I had almost no intention of playing Destiny when it was released toward the end of 2014. I’ve vowed to stay away from MMOs. I don’t particularly care for first-person shooters. And I definitely don’t like competitive multiplayer (hint: it’s because I’m really, really bad at it). This game was not for me, and the tiny hipster voice in my head refused to be persuaded otherwise.
But I had this one student who kept trying to get me to play the game. For a whole year, this kid would come into my classroom and show my his loadouts on the Destiny app. I figured that he’d stop playing the game at some point, and then I could continue to play Metal Gear Sol… I mean cool, obscure indie games that you’ve never heard of. After listening to a hundred epic tales of exotic weapons (during which he repeatedly referred to the game as “sick” and “fresh”), I purchased Destiny and made first titan.
It turns out that the game is… in fact… both “sick” and “fresh.” I found myself quite enamored with it for quite a while. The environments are expansive and exceptionally varied. The shooting mechanics are tightly constructed in a way that pull you into an almost zen-like ebb and flow of chaos. After being so faithful to my Sony consoles, Destiny was the Halo game that I never got… but with an RPG skill progression! I wasn’t sure that it could get much better.
However, as much as I was enjoying Destiny, I came across a few issues that made the game seem unpolished. For instance, the races that you can choose from at the beginning of the game aren’t distinctive in any way. They don’t have unique stories. They don’t play any differently.
Regardless of whether you chose a human or an awoken or an exo, your ancient corpse is resurrected in the ruins of Russia. This doesn’t make sense: neither the awoken nor the exo come from Earth. This narrative dissonance is a very minor complaint, given the strength of the gameplay, but it was enough to bother me. In fact, it bothered me enough that I eventually deleted my Awoken Titan and started over with a Human.
The other minor issue that I took with Destiny was the seemingly arbitrary omission of matchmaking for certain cooperative missions. Bungie clearly had good reason to exclude randomly constructed teams from raid content, as it presents a substantial spike in both the level of challenge and the amount of time necessary to complete. But I would have liked to the opportunity to take my chances with a group of randoms in order to see just what the endgame had to offer.
I’m still a bit surprised to see such an ambitious and lovingly crafted—though slightly flawed—experience find its way onto the PlayStation 3, especially as the console approaches the end of its life. I’m even more surprised by the fact a game so far outside of my usual preference managed to win me over (with a little help from a high school student).