Bungie Explains Why There Won't Be Any Day One Destiny Reviews

And in a weird, perverse way it's sort of your fault. Yes. You.

Usually when video games aren't sent out to reviewers early there's a modicum of cynicism. Are they afraid of the potential reviews? Does the publisher want all those sweet day one sales before bad word of mouth gets out?

With Destiny that wasn't too much of a concern. We'd already had a taste of the game with the pre-release Alpha and then the broader scale Beta, but still — why was Bungie and Activision so reluctant to provide reviewers with early copies of the game in time for launch day reviews? Was there something wrong with the game? What was the problem?

In its most recent weekly update Bungie addressed concerns that major websites weren't being provided early access to Destiny before its release.

"Typically, games receive their report cards before they become available to the public. We don’t believe Destiny is a typical shooter," reads the update.

"We explored several options to populate the world for reviewers. Our team estimates it would take thousands of gamers to ensure each potential public space in Destiny would be populated – that every activity would be accessible at all hours of the day and night. Where on Earth would we be able to find thousands of gamers?

"The answer, again, is you.

"So, reviews of Destiny will wait for your arrival. On day one, you’ll be rubbing elbows with the pageant judges, so look sharp. Who knows, you may end up on one of their live streams. They may end up on one of yours, too!

"For us, this is a first – a new experience. It’s a bit of a risk, too. We fully anticipate seeing day one reviews from folks who decide to kick the tires, but don’t have the time or patience to take our ride for a nice, long road trip. Some of you might wait to pick up a copy until you read the final verdict from your most trusted review house. We’re okay with that. We’ve created something we’re proud of."

Time will tell if the game can live up to the hype.

My copy of Destiny arrived early yesterday morning, well in advance of the servers being launched at 10pm Sydney time. This is how old and crap I am. I sat, controller in hand, eagerly anticipating 10pm. I suffered through The Block with my wife and then some other garbage show I've forgotten the name of.

At around 9pm I started feeling a bit drowsy. FIGHT IT MARK. FIGHT THIS. STAY UP PAST YOUR BEDTIME YOU CAN DO THIS.

By 9.45pm I was fast asleep.

Old. Man. Serrels.


    I slept through my alarm to wake me up for the midnight launch. I could've gotten a solid 6 hours of gaming in before resting my head on my desk at work. Instead my body decided it wanted to sleep. Inconsiderate aging body doesn't understand that this is Destiny

      its old age man. i slept through my alarm for another event i had to wake up for a few months back.....another sign of old age, i cant even remember what event it was now that im telling you about! pretty sure in about 30 seconds im going to forget where i am. and why im not wearing pants.

        pants? aw crap. That's what all the weird looks on the train were for. I thought it was drafty today

      I must admit, I did scoff when the staff member I preordered the ps4 bundle from told me that there was going to be a midnight launch event. "It's a Monday night, no way I'm going."

      So I picked it up today first thing in the morning with a good nights rest under my belt.

        midnight?! are you crazy! ill see you at the dot of 9 young man! *teeth fall out*

    Here's the reason why there are no review copies:
    It's probably the beta all over again, until you unlock level 9 and 'new' content. I've played over an hour, it's the beta alright. Imagine the headlines: "$500M game is just a beta" as reviewers usually put in around 10-12 hrs for initial reviews.

    But no matter, here's my short overview of playing 1-2hrs last night: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/09/talk-amongst-yourselves-293/comment-page-5/#comment-2936852


        We'll see what happens in a week and with more game time under our belts. :)

          Yea I'm still getting it, gonna hit it hard friday/weekend

            Yeah man, as I said:
            It's what I expected. I expected a bland game with no depth (didn't we talk about this, you and I? :P). It'll still be fun to mindlessly shoot stuff, it'll still be fun with friends, and I'm sure the mars/venus and expansion stuff will add on a bunch more hours.

