Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Destiny Xbox One (Review/List of needed improvements)

It is incredibly hard to describe how I feel about Destiny. On one hand I am hopelessly addicted, I have played every single day for hours on end since it's release on the 9th. On the other hand this game has frustrated me to no end. I don't want this to turn into a rant, and I don't want to paint a portrait that I dislike the game, because I don't, so I might as well get the first bit out of the way now. Destiny suffers from it's own ambition, it's an unfortunate thing, but there are much worse things to suffer from.

Unfortunately one of the main points on which Bungie missed the mark by so much you can't even see where the target was anymore is the lack of any real narrative. While there is plenty of lore, and information about the world provided through the Grimoire on Bungie.net, it is unbelievable that it isn't built into the game. How can you force people to leave the gamespace to go to an external source to get information about world. How and why was this decision made? There is no story arch, there is a vague begining, but after that, nothing that can be of any use. Why was I dead? Why was I brought back to life? How do my actions affect the world around me? What the fuck is the Traveler?

Apparently in the game, no one really knows, because they are all very quick to be as vague as possible. Also, they keep mentioning things that they NEVER EXPLORE IN THE FUCKING GAME! I can't understand who made the decision that how they put it out there is good enough to warrant $60 or more. The world seems so deep, and you want to know what is happening, where you stand in humanity's struggle to survive, and how it all impacts the random people you see moving about the Tower. But in the end all of your heroic deeds amount to nothing more than a light level, and that is incredibly sad.

Destiny's story mode consists of doing missions on the various ingame planets: Earth, the Moon, Venus, and Mars. The missions center around the same concept for each one fight enemies to get to where you need to be, deploy ghost, fight off waves of enemies, mission end. It really doesn't get more varied than that, and then the game just abruptly ends. There was a moment after reaching Venus where it seemed as if maybe the game was turning a corner, treating us to a couple lengthy cut-scene's featuring the Queen of the Awoken, but they went nowhere, and only seem to stand to point towards what is coming from the Expansion Pass. But, as I mentioned before the game ends in such an anti-climatic, did this really just end kind of way.

But, enough doom and gloom, why have I been playing for two weeks straight if the story is that terrible? Because Bungie nailed the gameplay, and co-op in a way few could. The gunplay is fast, intuitive and easily accessible. The guns themselves feel like they should, firing a Machine Gun has natural recoil forcing the gun upwards, while the Scout Rifle which is a single fire weapon is smooth and accurate with minimal flinch. All weapons and gear can be upgraded through the games in-game currency known as Glimmer, and resources you find out in the world. Once you get up to level 20 you begin to level past 20 using Light, an attribute that comes with most Blue (Rare), and all Purple (Legendary) and Yellow (Exotic) armor. The higher the rarity of your armor the more upgrade materials you need keeping you from becoming top level too quickly.

Once you start unlocking planets you can take on Strike missions, or just go to the open world section of each planet where you can do Patrol missions. Doing either of these will net you Vanguard Marks and Rep, which can be used to purchase Legendary Armor and Weapons. At base level you can tackle the Strikes on your own, but the real fun in Destiny comes from partying up with friends or randoms to do the Strikes and Patrols. I can't describe just how social Destiny is, even if your friends list is devoid of people you will quickly make friends in the world of Destiny. Actually most of my activity feed on Xbox One is people unlocking achievements in Destiny, making game clips of Destiny, and adding friends they have made.... playing Destiny.

There is no shortage of things to do in Destiny, playing through each of the missions on harder difficulty settings also adds a nice mixture of ways to test your skills. But, inevitably you will begin the agonizing grind of farming. It may just be materials for upgrades, or trying to farm engrams for better armor and weapons. The loot system seems a little broken at the moment, I don't think you should just see loot drop everywhere, but you should at least get something for defeating a boss, or actually find something with better stats (once you get a legendary of a certain weapon type, they pretty much all blend together.). Outside of that there are plenty of bounties that will have you completing Patrol missions on certain planets, or upping the difficulty on a certain mission, that keep the game fresh and varied.

When you have explored the galaxy to your liking there is always PVP, which is on par with what you would expect from the developer that created Halo. With the added verticality of double-jumps, triple-jumps, and glides, the battlefield feels fast paced and versatile. There are slight balancing issues as even with nerfs to make players closer in ability bonus stats to armor and weapons remain, meaning those with higher level high quality gear have a slight edge on their lower level counterparts. The amount of special ammo around also makes for a tiresome run if someone favors shotguns or fusion rifles, but overall PVP is quite addicting and doing the bounties will add even more playtime, especially for those who don't tend to like PVP.

