One Man’s Destiny: Year One
With the recent launch of Destiny’s new chapter, Rise of Iron, I thought I would look back on the journey Destiny has taken since its launch in Fall 2014.
I still remember starting the Destiny Beta. Seeing the opening cutscene and spending hours customizing my character, I was immediately sold on the experience that Destiny was shaping into. So much so that this was one of the rare times that I pre-ordered a game to ensure I could start playing it on day one.
As most year one Destiny players will tell you, it stumbled a little when the full retail version was released. Most players were disappointed in the initial product. The game play was great, the worlds were exciting to visit but the story (or lack thereof) left a lot to be desired and overall there just wasn’t as much going on as everyone expected. The reviews reflected that. After playing for a few months I left the game behind opting to not pick up any of the year one DLC.
It came down to three things for me:
1. Too much “grinding”
The game was too difficult to advance in. In my few months playing I was only able to get my hands on two exotic guns (the highest tier) and handful of legendary weapons/armour pieces (tier 2). Most of those were obtained by abusing loot spots like this one (so much nostalgia). I don’t expect a game to hand me the best gear up front, but I want to feel like I am continuing to make advances while playing for a reasonable amount of time. I just didn’t find it to be a good balance. Even things like upgrading guns were a challenge since that required planetary material, which took hours of running in circles waiting for chests to spawn.
2. Lack of narrative.
All, ‘I have no time to explain, why I have no time to explain’ jokes aside, the story was the biggest disappointment for me. It was not the deep world that I had been wanting, and was certainly not what I had come to expect from Bungie. The story gave too little information on the world, where I came from and what I was doing. They attempted to solve for this by featuring an online directory of information called Grimoire cards. Basically you can unlock them in game, but have to go to Bungie.net to read them. This was where they lost me even further because going online to read something they couldn’t be bothered to put in the game, wasn’t what I signed up for.
3. Inability to access end game content.
The big draw to the end of Destiny was the raid (Vault of Glass), a six person ‘dungeon’ where you beat several enemies leading up to one big boss at the end. This was how to get more loot to boost your character’s level. Because of the teamwork required, matchmaking was excluded from this activity (a stance I don’t necessarily disagree with). Since I did not have six teammates to play with, I missed out on experiencing the raid. This was a big chunk of the end game that I was unable to enjoy, cutting down the content available even further.
There are plenty of stories of why the game launched this way and the challenges faced by the studio, but as a player (and purchaser) I wasn’t really looking for excuses. The video game landscape is so crowded that games need to be coherent and well produced at launch, otherwise players will move on to something else…
…And that is what is really fascinating about Destiny. Though it stumbled through most of year one, it somehow thrived and built a loyal community committed to playing. While I had lost faith, that community saw year one as the building blocks of something great. Those DLC’s that I missed showed many improvements, and better things on the horizon for Destiny. Fans were rewarded when Bungie moved into year two with the launch of The Taken King DLC.
A new story, deeper loot system and many other improvements. I will give my thoughts on how the Destiny experience continued to evolve and brought my guardian back to life in part two of this series, check that out here!
Did you play year one of Destiny? Share your experience in the comment section below!