Destiny Review

Bungie’s first new franchise in 13 years has already been in the hands of gamers for the last fortnight. You’d have to have been living under a rock to not have noticed its arrival, and since then, many of you will have been sinking dozens of hours into the game’s co-operative and competitive multiplayer. Yet, while it’s a game that has kept me constantly coming back for more – and would have done even if I were not aiming to review it – it’s also an experience which is quite flawed.

The game starts in Old Russia, as a Ghost of the Traveller floats over the rusted wrecks of long abandoned cars, searching. As it resurrects you, a person that died many years before, it imbues you with Light in the process as you embark on a new journey as a Guardian to push back the forces of the Darkness which besiege the remaining humans.


After picking from the three complimenting classes – Hunter, Warlock and Titan – and personalising your look, the story quickly sees you battling the Fallen and Hive armies on Earth, the Moon and into the rest of the solar system. It plays host to some truly spectacular and beautifully envisioned locations that are simply delightful to visit and explore for the first time, as you encounter more factions, both friend and foe.

With the fate of humanity at stake, it paints you as the hero, an intrepid newcomer who is able to take on humanity’s most deadly foes and come out victorious where others might have fallen. Sadly, the central story itself is fairly disappointing and its delivery often leaves a lot to be desired.

“Taking on the role of the Ghost, Peter Dinklage’s voice acting has had plenty of criticism.”

Taking on the role of the Ghost, Peter Dinklage’s voice acting has had plenty of criticism. Though masked quite minimally by digital processing, the delivery of his lines is almost universally lacking, but it is harsh to lay the blame entirely at his feet. There are plenty of other uninspiring and flat performances, working with a script and overarching story that leans very heavily on the notion of aural histories and mysticism to wave away a lack of familiarity with your enemies. Ultimately, a lack of clarity and understanding saps much of the sense of finality from the story’s climactic moments.

  • Both Destiny’s story and online play are bolstered by ties to and the smartphone app. It’s disappointing that these weren’t integrated into the game, but it’s here that you can go deeper into the game’s mythology by reading unlocked Grimoire cards, and it also allows you to join groups and clans to feature a tag by your name.

With the Halo series, Bungie were famed for their “30 seconds of fun” mantra, and it very much feels like a similar principle has been extended to the missions in Destiny. Stop me if this sounds familiar, but once the location loads, you follow some way points to an objective which you have to defend for three waves while your Ghost unlocks it. You then proceed deeper into a complex, where you must fight a boss while also fending off lesser enemies as they spawn.

That’s not to say it isn’t a good formula and can lead to some huge battles which see you fighting off hundreds of enemies, but after seeing it for the umpteenth time it starts to wear thin and is compounded by the busywork and replaying of levels needed during later play, the long loading times and regular trips back to the Tower. After reaching level 20, experience no longer increases you character’s level – though does continue to upgrade your items and subclass abilities – and you need to instead find and equip legendary or exotic armour that includes a new Light statistic which can push you to level 21 and beyond.

The game’s Action RPG underpinnings – with health bars over enemy heads and damage visually manifesting it in the form of numbers – mean that your level plays a role in how much damage you can do and the kinds of weaponry and armour you find and are able to equip for battle. A problem which will affect some people more than others is the grinding that’s needed to get past level 20, with the Cryptarch in the Tower notoriously stingy with his handouts for ostensibly legendary engrams that you acquire. My efforts this past week to level up have additionally been hindered by caps on the amount of certain currencies that you can earn in a week.

Though you can play the game on your own, albeit with the world still populated by other Guardians – and there is a lot of joy, fleetingly similar to Journey, in silently teaming up with other Guardians in the main world – it is at its best when playing with friends in a fireteam. The co-operative group of three works excellently, especially when you are able to combine the three classes and their subclasses for battles on a grander scale.

“There’s a lot of fun to be had when playing in a fireteam of likeminded individuals.”