With the addition of last weeks Vault of Glass raid, the game has added even more content to conquer. The first team made it through in 11 hours, with an average lifespan of 2 minutes. The Raid is the truest test of teamwork and skill, having only played a little of it, I can't say much about the end boss, but, from what I did experience it is both punishing and incredibly fun and rewarding. Destiny is being lauded as a 10 year deal, with a whole lot of future ahead of it. What Bungie has done here is lay out the groundwork for a series that could become one of the greatest of all time, if it fixes the issues it experienced with this release. I hold out hope for future updates and the DLC, but as of now Destiny feels like a whole lot of ambition with some poor decision choices, and an incredibly weak bare bornes story. I can applaud what Bungie have created, and I look forward to the future, but as it stands right now Destiny is simply incomplete. If you choose to say that "Oh, it's coming!" then you missed the promise that was made in an interview with Bungie done by Angry Joe, which can be found here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQKp0VcA1Vw if you skip to 10:48 he states "a game with a distinct beginning, middle, and end" that is not what is here. It is vague, and bates you with promise of more story in the DLC, basically trapping the story behind a paywall. With everything considered I still give it an 8/10, but it's more for the amount of amazing times I've had just exploring the world with new friends, and dropping into a public event with complete strangers. So, I will leave you with this picture that pretty well sums up my loot experience, and a list of things I believe could make this game damn near perfect.

There needs to be more story, more impact on the world, your "legend" should have impact and not just be an objective.

Add a Challenge system, while bounties are great, and Grimoire score is nice having a challenge system close to that of Diablo III would add replay value, and a reason for players to play in a slightly different way, or explore more of the world.

Areas should scale to level, I understand that the world of Destiny is all inclusive, but seeing a bunch of 28's run through an area with a bunch of level 8 enemies is just sad and the lower level players never get a chance to kill anything.

Open chat systems in Patrol, and the tower. I don't understand why this isn't possible there is only so much you can say through pointing and dancing.

The Grimoire should be a part of the game itself, at no point should I have to break immersion to go look up what this enemy is or "what happened to this?". 

The ability to find clan members in the world, I have only been able to play with one clan member this whole time, and for all I know I've run right past them while on Patrol or at the tower, it would be great to see a couple members of my clan and be able to just party up with them on the fly.

More Fireteam members on harder difficulties. I feel like if you can have 6 people during the Raid portion, you should be able to tackle the Weekly Nightfall, or the Strike playlist with the same amount. If it's an issue with balancing you can restrict it to a certain difficulty level, and make the enemies put out more damage, or add more multipliers.

More diverse bounties, I can't tell you how many times I've had to do 6 Patrol missions on the Moon, or kill 25 Hunters in the Crucible. It should refresh more, and keep track of what you have done already. Also the Bounty Bot (I'm not sure what he is really called), should have playlist specific bounties removed when that playlist is no longer active (he is still giving me Salvage bounties, a game type that was only available the first weekend the game was out.).

More customization options, I made the same character as I did in the Beta, my girlfriend without seeing mine made the same as me, only her's was female. You don't have to give us Skyrim overkill customization, but at least let there be a chance that we make someone we aren't going to see elsewhere.

Notifications if our friends are playing through the same mission, or a strike that has an open slot. This isn't necessity, it would just be cool if when you are matchmaking a playlist, and you have friends matchmaking the same playlist if we could be lumped together or at least have an option to.

A vote to skip option in the Strike Playlist. Sometimes when you are in the Strike playlist you will end up on the same strike 3-4 times in a row, forcing you to sit through the load, then back out, then go back in, then load, then back out. If it could have a lobby where you have an option to vote it would be really nice, and it would cut back on repetition. 

The ability to skip cutscenes... just seriously one button.

Patrol missions that go somewhere, kind of like a public event. I end up on these scouting missions, where I'm asked to scout an entrance, or a battlefield, and then I get there climb up where it wants me and I just stand there until the meter fills to 100%. Why can't we have it so that scouting something actually leads to your Guardian taking action, to where you feel like you are actually making a difference.

Engrams should scale!!!! If I'm level 24, I should never see a Green engram, I know you can gain mats from Weapons and Armor dismantling, but when you reach over 200 and you are already dismantling every Blue engram you find there is no point in Green's anymore. Have Blue's drop as what they are, and only have Legendary and Exotic engrams drop from that point out.

Make the stats on Armor and Weapons vary from Weapon to Weapon, and Armor to Armor. It doesn't have to drastic, it doesn't have to add more light, just make the Attack differ. I recieved two Legendary Shotguns in 1 day, the both had the same exact stats just a different name, making the second one usless, it would be way better if my weapons actually had a chance of getting better just outright, rather than it's all the same just this one does void and that one does fire.

