Destiny Is A Reminder That The Best Video Games 'Feel Good'

I don't even know what it means, and I don't even know how to describe it, but the best video games simply 'feel good'.

Destiny 'feels good'.

It's hardly a ground breaking realisation, but it's worth remembering. Last night I decided to put a bit more time into the Destiny beta. I started at around 7.30pm. The next time I checked two hours had passed. How the hell did that happen? I've been trying to work it out ever since.

My first guess was the 'numbers' thing. Destiny is, first and foremost, a first person shooter but it's also a numbers game. Digits flitter above enemies as they're shot, experience points help build players towards new levels, levelling up allows players to select new abilities, blah blah blah — but this type of carrot on a stick rarely compels me in other games. I tend to play RPGs in short bursts — Pokie-style number games never seem to sink their tendrils into me in any real meaningful way. Borderlands, for example, left me cold.

I wondered if it might be the exploration element? That seemed more likely. The last video game that felt anywhere near as compelling was Dark Souls, and a large part of that compulsion was in the world itself, which seemed perfectly crafted, lightly rinsed in lore. A space where every single brick and vine was part of a larger story.

But Destiny's universe, for all its strengths, doesn't feel as expertly crafted as Lordran. It doesn't carry that same weight. It's as beautiful a world as I've ever explored in a video game, but it doesn't have that atmosphere, doesn't necessarily feel like a place that demands to be explored. More people have spent more man hours building the world of Destiny compared to Dark Souls, but Destiny continues to feel like a world designed for a video game. Lordran, for me, will forever feel like a real place that exists.

Ultimately, the reason why Destiny is so compelling, and the reason it will rip countless hours from my schedule is this: moving, jumping, aiming and shooting in Destiny feels so goddamn worthwhile. It's so rewarding that no matter where I am in the game, no matter what arbritary task I'm in the process of completing, no matter what fetch quest I'm engaged in, moving an performing in Destiny feels like something I should continue to do. Destiny, for every single second I've spent playing, feels good.

Without fail, the very best games have this feeling as part of their repertoire. In Super Mario Bros. it feels good to jump. We talk about the 'stickyness' of Mario's jump, the weight of it, the ability to control the height of that jump, to slowly manipulate its direction in mid-air — the glorious momentum that accumulates when he runs. In Skate 2 it feels endlessly rewarding to just perform an ollie. In Assassin's Creed it will always feel good to climb. In Dark Souls there is a permanence and weight to every single swing of your sword. You can't explain it, but you can feel it. It feels good to experiment with that weight. It's a toy to be fiddled with.

That’s because the details of movement, in video games, are everything. They're paramount. If a video game doesn't feel right, we have to learn to love it. If it does feel right, falling in love is an unavoidable force of nature. Destiny feels right.

Why does it feel right? I'd suggest that it feels right because it has Halo — its movement, its feeling, its weight — at the heart of it. It has Halo, augmented with a tweaked version of the Call of Duty iron sights snap. It combines that raw feeling of earned momentum with the visual rewards of a game like Mass Effect or Borderlands, the ability to visually see — in numerical terms — the damage you are doing to your enemies with the bullets you are firing.

All of this combined, more than anything, is what compels me to continue, to the point where it is legitimately difficult to stop playing.

The rest is just gravy. The loot, the levelling system, the gorgeous environments — they all have a part to play in the magic spell Destiny casts over its players. At different times you will be motivated by all of these factors and perhaps all of them at once.

But above all Destiny is a reminder that the best video games always 'feel good'.


Comments

    Nope, still don't like it much :) The shooting and movement may feel good but the mission structure and the MMO feel of the whole thing ruins it for me :(
    I'm glad you like it though Mark :)

    Kingdom Hearts 2 was this game for me, the one that just felt great to play. Combat was visceral and made you feel awesome, even menial tasks were enjoyable.

      Except for the Little Mermaid missions, fuck they were annoying.

        Pfft, I had great fun with them :P I thought they were a great little mini game set that broke up the game nicely, that and the disney sing-along aspect of them too

    The disconnect between "City" and "missions" bothers me, i know they have those cool loading screens disguised as cut scenes, but it feels disjointed/fragmented.

    the hover bikes are awesome, i spent a good hour just flying around doing tricks, seeing where i could take it.
    Combat is fluid but so far the AI is pretty stupid, hide behind rock, re-gen shield, step out shoot shoot shoot, hide behind rock, the enemies never 'come at you bro', unless its a boss or wave based fight.
    While i enjoyed what i played, the more i play it the less shiny it feels, but thats just me.
    its still a buy for me atm solely for the co-op aspect, but im hoping they do more with it....

      .... You do realise the AI does the same thing as all players? Hide behind cover, regen shield when it is down, step out to shoot and hide and regen again. I think you may have indirectly insulted everyone lol.

      There are plenty of "come at you bro" monsters in the game, those melee enemies will charge at you like the Hive Knight and the stealth fallen that comes at you with melee. I think you are expecting too much from this low level locked beta.