There’s a lot of fun to be had when playing in a fireteam of likeminded individuals, working together as a unit to take down the enemies. This is especially true when it comes to some of the tougher battles when playing higher levelled Strike missions which will really put you to the test. Calling out when enemies are spawning and flooding in, timing your super attacks and, of course, crying out when you’ve been downed and need reviving – a fairly regular occurrence.

It’s something that really comes together in the Raid mode, designed to cater to six players in a fireteam, beyond the usual three. Rather than having the Ghost lead you by the nose, the first Raid that has been released so far, Vault of Glass, drops you in and lets you figure things out for yourselves. Teamwork and communication are even more paramount as now you have puzzles to deal with and figure out, while also trying to stave off the waves of enemies and bosses, and some of the class and subclass abilities really come into their own.

It is brutally difficult, demanding six players ideally at or above the level 26 mark, and in playing it for over six hours our group has yet to reach the final boss. Even taking into account online guides from others who went before us, there’s a fantastic sense of satisfaction to piecing together the elements of the puzzles laid out before you and then striving to overcome them. So far, the Raid has been the most refreshing and inventive aspect of Destiny since the wonders of landing on Venus and Mars and encountering the new enemies. It does, however, make me question why these ideas didn’t trickle down in some way and the main thrust of the game, upwards of 40 hours in my case, is so repetitive and formulaic.

If that’s something that you’ve struggled with and disparaged when playing with friends, then the Vault of Glass is the light at the end of the tunnel. It was unlocked in the game a week after launch and is part of Bungie’s plans to keep adding and refreshing content within the game, in addition to upcoming paid DLC. There are more Raids planned, of course, but today also sees the launch of The Queen’s Wrath, adding new bounties and missions, hopefully putting a fresh spin on proceedings to keep us invested.

That variety is something that we are also seeing with the fast paced competitive multiplayer, where staples of the genre like Team Deathmatch, Free For All and Domination are joined temporarily by other game modes that alter the objectives, emphasise vehicular combat and the larger maps, or fiddle with the player count. There’s even a preview of what Mercury will look like, and we’ll hopefully get to explore it in upcoming DLC.

Outside of the Iron Banner, a game mode that is set to return in October after a stint during the Beta, your levelling perks have been nullified which leads to a rather well balanced experience in which even beginners ought to be able to compete. Though the rechargeable shield does give you leeway in most cases, special weapons like the Fusion Rifle and Shotgun are able to take someone down in one go, but require charging up and extreme close range to do so and have limited ammo without taking regular pickups.

More deadly are the heavy weapon ammo drops, which see a couple of ammo boxes appear and grant a couple of people the ability to use their rocket launchers or machine guns, though only until they die. These are nothing compared to the potential mass destruction from the use of your super ability, easily capable of taking out multiple enemies in one fell swoop, though you’ll also only get to use this once or twice per match. This does however lead to the one seeming misstep, with the Hunter Bladedancer’s ability allowing them to shrug off damage and cut a bloody swathe from one end of the map to another.

What’s Good:

  • Co-operative play at its best.
  • Well balanced, fast and furious competitive multiplayer.
  • Some beautifully realised locations that are a joy to explore.
  • The Vault of Glass Raid shows there’s potentially a bright future for the game.

What’s Bad:

  • Poor voice acting and script hinders an already weak story.
  • Endless repetition of the same 20 minute mission formula.
  • Grinding beyond level 20 can be particularly arduous and isn’t explained well.
  • Very long load times.
  • Grimoire cards and the clan system cannot be accessed within the game.

Destiny is far from a perfect game, with flaws quite clearly apparent in the storytelling and the repetitive formula, but it’s also a game that can quite easily keep you coming back for more time and again, especially if you play with friends. It’s a shame that some of the ideas in the Vault of Glass Raid couldn’t trickle down into the earlier stages, for more variety and intellectual challenge, but it does at least point to an exciting future for the game.

Score: 7/10

Version tested: PlayStation 4



  1. •Endless repetition of the same 20 minute mission formula

    ^this is basically what put me off buying this, and although 7 isn’t a bad score (and I’m sure fans will grade it higher), it justifies – in my mind at least – my decision not to buy it.

