September 2014 was an awkward time in the newest console cycle. The PS4 and X1s had barely been out for a year, but as a gamer I was already feeling underwhelmed. There wasn’t that much to play, and very little of what was available to play felt like it was much better than the systems from before (side note, Wolfenstein: The New Order is still one of my top 3 PS4 games). Destiny promised to change that. It offered us a multiplayer cooperative experience that was lauded to last for years. What’s more, game developers Bungie had told us that the real game begins after you beat the story. I foolishly pre-ordered the game like the noob I was. PSA by the way, don’t preorder games.
What we ended up getting was a $60 game with $15 of content. There was no story. The gameplay quickly became repetitive. The missions were equally dull and lacking in any imagination. Most of the bosses were boring bullet sponges that quickly wore out their welcome. And the only way to level up was to replay these very few missions over and over with the hope you’d acquire a rare piece of loot that contained light, Destiny’s unique way of levelling past 20. Rarely were you rewarded appropriately for your efforts. The game itself did almost nothing to show you what to do and how to play or engage in the world. All of the voice actors felt wasted, most notably (the now replaced) Peter Dinklage. That didn’t matter though because what little dialogue exsisted was terrible. What was the worst about Destiny was the sense that you were wasting your time, and Bungie wasn’t very good about responding to fan feedback. Oh, and don’t forget that horrible Red Bull campaign.
This all was very frustrating. The game was the brain child of Activision and Bungie, creators of beloved franchises such as Halo and Call of Duty. What’s more, the game had an astronomical development cost estimated at $500 million dollars! Despite these problems Destiny had its share of supporters, though I’m convinced many of these people were in denial of how much of a waste of time and money the game ended up being.
Since Destiny was released gamers experienced a rough year of gaming. There were bright spots to be sure, but there were far more blemishes. Think of all of the games that were delayed or even cancelled. Think of the Day 1 launch disasters such as Assassin’s Creed: Unity or Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Think of the PC launch of Batman: Arkham Knight and that disaster. Most of the best games to come out in the last year are remasters of PS3/360 classics. It is starting to feel like that two years into the console cycle we’re getting things under control though we’re still being blatantly ripped off by pre-orders. And make no mistake, Destiny was part of the problem. It was clearly a game that was butchered so content could be held back for paid purchase at a later date, and there was a wealth of content and story in the trailers that didn’t release at Day 1. Gamers were ripped off, plain and simple.
Now the third Destiny DLC has been released: The Taken King. While few sites have official reviews (the nature of Destiny requires substantial time played online before being scored) the consensus seems to be unanimous. Destiny 2.0 as it is being called is thegame we’ve wanted from the start.
Undoubtedly the positive word of mouth will get many gamers to return to their favorite Guardians and Activision will rake in even more money. But do they deserve a second chance?
Some games don’t work at launch, and I’m not talking about game breaking glitches. What I mean is that the game design isn’t quite where it needs to be. It’s understandable. Anybody who has worked for an extensive amount of time on any artistic or creative project will tell you that they can get lost in their own heads. And then it is up to the fans to provide appropriate feedback. The best to respond to fan feedback are Blizzard. Blizzard has made World of Warcraft a decade-long experience for some fans (a strategy Activision and Bungie are looking to replicate). But their tweaking and consistent updating of Diablo 3 over the past four years have elevated that game from good to great. The game from the start was a complete package, but there were some touches that needed work. Then there were things Blizzard fixed that we didn’t even realize were a problem. Four years later, I consistently return to Diablo 3 and work on my old demon slayers.
Does Destiny deserve that same kind of support and faith? I don’t think so.
For those of us who played from the start, we felt burned by the developer. The game plays well to be sure, but the experience was frustratingly hollow. The real problem is that we were lied to. We were promised and incredible experience out the gate, and it turns out they hadn’t properly figured out how the game itself works yet. What does it say that The Taken King feels like such a vast improvement from the first game? Many of us spent $60 to $90 dollars and were disappointed. And now it’s another $40 to get what we should have been delivered from the start.
Unfortunately, I’m willing to bet Activision is looking at another pretty payday and a spike in sales. Personally, I’m going to be playing Metal Gear Solid V and Mad Max presumably until Fallout 4 comes out, so who knows when I’ll get around to revisiting Destiny, assuming I do. At the very least I want to wait until all the reviews are in, and then see how people feel a month from now. Will the grind and repetition become apparent again? Or is it possible this is actually the game we deserved. Nevertheless, Bungie did a pretty terrible job of showing fan appreciation from the get go, so in my case they need to put in more effort before I give them a second shot.
All I can think about is how much I’d be praising this game had we gotten The Taken King a year ago.