25 KM with Destiny

I have spent three solid nights playing Destiny on my X-Box 360 and elliptical. I have totalled around 25 kilometers on the athletic device and level 10 on my Titan, 5 on my Hunter, and 2 on my Warlock. I do one hour stints on the elliptical but continue to play a couple hours afterwards on the couch. Need to reward myself for all of that hard work! In the gym world we call those “sets”. I have unlocked Venus and completed my first Strike Mission (aka “instanced dungeon”) and am really improving with FPS gamepad use although it still feels a bit unnatural.

After this time in game it has really strengthened my initial thoughts on Destiny – definitely the way I am choosing to play it, anyway. First off, I am still having fun and believe it was a good buy. The advancement aspects of the game (abilities, weapons and armor, weapons and armor abilities) add flavor and are fun to level up. The earth and the moon are both fun backdrops to shoot things in the head. I have Venus and other planets to still explore. There is a lot to look forward to.

I still have three “big” gripes so far, which of course I’ll share! (thank you for asking)

  1. The lore: You can choose to be an Awoken, Exo, or Human as your character. There is zero explanation anywhere (that I could find) that explains how humans met and/or became aligned with these other races (and obviously, they are extra-terrestrial). They are simply cosmetic options. Perhaps it is the long time MMO or PC gamer in me, but I’d like to know what is compelling about either (besides their looks) in choosing them. Style is only one part in gaming – attitude is equally if not more important. I thought perhaps this would unfold as you play but halfway through the leveling process it doesn’t. There is such a huge opportunity to do this as well and it is completely wasted. Your character is brought back to life (dead for a LONG time) by a “ghost” so learning how the world has changed organically through story and game play would make perfect sense. It doesn’t do this. None of the race (or class) choices have any impact on how things play out.
  2. The story: tied to the above – there is no story – just a series of disjointed objectives for some grander unknown or unclear reason. There is no tie in so far. I am really shocked – weren’t the HALO games predicated around story? Wouldn’t this be the perfect medium to make story better, not worse? I see a huge missed opportunity here with the potential for what is going on in the universe. This is where the future of DLC would be for me – the grander story. Maybe because it’s console focused they don’t need to have one. It shouldn’t be called “Story Mode” it should be “Task Mode”
  3. The AI is some of the worst I have seen in modern day FPSs (to be fair, I am comparing PC FPS AI – I don’t have a console experience equivalent). At best it is the same as FPS games i have played in the last decade. This was an opportunity to really step up the genre not be the status quo. I was fighting through the final Moon “task” mode last night and there was a room that was hard to complete – I started retreating backwards and I hit an invisible line on the ground that soon as I passed, the mobs stopped attacking and turned around. I could still shoot them. Step forward, they turn around and charge. One step back, they turn their backs to me and walk away, I shoot them. Rinse repeat. I figure by now we’d have AI that could respond to visual and environmental cues – not invisible proximity lines. The AI is only challenging because of the quantity and kind of enemies they pile in at you. You are basically fighting piles of bricks with legs and guns. You can win every room by identifying where the enemies are going to spawn from, and go to the opposite side of the room. Besides thralls and certain sword Fallen Knights, the rest just hang back and shoot from afar – really easy to pick off. Worst case scenario if you get swarmed you just have to retreat far enough that they all reset.

Not to be a negative Isey I must say that the whole game changed in the Strike Team mode – it was exhilarating, awesome, and fresh! As a 5 man junkie in MMOs, the 3 man Strike Team adds a big layer of play-ability and fun. Who needs a story when you have bosses to kill? I ran Devil’s Lair twice last night and it was am amazing experience. I read there are 6 currently and hoping they add more as 6 could get stale pretty quick. The Story/task mode I did solo so the commentary I have read that suggests this game is best played with people does seem to be true. I need a wireless headset so I can work the elliptical and group at the same time.

Due to the nature of the release, and the investment in the IP, I can’t help but think – is this ONLY happening because I am using the XBox 360 and it has limitations compared to X1 and PS4? Or are current gen owners seeing the same thing? Its hard to overlook these things due to the kind of gamer I tend to be and with a 500MM investment you think they could have put some more obvious effort into those things. I’d love to hear from current gen system owners if that alone solves these problems.

7 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I was not going to buy this game until I got to try the first strike with other people in the Alpha. I find it enjoyable alone, but much, much better with other people.

    As far as the story and lore, I find it mildly infuriating that there’s a ton of explanation and backstory but none of it is in-game. The grimoire cards explain a lot of things, but you can only see them on the website or in the app. This isn’t platform specific, it applies to all versions of the game. The way the in-game story is presented is also… not great. Dinklebot is tolerable, but not great as your personal exposition device.