    That said, some of the more recently screen-shots, presumably from later stages in the game, show far more varied and interesting areas than the repetitive rusty environments I explored and criticised in the Alpha and Beta.

    • My mind was pretty much made up before I even played the Beta. I was looking forward to it when I first saw the trailers back at E3 until I saw the first gameplay demo.
      My whole opinion of the game from just that small amount of gameplay turned out to be correct after playing the Beta and then hearing a lot of peoples opinions from the full game. I don’t think I could even be bothered to buy and play this even if it was a tenner.

      • Yeah, I don’t price is an issue, I just don’t think it’s for me. I’m not hugely into Sci-Fi either so the whole space thing doesn’t attract me like it does some people. However if some of the monotony is ironed out, and other improvements are no doubt made, there’s a high possibility I’d be interested in a sequel, there certainly seems to be a good basis for a solid franchise, I’ll hop aboard the Destiny train at the next station.

    • Same here, fella. The moment I started hearing about the repetition it was obviously a problem for many. Sod that! Also, for Bungie to create something so repetitive and then open things up when you’re over level 20 is a huge swing and a miss.

      TSA is the third games site I’ve watched or read something along the lines of “why did they choose to do this for the first twenty levels only then to crack open the really good stuff after that”.

    • Yep I’m with you here Youles. When it sounded like it was gunna be a bit Borderlands-esque I was interested, but then I played the alpha and the beta and immediately decided it was far too repetitive to hold my interest for any length of time…

      I guess my opinion may have been different if I had friends in the real world with a Playstation to play it with, but still, far too samey for my liking.

  2. 7/10 is fair but I have really enjoyed it along with some of my friends. I don’t mind that it’s not the complete package yet as there is lot’s of potential and it will evolve… I hope.

    Hopefully Bungie are a bit better than sony at listening to the fanbase and implementing positive easy changes.

  3. ha ha ha!!!!
    the hype train has derailed.
    glad i didn’t buy this…
    if ya gonna play master-chief make sure its halo not some jumped up rpg-esque space twaddle.

  4. 7/10 is fair.

    But at the same time. I just can’t put it down! Four and a half days logged already, and I’m not even remotely bored yet.

    As you say. Co-op play at its best. Having a few RL friends to play with makes all the difference. Other than a bit of light farming (for faction rep rather than gear) everything I’ve done in game has been with someone else.

    Most of the “what’s bad” section becomes irrelevant when you have someone you know to goof around with.

    • i personally think the review is poor. The repetition is only there if you think about it. Do COD/Battlefield/God of War games have it???? Yes they do but you still see TSA giving GOW 10/10 etc.

      Personally I don’t grind, I play strikes with friends or crucible and other things this game has to offer and so far not got bored.

      The repetition crap coming out is from a vocal minority, and as usual its the “critics” or shall I say, the 1% of gamers.

      Like you said, when you have someone to play with, it’s the most fun I’ve had on any game this gen, and thats saying something for me who is a HUGE Battlefield fan.

      • Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of repetition in games. They’re a repetitive medium by nature, but although most games boil down to “killing stuff” the likes of Battlefield and Call of Duty dress things up differently and insert things like stealth levels, tank assaults and overwatch from an AC-130.

        There are a tiny handful of moments like that sprinkled through the story of Destiny, such as the Sword of Crota mission, but it’s not until the Vault of Glass that they really let loose and trust that the players know how to do more than shoot baddies, defend against three waves and beat a boss character.

        Playing the Strike playlists with friends is a form of grinding anyway, going through the same 6 missions with enemies that you set to higher and higher difficulties.

        Oh, and in relation to your comment on the next page, I’ve played the game for 55 hours, much of which has been played with friends fighting alongside me and chatting away on the headsets. This is when the game is at its best and I’ve had plenty of fun doing so, but that doesn’t mean that the flaws aren’t there to see.

