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Venture into Destiny – Part 1: Unfunny Little Robot

Good morning, afternoon and evening!

Destiny is a game that has caught my attention for quite a few months for unusual reasons. Usually I’ll be drawn to games due to positive word of mouth. Destiny, though, has been cut down by fans and critics alike. Instead, I’ve been drawn to the somewhat unusual nature of Destiny. It has it’s similarities to Borderlands, and yet differs in some unusual ways, which gives me the chance and reason to do a written Let’s Play of Destiny.

The plan is to play 2-5 hours of Destiny and then write about it. Maybe I’ll write about what has happened, perhaps I’ll provide some analysis, or I suppose it’s likely that I’ll do both, and even add in some odd behaviour. Generally, it’ll be written in a very off-the-cuff manner. I’ll play until I hit some form of completion, and then do a final review. “Why not do it in a video?” you may be pounding on your keyboard to ask me. The reason I won’t is mostly because it’d make for a very long video, what with the grinding away and all. Apparently the game progresses like a Korean MMORPG. I also refuse to create a video because I don’t video too good.

Oh, and if this all seems familiar, it’s a very similar gig to what I did with “Venture into the Borderlands.” Check that out right here.

Now, let’s cut to future me who has some things to bang on about in 5-4-3-2-1 . . .

(Destiny, Activision)

A stroll on Mars with assault rifles during the present day, because you remember that time, right (Destiny, Activision)?

. . . WHOAH! Let me take a breath. Deep breath in, deep breath out. It feels like Destiny is a wildly different beast to Borderlands 2. Rather than the game unfolding gently, like an origami guide in reverse, Destiny flings all it has at the screen before running away. Two hours in, and a lot has happened. So, let’s do the logical thing and start from the beginning.

Before leaping into my character’s story, I first needed to actually have a character. I was given the option between Fighter, Rogue, and Mage. Sorry—Titan, Hunter, and Warlock. As I toyed with Warlock (just to test the first 10 minutes to see if there would be substance), and I like to be a cloak-and-dagger scoundrel who rolls chaotic neutral characters during tabletop nights, I just chose to go with Hunter. Oh, and human too, because given the choice between “flour-fight human” and Geth, I thought I’d go with the real McCoy.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

My story begins with a robot coming across my body. Rather than wiping the snow out of my eyes, I am made human again by an unfunny little robot. Before being given a chance to try to remember how I came to be dead the first time around, I am forced to run. Bug beasts want to suck my insides out, and I am put in the position of trying to stop myself from dying a second time.

(Destiny, Activision)

. . . If I can die a second time? Maybe this is purgatory? Where is Gene Hunt (Destiny, Activision)?

I am then led through linear corridors, showing me the tools available to me as someone who can channel light to some level. At the end, I shoot a named boss in the face that has no buildup and then fly away on my ship. Meanwhile, not only does a second enemy boss crawl out to wave me off with gunfire, but a mysterious cloaked figure watches me fly off into the distance.

Before I go any further, lets talk about technobabble.

Technobabble is one of many terms to describe the same thing that is to convince consumers of the believability of the setting, by making it so alien in concept and terminology that the viewer has to take the author’s word that it’s plausible. It tends to be a hallmark of a mediocre science-fantasy narrative or of an incredibly poor science-fiction story, as it makes buying into the impossible/improbable underserved and unrewarded.

I bring this up as Destiny appears to strangely overshoot dodging inflicting technobabble on its audience. When describing things we are unfamiliar with (e.g. the main antagonist), it uses accessible English terms such as “The Traveller,” “Fallen,” and “The Collapse.” In a rare circumstance it clicks well (e.g. “Guardian” is self-explanatory), but usually the English definition only serves to raise more questions.

(Destiny, Activision)

(Destiny, Activision)

While it’s healthy to create questions, to feed curiosity and mystery, too many can leave the player passive and apathetic. The first 10 minutes left me just bamboozled, but my mind finally evacuated about 10 minutes later. It was when I was being sent on a mission to a place called New Russia. Considering the game had yet to prove that it would actually answer anything at all at that point, I simply gave up trying to pay attention to the lore in a meaningful sense. Maybe I’ll focus on the background to the story later on, but, for now, that trust feels unearned.