              I always felt it looked a bit like borderlands but without the comic book style, characters and jokes. Sounds like I might of been kind of spot on :/

                I didn't play much Borderlands, but yes this is the theme the majority of people who played alpha/beta have said. I'd agree, about the main shooty looty scooty mechanic.

                I dunno, BL had that weird Elderscrolls levelling where everything was kept in a 'range' of your level. It never made going back to levels much fun when you were higher levels. WOW did it right though. Some areas had level 50 or 60s and you could only go back muuuuuch later to get epic stuff. Destiny has that right in the first level, when you go into a substation and there's some epic guys you cant kill til much later when you've levelled. The moment I hit that, it appealed to me, I knew there was no 'level scaling', to me, that's fantastic. Everything can be a legitimate threat that way. Im not 'the all powerful and everything will be scaled to me' ala Skyrim or Borderlands.

              Yep pretty much what I expected, for some reason I hoped there would be chests and loot everywhere in the final game.... so....many....empty caves. My 999th comment on kotaku!

                Yeah man the empty caves are still here. :\ No ghosts, no chests, no spawns, nothing. Just empty rooms. I've also seen areas where the shadows just start and block progress (a la beta), so this is where they probably plan to expand the area/building.

                Grats on the milestone!! :D

      Yep. Their explanation sounds like a whole lot of marketing bollocks.

    Surely the answer to the headline still should have just been, "because they may hurt sales of our game". To think it's anything else is naive.

      While I'm not interested in Destiny, I think it's a perfectly good reason to wait until the servers are filled with players before they have a game that's focused around its multiplayer reviewed.

      If the game was reviewed before it went public, the servers would be barren and the reviews would all be talking about how nobody is online.

      Last edited 09/09/14 10:11 am

        Reviewers are smart enough to know that a multiplayer game is lacking players as it hasn't been released yet.
        [edit] and from what i saw of the beta when my housemate played it he hardly interacted with other human players anyway. I'm sure they could have reviewed it with the caveat that the review would be updated a week or so later when servers had filled up. It's been done in the past and it could have been done again.

        Last edited 09/09/14 10:25 am

          Reviews rarely, if ever, get updated after publishing from my experience, unless they are found to contain incorrect information.

            Both Kotaku and goodgame have done exactly that in the past, multiple times, for games with heavy multiplayer content. Not that I watch goodgame very often at all these days. But they certainly used to.

              I went into it in more detail below, but remember how screwed over people were by Sim City because EA did exactly what Bungie didn't want to do and set up some review servers.

              There was actually a lot of backlash because what the reviewers played seemed to have very little reflection on what people had bought.

      I think that’s a bit rough. I normally agree with you with most games- when Watch Dogs has its reviews embargoed I saw the writing on the wall- but in this case I think you should give Bungie the benefit of the doubt for two reasons:

      1- It IS a multiplayer game, meaning it needs full servers to properly assess how it’s going to run. In both a good and bad sense.
      2- It’s not like Bungie have kept this game under lock and key. FAR from it. If they’d just shown footage and nobody had played it yet then sure you could say they were protecting sales, but they did the most comprehensive beta I can remember. Does that REALLY seem like a company who wants their game hidden from judgement?

      Look, obviously whatever they’re doing they’ve done to maximise sales of their game- I’m just not certain in this case that it’s been done due to a lack of faith in the product.

      That's exactly what I was thinking. How is Destiny different from all the other MMOs that get day-1 reviews?

        Who gives an MMO’s a day-one review? I’d disrespect that review even if there was one.

        I won’t go looking too far outside of my usual sources, but don’t most reviewers call them a ‘review in progress’ at the best of times? Have a look at WOW. What would you have given that game 10 years ago? It’s changed completely now.

        Unless it’s some kind of mobile game MMO that you can essentially see all of in a few hours it’s completely unfeasible to undertake a proper review of an unpopulated game world.