  5. Sounds about right. With the next 3 months releases looking sweet, I’m gonna swerve this one.

  6. Sounds about right. I was so hyped for this game, but after the beta and the final game, I’m left disappointed. The fact that I’ve chosen to spend my time playing other games, even after paying the expensive digital price, is proof enough.

    I can’t help shake the feeling it would have been better without the online part, whilst keeping the co-op.

  7. I don’t quite get the problem some people seem to have with Destiny. Ignoring the fact that 7 is actually a good score.

    Compare it to The Last of Us, a game that has an average review score of 95 on Metacritic, compared to 77 for Destiny. Both games look and sound great. Destiny is lacking in the story department compared to TLoU, but the actual gameplay is vastly better. TLoU is just a very linear game, with bits of (not great) gameplay mixed in with the story. Destiny is a completely pointless story, with a bit more chance to go off and do other stuff. And last a lot longer. Much better value for money. (Nobody really wants to play TLoU a second time, do they?)

    So, unless reviews for TLoU are scored far too high (which could be the case), then Destiny deserves a score of about 11.5 out of 10. Which is obviously stupid.

    • I played through the whole of TLOU twice on the PS3, then again on the PS4 this year & I’ll probably give it another bash at some point.
      As for the gameplay, from what I played from the Destiny Beta I found it absolutely boring continuously shooting at the same aliens and thought it felt a bit empty or soulless whilst shooting the guns.
      As for TLOU gameplay, I thought the sneaking around, conserving ammo and taking a bit more time with my shots and picking a strategic way to go about certain missions more than makes up for it scoring over 20 points more than Destiny.
      In my opinion, if TLOU is 95, then Destiny is a 60. Gameplay, graphics and storyline… No comparison!

    • I don’t have Destiny so I can’t be too critical but my thoughts are that TLOU (despite it’s limited gameplay) delivered so well on the experience and quality that people come away from it overwhelmed, and as such give it a high score. I’m not sure it’s as simple as breaking it down into gameplay and longevity – and also the TLOU multiplayer is the best, and most original multiplayer I’ve played since CoD4, so it’s not just about the great story. :)

      I would have probably expected Destiny to get an 8, just as a guess.

      • I need to get back on TLOU multiplayer and drag myself off BF.

      • You certainly do, otherwise there will be trouble. Lots of trouble.

    • Agree with you completely MrYd.

      Destiny is scratching a co-op itch that I didn’t even know I had. The last game that did that was Halo: Reach, unsurprisingly.

      And who cares about story in a shooter anyway? Has there ever been an FPS that doesn’t essentially boil down to “Go somewhere and shoot something”? Do we really need anymore motivation than that? ^_^

      • Destiny’s mission formula is even more clinical than you will see elsewhere, though, and there is a lot more ingenuity and variety within the Vault of Glass Raid that could easily have found its way into the main story missions and the Strike missions to mix things up.

        Heck, I’d be happy if defending an objective didn’t always mean fighting off three clearly marked waves of increasingly difficult enemies, only for the doors to magically open up just as the last enemy is killed. Put us on a timer, have another wave rush after us as the Ghost closes the door right behind you, anything to put even the tiniest spin on proceedings.

      • I don’t disagree (replying to Stefan L). Some of the mechanics seen elsewhere in the game could easily have been worked into the basic story for a change of pace.

        But even some of the modifiers (skulls) can completely change the way a strike has to be played. I did that exotic weapon bounty for the thorn hand cannon. The modifiers meant that most enemies had shields, and you could only take down those shields with guns of the appropriate element. If I didn’t have a group of competent players able to coordinate and focus fire with the right guns, that strike would have been nearly impossible.

        I guess the point is: Yes, it’s the same strike as before, but actually getting to the end was a completely different kettle of fish to the basic, or even heroic version.

        Its that sort of thing that ALL of the day one reviews couldn’t possibly have experienced. So how can those reviews be a fair representation?

