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After 12 hours, I’m a level 20 Warlock Sunsinger sitting on a completed campaign, pondering what to do next. It took me 12 hours to beat the campaign and reach the “max level”. That’s a pretty standard length of time for most games these days, unfortunately. Now here I am, at the end of the game, being told that my real journey begins here. As I stare at my options for endgame content, I see the same content that I just spent 12 hours completing. The difference now is I can replay it all on a harder difficulty for better rewards. Better rewards to do what? Seriously, this the endgame content I was teased with by Bungie? Needless to say, I was expecting a lot more, but it’s par for the intergalactic course.

Destiny is a polished game – there’s no doubt about that. It runs great, looks even better and the shooting mechanics feel fluid. After the dust settles however, I feel like we’re left with an over-glorified Horde mode where you’re fighting endless waves of predictable enemies. You retread much of the same terrain mission after mission, wading through the same timed enemy spawns, which are composed of the same unit types. There’s no variation or randomization here. You shoot your way straight to the end of a mission, deploy Rubix Cube Peter Dinklage to trigger several waves of increasingly difficult enemies and fight a boss for completion. The Strike missions are no different. Most of them are recycled missions with a few new bosses thrown in.


The Story

What I was expecting was a huge, expansive universe to explore straight out of the package. I believe that’s what Bungie is attempting to do, but over the course of several years. My friend said it best, Destiny feels like a pilot episode for a TV show. It hooks you in with a little bit of everything in hopes of reeling you back for the following episodes. Unfortunately, the next episodes or expansions in this case cost $20 a piece for an unknown amount of game time. That point actually leads to my biggest gripe with the game: The game itself, including the campaign, doesn’t explain the who’s, the what’s and the whys. Destiny is a series of giant bread crumbs leading directly into your wallet for future DLC.

Nothing in the story line is resolved by the end of the game and that’s something that makes me grit my teeth. It feels like the TV show ‘Lost’ all over again. What is my motivation for saving the universe from certain doom minutes after being resurrected? Who are all these useless, random characters pointing me in the right direction but not lending me their help otherwise? Why are the Awoken on The Reef a bunch of douches? I have a million questions. The only information you’re given are through little cards called Grimoires that you unlock as you play through the game. However, the information is extremely vague and might as well tell you what The Traveler’s favourite colour is. Curiously, the only way to access the grimoires is by logging into Bungie’s website and not in-game. It looks like a cheap trick to herd traffic to a site where customers are fed whatever Bungie desires. Bungie is attempting to build a lot more than a universe here.


The Grind

Getting back to the endgame, I discovered that like most RPG games there’s a pretty massive grind involved. As I mentioned, the endgame consists of playing things on harder difficulties. Harder difficulties require better gear. In order to get that epic gear, you need to grind reputation with one of the three factions and collect a separate currency called a “mark”. Keep in mind that you can still receive marginally better gear through the missions or as random drops, but the faction gear is significantly superior.

Allow me to attempt a breakdown of the grind we’re talking about here by mainly focusing on the marks you need to collect. Let’s say to fully-outfit yourself with five pieces of epic-level PvE gear it takes a total of 370 marks. Completing a 15-minute mission earns you 3-5 marks and a bit of reputation.

370 marks / 5 earned marks = 74 missions

74 missions X 15 minutes = 18.5 hours

So I need to grind for 1.5 times more than the actual story length to fully-outfit my character to increase my survival on harder missions? Why does it take so long to do something I don’t need to do? What is the reward for beating the hardest thing possible in Destiny? I know what your response is: “Then don’t do it.”

The Endgame?

I’ve actually been bouncing the endgames of Diablo 3 and Destiny back and forth in my mind. When you break down the two games, the endgames are similar in the sense that you’re looking for better loot to fight on harder difficulties. Both games are pretty fun when it’s difficult because they’re challenging. I played a level 22 Strike and it was the most enjoyable thing I’ve done in Destiny so far. That experience was enough to make me eat my words and grind out the gear needed to take on the next challenge. It’s a big time sink though, one that differs from Diablo.

I can play Diablo for 10 minutes and find a legendary item or kill a boss for some decent loot. You can’t do that in Destiny. Destiny can be played in short bursts, but the rewards aren’t given out as generously as in Diablo (Post-Reaper of Souls patch). There’s instant gratification in Diablo’s loot system and that hooks me in. Destiny’s system is built on doing things (gaining reputation, marks, gear grinding) to build up enough credit to buy something better – a staple for most MMORPGs. Despite enjoying Diablo 3’s endgame, it also wears thin after a while because you’ve seen and done it all 20 times.

So is it even possible to make a comprehensive endgame or does it devolve into monotonous time wasting? A discussion for another time perhaps.


The Overall

Even though the game is extremely polished, I feel like we’ve been sold the basic platform for a game that’s attempting to take more money from us then it should. Mobile games are successful at doing that, so why not a triple A title? The game reuses content to make it feel complete and that’s something I’m not cool with. They tout exploration of the planets, but there’s nothing to really see on the four planets after your first expedition. You keep fighting enemies in different configurations and finding chests in caves that all look the same. I have a ton of money with nothing to do with it as well. What am I exploring for? If the game ended after the final mission, I wouldn’t have had a problem, but I was promised something more. If the game starts after you complete the game, why am I questioning my next adventure? Destiny has me confused.

I’m still enjoying the game, and will for a while yet, but what’s the difference between Destiny and Warframe (a F2P game)? I see a lot of similarities between those two games. You’re essentially doing the same thing with a similar progression and social system in place. I know we’ve been comparing Destiny to Borderlands, but I think the most accurate description would be Halo draped over Warframe.

Halo + Warframe = Destiny

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