Destiny Is One Of The Strangest Video Games Ever Made

In terms of its reaction; in terms of how we talk about it. In terms of how we play it, Destiny might be one of the strangest video games ever released.

The marketing said ‘Become Legend’. What did that mean? I think for many of us it signified the start of something -- for want of a better term – epic. What does ‘epic’ mean in this context? I’d suggest it means a couple of things: a sense of scale, a broadness of scope. Many of us expected Destiny’s ‘epicness’ to be expressed in a narrative we could sink our teeth into, or a lore-dripping universe we could explore and discover on our own terms.

Skyrim with guns.

It’s been interesting watching those expectations wither in the face of harsh reality. Destiny is not the game we expected it would be. Some might argue it isn’t the game we were promised. Destiny was not broad in scope; on the contrary it felt small and muted. Destiny did not have a sense of scale, it ultimately became a series of missions we played over and over again for loot. For a short period of time Destiny was nothing more than a small cave, where players would gather and fire weapons into a black hole for rewards. Destiny stripped back to its fundamental core: a literal, actual Skinner Box.

“Become Legend”.

Today that marketing line feels hollow and bent. It’s video gaming’s ‘Your Country Needs You’. In hindsight it looks, feels and sounds like propaganda. We were promised adventure. We were promised japes. Instead we’re dug in on the trenches.

But really we’re not. We’re really not. It’s tempting to draw a clever metaphor between naïve consumers and soldiers signing up for adventure, but it’s disingenuous and lacks perspective. Because here’s the thing: we can turn the game off at any point. We can play other video games. We can do anything we bloody well want.

But we’re not. We are still playing Destiny. We are still playing Destiny.

This is perhaps the most interesting thing about the game: despite its failures, despite its issues – ongoing issues, new issues, issues that spring up with every new update – we still play Destiny because, fundamentally, Destiny is ‘good’. Destiny is a ‘fun’ video game that feels enjoyable each and every time you pull the trigger. Despite the frustrations circling like demented vultures, Destiny is endlessly engaging to the point where we will happily replay the same content and endure the mess that is the meta-game. Combine that with the random nature of the game’s rewards?

Man, that’s quite a psychological hook you’ve got there.

It leaves us with that massive paradox. We have a massive group of people who actively bitch and complain about Destiny yet continue to play the game on a daily basis. I’ve met these people. I know them in real life. I’ve heard them complain!

Now back to that marketing, because it’s fascinating. It’s a pitch perfect indicator of how far Destiny has come in such a short period of time. It’s the canary in the coal mine. Once upon a time Destiny urged its players to ‘become legend’. That message is long gone. Destiny is no longer about becoming ‘legend’. Destiny is about getting the “sweetest loot” so you can go “HAM on some Hive”. I’m not even sure what that means.

“CALL ME WHEN YOU LEVEL UP BRO.”

It’s taken Destiny three short months to get to this point. To the point where it has completely abandoned its initial messaging and embraced the meta-game. Destiny is no longer about adventure, it’s about in-game items. It’s about leveling up ‘bro’. Has any game gotten to this point in such a short period of time? To this day, ten years from the game’s initial release, Blizzard sells World of Warcraft on the strength of its lore and its story. It’s taken Bungie three months to abandon any and all pretense that Destiny is anything other than a video game where you shoot bad guys for better gear.

Can we at least just pretend for a while that there’s something more going on here? Can we just pretend?

Apparently not, because when the people who are trying to sell you the experience are pulling back the curtain in such a blatant manner the time for pretense is over. This is Destiny, warts and all, and I suspect we’ll be playing -- and complaining about it -- for a very long time to come.


Comments

    Destiny is a drug..... You feel good when you play it, have to play it all the time.... then when you kick the habit you look back and go "Gee I'm glad that's over...."

    (Still thinking about getting expansion.......)

      I checked it out over the weekend, thanks to my digital deluxe mistake. The main worthwhile thing about the expansion is the raid. The story missions/strike are recycled bullshit, and the weapon/level increases aren't interesting, they're just extending what was already there.

      If you've got a good group of friends who enjoy figuring out the raid together, I highly recommend you give that part a shot. By all reports, it's just as good as VoG was.

      If you didn't raid or don't have a ready-made social experience, maybe pass. There's no story there, nothing new by way of mechanics, environments, enemies... just the raid.