        Which is why I think your review is a fair one. I would personally have rated it higher. But at least you put the hours in!

    • It’s the story (along with the graphics and sound) that stood out in TLoU. The poor gameplay (and don’t even get me started on the MP part of it) seemed to get forgiven because of that.

      Destiny seems to be getting unfairly marked down because of the non-existent story and the repetitive nature of the gameplay. Almost as if people are desperate to make a “vastly overhyped game isn’t very good” story out of it. When really it’s very good, and at least an 8/10. Maybe 8.5. It’s no more repetitive than most other games, really. And it keeps getting better the more you play it. Story missions at heroic level get challenging. At “epic” level, they get pretty much impossible.

      • TLOU – best game of the last gen and arguably one of the most unique multiplayer experiences going. I loved it, others hated it.

        I love Destiny, but you can’t compare it to one of the most well round games of all time. They do however have time to improve it.

    • The thing about The Last of Us is that it’s an experience that stays with you. No other game has ever come close to telling a mature story in such a way. People will talk about The Last of Us for years to come. No one will remember Destiny in 5 years. Not unless they make some radical changes in the sequels. It’s not a bad game but It doesn’t do anything that countless other games in the genre have already done before it. It’s just mindless fun.

    • ‘Not great gameplay’. The gameplay is sublime. How is Destiny’s gameplay vastly better? What part of the gameplay do you not like about TLOU? What didn’t you like about the MP? Are you well?

      So many questions…

      • The alleged gameplay in TLoU is that annoying sneak around, hide behind things, and take out the enemies with a bullet or two, then sneak up on the next enemy thing.

        Much more fun to charge in shooting like a mad thing.

    • The biggest problem here is that you flat-out didn’t like The Last of Us. You bring it up many, many times and it’s transparently obvious that it wasn’t for you. However, with it being regarded as one of the finest video games to exist – by many – means that it was (and continues to be) something special for millions of people around the world.

      Using your own personal comparison of The Last of Us with Destiny is instantly flawed as it’s yours.

      All I can take from this is that you would’ve scored The Last of Us with a 6.5 (or so) out of 10.

      You simply have to allow for the fact that The Last of Us is one of those games that didn’t float your boat even though the masses loved it. It happens from time-to-time. I’ve got a few “how did you enjoy that turgid mess of a game?” and they still had great scores across the board. You just move on and let go of the anger. :-) Alcohol may well be a friend with that. :-)

      • I wouldn’t have given TLoU a 6.5. It might just have been worth about a 7. Mostly because of the graphics and sound, and the story (even if I’ve got some problems with the story, or bits of it).

        A sort of “worth a look if you can find it cheap, and avoid the completely unnecessary online part”.

        Destiny loses points due to pointless “story”, but gains some for the enormous amounts of fun you can have leaping about all over the place shooting stuff. And dancing.

        But the review scores don’t really matter, do they? Or shouldn’t. Really should just be on a scale of 0 to 2, with 2 being “buy it, now”, 1 being “if you want, or it’s too cheap to miss”, and zero being “not even if you paid me”.

      • For years, I’ve yearned for a review process where the final score is simply a noise the reviewer makes or perhaps some sort of expression.

        For example (and in the future):
        The Division
        The Witness
        Batman: Arkham Knight

      • Yes! Exactly this. Just one of those expressions says more than a thousand wasted words.
        I did my own review of Bioshock once and that was only a 2 word review… BioShit.
        Why beat around the bush??? ;)

      • “Why beat around the bush?”
        Because, sometimes, you actually find the hole you were looking for. :-P

      • Comparing The Last of Us, a third person, story heavy game, with Destiny, a first person, mindless shooter, is just ridiculous.

        It’s TLOU’s engrossing story that pulled in the high scores, coupled with the beautiful graphics and atmosphere. There’s nothing quite like it at the moment, game wise.

        As an aside, I think you’re in the minority with regards the multiplayer. Easily the most enjoyable and original experience since the early COD days.

