Like many others, I have been playing Destiny quite religiously since the launch in September. I rolled one character and wanted to see it to the end. How far did I get? As of last week, my Titan is level 27. This is the point where I have decided to stop playing Destiny and I do not see myself returning to it in a meaningful way in the near future. So what drove me to spend as much time as I did in Destiny and why have I lost the motivation to keep going? That is what I will attempt to explain in this article, so read on!
Playing Destiny for the first 20 levels was a refreshing experience. As a long time fan of the Halo series, I found myself right at home with the core mechanics of the game. It is this solid shooting mechanic and triple gun system that made me come back to the game over and over again. For the most part, my time was spent completing story missions and strikes for the first 20 levels of my character. Here we reach one of the major complaints that everyone has with Destiny: the weak and unrealized storyline. It felt as though there was a good story in the game at some point, but it was ripped out shortly before the launch of the game. This is very uncharacteristic of Bungie which is a studio founded on games with deep and fully realized storylines.
On top of the unsatisfying plot, Destiny seriously lacks new content. Once I achieved level 20, I had to participate in strike playlists (which are essentially a collection of strikes that are randomly picked from all available strikes in the game) in order to gain Vanguard Marks which is the only reliable way to get legendary items. As an aside, obtaining legendary items and upgrading them is the only way to progress beyond level 20. Doing strike playlists became a rather boring venture where I had to keep beating the same strikes over and over again in order to rack up reputation and marks. This becomes increasingly annoying as teams of 3 players essentially dash through these strikes as fast as possible which destroys any kind of immersion that Destiny provided. This was worsened by the fact that the random strike selector in Destiny is a disgrace to the word “random”. I was placed in the exact same strike 3 or 4 times in a row which meant that I ran the same mission for 2 hours at a time. The flow of each strike is static. Enemies spawn in the exact same order and rate and in the exact same location every time which encourages players to dash to the finish line as quickly as possible. After all, we have all done this mission 20 times by now.
Trudging through the strike playlists, I was able to outfit my character with all legendary items. That brought me to level 25. To progress further, I had to upgrade my legendary items by gathering very rarely dropped resources which involved doing more of the same strikes and missions in hopes that I could accumulate a sufficient number of these resources to upgrade my gear. So my reward for collecting all of those legendary items was more farming and grinding in the exact same areas where I have now spent almost 100 hours doing the exact same things that I have been doing all along.
The ultimate objective of all this grinding and farming is Destiny’s only raid (famously known as the Vault of Glass) that is only beatable by a team of 6 players who have acquired sufficiently upgraded legendary gear. This is where the cookie crumbled for me. I do not have 5 friends on PSN with whom I could arrange a time to consistently attempt this raid. As a result, attempting these raids without a matchmaking system in the game becomes as cumbersome as the process to level my character so that it could participate in raids in the first place.
I was also particularly annoyed by the low drop rates and the concept of engrams (perhaps the worst idea Bungie has ever had and that includes “The Library”). What are engrams? They are essentially a mystery box of loot. There is an engram type for each level of item rarity in the game: common, uncommon, rare, legendary, and exotic. Each engram can turn into a random item of its rarity. A legendary engram can be decrypted to give a legendary item. The problem is that engrams can turn into an item for any of the 3 classes in the game. That means that my legendary engram could turn into a helmet that can only be used by a hunter. This is incredibly frustrating when more often than not, my sheer excitement from getting an engram was met with complete disappointment as it turned into an item that my character could not possibly use.
Sadly, the promise of endless hours of more grinding and farming with little hope of actually completing the endgame raid was not enough to entice me to keep playing Destiny. You may say that I have already played my money’s worth of this game and you may be right. However, I can not help but be disappointed when I think about what Destiny could have been. For a game that has been in development at Bungie for nearly 5 years and cost $500M, Destiny feels bare and repetitive. I grew bored before seeing arguably the grand finale of the game (The Vault of Glass) and I think that like me, plenty of Destiny players will lay down their controllers before reaching that point in the game. While a significant number of Destiny’s problems can be fixed with updates in the future (including the lack of content), I am afraid that I do not see myself investing any more time in to Destiny while so many new and interesting gaming experiences are fighting for my attention this holiday season.