        I agree (although I haven't tried the raid yet), but I would also like to add that the new strike is terrible. It's boring, and the boss is completely bullshit.

          I'm sorry that ur bad at games... :.(

    I Have it in my PS4 right now, but I don't have any motive to get up and play it. It's probably one game I wasn't looking forward to this year, I reason I have it is because my brother bought it.

    It's pretty sad that even Wiki's about the game can give little information about anything. I've read all the grimoire cards, I've been trawling through wiki's... If there was a book out I'm pretty sure I would've bought that too and read it cover to cover.. But no, nothing of substance anywhere.

    Also I've re-hit 30 after starting my gear all over again. And my exotics. So yeah, what a headfuck this game has turned out to be.

      I dug into this game for all of about 2 weeks then gave up. I sensed the toxic vacuum of gear-grind-gear that they were luring us into, and pulled the pin. At least WoW has a great sense of mythology and story to goad you into continuing the grind. This game's lore just feels hollow in comparison.

      Alas you keep coming back for more....

        Yeah that's my point, I'm so angry with it but I can't stop playing. It really is an enjoyable shooter, one of the most polished games in terms of mechanics that I've every played. Everything else though... Ugh.

    3 months.

    Destiny has been out for 3 months.

    I haven't played destiny since the 10th of October... Not everyone that was disappointed with it is still playing, some people permanently exiled their copy in favour of other gaming experiences that are far less shallow and repetitive.

      Yeah I get the feeling that this article has been written with a fairly narrow band of players as the target audience. Specifically calling out to players who simultaneously play and bitch about the game pretty much cuts out anyone who played it, saw it as rubbish and junked it.

      I'm still more than happy to dissect and discuss the game. Such a big triple A title that gets so many core things right yet fails to capture the attention of a lot of players is definitely worth examining. But this article stinks of some kind of elitism - kind of like, 'If you've played this and have chosen to junk it, you're not part of this conversation, pleb.'

        That's not what I was getting at at all. I honestly have no idea how you got elitism from this article.

          Fair enough. I guess it was that as I was reading it, the only scope for me to relate to what you were saying was if I was still playing the game. You say that despite the flaws and frustrations, we still keep playing because it's fun and engaging. That's the main point I disagree on, as I didn't really feel it engaging at all. From the get-go, it felt like Bungie were deliberately taking the hype and expectations people had, scooping all the value and intelligence out of them and then shoving them back into the consumers faces expecting us to like it. But that's neither here nor there in relation to your article.

          I suppose when I read it, your article felt as though you were deliberately ignoring those of us who don't like Destiny. Kind of talking over our heads as though we're not there by not mentioning that some of us got it, played it, and decided we didn't like it - usually because of the flaws and frustrations you do mention.

            Yeah I get how this article might only be for people who are playing the game. I don't think that makes it elitist.

            But thanks for the reply <3

              I didn't see it as elitist, more an insight into why would someone keep playing a game that is essentially hideously boring and competitive. My Clash of Clans statement wasn't meant as a joke really, I was wondering if it is the same kind of thing. The mechanic was fun for a while, but then you just have invested so much in it that you kind of feel like you have to keep coming back. Part of you still wants it to be fun, it isn't anymore, but, you know, you invested all that time an' all.
              I see a lot of people around me playing Destiny, Clans, Kardashians and they don't seem to be enjoying it so much as they can't stop.

    I didn't buy Destiny, though I got close to picking it up near launch. Now I don't want to go anywhere near it. All the talk of engrams and motes of light and loot problems and whatnot has reached dota 2 levels of inscrutability to me. I begrudge no-one who is playing the game and enjoying it, but I ain't going anywhere near this thing.

    I will eventually buy the OST though.

      It does have a great soundtrack. Totally worth a pickup.

      As a side note to that, I wish EVERY game came with a copy of the soundtrack (on disc or included in the download), even if you could only play said soundtrack on that platforms music service or similar... for instance the Halo MCC soundtrack included on the disc (or download), instead of just the small bite you can get from highlighting each campaign in the menu...

      Last edited 16/12/14 6:30 pm

    If Destiny 2 is more of the same, weak story to hold together a game of bounties and RNG rewards then I'll leave it alone. As it is, it's still good fun to jump on with friends and blast through strikes or raids or the crucible but I'll be leaving it alone once I pick up Dragon Age or GTA V on PS4

      Yup.
      I think I may wait a while before picking up Spacelootgrind 2.