Make it possible to reach Light Level 30 without doing the Raid. I will be doing the raid, but the drops are still random, and from what I've heard in order to reach 30 you have to defeat the Raid on it's hardest difficulty. It's hard enough getting through the Raid on it's normal difficulty, it's even harder for most to even find 6 people to do the Raid with. If the case is that Raid gear will be necessary to reach 30, you need to make it possible for those who do not wish to do the Raid, or can't find the people to do it with the ability to naturally level to 30.

Make The Gunsmith and the Speaker improve their stock. Outside of weekends when Xur shows up the speaker is the only other person who accepts Motes of Light, and he only sells class items and emblems, which never change! The Gunsmith always sells greens with a slight (and I have yet to see it) chance of selling blues. I use him for nothing more than Ammo Synthesis at this point, try the Borderlands method where he offers up something unique every hour or so at the top that is different for everyone, and once you reach the point that greens no longer apply to you make it so that he sells nothing but Blues with a slight chance of Purples. If you feel that is too easy make it cost more Glimmer, or have people use Motes for Purples.

Cryptarch Level should fucking matter! I'm not saying you should have a significantly higher chance of getting better than what the engram is, I'm saying you should have an increased chance that it will be the same, still with a slight chance of getting better/downgrading. But the chance for the same color should be drastically increased. I watched someone with a Cryptarch level of 16 getting straight blues, 1 purple, and 1 yellow off of like 13 Purple engrams. That is absolutely horrible odds, of even getting the same.

Engrams available to buy from the Cryptarch should level with his level. That goes back to Cryptach Level should matter. At level 27, with a 13 level Cryptarch, he only offers me whites and greens, how does that even work?! If you allowed people to spend more glimmer, or motes on higher quality engrams straight from the Cryptarch you wouldn't have crowds of people standing outside of a cave for hours on end.

Reduce the amount of materials needed for base improvements. The last teir for my weapons and armor require the same amount of Ascendant Shards per upgrade, as the one before it, and I rarely ever find these materials, either reduce the first upgrade in the last tier, make the second slightly more, and the last the most so it at least feels like maybe we can upgrade this stuff.

Increase the range/damage of Shotguns in PVE. I just got 2 fancy new Legendary Shotguns, I will never use these in PVE because they are absolutely worthless there, which means I would have to dedicate myself to my Shotgun in PVP to even get it moderately upgraded, and still have it be worthless in PVE.

Have Strike/Story Bosses drop fucking loot!!!!!!!! I fight my way through hordes of enemies, I get to the final boss and an epic battle ensues, and at the end when the dust settles and he falls to my finely honed skills he drops... ammo and maybe if you're lucky a consumable that will get you more Glitter with a certain faction. SERIOUSLY?! I have watched Purple engrams fly out of a Dreg, and this Bulletsponge gives no one in my party anything?! FIX IT! While you're at it, have Yellow enemies (Majors/Ultras) have a better chance of loot drops as well, and reduce it on the lowly peons. Once again going back to that Angry Joe interview, "We want you to feel like you earned that weapon or piece of armor, and have a memory attached to it." The only memory anyone is going to have is "Oh yeah, I got that by killing endless Goblins during the Nexus strike." or "I stood outside a cave for 3 hours." or "I just woke up the hive over and over again." I don't feel like I earned something when I kill the lowest man on the totem-pole and he gives me a Legendary. I feel like I earned it when I killed something that was hard, with a giant health bar.

Give more Weapon stats, the Attack number system is garbage. Just tell me how much Crit damage it does, and how much on average it does.

Nerf the stopping power of Special Weapons or reduce the ammo. You have to wait for Heavy Ammo, but yet Special Ammo is plentiful and bottomless, allowing for people to run around with Shotguns and Fusion Rifles for the entire match. Put that on a timer as well, so that it's not just a Shotgun fest.

Keep low levels that don't have armor and weapon upgrades in a seperate matchmaking from higher level players. I have seen some low levels deal some serious death, but I have also seen a group of low levels decimated by their high level counterparts. It would just be better to keep things fair for everyone to give us two separate lobbies.

Titans should have to double tap to kill like Warlocks and Hunters, I understand they are like the Tank class, but still if everyone else has to hit twice, so should they.

Give the players on the top of leaderboard a slightly better chance at getting loot, I have watched numerous times as the top players have gotten nothing, while the bottom has gotten a plethora, even watched the next to last player get an exotic once.

Add the aforementioned Challenge system.

Add private lobbies so that people can organize their own events, and compete on a professional level.

I think this game has massive potential, and my suggestions are my own, and you don't have to agree with them. Bungie will probably never see this list, most of these suggestions will never make it into the game, but I felt compelled because I love this game at it's core. I hope more people give it a chance, and I hope the DLC is so massive it blows everyone's mind. I still have 2 more Classes to fully explore, and I just hope that as the community speaks that Bungie/Activision listen, and in the end we get a Galxy worth fighting for.