Back to the Destiny experience. I finally arrive at the last city safe from ’00s English rock band The Darkness. I am dragged around by the ear to various crucial locations, while not actually really being told of the importance of each spot (e.g. still not sure the importance of varying spaceships). After I prove myself capable of stumbling around the hubworld, I am told to return back to whence I came. In my panic to fly away from people I could have just shot, I forget to get a vital component that would get me off Earth. So, with a heavy sigh, I do the equivalent of returning to the supermarket to get the milk I forgot to pick up.

Back in New Russia (also known as the point I sighed and resigned myself to the lore), I end up stumbling around while my not-Claptrap hacks items. Finally, after hacking my way through enough enemies and the robot hacks itself through enough computers, I’m finally told where I could get my techno thingamajig for my ship. In a revelation as surprising as the sun rising, the guy who tried to shoot down my ship earlier has it.

(Destiny, Activision)

(Destiny, Activision)

After a couple of hundred bullets to the face, he falls and I travel back to the city world. After poking various NPCs, I was told that I needed to return to New Russia as there were reports of activity near a satellite. So I walk back there and begin mulling about shooting mobs in the face. At least, I try to. This is where another huge problem occurs.

I am faced with a bunch of level 40s (the highest level in the game) kill-stealing level 2 to 5 enemies from me. I can’t think of any other reason why this is going on, except for the fact that The Rise of Iron expansion is on its way (at the time of writing) and some of the achievements will be shut down soon.

Sadly, due to the semi-open world nature of the game, I can’t work out a way to leap into a challenge on my own. The closest ones are the rare moments where I’m expected to go alone into a zone, where if I die, I would have to start again. But missions like these sadly feel like a breeze in difficulty. Instead, I decide to spend  time walking on the corpses of foes past, as if The Chinese Room were made a sci-fi game.

Upon arrival at the dish, I find that it wasn’t just The Darkness and The Fallen, but now The Hive is also facing a fragile apocalyptic state that Earth has been left in. I find a Wizard who is commanding a collection of mobs and show it what a high powered rifle can do to an alien skull. Apparently, quite a lot.

(Destiny, Activision)

Well, this boss is dead (Destiny, Activision).

I trek back to the tower, watch a cutscene, learn nothing, and stumble back into the only place on Earth: New Russia. This time, upon hearing activity of the local evil wildlife-harassing machines, I am to crash a scavenging party to see what on earth they could even want.

I admit I am dubious of this plan. It seems the over-arching plan to fight against the enemy is to just react to activity by swooping in and stealing what they are gathering. I wonder if this vaguely menacing force is purposely creating false reports of activity to distract from important advances, especially since it doesn’t feel like an infinite number of enemies exist at the locations I travel to. Then again, vague infinite tides aren’t known for their intellect.

On the bright side, this scheme may come with a boon. My friendly ghost decides that walking all the way to the various rumor locations would be hard on my boots, and leather isn’t a common item these days. So after some tinkering, I get on my own bike that, well, feels anti-climatic. I mean, I can travel faster than walking, but I wish it would produce a little bit more speed. Instead, the boost lasts as long as I press into the machine, and only speeds me up a small amount.

I turn up at the main rumor location, readily defeat The Fallen and stumble upon what they were guarding at the site of the activity. I learn that, out of all the names New Russia would want to name their security system, it would be a faith-healer that constantly gave bad ideas to the last Tsar. Alas, nothing is known of New Russia at all and the name is based on surface-level intentions.

(Destiny, Activision)

(Destiny, Activision)

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Rather than shuffle on though the plot of Destiny, I thought I’d check out the bounty system going on. These are mini-quests (e.g. “kill so many without being harmed”) that reward you with a variety of things. While currency is included, another is XP. I accidentally levelled up to level 7 and found out my purchase of The Taken King DLC did not clear me of the trial setting. At this point, I stumbled off the game disgruntled that I would have to pay more money to repurchase DLC just to get a digital copy of the game. Something I did actually do.

For all my complaining of Destiny, it does feel far from a bad game actually. There are some areas that are stronger than others, and I’ll get to that later, as well as more interesting rooms for improvement. Overall, Destiny is interesting. While it’s grappling with familiar elements, like FPS/RPG gameplay, it does remember to tinker with some experimentation. I’ll definitely continue this series, examining my journey as I Venture into Destiny. Come back next week for more analysis and more adventures as I start biting into the non-trial content.

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