For a game of such broad ambition, of literally planetary scale, Destiny feels curiously small. Limited, even. Not just in the scope of its campaign missions, which for the most part consist of nothing more than shooting things until numbers fall out, like XP ATMs. But also in its modes, its maps, almost its entire feature set.
It sounds like a disaster. It isn’t. Underneath its thin, repetitive smattering of objectives, its recycled enemies, Destiny’s core element – shooting – has a compulsive, almost hypnotic quality. Bungie may have neglected to vary its missions, or tell a story that’s not on par with Alien3’s theatrical cut for narrative clarity, but it hasn’t forgotten how to craft excellent shooting mechanics.
As in Halo, athletic, risk-taking play is encouraged, and its systems (double-jumping, grenades, specials, etc) all tie in to an experience that’s not about who shot first, but who shot finest. It’s as accessible as straight run-and-gun, but not as reliant on the order of engagement between players. PvP is the highlight, taking the best Destiny has to offer and elevating it via human cunning. But even that has limited (if fun) gametypes and maps.
The gunplay is superb, and it has to be, as there’s not much more to Destiny otherwise. It’s MMO-lite, and there’s little sense of adventure, teamwork, or really of progression. The planets look incredible. But they’re as much backgrounds as they are battlefields. You can freely explore in Patrol mode, but you’ll never really find anything of note, bar more shooting.
The game constantly tells you you’re exploring, that you’re evolving. But it never truly feels that way. You shoot, you level, a number goes up. The experience stays the same. Loot drops are frustrating, gear is indistinct in practice, and having to return to the Tower, a very poor attempt at a community hub, to decrypt armour is a pain.
And yet, despite these glaring, obvious faults, Destiny is utterly capable of draining the hours away, via its excellent combat and its PvP. Flawed, yes. Fun? Certainly. A total failure? Not really.
Version Tested: PlayStation 4.