        Also, I’m one of those saddos who’s completed it 5x in total now :-)

        As Bunimo said above, the fact you make no secret (in nearly every post) of the fact you felt thoroughly disappointed with TLOU just shows why biased reviews and scores are meaningless.

    • To be honest, I don’t understand the comparison between TLoU and Destiny, they are completely different games, designed for completely different people. Its like asking which is better, a 3 Series or an X5. They are both arguably best-in-class, but offer entirely different experiences (hatchback or 4×4), and a person’s preference between classes is entirely subjective.

      As for Destiny, I am completely hooked, and I think the main reason for this is I have gone in with an open mind. I accept it for what it is, and am not comparing it to Halo, CoD or WoW. It is supremely addictive, and the ‘an hour a day’ formula works incredibly well around most people’s lifestyles (ie. not game reviewers that replay missions for 10 hours solid).

      I’m 30+ hours in, have three characters, one at level 22, and have no plan to stop any time soon.

  8. Fair review.

    Destiny would have benefited from having a real single player/offline campaign. Keep everything else as it is now but have an epic story to add some depth to an otherwise hollow experience.

    With no reason or understanding of what or why I’m fighting, Destiny feels less like the epic adventure I thought it would be and more throwaway, mindless fun. Nothing wrong with that but don’t expect me to remember it in a years time, hell even a month.

  9. Just out of interest… To anyone who has bought and is enjoying the game, can you see yourself playing it in another month or two?
    There was a hell of a lot of people playing this on my friends list for about a week but the numbers have started to drop pretty quick. (Apart from last night when nearly everyone was on it which made me wonder whether that was because of all the articles & people decided to get some farming in whilst they can.)

    • I do.

      I’ve only just started hitting the high level content. And sure, its the same things we’ve seen before, but its just so much harder it makes the normal level stuff just a joke in comparison.

      And that’s just on one class. My other two classes are way off being able to do the same. By the time I get them up to standard, I imagine there will be all sorts of other paid and Free DLC available.

      • Fair play. I’m really interested to see how time takes its toll on this. Even just up to Xmas.

    • Quite possibly. I’ve got my warlock up to level 27 now. Really need to start on the other 2 classes as well. Then there’s whatever new stuff they add.

      And I can quite easily see myself coming back to the Crucible for months to come. Given that that’s not really my thing normally, that shows just how perfectly they’ve done that side of the game.

    • I probably can see myself doing so. It depends partly on how well the drip feed of content is managed, as well as having other people to continue playing with. Then there’s also the other classes, which would be good to really sink my teeth into.

      We’ll see.

  10. I was surprised at how much i enjoyed the game given all the negatives – but it does have a certain ‘feel’ that keeps drawing you back for more. Even the repetition actually seems less repetitive after a while. Having said that, i reached level 18 and completed the story last night so i’m not sure if there’s much more for me to get out of it now.

    • I’m guessing this is a sarcastic joke? YOu can level up to 30 with Light. Try playing with others and you will see that you really have only just started playing the game from level 20.

    • It’s around this point that you’ll be going over the game’s missions again, whether it’s the daily missions, the Strike playlists or whatever. Doing that and/or diving into the Crucible is necessary to earn the legendary kit with the higher Light values, but if you’ve tuned out some of the repetition and have a few co-op buddies it’s worth doing to try and get to the Vault of Glass.

      Bungie are adding and shifting the game’s focus each week too, so this week features the Queen’s missions and bounties, which look like they’ll help you get to some fancy gear a fair bit quicker.

    • No, as someone who never played online before i’ve had some fun playing this with randoms but really i preferred playing the story missions solo. Now that the story missions are over all i would be doing is revisiting the same places over and over again, just with more difficult enemies.
      If the story had been better told i would welcome more story missions later on but as it is it’s all about the online from here on in i think, and that’s just not enough to keep me interested.
      Also, i should get a decent price if i trade it in now (next gen games are bloody expensive) rather than later.
      Having said all that, i’ll give it another few tries before i do trade it in.

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