Maybe you read my review. Maybe you took the message – that it’s all about the finely-tuned shooting and the loot rather than story progression – and bought a copy to experience it yourself. Maybe you’re enjoying it as much as I was. It was going so well up to a point, but following a few moments of realisation, it’s sat dormant in my hard drive for a week.
So, what changed?
Nose to the grindstone, grindstone to the ground
At the end of the second (I think) Moon mission, you have to protect your boring, lifeless Ghost as he (once again) has to download the information from a structure so he can (once again) wax lyrical about the mundane story secrets buried within. While he’s busy, you have to be the protector as the Darkness take his silent meddling to suddenly attack in waves. It’s a ridiculous gankfest with low, middle and high-tier enemies attacking from both near and far, and death throws you right back to the beginning, even if you’re two or three attack waves in. However, your ammo doesn’t magically reappear, meaning that you’re actually weaker than before trying to survive the initial onslaughts.
I suddenly realised that I had two choices: grind in patrols to work my way up to a level where I could actually survive this encounter, or return and fight as part of a team. For a player who far prefers to play through the sequence of missions by themselves, Destiny in an unwelcoming place. It’s a team-based MMO with not much time for a single, non-obsessed player. Which leads me to…
Tiiiiiiiime is not on my side
My gaming time has changed dramatically in the last few years. I no longer have the opportunity – or willingness, if I’m honest – to dedicate hours of my life to chipping away at a game until it bends to my will. Destiny, for a single player, needs work. Good loot drops are frustratingly rare, shown by the rabid enthusiasm of players flocking to the recently-removed Skywatch Loot Cave exploit. I have two young kids, and Destiny wants to be my third. Which leads me to…
STOP. Pyjama Time.
There is no pause button. Do you realise how annoying this is for anyone who dares to have a life running parallel to the game world? If I had my way, every game would have the ability to save anywhere, pause anytime, stop without penalty or excuse. Also, Photo Mode in all games please.
Grab yo’ kids, grab yo’ wife
You need to play Destiny with friends. Or strangers, in the Patrols. Single player? Don’t want to engage with other players? This game probably is not for you.
No network, no chance
Go the the Crucible, they said. It’s the next objective, they said. It’s fun fighting against much better people. Well, after three attempts at joining a MP match, and the network failing each time – with a hard boot out to the menu screen each time – I gave up. Apparently, it was during a DDOS attack from a hacker group, so my timing sucks, but it’s going to be a long time before I try a Crucible mode again.
Waves of mutilation
Strike modes are sold on the promise of long, sustained attacks on huge bulletsponge enemies, attacking together with whatever players happen to be passing at the time. The Strike reality, for me anyway, was fighting through identikit waves of middle-tier Darkness with a stranger while my Ghost downloaded something. After multiple deaths and with the fun nowhere to be found, it didn’t last very long. But then there was a bigger problem.
Sweet, sweet distraction
And that problem is Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, a game that was made free as part of PlayStation Plus’ Instant Game Collection earlier this year. It’s a wonderful action RPG that actually shares many elements with Destiny‘s structure – the loot, the mystery, the need to grind in order to upgrade. The difference here, though, is that Dark Arisen is full of character, tension, and fun. The people in the game, from your self-designed protagonist, to the allies that you also design and name, to the NPCs, are all distinct and memorable. When I think of Dark Arisen I daydream about Wren, my flame-haired protagonist with twin daggers and ever-ready bow. I think of my three my three companions, each with their own uses, but especially of Wall, my own personal Fezzik; a giant hulk of a man that I will always save just to see him slam his sword against his shield in rapturous victory.
When I think about Destiny, all I see is work, set to the drone of a nondescript narrative and Peter Dinklage’s monotonous guide.
Dark Arisen‘s slightly less-than-legal forger, buried in the backstreets of Gransys, has a set of royal armour for sale that is so beautiful I’m going to save every gold coin I earn until it’s mine. In contrast, not only does the Destiny loot lack that vital spark, but I also have no recollection of the different sellers I’ve encountered. The game does little to hide the numbers behind the mechanics.
Last weekend, I loaded up Destiny for the first time in a week to see if I was missing something. Selecting a shiny new gun, I headed out on Patrol on the Moon to see what I could discover. Thirty minutes later, it got turned off. In the midst of the battles against waves of identikit enemies, I realised that, once the appeal of the shooting wore off, there was not an ounce of fun left. That’s a real problem, and no amount of misty-eyed Halo reminiscence is going to change that.