Destiny: Jonesin’ For A Squad-Sized Halo MMO? Bungie’s Got Ya Covered

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

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 QuestDestiny 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.

Idiocy In Action: Korean War Edition

People are idiots. And here’s the latest exhibit:

Idiocy In Action

That’s a Korean War memorial, erected in Ohio recently. What’s wrong, you ask? Soldiers dressed in modern uniforms, not Korean War era unis. An M-1 tank, which didn’t first enter service until 30 years after Korea. F-16’s, also from the 1980’s. A UH-1 Huey helicopter, from Vietnam, almost a decade later.

Frankly, given the level of historical accuracy, I’m surprised one of the soldiers isn’t carrying an iPhone and playing Candy Crush Saga. It’s like shooting a WWII movie, but having the Joes carry M-16’s.

Oh yeah, and apparently the monument is based on a series of photos found by Googling “Korean War”, then Photoshopped together. So, you know, the artist also has rampant plagiarism going for him.

Jesus Diaz, on Sploid, counted no less than 10 major historical errors (give it a read, it’s insane). And, of course, no one is responsible, the company who made the monument is still getting paid, and people are fucking idiots.

I think I’ve made my case.

A Flying Drone That Delivers Bombs… Wait, Read That Wrong. Beer. It Delivers Beer.

And the FAA is unamused. So they banned it. Story here.

But…

That was a few months before a court ruled that the FAA doesn’t actually have jurisdiction over flying drones. They just assumed and asserted authority, without a law giving them such.

Assholes.

So the beer-drone revolution is on!

Microsoft Announces: “We’re F****** Morons.” That Is All.

Starting June 9, Microsoft will be selling the (backwards incompatible) Xbox One without the gimmicky Kinect sensor for $100 less, finally matching the pricing of the PS4. I guess getting their asses beat for the last six months shook something loose somewhere.

“Wow, Sony’s cleaning our clocks! We better get jumping on that ‘affordable hardware’ thing!”

Here’s the lesson: just because it would be good for Microsoft for people to buy it, doesn’t mean they will. Just like I said.

Yes, that’s four different posts where I mentioned the pricing of the Xbox One as a big problem. It was apparent to me from day one, but it took Microsoft a goddamn year to figure it out.

I wonder how long until they come up with some kind of backwards-compatibility solution?

Geek Professors Being Oppressed

You teach at a college. You buy your kid a t-shirt with a Game of Thrones quote. You take a pic of her doing yoga in the shirt and post it on Google+. You get suspended from teaching for posting a pic to your private Google+ page. Here’s the pic:

I will take what is mine with fire and blood.
Terrifying.

This really happened what happened to Professor Francis Schmidt of Bergen Community College in New Jersey. (Apparently a sister college of Greendale.)

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Schmidt posted the picture to Google+ (a rip-off of Facebook, used mostly by geeks). Jim Miller, an “executive director” (aka useless git) at the college follows Schmidt on the service. He got an email update from Google, announcing the post.

And because the t-shirt featured the phrase “I will take what is mine with fire & blood” Miller reported Schmidt for sending a threatening email. Supposedly, he thought that “fire” referred to AK-47’s.

Yeah. He’s that stupid.

So Schmidt gets placed on mandatory leave, and sentenced to mandatory psychiatric counseling because one useless fucking asshole at a community college is so stupid he screams “He’s got an AK! He’s gonna kill us all!” when a guy posts a picture of his daughter on Google+.

Oh yeah: that FIRE story, linked above? It details how another professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout was investigated by the local police, just for putting up a Firefly poster.

So beware, geeks, if you work at colleges. The Admin staff is almost always a mass of morons and nothingburgers all-too-eager to trample your rights and fire your ass, just because you like Firefly or Game of Thrones and have the temerity to let people know.

Suicidal Skyrim Sods

It never fails to amuse: I’m sneaking my through some of Skyrim’s gorgeous terrain, bypassing enemy after enemy, when a band of suicidal bandits somehow spots me and decides to end their lives. Messily. Instead of allowing me and my vampire sidekick to pass by peaceably.

She’s an unpleasant person, who can suck your life force away with one hand, and magically throw ice spears the size of your arm with the other. And then, once she kills you, things get really nasty. She raises your cooling corpse, your spirit trapped inside, and forces you to attack your former comrades.

And, of course, I’m a typical PC, a whirling dervish of death and mayhem, as adept with burning, freezing, electrocuting magic as I am with the magical, glowing, life-sucking sword I’m carrying. We’re not nice people, is the point I’m trying to make.

You’d think, all else being equal, people would be excited, keen even, to let the two of us go our merry way in peace. You’d think that, but apparently the poor bastards wandering the Nord wilderness don’t agree.

So they pick a fight. And we eradicate them and rob their bodies. (Because kill Evil and take its stuff.) And the wilderness is slightly safer for everyone else.

But you got to wonder, what if they were slightly smarter bandits, bandits who’d see a vampire with glowing eyes and a masked, armored, anonymous killer with glowing hands and a glowing blade and decide “Maybe not today.” What a wonderful world that would be.

Most Art Is Pretentious Crap

Another reason why video games should never be art: “I’m sick of pretending; I don’t ‘get’ art.”

I’m like, 99% sure that nobody’s ACTUALLY into art and it’s just some exclusive club you can only join if you’ve got more money than interesting things to communicate to the rest of the human species.

The funny thing is, this is not written by one of us nekulturny barbarians. It’s written by a dude who went to art school.

Epic.