        I’d like to see day one comments being published over the next few hours and at least 3 days before anyone tries to put a score on the game.

          I just quickly googled the release dates of the last few MMOs I can think of (GW2, Tera, Rift) because I admit that I can't think of any yet the concept of there being day-1 reviews of MMOs seems plausible, and they seem to have at least a 1 week grace period (though Gamespot did have a review for Tera on the day of its release, at least according to the date Google attached to the link in the results).
          Even if noone does do day-1 reviews of MMOs, Bungie bringing up such a non-concept seems to be kinda irrelevant

            Yeah I agree.

            I’m ok with no day-1 reviews in this case though.
            Being a shooter it’s important that the reviewer can grasp how it’s going to play when the servers are at a decent capacity.

            It’s not like Bungie have hidden this game behind a wall of hype either, I mean Watch Dogs had a release embargo on a game that was most single player because they didn’t want disappointing reviews being released, but Bungie have gone above and beyond to let as many people as possible play this game before launch, I don’t like review embargos but I don’t think they’re honestly trying to protect their product to bolster day-1 sales.

    Until I can play it later today, my opinion will be based on whether I hear anyone complaining of login issues for an online game on launch day. So far, seems like Bungie got a lot of info out of the beta, cos I've not heard a peep about login issues. Time will tell, tho.

      No login issues, no PSN issues downloading patch, no online problems at all. 12:15am.

        Bungie needs to teach other devs how to not screw up the launch of an online-only game. Still, time will tell, because I don't think the Americans have hit midnight yet.

        Last edited 09/09/14 10:15 am

          Online-only but IMO they made all the online features wayyyyyy low priority. In other games, if you're lagging the entire game lags (a la Diablo 3 PC). I think in Destiny you could have horrendous lag and no one would care if you're out in the plains by yourself. And yes, USA hits midnight around 4-5pm our time.

            But I bet they're crying foal and demanding the rest of the world not play the game until their servers start.

            Which they do all the time. I remember when the map pack for Halo 2 came out in Australia 2 weeks early and they tried to convince everyone that playing it would get them banned. There's also a collectors edition for MCC that's only available to UK and they're demanding blood.

            That means something's changed since alpha (when I last played) cos I remember noticing lag a few times - not specific areas, but when you moved to a new area, you essentially took a small risk of that area being a little laggy. Felt like it was P2P and the host had crappy internet, but it may have just been server-load distribution issues, which have probably been fixed by now.
            But if the online stuff is truly that far in the background, good on them for designing the game like that.

              I never experienced that issue myself, weird. Which console? Also, last night I saw 2 people in the explore world, and maybe 20 max in the tower. So not much chance to show lag issues.

              The background stuff is my guess. That's how I'd make the game, because it really isn't multiplayer unless you want it to be. "Unless you want it to be" <-- which is really the cool aspect about Destiny.

                PS4 alpha, back in June (? I think?) - I missed the beta cos of internet woes. So, as I said, it's likely been ironed out since - from what I've heard, the alpha and beta have been more about load-balancing and anticipating server issues so launch goes smoothly.

                The "see the occasional person wandering around" side is a very welcome change from the usual areas saturated with people grinding quest rewards and bots farming items off named mobs...

    Tell me about it, I had a Bball final last night at 8:30 got home around 10, thought I'll just have a quick shower and sit on the couch to watch some TV while waiting for midnight.......woke up asleep on the couch at 2:30am with my neck sideways and aching like a b***h, went straight to bed and woke up grumpy with a really bad headache.....don't talk to me about getting old !

    So my planned night of gaming like Its 1999 (when I was a young fella) turned into falling asleep on the couch and waking with an aching body....sounds like my weekends these days (lol) cant wait to get home and give it a crack tonight though. Does anyone have any reports on it as yet ?

      Dude look up, I posted link to my very quick overview. :P

        cheers lad, I think I posted before your reply above. cheers again.

      More importantly did you win your BBall final and where do you play ?

