You’ll hear a lot of people say that Destiny is an MMO. They’re wrong. It’s really an MMO.
You heard me.
Destiny is not WoW. Destiny doesn’t want to be WoW. Destiny isn’t trying to be WoW.
Destiny is trying to be a squad-sized, multiplayer Halo. Not Cooperatively Multiplayer, like Gears or Left4Dead, where people can join your game, but you can also choose to keep the riff-raff out (or even play solo, gasp!, shock!).
There is no solo in Destiny. At all. Sure, you don’t have to hang out with other people, but they will always be there. Always.
In the single hub zone, The Tower, and in all the quest zones, everywhere else. You cannot get away from other people. It’s mandatory.
Destiny is a Mandatory Multiplayer Online game. Period.
On the upside, there’s no servers. You just play the game, no need to choose a neighborhood to play it in. Bungie does all the matchmaking, and it’s fluid and seamless. People just appear.
And, if you wish, you can invite up to two other friends, and no more, to keep the rif-raff out. No more than two, because that’s the absolute limit on party size outside the Tower. (A limit raised to six for “end game” raids, see pic above, which begin only after the story line — and I laughed bitterly while typing that phrase — is complete.) This is not a Massively Multiplayer game, and anyone saying differently is a lying sack of crap.
Note that I omitted the “RPG” half of MMORPG. That’s because calling Destiny an RPG is a frackin’ insult to the term. Sure, you can level and gain abilities (though nothing compares to the Hunter’s double jump), but there is absolutely no roleplaying involved. It’s a Leveled Shooter, not an RPG.
NPC’s are barely there cyphers with all the raw overweening personality of a bowl of damp dental floss (save for the “ghost”, your constant robot companion, voiced by a surly Peter Dinklage, who seems to resent having to take this stupid gig just to get a goddamn paycheck). The story (such as it is) is a series of barely-linked mandatory missions that take you around to the various lands (Earth, the Moon, Mars, and Venus).
It’s rice-paper thin, and apparently exists solely to torture Dinklage with reciting yet another 2-minute bout of meaningless exposition the player can ignore on subsequent playthroughs. Or even the first playthrough, to be honest.
Your character has no personality, and there’s no opportunity to develop or evince one — no decisions, no morality, no nothing. The game is as linear as Call of Duty or Halo itself.
This is not motherfucking roleplaying. It’s the opposite of roleplaying. It’s shooting. Just shooting.
Destiny’s a shooter, first last, and always. Anyone who says differently is a lying sack of crap.
Speaking of Halo… Like Galaxy Quest, Destiny hews as close to its older brother and inspiration as it can without the IP owner (Paramount for the former, Microsoft the latter) descending from on high with a horde of lawyers and suing it into oblivion. The overlap between the two franchises is remarkable.
You’re a super-powered, helmed, armored killing machine with a wide variety of fine weaponry and customizable armor at your disposal. (No longer so unique as Master Chief, what with 50 million other people playing beside you, but whatta ya gonna do?) The wide variety of fine weaponry all looks and sounds much like that of Halo: Reach (best Halo made). The hover vehicles you drive, drive exactly like hover vehicles from Halo. Other than ditching the Fisher Price guns, it’s eerily reminiscent of its forebears.
The game is obviously powered by the Halo Engine, everything looks like an upgraded version of Reach. Differently shaped, and colored, alien pods, but the lighting and everything else screams “Halo!”
The setting details are also astoundingly similar. The enemy is an alliance of several alien species, some of whom can turn invisible and all of whom want to kill you and teabag your corpse. All the tech is given cutesy fantasy names like Halo’s Wraith or Banshee: “Knight” for an alien bruiser, “Wizard” for a floating alien boss, and “Ghost” for your ever-present, bitterly robotic robot companion. (The robot character is robotic, Dinklage is bitter, and it shows.)
The ghost is one of the more obvious tells. It’s exactly like 343 Guilty Spark, down to the glowing blue light at the center. It’s a bunch of d4’s glued together, rather than a sphere, but other than that exactly the same, including the exposition dispensing and order giving.
Even the gameplay is heavily based on its sibling. Halo was famously built on “30 seconds of fun” repeated over and over: throw grenade at group of enemies, shoot a lot, punch if they got too close or you had to reload at an inopportune time. Other than brutally restricting grenades, Destiny follows the formula slavishly.
But is it fun? Sure, as far as it goes. The 30-seconds formula is a good one, and the result is a superior shooter with astounding visuals.
But if you were expecting a Bioshock-level story (you poor, dumb bastard), you’ll be disappointed. If you expected to play with more than two other people, disappointed. Hate other human beings and prefer playing alone? Motherfucking disappointed.
Like I said on Tuesday, I’ve been buying Bungie games for two months shy of twenty years. I know the company, and they make great games. But Destiny is about as far away from the spirit of the complex, subtle storytelling of the Marathon series as you can get.
It’s straightforward, unimaginative, and obvious. I imagine it was this that drove Dinklage over the edge. He’s a great actor (as anyone watching Game of Thrones can attest to), but some of his line readings are just awful. College sophomore drama student awful, which can be traced back directly to the quality of the script and storytelling.
Which is the tragedy. Destiny is a great fucking game, marred by terrible writing.
I wish Destiny had looked backwards to Marathon for inspiration, rather than Halo. Sure, Halo changed the world of gaming, but compared to Marathon, it’s strictly a second-rate shooter.
Destiny is not an MMO. Is is, however, a Mandatorily Multiplayer Online Leveled Shooter, an MMOLS.
Anyone saying differently is a lying sack of crap.