There are three questions that I pretend people always ask me:
- Is that all your own hair?
- What do you have against shoes?
- Why did you stop playing Destiny?
And my answers would be: 1) mostly, though some of my chest hair has been donated via a Kickstarter; 2) I think the world would be a simpler place had we all got hobbit-style feet; and 3) well, it’s complicated.
As an RPG-fan who has devoted hour upon hour of my presumably-finite life-span to increasing numbers, you would think that Destiny would be a pretty good fit for me. And so did I. I pre-ordered it, played it at launch, got so far into it and then, well, just stopped. Normally I like to at least get to the end of a campaign before sticking the disc back in the case and putting into the dusty archives. I’ve made it through most of the Final Fantasies (except 12 and 13, but I’m getting to them (probably)), completed Baldur’s Gate II about eight times, and even spent at least one donkey’s year doing the same thing again and again in Mad Max (the game). But yet, Destiny just turned me off.
Maybe it was the prospect of that Paul McCartney song that I still haven’t heard, but more likely I think it was the tediously slow nature of the post-level-20 endgame. I’ve got nothing against grinding; I must have walked the equivalent of 100,000 miles around in circles in JRPGs in the hope of triggering a random battle. There always seemed a point to it, though, and an achievable target that wasn’t reliant on luck. You know in Final Fantasy IV, for instance, that if you wander around a field for long enough and fight enough pixellated monsters that you’re going to level up. Eventually you’ll get enough experience points that your stats will increase by some minuscule amount and you’ll become stronger. Destiny never seemed to offer that once you’d hit level 20; the whole ‘light points’ business never made much sense to me and it seemed an overly abstract way of providing progression. Being reliant on receiving engrams which seem to be very sporadic in how they’re dished out seemed to me that it wasn’t an adequate way of rewarding the investment I was putting into the game.
I think as I’ve got older, I’ve become more and more intolerant of things like this, where games don’t respect my time. The Ubisoft habit of filling open worlds with hordes of collectables is bad enough, but at least generally they’re optional. I don’t need to collect all the feathers in Assassin’s Creed II to get better at the game, though I might get some better armour or weaponry, or a little cutscene if I do so. Destiny, by virtue of the fact that it’s an MMO shooter where the main rewards from it are by playing against other people, was essentially forcing me into sinking a lot of time for potentially no reward.
And then there’s the story, or, rather, there isn’t. Bungie obviously made an effort to set up the background lore, what with all that business of humanity’s golden age and the giant pinball in the sky. Unfortunately the game itself contains so little in the way of narrative drive that it may as well dispense altogether with it and just tell you to go somewhere and shoot something. Which wouldn’t actually be that bad since the shooting mechanics are great and, heck, at least it’d be honest.
A lot of comments were made about Peter Dinkledge’s somewhat muted performance as Ghost – from whom most of the plot points are delivered. He’s since been patched out and replaced Ministry of Truth style by Nolan North, but I’ve not played it since so can’t comment on much of an improvement this is. In fairness to Dinkledge, it must be hard to deliver with any conviction lines that wouldn’t seem out of place in a bad episode of Star Trek: Voyager.
“Well, Peter, you’ll be playing some kind of ill-defined floaty robot thing that can somehow resurrect people but yet still takes twenty minutes to hack some computer terminal whilst your Guardian single-handedly faces off waves of identikit bad guys. Oh, and there are wizards on the Moon.”
So… That’s why I stopped playing Destiny. Although I’ll probably still buy the sequel because, well, I have issues.