This will be an incredibly late review. I should actually be finishing some applications for OSU or Miami, but whatever. I'm still barely awake, haven't had the desire to make coffee yet. My hair is a mess, and I really, really don't want to write about my life.
So, we're going to talk about Destiny. Let's nip something in the bud real quick:
This was not, by any means, the worst triple-A game to come out this year. That was Watch Dogs or Thief. Those games were really, really bad. Destiny is at the very least a fun video game. The part where you shoot robots and they explode feels very nice. Good job. Bad shooting would have killed that game, and it's actually sort of impressive given that it's most of an MMO, and MMOs have terrible, terrible combat.
Let me describe my experience with Destiny.
I bought that game about three weeks ago. Might have been four, but near enough to make no difference. I bought it because most of my friends were playing and we had all sort of burned out on other social games. 2014 has been an incredibly slow year in the industry and what that means is a lot of World of Warcraft, because if your choice is "shitty thing that takes 20 hours" and "polished MMO that you've played before, but you can play with people you know and like" you pick the latter, until something really good comes along. Destiny was that, for a time.
I got in late, by about a week and a half, and was lucky enough to have an incredibly light workload when I started. My first day I played for 14 straight hours, and hit level 24 by the day after. I capped out at 28 a week and a half after that. I had fun almost the entire time; I wasn't really invested in the story, but the world they built up had potential, and I was trying to get some good guns because I was stuck with some pretty middling firearms and my performance was suffering because of it.
I play a hunter. Hunters are people who shoot guns. I have a grenade that explodes and sets things on fire. I also have a throwing knife, and a super ability that let's me shoot an extra strong gun. I bought a hat that let's me shoot it one more time. All of my gear reduces the cooldown on my grenades and on my super, which is good because thanks to my hat, I can use my super more often when I kill things with grenades. That's neat.
I was level 27 when I did my first raid. There is currently 1 raid in the game, called the Vault of Glass. There are about 7 encounters in the Vault, and 2 bosses. The first boss has 3 parts: first you fight a wave of enemies where there are specific things you need to kill and specific puddles to avoid, and then you fight oracles, which are glowing blocks that you have to shoot or they just kill everyone. The third part is the actual boss, who we killed by jumping on to a platform outside of his range and shooting him a bunch until he fell over. We actually wiped one time, because the person in charge of keeping us alive fell off the edge. The second time he didn't, and we shot the boss until the boss died.
I got a pair of purple gloves that were worse than what I had on, but only because I didn't use strength. So I broke them down and got crafting material, which was fine.
The next two encounters were pretty simple. The first was a stealth section; you had to run past Gorgons, who are flying robots that kill you in about 10 seconds once they see you. That was pretty fun. You have no active stealth so you just need to know the path and follow the leader to the next segment, and if you're good enough you can actually kill the Gorgons, but since we were a little undergeared that wasn't going to happen.
Once we finished the stealth section, we got to the jumping puzzle. It was pretty simple, you just had to jump on to platforms before they disappeared, and do so fast. I also liked that; it required precise movements and knowing which of your jump abilities was going to be best. For me it was a triple jump, because it gave me a good emergency ability to get to another platform if I fucked up.
And then we hit the final boss. Two people had to take portals, while the rest of us had to murder things coming towards a circle. We died once because people fucked up, but then got it down and spawned the final boss. It was actually a decently fun part of the fight, but it's incredibly boring to describe. It's very frantic, and I really just ended up shooting things as much as I could until they died because I had no clear understanding of what I was doing until after it was done.
So here's where it all breaks down. This requires a little backstory, to further educate you on what this game is about. Bear with me.
There are enemies called the Vex. The vex are evil robots. In the Vault of Glass, you fight nothing but Vex. One of the Vex types you fight is called the Minotaur; it's not a cool bull robot, it's just a larger one with no weakspot, unlike pretty much any other enemy in the game. The minotaur has a unique mechanic; if you land a grenade that has a lasting effect, something that does continual area damage, the minotaur will avoid it by jumping to the left of the grenade. One class can do this really well, the Warlock.
The final boss of the entire game at this point is called Atheon. Atheon is actually a pretty tough robot; he's got some good damage and spawns some pretty hefty adds that you need to take care of. Atheon actually has a custom character skin, which is good since he's a final boss, but Atheon has something else. It was noticed by a warlock, of course, when the warlock threw a grenade at Atheon's feet in a place where the boss couldn't sidestep the grenade. Atheon jumped to the left of the grenade. Just like the minotaur.
The final boss of the game was a remodeled enemy that we had been facing since the start of Destiny. That's not inherently bad. Lots of bosses use the same wiremesh from earlier monsters, it's a cost saving measure and they usually have a bunch of custom scripts so that they're not just the same enemy type. It can actually be really beneficial; if you have enemies that teach you the boss mechanic, and you just use a beefed up version of that enemy, the player knows exactly how to fight the boss without any severe trial or error. Great! That's megaman design, really good stuff.
That's not what happened in Destiny. You see, the warlock figured out that, because Atheon used the minotaur behavioral model on top of the minotaur frame, he was behaving exactly like a minotaur did. The stagger animation was the same, the way he held the gun was the same, and the Boss AI only had new scripts for events within the fight; outside of that, he was really just a beefy minotaur. So this warlock did what MMO players do. He found the path of least resistance.
We knew about this going in to the fight, and everyone in the group is an MMO player. So we had both of our warlocks go up to the boss. It took them a few tries to get the timing right, but they did it. Our boss down time, from his spawn to the end of the fight, was 3 minutes and 30 seconds. I have spent longer writing the last two paragraphs than that. Here's how it happened, and it was over in an instant.
The two warlocks kited the boss to the edge, and using some well timed grenades, pushed the minotaur frame and it's AI against the edge of the map. It would jump each and every time, in the same direction. Every grenade got it a little closer. And then, when it was at the right spot, they popped their super, which allowed for almost unlimited grenades, and baked the ground with them. Atheon jumped, because he was programmed to jump, and he never landed. He went out of bounds on the map and took damage from being out of bounds. Then he died.
I still have a hard time grasping that. I spent all of that time getting gear, all of that time leveling and working to get my reputation up with groups so that I could have the right guns to kill the final boss, and when we get there all that we did was push him off a cliff. A game with a 135 million dollar development budget, designed by one of the best game companies around, working with a company that runs the most successful MMO of all time, has a boss that can be glitched off the side of the cliff.
Killing him got me to rank 3 with Vanguard, and they sent me a gun. It was a pretty good gun. I got another good gun in the mail, found another later in the week, and bought one from a vendor just two days ago. I don't really know why I have them. I have no reason to do the boss the way Bungie intended because that's not how you play an MMO. You play an MMO by cracking the code; you figure out that on the Dark Shamans fight in WoW that if you get a third tank you can make the fight much less chaotic by moving one of the bosses up a hill away from the group. You figure out that Atheon can be glitched off the cliff. The legitimate way is the least efficient way, because you know that you can just do it faster. The rewards are the same, and the rewards are the reason you're fighting in the first place.
More and more of these cheese methods have been popping up as people who are used to much better MMOs look at Destiny with eyes that have been trained to look for these glitches for the past decade, and it's absolutely killing the challenge. Sure, you could say that if you just do it the legitimate way the challenge will be back, but knowing that there is an easier path to take just ruins that. It's like being told to wrestle a bear, but at any point you can just give a thumbs up and they'll shoot the bear in the back of the head.
Who the fuck quality assured this game?