        I maxed out a titan and a hunter, and found almost no enemies would charge me, unless a wave event or boss fight, maybe because i was always face first into the breach they never got the chance, but i spent so much time chasing cowardly mobs it started to bug me.

        Its not a bad thing to have high expectations from a beta, especially when its as highly marketed a game as destiny, ive been burnt by hype before, sooo im well within my rights to have high expectations.

        But that all aside, for what it was i did enjoy it mostly, i know its a small beta, and i know its not a release product, but there is most definitely a large amount of room for improvement for it to be the game they seem to be wanting it to be.

          True that I didn't melee death while exploring and mostly I die from Devil's Lair waves. I did found an area with aggressive stealth fallens that almost killed me. The higher level area looks much more challenging and fun too but sadly we won't be able to enjoy it until the full release.

          Personally I think the game have a lot more to offer just that the level limit restricted us but that is a good thing. No one wants to know the full game in beta :P

          Hook me up in PSN and we can play a game or two together?

          It's entirely possible that there are other, higher-level enemies which have more sophisticated AI. Especially since it's not like Bungie don't know how to do enemy AI, the Halo games have incredibly interesting enemy behaviors at higher difficulties. Hard to judge how big the beta's content slice is just yet, i.e. is it a fifth or the game or a half of it?

      To really see the AI glimmer, tackle them on hard mode for a story mission. If you have a level 8 character you kill everything quite quickly before noticing much of the AI techniques. I'd suggest starting a new character, and play each mission on hard, you will see that the AI responds quite differently depending on number of allies it has and such. In numbers they're quite aggressive, charging at you even when you're in cover (both melee and ranged classed enemies) or are conservative, in cover and waiting for you to pop out when alone.
      That's what I've noticed with my second character (Warlock) after my Titan became death incarnate at level 8.

      Last edited 22/07/14 2:58 pm

      You hit the nail on the head there. The 'hub' and missions is kinda what bothers me. If I want to return to the hub then let me make that choice - most of the time I want to just roam around. Why do I have to leave earth right after a mission? Is this because of the limitations of the consoles?? All I feel when I play the game is - this would have been so much better if it was made for PC. The game would have been better in every way, and they could have made it more expansive.

      Don't get me wrong I like the game, but I don't think it's breaking ground in any way. The game disguises itself as an open worldish game, but there are invisible walls everywhere, which is just another way it forces disconnect with players. Something else I've noticed, is though the game world seems very realised and immersive, it lacks ambient occurrences. I realised that life is suppose to be dead on the planet, but I'm sure they could have put in some ambient creatures roaming around, or robotic ones at least.

      I like the depth they've added to gear management, and I love sci-fi, anything sci-fi I'll eat up - where are all the good sci-fi mmos (and this really isn't an mmo).

      I know it's not all on display, and I'm sure there is a lot they haven't shown that will be there on release and beyond - but I guess it's more I can imagine the real potential if it wasn't confined to consoles.

      Last edited 22/07/14 2:50 pm

    That first screen looks pretty hot. Shame they didn't PC this thing.

      Every time I see this I think "I'd really like to play this. Wait... no PC? eh... one day."

        March 2015, apparently....

          That gives me some time to work on my Steam backlog!

          Hoh? Where'd this gem come from? Destiny on PC is very, very much of interest to me.

            Rumour being reported by small-time sites. Take it with a thousand grains of salt.

              D'aww. Last time I got my hopes up was actually people reporting on another journalist's think-piece, which was, 'stands to reason' based on analysis of 'fings wot woz sed.'

                Probably the same websites haha.

                Personally, I don't understand why a publisher, especially one as big as Activision(!), would not want as many streams of revenue as possible. However, I do understand why they would want to keep the two big console producers happy. So if you have just one of those companies saying "we want this only on console", then it's in their interests to do that. BUT, it's in their interests more-so, to not rule out a large revenue source like PC.

                Perfect example of this entire theory is Take Two and GTAV. Appeased the console makers without cutting themselves off from all available revenue streams (ie: GTAV to PC come September).

                I see Take Two's model of deferred releases being the future, meaning AAA console only games will become less regular.

    The movement, shooting and melee (I love the melee) feel really good to use, but outside of that the game doesn't feel as great as it could have been. Enemies feel the same to shoot and the tactics don't really differ. Whether I'm shooting a Wizard, Commander, Grunt, Thrall, Acolyte, or Knight, it's still "shoot them in the head when they show themselves until they stop moving". The Crucible still has the old MMO issue of having the best gear otherwise you have no chance, no matter your level of skill. Strikes feel really nice though, especially when you get a good team, though the bosses are super tedious. That may again be a gear issue though, because it certainly wasn't due to a lack of skill.

    I'm really hoping these issues go away in the full release because I like what Destiny is trying to do, it's just trying too hard to integrate MMO elements.

      The Crucible still has the old MMO issue of having the best gear otherwise you have no chance, no matter your level of skill

      Nope, Gear / skills in normal crucible matches are capped for that very reason, to keep it even.

      It's only the 'Iron Banner' event so far that lets all-level gear / skills / stats come in to play.