      How'd bball go? :D

        Yeah we won (yip) so we booked a spot in the Grand Final this weekend. Not bad considering we just snuck into the finals on % in the last round of the season, unfortunately it will cut into my destiny time this weekend (but I am sure ill survive). cheers for asking

    "Because it's an MMO"

    Any early review would at best see an MO, but it's missing one element.
    I'd rather this than the Sim City special reviewer time limited servers debacle...

    We don’t believe Destiny is a typical shooter.I played the beta a lot. Destiny is a typical shooter. It is one of the best and well-tuned typical shooters I've played, but it's still a typical shooter by modern standards.

      Which is such a shame because Bungie always managed to shape their own course.

      Mechanically, sure. But I'm not sure that the whole is necessarily as typical as the sum of its parts. To me, a 'typical' shooter is something more along the lines of CoD's approach, which is basically a tightly-controlled, highly scripted shooting gallery. Destiny - like Halo before it, really - is a lot more open and organic in its approach, lets the game itself react to what you're doing rather than having tightly scripted kill rooms and corridors everywhere (though it does do those too, it's not as often).

      So I guess I'd say it's a typical Bungie shooter, but not necessarily a typical shooter in general.

        I dunno dude, I feel like it's very tightly scripted with the illusion of openness. It's still like go to this point, kill these enemies, defend this point, kill this boss etc. It just feels organic because you can easily be distracted by some useless group on enemies on the way to your objective

          True, but the point is that you have to make your way there through a fairly open world, and then when you get there you have a choice of how you approach the combat and stuff. Typical CoD-style design would instead have a tight set of corridors or streets or something to funnel you down, death if you try and deviate. Get behind cover, kill the respawning dudes. Advance. Repeat. That's what I meant by 'tightly scripted'.

          Bungie's games - even going back to Marathon - put more of that work into AI behavior scripting instead, so that the enemies are more reactive and interesting instead. They just place them in certain spots and then let the AI routines do whatever. That said, I felt like the AI behaviors in the Destiny alpha & beta were a bit less interesting than you got in Halo games, especially on higher difficulties, though maybe that's a reflection of the fact the beta covered the introductory part of the game.

    Some of you might wait to pick up a copy until you read the final verdict from your most trusted review house. We’re okay with that. We’ve created something we’re proud of.
    We get that you might like to make an informed decision but we're still going to cut content out unless you blindly pre-order :)

      Yo, legit question, what content are you referring to? There is an emblem, ship variant, and soething else... and 'early access to vanguard armoury' which I think is pS4 bonus.

      if you're talking about the first three:
      - Emblem is cosmetic.
      - Player ship is cosmetic.
      - I cant remember the third.

        I was probably thinking of the Vanguard Armoury by mistake. I haven't got a PS4 (or an Xbox One for that matter) yet so wasn't going to get Destiny straight away, saw there was a bunch of things listed with EB and JB's usual 'PRE-ORDER NOW!!!!' nonsense and wasn't happy :(

        I was considering the White PS4/Destiny bundle, depending on what people say about the game - just about all the other PS4 games I was excited about have been delayed.

          Alright. Yeah, a bit annoying with some pointless stuff pre-order bonus .. Nothing game breaking though.

          White PS4 + destiny + AC4 is $519 at JB, good deal.

          My opinion on the game is linked up further.


    By 9.45pm I was fast asleep.

    Oh come on, let's be honest here. Your body didn't give out due to this myth of "old age". Your wife forced you to be asleep.

    Is it just me or isn't this also exactly what should happen?

    Online is a huge component of this game, if they had done a pre-review system isn't there a chance there could have been a clusterfuck on the scale of Sim City? Remember how well that reviewed despite being literally unplayable for weeks after launch.

    That said for some reason I'm in no huge rush to dive into this game, I'll probably wait to hear a few reactions and dive in in a month or two.

