In recent history, gamers have seen the rise and fall of many shooters – it seemed nothing could compete with the hugely successful Call of Duty franchise. Titanfall and Evolve, both highly-anticipated titles, were quickly forgotten within a month of their release. What was it that made players lose interest in these games so quickly? I believe it was the lack of an engaging leveling system that made these titles fall short. Bungie, the creators of the famously popular Halo series, decided to challenge Call of Duty by introducing an audacious, new video game. The game would immerse players into a galaxy populated by different alien races while blending the first person shooter and massive-multiplayer online genres. At the same time, it would also add a unique and gratifying leveling system, which would reward players with beneficial loot as long as they played the game. On February 20, 2013, Bungie unveiled Destiny, and gamers around the world began to anxiously await its arrival.
In an era where Call of Duty dominated the market, the odds of Destiny being successful and sustaining gamers’ attention were extremely low. I was desperate for something to pull me away from what I was used to, and I know I wasn’t the only one. Bungie’s repertoire made me incredibly hopeful that Destiny was going to be an exceptionally fun game (plus, there’s Warlocks – what’s not to like?).
On September 9th, 2014, Destiny was released on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, and it sold over eight million copies, making it the biggest new franchise launch of all time. But to many fans’ disappointment, the story content was lackluster. The campaign had few cutscenes, raised (but never answered) several questions, and left gamers questioning, “That’s it?” Narrative struggles aside, the game did feature extensive player customization and gameplay mechanics, which were – quite literally – out of this world. This game was fun to play, even if the only highlight of the campaign was Peter Dinklage yelling, “We’ve woken the Hive!” Besides the initial game, players had much to look forward to as far as expansions were concerned – especially because they were promised full-fledged expansions and not just map packs (traditional Downloadable Content, DLC, that only features new maps for multiplayer modes). This additional content would broaden not only the multiplayer modes (like Call of Duty’s DLC), but also the story, the gear selection, and even Raids – Destiny’s intricate endgame content. These events are experiences that require six people to coordinate and cooperate like no other shooter has ever attempted.
In Destiny, gamers can join a fireteam – what the game calls teams – with friends who play on the same system or who they’ve met online (I, personally, have made quite a few friends this way). You and your friends can then mindlessly shoot aliens while talking about what’s going on in each other’s lives, who won the Super Bowl, and which movies deserve an Oscar. Another aspect that makes Destiny unique is that a variety of YouTube channels have been created for the sole purpose of releasing videos about Destiny. While most games usually have dedicated YouTube channels made by fans, Destiny is abnormal because the channels’ popularity has been able to monetarily support their creators; Bungie has even invited the creators of these channels to exclusively premiere brand new content. I have been playing Destiny since its launch and have put over 250 hours into it. I’ve even attached my keys to a Destiny lanyard and equipped my wrist with a black rubber bracelet bearing the Destiny logo. But why do I, like so many others, love the game so much? Bungie’s secret weapon lies in their decision to give players a voice in Destiny’s future.
Besides the fact that Destiny’s gameplay mechanics make it so engaging to play, the game constantly receives attention from Bungie, which shows gamers that they read the dedicated forums, watch the YouTube videos, and listen to the podcasts concerning what fans want to see in the game. Updates with in-depth details are released very often (more than most games receive) to fix stability issues or to balance certain weapons (Thorn, I’m glad you’ve finally been nerfed). Fans, including myself, have become attached to our characters – our ‘Guardians’ – and have embraced Destiny’s loot-grinding RNG system (the system that rewards gear completely randomly). Much like the infamous Pokemon catchphrase “Gotta catch ‘em all!,” players are motivated to collect every exotic weapon and armor piece, to complete every Raid on all difficulties, and to fight their way to the top of the leaderboards in the Crucible, Destiny’s multiplayer arena. Each expansion has added more gear, campaign missions, multiplayer maps, and Raids to the game, and with the recent release of The Taken King, Destiny’s biggest expansion yet, the game has grown and evolved unlike any other shooter in the video game industry. This new expansion finally fulfilled players’ craving for a cinematic story with detailed cutscenes and dialogue, added a wealth of new content in the form of new armor and weapons to be discovered, introduced a new way of leveling up, a fresh take on the confusing Light level (Destiny’s previous system required the player to reach the level cap), and has given players the most challenging and satisfying Raid yet – The King’s Fall.
When Destiny first came out, I was severely disappointed, mostly due to the campaign and the difficulty and hours required to reach the max level, and I even stopped playing it for about three months. The main reason I gave up was because I was confused with Bungie’s Light level system, and I also did not have many friends to play with – considering how social of a game Destiny is, it makes sense why this was so important. The important thing to note here is that I had never stepped foot into the Vault of Glass, Destiny’s original Raid. Raids can take hours to complete, but they are the most fun I have ever had in a video game because of the teamwork and communication required between fireteam members. Around December of last year, I decided to give Destiny another try, and, with several new friends to play with, I was able to discover a whole new side to the game. My friends and new allies had all completed the Vault of Glass and promised to teach me how to run through it. The ensuing six hours of gameplay blew my mind with the overall design, complicated puzzles, mechanic-heavy boss fights, and teamwork – I was instantly hooked. The King’s Fall is Destiny’s third Raid to date, and it is by far the most challenging, intricate, and mind-bogglingly crazy Raid I have ever experienced. With perseverance and strength, my fireteam was able to complete the Raid in eight hours, and the joy I felt when the final boss had been slayed was unlike any other feeling I’ve had while playing video games. This type of event is unparalleled in the first-person shooter genre, and it’s something that gamers everywhere have found both fun and frustrating.
With the release of The Taken King, it’s obvious that Destiny, unlike other new shooters, is not going anywhere. With updates and new content consistently being released, players – whether they love it or hate it – will be seeing Destiny for a very long time. My three Guardians and I have devoted ourselves to the incredible journey that Bungie has promised us, and I could not be happier with my decision. Destiny is breaking the barriers of video games by not defining itself as a specific genre, but by molding them together, and in turn, is allowing gamers to take part in every step. The Darkness ain’t got nothin’ on us. I’ll see you starside, Guardians.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Destiny? Do you think Destiny is here to stay? Comment below and let me know!