The Comfortable Plain White T-Shirt of Destiny

The other night I “finished” Destiny. Meaning, I finished the main storyline, the two small expansions, and the large “The Taken King” expansion. Let’s talk about that first.

As I said before, the storyline in Destiny is nothing amazing. It’s kind of critique-proof because there’s not really anything there of any substance to critique. You have to go places and shoot aliens because they want to kill humans. The Taken King is a guy’s dad who is angry because you killed his son earlier. He turns all the previous aliens into zombie like things. There really isn’t anything else to it. The one thing I like about the lack of a plot (other than the lack of cutscenes dishing out crappy plot to me) is that even though you kill Crota and his dad, there isn’t a sense of you single-handedly winning this war, or even of the war being won. It feels like you’re always just barely pushing back the tide, and therefore there’s a reason you’re having to keep fighting Christopher Moeller’s Iron Empires dudes on Mars.

In a discussion, some friends and I were talking about videogame-related articles of clothing we all own. I have numerous Fallout shirts. Someone mentioned having a Dragon Age shirt. Then I said, “I have a Destiny t-shirt. It’s a plain white T that fits fine and adequately covers my torso.” A joke, but it does kind of sum up how I feel about Destiny. The game feels like it’s trying very hard to be a one-stop-shop for FPS. There’s a little bit of everything in it. I don’t have much FPS experience except with Borderlands and I see a LOT of things in Destiny that map straight to elements I was already familiar with. Perhaps that’s just generic FPS elements common elsewhere, I don’t know. But Destiny seems like a Chinese buffet where the food isn’t that good, but there are a lot of different things to pick from.

A good example of this is the character of Cayde-6, who has chatted with me all throughout The Taken King. He’s a robot voiced by Nation Fillion, and you immediately know this because it’s Nathan Fillion as Nathan Fillion. There’s no character there, just exactly what you think of when you think of Nathan Fillion. (I guess it’s the character of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly.) Destiny, eager to please everyone, got Fillion to do a voice but saw no need to actually create a character for him to do so. “People love Captain Firefly! Let’s get him to do it just like that no matter what!”

This blandness extends throughout the Destinyverse. There are four bad guy races, all of whom are, for the most part, humanoid. They all naturally have a weak spot, and that spot is almost always the head. They are the only resistance you come across in the entire solar system. There are large maps, beautifully rendered with all sorts of hidey-holes in them that usually contain nothing. The only difference between shooting aliens on Mars and shooting aliens on the Moon are the types of aliens you’ll shoot and which weird resource you’ll sometimes be able to grab from the landscape. Even the fact that the Moon, since you get to it earlier in the story than Mars, has lower level aliens doesn’t make that much of a difference.

Destiny kind of feels like they fed all previous FPSes into a neural network and had it generate a new game. Everything you’d expect to be is there, but there’s something vital at the core missing, something that makes it all come together and shine instead of simply being adequate.

All that said, there’s still a lot more to do with Destiny, even with the storylines completed. As with Diablo 3, the real meat of the game comes after finishing it, when you can do all kinds of special missions that give you the really good loot and introduce weird elements to play with. In addition, I haven’t done much with multiplayer, though I’m hoping to do more. I should go on strike missions and such, and I’ll probably do some of that this upcoming weekend. It may be what I need to make it all gel for me. But as it is, Destiny is going to be pushed aside for Fallout 4 in November, and right now I don’t have much incentive to return to it afterwards. I’ll play it for now, but once it’s gone I don’t expect to miss it much.

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