    "Destiny is a game where players travel across the solar system complaining about destiny." I've no memory of who said it, but they were on the ball.

      I think it was a previous kotaku article on destiny; no seriously cause I remember that exact line.
      Edit: Ah, here it is: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/12/destinys-new-exotic-system-is-a-total-mess/

      Last edited 16/12/14 4:44 pm

    Destiny is overrated, as clear by the number of Kotaku articles regarding it.

      I consider Destiny to be a bit like a Tech Demo. It's got a fantastic set of mechanics and ways to interact and shoot. If somebody came and stuck a coherent story into it, it would be a fantastic game.

      Destiny plays fantastically there is just little reason to play it. No story to learn, nothing other than a never ending grind for more power. My gun has 300 attack power, the new 330 attack power guns hit most enemies in the game for the same amount of damage. Only in the raids would I notice that. (And I have no friends still playing it.)

    http://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html

    Basic explanation and look at addictive gaming. Destiny.

    Oh, by the way... I have mostly kicked the habit. I get on about once a week now to do a nightfall or something with a friend. An hour or two later and we move on.

    GTA5 is sooooooo much fun.

    Last edited 16/12/14 12:56 pm

    For me now it just seems like they are intentionally stalling wasting time giving the most redundant of updates and like 3 years down the track its still going to be the same boring grind unless you play exclusively for raids or PVP.

    The games core engine is a thing of beauty - pity its like a rendering of amazing landscapes that are just barren as far as the eyes can see - mobs are all the same from level 1 as they are to level 32 and nothing ever feels new or like progression. - Its like a hamster in a wheel.

    I'm an mmo grinder and even I pulled out of Destiny because you can just feel the vacuum that is the game sucking your time away without accomplishing much at all.

    Nailed it. Havent had an experience like this before in a game. Its a great game...but once you finished the first time you realised it felt like you just played half a great game and then hit the wall of available content.

    Destiny is a solid C+. What I will abandon when I get No Mans Sky, fate permitting

    I love and hate this game equally at the same time. But this statement in itself has now begged the question. Will I be playing the next DLC and re grinding my weapons again for what will then be a third time?

    The answer is no. I bought the Special edition and after playing the game I thought. What was so special about the special edition besides the nice box and Steel Book it came in. Other than that it was filled with what are turning out to be nothing but empty promises.

    How do I procede when the way the game is set up is that it has become a second job. The whole idea of gaming for me has always been like a movie I can play. It has a begining middle and end all of which are conducted by my playthrough wether its guided or unguided there is a path I can take. This thing here is just like a drug. Its crack for gamers and quite frankly I don't have the time I used to be able to sink into gaming. This sadens me because I am really enjoying the game but I just can't allow it to go on any further. I will be running CROTA RAID and once that has been accomplished bye bye Destiny.

    I can finally play the 8 sealed games I have in my drawer waiting to be played. And this can be my white whale.

    Well I'm not still playing it. I traded it.

    I'm playing DA Inquisition, & Far Cry 4.

    Destiny is actual crap.

    I wish people would just pull a finger out and just admit to themselves: "Destiny is a fun and awesome game".

    No, its not as good as it was hyped up to be - But it is still miles better than any other shooter ive played in the last few years. The reason its not as good as it was hyped? because people overhyped the game so damn much that they forced people to envision a game whose scope and scale probably wouldnt even be possible on a console.

    Yes - The shooting is fantastic, and extremely satisfying.

    Yes - the item and customization options are outstanding.

    Yes - gathering crafting elements can be a grind. At the same time however, it would be no fun if all this was just handed to you.

    Yes - The randomness of drops is infuriating.

    Yes - the game needs some work.... but bungie has been slowly working on it and have pushed through many wellcoming changes.

    hopefully they can drop the price on that damn season pass....

      The shooting wasn't that great. All the guns sound pretty close to identical. Kind of dulled down peashooters.

        im not saying the game doesnt have its faults. i kinda rushed the above comment in between doing different work related thing...

        the point im getting accross is that people dont hate destiny because its a bad game... they hate it because it didnt deliver on the monstrous amount of hype leading up to its release.

        people are still playing Destiny. MANY people. and thats saying something.

        its fair to have an opinion and dislike a game. like yourself, you have an issue with the shooting aspect. i accept that. but it bothers me when people hate a game not because they didnt like it, but because they wanted more. I am certain that many others will attest to this... "i certainly got my $69 worth..."

