What Destiny needs to do

Destiny has been out for twenty days now. Guardians have engaged in millions of activities around the world and have expended even more bullets. Sales have made it the fastest selling new IP in video game history. And many have already logged close to 100 hours into Bungie’s online shooter. For the most part, things have been smooth sailing, at least on the technical side of things. Bungie’s servers have held up remarkably well for the most part during the launch, but now three weeks in issues are beginning to emerge. Server issues aren’t the only problem to surface. Most reviews (including our own) have labeled Destiny as a very fun shooter with addictive, albeit repetitive, gameplay. Everyone seems to agree that while the game is good and fun, it falls short of what we feel Bungie promised us. So, how does Bungie right the ship? Here are a few suggestions.

Give players a way to communicate

Yes, we can wave at fellow players, point out something in the distance, and even engage in a victory dance with our fellow Guardians. But try to get them to follow you to play a story mission, strike, or raid co-op, and you need to set something up ahead of time outside of the game. This doesn’t work very well, especially for those of us who are primarily solo players and may not have many friends playing on the same console as us or that can play at the same time. Given that there is no public matchmaking for raids or the daily heroic missions/strikes, some way needs to be implemented for us to find someone at the Tower and ask them to join us in these activities. A simple chat box a la World of Warcraft would help. Even a pop-up menu with limited questions and answers (“Would you like to raid?” for example) would go a long way here. Voice chat is limited to fireteam members only. I understand that Bungie wanted to avoid the issues that can crop up with a freer voice chat. Having to listen to some of the inane chatter or unnecessary profanity from kids who just discovered the F-word and think it’s cool to have that as the only word in their vocabulary is definitely enough to put someone off a game. Things like that have been giving the online modes for the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises a bad name, and it certainly put me off personally from playing GTA Online. But for a game that is supposed to be as social as Destiny we need to be able to communicate better.

Matchmaking

Complete matchmaking for all modes needs to be implemented. It’s not right that players are blocked from playing content (raids and the heroic strikes/missions are near impossible solo) simply because they’re not in a clan (which needs to be joined online- should be in game) or don’t have friends on the same system or that can’t play as much or when they do. Considering raids and the heroic missions require you to be at least level 25 it can be difficult to find others to join in on these modes. Public matchmaking would allow everyone to try these modes out. The excuse that a fireteam needs to communicate well for these raids makes no real sense, since all that is needed is to watch other members backs, revive when necessary, and simply shoot everything in sight. There’s no more coordination needed for raids or strikes than there is for a control match. Hopefully Bungie will heed the pleas from the players to implement this ASAP.

Story

The story for Destiny is quite thin, and little is explained in game save for Ghost and a couple of others giving you some exposition. More of the story is contained on the Grimoire cards you unlock as you play. Problem with the cards? You guessed it- not accessible in game. Having a terminal in the Tower or even a library so players can delve more into the lore if they wish would be helpful in making the story more accessible. Right now the motives for doing what we’re doing aren’t very clear. Why must we protect the Traveler? Why do the factions of The Darkness fight each other? Why were we dead for so long until Ghost brought us back? What’s really up with the Queen and her brother? Giving us a richer story and more to care about would make Destiny more of the sci-fi epic Bungie told us it would be, rather than just be a good sci-fi shooter.

More to explore

While the maps can be a bit large to travel, exploring them isn’t as rewarding as it could be. Invisible walls, empty caves and rooms, and vast stretches of static scenery make the universe of Destiny pretty to look at but sterile in our ability to interact with it. New worlds need to be opened, but we also need some reason to want to look in every nook and cranny. Which means more loot caches, or at least more materials to help level up equipment (tracking iron ore down on Mars can be a real chore, just for one example). Also, the worlds should feel alive. We were told the Traveler made once dead worlds into paradises before the Collapse. Why then are there no indigenous fauna on the planets for us to deal with or at least look at? You do catch a glimpse of what appear to be dragons on Venus, but they’re seen off in the distance. Seeing other creatures could open up other gameplay modes, from hunts to simply logging the number of species found. Also, we need to be able to visit and explore the Last City, especially to give us some sense as to what we’re fighting for. Let us have conversations with NPCs. Allow selling and trading of gear and weapons. Give us a sense that the world is truly alive and one that we want to immerse ourselves in for hours on end. Also, let us fly our ships and land where we want, instead of having us land in the same location every time, forcing us to trudge over the same ground multiple times to reach our objectives. This smacks more of padding, and gives us only the illusion of more content and depth. When examined closely, Destiny is actually on the shallow side. Hopefully the expansion packs will have something in them to rectify this. Even DLC could help in this matter.

Vary things up

Most of Destiny’s missions consist of go here, shoot enemies, go there, here some exposition by Ghost, shoot more enemies, find something Ghost needs to hack and fight off waves of enemies and maybe finish off with a boss. Only the Sword of Crota mission really switches things up, giving you a massive sword to take out the Three Princes. Even some more vehicle based missions would be welcome. Yes on Mars you can jump onto a Pike or an Interceptor during a Strike mission, but more could have been used in story. Allowing us to fly our ships instead of them just being something to stare at while the next map loads would be a nice change of pace. Give us a demolition mission where we need to plant explosives, or a recon mission where we scout to gain intel on the enemy. And for special events give us unique missions, not just retreads of what we’ve done before only with tougher enemies that become ridiculous bullet sponges. On the plus side, Bungie does have the shooting mechanics down pat, and they work wonderfully. But this game was said to be much more, and for now it’s just a shooter. Nothing more. But it could be.

In all, Bungie has set up a very solid foundation on which to build. But they need to build on it, and not just content themselves with renaming missions and making them harder because you need to expend more ammo. New worlds and paths need to be opened, and more of the story revealed to bring us in deeper into the universe within the game. The Queen’s Wrath did little in expanding things, more or less taking the easy way and giving us bounties that can take way too long to be of any use in being able to attain the Queen’s ranks and have new gear open up. Hopefully the two expansions (The Dark Below and House of Wolves) will do better. If not, I’m not too sure their ambitious ten year plan will be sustainable.

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

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