    All told, the fun of running around shooting things with my friends outweighs these shortcomings for now. I’m not sure if this game will have longevity once that wears off, though.

    1. We all seem to agree with the teamplay being a huge boon – I didn’t even know about the companion app (have it now) and I still find that lacking to the levels I would prefer. Being heavy on the *I* part only because I’m sure COD shooter lovers don’t care less. I just see it as a big missed opportunity. The flow of what they do give us shows promise of an awesome story. That story just never materializes.

  2. Yeah, it’s just built that way. I have the PS4 version. I justify it by saying it’s a hard-coded “line in the sand” for aggro from a specific room of enemies, versus an MMO where that “line in the sand” for the monster to drop aggro would be based off N distance in the world from where it first picked up aggro.

    Overall, I just consider the AI (and a LOT of the rest of the game) to be a very minor evolution of what Bungie had been doing with the Halo series. I just love that all the other players are there; we can help each other or not, friends can auto-join me in a Fireteam or not, and so on. Just like an MMO, the group-specific content is what really shines and cranks up the challenge, the intensity and the reward. I’m curious what shooters on PC have this so-called “better” AI, because I sure haven’t seen it. Though I’ll fully admit to now preferring console shooters (for the most part, it depends on the individual game) these days after spending the early summer playing PlanetSide 2 and a few others on PC.

    Controversial to say, but shooters on a PC (well, specifically mouse+keyboard, since controllers can be used on PC as well) is actually easier and takes less skill. That’s not to say mouse+kb takes no skill. Mid-90’s I was a competitive player so I had to practice a LOT. Hardcore practice. It’s very much a “use it or lose it” as I see 20 years later trying to play PS2 and other PC shooters. It’s quite hilarious and frustrating really to have my memories of being “awesome” in the competitive scene back then so fresh in my mind still, then seeing the reality of how I play now after so much time either not playing at all or playing on consoles. Bottom line for myself, though: competitive FPS gave me RSI in my right wrist (the mouse wrist) which comes back after any extensive PC mouse-use so playing shooters on console is pain-free and won’t involve potential future surgery. =)

    1. Teamplay will continue to be the strength of this title for sure – I just believe there is a lot of room for the story play. Mouse + keyboard is the finesse way – you have way more control over where you are aiming (as you mention) but because of that you can make the game more interesting – you don’t have to dumb it down to allow for the innate inaccuracy joystick gamers are stuck with. I think it is a fair statement to say that two players in the same environment, one with keyboard +mouse, one with gamepad, the mouse wins. Not because it is “easier” but because it is a better tool for the job =)

      Some AI examples – FEAR comes to mind (2005) – the enemies would use the environment to their benefit and would do squad tactics (one would suppress while others would flank, etc.) I also had great AI in L4D and L4D2 but that AI was my teammates, not enemies.

      In Destiny there is one move per mob type (that seems obvious) Thralls only charge. Acolytes find cover and then pop out, shoot, pop back. There doesn’t seem to be any co-ordination between them, which overall means once you figure out how they behave you just have to prioritize and go down the list.

      I am caveating this that I am only level 10, and perhaps they are keeping it easier until the higher level.

      It just feels like aiming with the controller sticks is the harder part over what the enemies are doing =)

  3. Yeah but FEAR (all three of them) and both L4D’s are on consoles. =) C’mon, ya gotta whip out a PC-exclusive with impressive AI for me here! lol

    Controller aiming is just a different skill to learn and to practice. Just think of it that way. And the better you get controlling a shooter, the better you can control anything else on a console (/ using a controller).

    But you’re correct about mouse “owning” anyone using a controller. That’s why cross-platform shooters are a no-no. A far lesser skilled mouse player can win in PvP over a highly skilled stick player. That’s just the way it is. That said, once you even the playing field and on the consoles everyone doing the dual sticks, there are some damn impressive skilled players out there. And it’s just like anything else — hanging with the skilled people will naturally make you want to increase your own skills.

    Did something change with the commenting? It no longer “saves” my account info; I’m having to fully login with each box today.

    1. “Exclusives” are pretty much new on the block with PS and MS trying to drive console sales. FEAR, for example, came out on PC a full year (or more!) before the console versions. I can’t comment if FEAR on console was the same experience.

      Heck, even Destiny is coming to PC! They just haven’t committed to “when”.

      I agree that the skill level of some console shooters are very slick, and also agree that a lesser skilled mouse + keyboard would still beat those guys. That is still my opinion that it’s the wrong tool, but people always make do and adapt. I am even getting a lot more comfortable with it =)

      AS per the comments, I added “Comment Luv” which may have broken the autofiller – I have been messing around a lot with widgets and such. I’ll try disabling it and see if that fixes it!

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