      I think the SimCity stuff was mostly caused by other factors though. Obviously reviews didn't pick up netcode issues before release because so few of them were playing the game, which would be the same for Destiny as you said.

      The other 99% of SimCity's issues though were problems that really didn't show through until people started putting more hours into the game and testing multiple strategies of playing.
      If I remember correctly, EA gave out their review codes very close to release and only kept the servers up for short periods at a time, then they'd wipe data on people, forcing them to start all over again. They essentially prevented the reviewers from seeing 'most' of the bigger issues, though some issues (the lack of terain editing, tiny cities, small regions with set number of cities, online only for singleplayer, etc) were found.

        I found there was also a lot of butt covering, most stability issues the reviewers had were handwaved away by the devs saying it wouldn't be that bad at launch that the final launch servers hadn't been finished and they were reviewing off old dev servers.

        This meant the reviewers gave the game a lot more leeway, because they were playing a slightly unstable pre-launch dev version. Their scores were edged up to account for the fact it would be better at launch.

        Then it was so much worse.

        Quite a few outlets wanted to change their scores then, because the game was unplayable. Which came with that whole metacritic "no changing reviews" scandal.

        Honestly by the time people were able to get into the game and realise it was fundamentally broken on a design level the whole incorrect review scores aspect had already reached fever pitch.

        Don't get me wrong, there were also a lot of issues that just would never have been picked up by reviewers because you needed to put so many hours and weird strategies to isolate them. But the real takeaway I got was that for such an online dependent game you need to review it live.

        Nobody expects MMOs to be reviewed in a non-live environment either after all.

    @markserrels i did the same thing... thankfully i had a nightmare around 2.30 and woke up with a start. realised my Xbox one was still on waiting for me to launch destiny... so i am really tired now.

      a nightmare involving moon wizards i presume?

        no it was really fucking odd to be honest. i wish it involved destiny but from what i can remember it was wow related.

    Absolute garbage. If they really care about being honest with their customers and reflecting the true game experience then a.) they shouldn't be encouraging users to pre-purchase 4 different pre-orders on 4 different consoles without review content to base the purchase on and b.) they wouldn't be encouraging reviews of the game on the first day when there is a massive spike in users compared to the plateau of general use.

    I don't get why Serrels didn't just do what I did and go to bed for a couple of hours before the servers opened up, then got up when they did and play for a couple of hours... worked great for me, even streamed those couple of hours so my European friends could watch the game in action (even though the first 2 hours were essentially the beta).

    This game wasn't really on my radar, but the hype train has been in full swing lately. I'm curious to know how the current gen and last gen versions compare? I'm always wary about these cross-generation games.
    Also gameplay wise, between actual missions, is it kind of open world? Where can u go? How do u travel between planets and what not? The term shared world shooter is being tossed around quite a bit. I really dig the art style, it seems they have taken inspiration from Ralph McQuarrie's, so I'm very keen to check out this world.

    makes sense to me. not having a launch day review may alleviate some reviews tainted by launch day latency issues.

    I don't see this as being a smart move. First two days, I was ALL ABOUT teh Destinees. My 'day one review' would be pretty positive. In a month? I really don't see it still being a thing, and there'd definitely be a few points knocked off for, "By day two I'd done everything except gear-grind and PVP, and the 'end-game' seems to consist of repeating the levelling content... only this time, harder. Oh, and that one new dungeon. Oooooh."

    Visually? It's gorgeous. Mechanically? It's a triumph of intuitive, natural motion and combat. The sound engineering with some headphones and surround sound turns average gaming into a cinema experience. If repeating things like CoD multiplayer or Titanfall or Counter-Strike or TF2 or LoL or whatever is your jam? You will have a ball. It's Borderlands with more shine and polish but less loot, no humour, and about a quarter of the story/levels.

    If you're into narrative and deep exploration, rent it for the weekend or buy it from EB or whatever and return it for free inside the week.

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