It was the middle of September when I was in the local game store browsing the shelves, looking for the next game to play, when the friendly fellow who worked there asked if I need any help finding anything and struck up a conversation. “Have you played Destiny?” he asked me as he pointed to it on the shelf. “I’ve been playing as a Warlock with a few buddies” he continued, “and it’s been a lot of fun. Kind of reminds me of a sci-fi Borderlands“. I told him that I had played it but just wasn’t feeling it, and as our conversation continued and he asked me why, I explained that it’s just the same thing repeated and ultimately a shallow game. “Oh” he remarked. “Just wait for the expansion. It’ll make the game great”. I simply nodded and said that maybe it would before letting him know that I was fine and he wandered off to help other customers.
While he meant well, the EB Games employee had actually hit a nerve. I wasn’t mad at him, of course, but I was annoyed at the revelation his statement had put into my head. If I spend $80 on a game after taxes (games be pricey in Canada), why should I have to spend another $40 before it actually becomes good?
First, let’s be clear about one thing: I don’t hate Destiny. I don’t think it’s a terrible game, but I do think it’s terribly disappointing game. I bought it on launch day, played it for a few nights with some friends, then very quickly realized I was bored with doing the same thing over and over again. Not in the way that every game is the same game over and over again (in any FPS you’ll shoot enemies over and over again), but in more of a “this game has tons of missions, but every single one has the exact same structure” type of repetition. The actual shooting mechanics, that is, the actual control and feel of the guns and how they interact with the world and it’s inhabitants is solid. In fact, it’s more than solid, it’s downright incredible. It’s not a stretch to say that Destiny is the best feeling shooter I’ve ever played, and I think that’s why I had such a great first impression of it. From the moment you get your hands on that first rifle you can feel that the gunplay is polished and exciting and you can’t help but imagine all the cool stuff that lay ahead of you, which is exactly where Destiny falls apart. That cool stuff never happens, and the solid foundation is never built upon.
The most common complaint against Destiny is that there’s just not enough content. It’s a short game, and what content does exist is incredibly repetitive. Some might say that’s the entire point; Destiny is a loot-based game at its heart, and loot-based games, almost by definition, contain copious amounts of grinding. Unfortunately, even by this metric Destiny is lacking. It’s lacking in variety compared to nearly every other loot-based game, all of the really cool loot is entirely luck based and very hard to acquire, and there’s not even any semblance of plot or intrigue to string you along until you reach that next shiny pickup. Despite what it’s large (and mostly empty) fields might suggest, Destiny is a small game and you can see most of what it offers within a few hours.
Destiny fooled me, I expected it to be a much better game than it was. That’s on me. Sometimes game aren’t what you expected and turn out badly. That’s okay, but what’s not okay is when you’re expected to fork over more money to “make it great”. If you want to release a game at $100 ($120 in Canada) then go ahead and do that, but releasing a poor game and then asking for more money after the fact to fix it is an insulting proposition. With how content-light Destiny is it almost seems as if we were sold an unfinished game, almost like Early Access without the warnings (and at full price). Even worse, I’m afraid this might be the precedent for the industry. If Destiny gets away with shipping a partial game and charging for the rest, I’m afraid that the rest of the industry might follow suit. The slippery slope argument isn’t usually a good one, but videogames are ultimately a business, and a business is going to follow the money.
Of course, it goes without saying that I’m not going to be buying any of the expansions. I’m going to cut my losses and not throw good money after bad. If you enjoy Destiny then more power to you. I’m not here to tell you what you can and cannot enjoy, and I’m genuinely happy that you were able to enjoy a game that I was not. But I won’t get fooled again.