be receiving the Digital Guardian Edition of Destiny which includes a digital download copy of the game, the Destiny Expansion Pass, and the Collector's Edition Digital Content Pack. All pre-orders will include access to the Vangaurd Armory that includes early access to weapons, gear and exclusive player emblem. That's a lot of cool stuff. Now for the bad news: Ghost Edition will retail at $149.99; the Limited Edition will cost $99.99; the Digital Guardian Edition will bite at $89.99. Destiny's Expansion Pass alone will be $34.99 and the expansions individually will cost $19.99 apiece. All of these editions are available now. I suppose it is nice that we seem to have ourselves quite a few options. Destiny fully releases for all platforms on September 9. View full article
  18. Bungie's next project doesn't come out until early 2014, but fans can get early access to the beta by pre-ordering the title from participating retailers. To check which sellers are participating in the per-order beta giveaways, check www.destinythegame.com/wheretobuy. Entry codes will be printed on receipts, flyers distributed at the time of purchase, or sent via email through a retail rewards program. Fans that pre-ordered before October 1 and qualify for this offer are automatically entered into the beta and will receive their entry code from their retailer via email. Use the code on bungie.net/beta and follow the instructions to access the first glimpse of Destiny. The beta will begin next year on all systems that Destiny will release on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. Additionally, Bungie released a new gameplay trailer called "The Moon" which highlights the enemy race known as the Hive. View full article