          Yeah I'll admit that, I played quite alot and got to level 28. I don't regret buying it but have moved on. Not sure why they say on one hand it has a ten year life and then say they are working on a sequel.

      Bungie basically made an MMO while the entire time they denying that it was an MMO.

      I am guessing they said they weren't making an MMO because none of them have actually played WoW which led to them making an MMO with the features of WoW from 2005.

      How can you make an MMO without a group finder in this day and age?!

      One of the only things I dislike about destiny is the lack of a decent story. I wish I could opt to hide my helmet when in missions because I like my guy's pretty robot face but eh. I've decided to jump back into it in hopes that I can still get the exclusive armor from xur next weekend.

    But we’re not. We are still playing Destiny. We are still playing Destiny.
    Really? I stopped.
    Quite possibly because I'm an MMO veteran, and we know how this skinner box shit works. And frankly, most MMOs do it a lot better. If you're going to drug yourself up on a skinner box, it might as well be a good one.

    There's a theory out there that the naked manipulation of 'operant conditioning chamber' mechanics in triggering dopamine hits may have some long-term effects on how we process dopamine... or, in practical terms: enjoy anything. Just like any drug, it may be possible to build up a tolerance, after excessive exposure. If true, it's mildly terrifying and I want to know how to reverse the effects.

      Until a better MMO comes out on Xbox, I guess this is my drug :|

        Did I hear someone call out for "The Division" ????

          Hell yeah.....but hasnt it been pushed back to like 2017 or something?

    I hate Destiny, maybe I will buy it when it has a ALL-IN-ONE pack for $10 with no additional fees. Really its a over-glorified FPS with continuous overpriced DLC content. Bungie wasn't making this game to be fantastic or revolutionary FPS, they were making it for the simple purpose of cash-cowing people.

    Story and levels/content are incredibly repetitive and boring IMO (I played the betas etc..)

      Can you really hate a game you haven't actually played in its final form? I'd say not.

    I don't get why there is all this complaining about the lack of 'epicness'. Bungie have a ten year plan, wow is ten years old and Blizzard clearly didn't have a discernible plan (note Star Trek like time travel reboot). 'Become Legend' to me read as an invitation to this new universe. Wow and Halo were not billed as epic after the first release, why expect Destiny to put every thing on the table on the first release?

    If you read the grimoire cards there are hints to where the next games are going, other solar colonies, chasing the lost first fleet down, taking the fight to other systems etc.

    I love this game, I expected wow and halo had a baby. I got that. The many hours I put into halo multiplayer sessions seem wasted next to destiny where my dedication is shown through my level and my awesome gear.

    These people made halo, created an expansive universe, they've been given tons of money to have free reign. They've got this all worked out.

      Dude, people want it to be awesome NOW (like they said it would be in the advertising campaigns) not in ten years. Get your head out of your butt and stop making excuses for it.

      WOW was fun when it came out, it had heaps of content and was entertaining. Destiny has no where near enough content to call it a decent or acceptable game.

    Played it till level 27 - had fun - stopped and had no desire to pick it up again its odd that a game with such good shooting mechanics and feels so good simply moving about the world could have such poor lifeless enemies and story....

      Sounds to me more like a tech demo than a game.
      If the world is so empty, and the story so absent etc. what cost all the money?

    I think the real game of Destiny is all the people who rush to tell you how much they are not playing Destiny.

    Become Legend fits well. Legends are dead, mich like my Destiny Career. A few hours in and I knew that this game wasn't one I'd keep coming back to after a few other releases. So far it seems I was right. It just wasn't what it portrayed itself to be originally.

    I just want to add I love this game, I've put about 50 hours in since release (that's a lot for me in one game!) and have hit level 27. I'll never try the raids and am looking forward to playing the expansion. Not sure I understand all the negativity around this game "I've played the game for 300 hours and I'm bored!" Fuck off! Haha!

      Same here. Unlike some players, I didn't have high expectations coming into the game and I think that's where some of the problem lies. People thought 'Bungie? This game is going to be mad!'. Played it then got pissed when it didn't meet their expectations. Problem with following the hype. You get a 'Watchdog' burn.

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