      I love the melee

      Punching enemies feels so good in this game

      I really hope to see more of the Devil Walker style enemies. As tedious as killing one of them can be, especially in the Strike mission, it's a cool enemy to fight. You can shoot off the blue energy rocket launcher, making the fight much easier, and the legs being weak points, rather than the head, is cool and refreshing.

      I mean when it comes down to killing the thing, blasting the leg armour till it breaks off and the "engine" becomes exposed for critical hits; that's a really cool mechanic. Blasting away at its gun till it blows up and the enemy loses that functionality; also cool. It taking 10+ minutes of monotony even with 3 players to kill it; much less cool.

    Certainly agree. I remember spending 30 minutes in the alpha just running between three groups of enemies in exploration mode, and mowing each down in turn. Maybe this is what MMO players talk about when they say that grinding is 'peaceful'...

    From what little I've played (just last night), I like the mechanics (i.e. the shooting of stuff), but really don't like the structure. I'm just not an MMO type person, I think. I'll keep playing the beta to give it some more time, but right now I can't see myself buying it. It feels a lot like Borderlands which is game I really liked for a few hours but then got bored of very quickly.

    I. Am. So. Excite.

    Come on 23rd, COME ON.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP_9zH9Q44o

      In the same boat!! Super excited to play it!! Visuals, themes/settings and style just screams AWESOME to me!

    Played the beta on the weekend & really enjoyed it, so much so I think I will buy.

    This has been a "must buy" since it was first announced for me, but there's a problem: it's not on PC.

    Don't take that as a "PC Master race" thing, I have two X360s and a PS4 (blu ray drive is glitchy now though).

    It's just that console gaming doesn't fit into my current situation. I don't have room to hook one up to my monitor at my PC desk, and the lounge has really become the young'uns play area these days and so the TV is lost to me while she is awake.

    #firstworldproblems

    Personal opinion, BUT climbing in AC doesn't always 'feel good' unfortunately...

    I will only begin to care about this game if it is announced for PC, until then it's totally off my radar

    After being pretty bored with the hugely hyped titles like Halo 4, I walked into Destiny pretty ambivilent (googles ambivilent to make sure it means what I think it means....yep, good), but after just 20 minutes I was pretty sold on the entire thing. Some people aren't happy with the MMO structure but I actualyl love it, it breaks up the experiences, lets you take it at your own pace, but the narrative still works all together. Joining your friends in fire-teams or even just randomly coming across one of your friends in the map is awesome, and the Community Events are awesome when they kick in too.

    Basically, despite the massive scale of the game, you can tell that every part of it is still made with love.

    Over the time between the game being announced and now, I kinda got less interested by it. But, a friend recommended the beta after he did the alpha, and I'm super glad I gave it a shot. I generally can't stand doing pointless side mission after pointless side mission, and I certainly hate grinding, but I've spent a couple of hours just stuffing around in the exploration thing. I was sold on it by the end of the first level. That it 'feels good' is definitely the best way to describe it.

    I've never been able to get my head around the whole MMO thing. Only a single player campaign could ever 'feel good' to me in a meaningful and lasting way. Maybe I'm just old school or too set in my ways, but doing the same type of quests and missions over and over again, just so that I can see my character gain a new level, isn't enough of a motivation for me. Having a good story driven campaign such as Metro 2033 and Last Light (for an FPS) is what compels me to push forward, and what allows me to be immersed in the atmosphere of the game. When the only reward for your efforts is a bunch of stats and levels and upgradable abilities (and maybe a rare cutscene here or there), then I completely loose interest.

    I believe that companies are only heavily adopting the whole multiplayer scene because the general public has become obsessed with social media and constant communication ... an easy cash in on the mostly temporary hype where no one dares to miss out on the 'new social experience' that their friends are having. I've noticed that it's become a generational thing too, where a lot of younger gamers will completely forgo single player experiences and ONLY play the multiplayer portion of games. I don't think that single player campaigns will ever stopped being made outright, but if they did, then I'm going to cash in my chips and find a new hobby ... because I couldn't stand to run around in mostly story-less worlds, randomly shooting things or casting spells for the sake of beating someone else to the next level cap, or to have the best loot/weapons, etc. Multiplayer should coexist alongside single player, not replace it.

    For everyone judging this game (calling the AI on the creatures stupid, or judging the games architecture in general) please remember that the max level anyone has ever been able to play to in this game is.....and i emphasize this....."8". Please remind me the last time you played any MMO style game, got to level 8, and then judged the entire game based on your experience that far.

    This isn't directed towards everyone seeing as some users are judging the game based on what they have played so far. However, try to remember that this game is still in development.....and you haven't even played 10% of the actual game....if that. I think you have played at maximum 1 full story campaign....and one crucible mode with 2 different maps. I think everyone should just wait until the game is released and stop crying about how the game has been made thus far. The beta was a sneak peak to allow for testing purposes.

    after hearing about the mandatory 5 friends co-op raids, I am feeling a little bit less good about Destiny

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