Played on PS4

Now that I’ve put many more hours into Destiny, have I finally fallen in love with it?Nope.

While Destiny has a lot of greatness within it, it still feels very empty. A lot has changed since my last post, and at the same time, a lot is disappointingly the same. When I wrote my last post I had reached level 10 of the 20 level cap, all within my first day of gameplay. I’d been nervous that so much of the game was left to be explained, given that I was “halfway” through it, but wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. Still, I had so many questions about the game. How does the loot work? What do the stats mean? Is every mission going to revolve around me defending robot Peter Dinklage? Is Peter Dinklage going to win an award for laziest voiceover work?

At this point I think I’ve answered most of those questions. I’m now level 22 – although the “maximum level” statement pops on the screen when you hit the level 20 cap, I soon learned that I now had access to gear that carries “light” levels, and that wearing a certain amount of light levels you up post-20. I’ve seen players as high as 28 roaming around the worlds. I’ve also found that gear itself can level, unlocking upgrades that give it bonus stats – these upgrades cost money and use the crafting materials I was confused about before as well. “Light” stats also increase when you upgrade gear.

Late last week a producer for Destiny made a statement that the game really doesn’t begin until you played close to 20 hours, and I completely agree with that. The amount of gear and changes that I experienced in the couple of hours post-20 are more than I had in the previous 15 hours. Strike missions and quests seem to generate more loot drops, and drops are better. I’ve yet to pick up a legendary drop, but the items are of better quality and have significantly improved my killing ability.

Having better gear leads me to my revelation about stats. Soon after writing my last Destiny post I discovered that information about many things in the game are merely kind of hidden in plain sight. Shops in the game have available items on the right side of the screen, so your eyes are drawn to them. However, if you move your cursor to the left side, details come into focus, that show various things depending on your vendor – you might see you Crucible or Vanguard rank for example. The same happens when examine your gear. Hover over a grayed out icon and it comes to focus and tells you details. I now know that stats aren’t class based, but rather every stat effects a certain ability of your character. Looking into details of your weapons and gear lets you see more discreet icons to see what “impact” might be defined as when it comes to weapon stats. It’s something that I know a lot of people missed, and just an example of things the game does a poor job of explaining.

In general, Destiny leaves you hanging a lot until you hit 20. Once you do, some additional options open up. Vanguard strikes become available, and promise a greater challenge and better loot. More Crucible modes become available. Daily and Weekly Strike missions are unlocked. But even with these, the content seems so limited. Literally every story mission follows the same pattern – kill your way to a machine for your Ghost to examine, and then defend Ghost while he tinkers with it. Rinse and repeat, occasionally fighting a mini-boss, often while defending your Ghost. The campaign ends with a fizzle, and I have no motivation to replay any of the missions.

Strike missions and patrol are better, but still are limited. Patrol quests all involve either killing a certain number of enemies, a certain type of enemies, or simply getting to a certain area and scanning a machine or looking around. Patrol is open-world exploration though, so you do have the freedom to wander around and join in Public Events on the rare occasion that they appear – I’ve only experience three in my 20 hours of play. Strike missions are the best part of the game, but there’s only a handful, so running the same mission over and over again for gear gets tedious.

Crucible is a whole other issue. I previously wrote how it was starting to click, but as I got better gear in the PvE world, the PvP realm just grows worse. Matchmaking is really terrible. While the game removes weapon stats to even the playing field, a legendary auto-rifle that can empty 65 shots in a couple of seconds will still destroy my 28-round rifle that takes 4-5 seconds to clear. It’s incredibly unbalanced and since you need Crucible marks and reputation to access some of the better gear, it forces itself upon you, and I don’t really like it.

At this point I’m very mixed with Destiny. While the combat gameplay and aesthetics of the game are some of the very best around, the rest of the game feels so cheap. Over the weekend I ran into a designer from Hi-Rez Studios, and was reminded of a game called Global Agenda that I used to love. Destiny feels really similar to that. However, I was playing Global Agenda five years ago, and it was free-to-play. Paying $60 upfront for Destiny, I expected more content.

I won’t be giving up on Destiny anytime soon, but I don’t know how much time I’ll allocate to it. I have to image Bungie will continue to patch and update over the coming weeks, and maybe I’ll do a full, more condensed review at that time. I know Raids are coming soon, so maybe this will all boil down into a botched MMO launch like we’ve see before.

Until then, I’ve got some more Diablo 3 to play, and Hyrule Warriors comes out soon. I’m disappointed in Destiny, but it’s hard to complain given that it was the kickoff of a huge wave of games coming between now and Christmas. Then again, that Dinklage voice work…