If you're looking for deeper analysis of the game and other online reviews lack sufficient examination, then read on.
Destiny is a big game that feels small. After a heart-pumping intro mission that features environmental manipulation--like grates falling from ceilings, pop up enemies, sound in the walls and trip mines--the game sends you to the Tower, your headquarters for the remainder of the game. It overlooks a glittering cityscape overshadowed by an immense alien sphere called the Traveler. The Tower is encircled by snow-capped mountains and flying craft that scurry near and far on unknown business.
At first glance, the Tower feels as if endless activities and quests are ready to be triumphed. It soon becomes apparent that the player is confined to a few thousand square feet of explorable real estate and quests typically come from one source at a time.
This was the first major disappointment.The quest system doesn't measure up to previous generation benchmarks like those in the Elder Scrolls or Fallout franchises. In them, the player only needed to walk around cities or villages and talk to almost any NPC to could gather information about the area, other characters, or start quests. Compare the lifeless Tower to the lively Citadel in Mass Effect, with its fully realized characters, multiple explorable floors and varied missions with multiple outcomes.
In Destiny, you typically get missions from one of four people in the tower and barely exchange dialogue. One cut scene with a character called the Speaker explains nothing and sends you on a mission. Looking back after playing the rest of the game, you were lucky to get that much. There are no dialogue exchanges or cutscenes with the NPCs voiced by Nathan FIllion, Peter Storemare, Claudia Black, Gina Torres and other excellent voice actors. Sometimes they say things to no one in particular, or maybe you buy something from them, but you don't really interact with them.
You must rely on a little hovering companion called a "ghost," voiced by Peter Dinklage, to interpret what just happened. He briefs you on missions while you descend on exotic alien locales to extinguish all life you encounter. Unfortunately, most of the time he seems just as ignorant as you. Before you know it, you've completed 20-30 of these missions with vague introductions, sparse cut scenes, half-assed explanations and the game ends. You beat it and probably have no idea what just happened.
The entirety of the main story plays like the introduction mission to a bigger game. This may have been the intent, because Destiny is an Mega Multiplayer online game and additional content is how those games stay alive. Howvever not much extra content is available. If anything, the extra content is even more vague than the main story.
The game succeeds at one thing: making you feel like a real soldier. You are sent into one dangerous situation after another without a proper briefing or planning, told to complete an objective without context, and told to rely on the judgment of your superiors.
The story is supplemented by an intel catalogue called "Grimoire." It is similar to the Codex in Mass Effect Games. The biggest difference, of course, is that it's not in the game. It's only accessible online at bungie.net or official application. It's also not voiced. It doesn't contain any video. The lore contained in the grimoire is on the back of animated flip cards.
The grimoire is one of my favorite parts of the game, although some would argue that it isn't really part of the game at all. It finally gives background on enemies that you've already slaughtered by the thousands. It fills out the world you've inhabited but didn't know anything about. Some of the grimoire cards even have unreliable narrators, which is a fun addition to the lore. Still, it once again fails to achieve the success of previous generation efforts like a similar Bungie supplemental app, Halo Waypoint.
Waypoint featured videos, an anime series and an online live-action series called Forward Unto Dawn. Halo had a story all its own and used Waypoint as a way to flesh out other parts of the world. The Grimoire is the primary source of Destiny's story. It requires the player to stop playing, sit at a computer and read story fragments to figure out what is going on. It will put off virtually all casual gamers.
What little story is present takes place on the Earth, the Moon, Venus and Mars. Mercury and the Asteroid Belt show up in limited roles but don't yet offer any playable story. The playable areas are enormous, though most players don't realize it immediately. The environments are partitioned, isolating the player from vast landscapes by injecting narrow tunnels and paths. It unfortunately diminishes the sense of grandeur. However, if players do a circuit of the playable area on any planet, they would discover miles of terrain.
These "open-world" environments were expertly designed with mission gameplay in mind, but completely suck to explore. Remember all the amazing nooks, crannies, landmarks, Easter eggs, dungeons, huts, villages and caves you found while wandering around Skyrim? You'll find none of that in Destiny. Destiny's landscapes are designed to squeeze you from point A to point B to finish an objective with no fuss and limited distraction. Even though players can go where they want, I'd balk at calling this an "open-world" game.
The additional content outside the main story is where Destiny gets fun. It's a good thing too, because the main story has only about six-to-eight hours of repetitive gameplay. Players can opt to go on missions called Strikes and Raids. They are mostly new areas designed to be more difficult and are geared toward cooperative multiplayer. This is the heart of the game. This is an MMO and only on these missions is that intention conveyed. Between the 6-to-8 strikes (depending on platform) and two additional raids, Bungie has added hours of unique gameplay.
Even though Destiny botched the broad strokes, it got many of the little details right. After playing through five or six Halo campaigns, the game mechanics feel like coming home. Every movement is graceful and balanced to work with a shooter. Perks on your character slightly alter the game's feel and make a big difference in multiplayer.
Destiny's multiplayer (called the Crucible) is designed to work in tandem with the "story." Weapons and upgrades cross over between thew two. Players are not locked into using specific weapons or classes for anything, Crucible or story. If you earn a gun you like, you can use it in any part of the game. Unfortunately, Crucible matches are plagued by lag, just like old Halo 2 matches. A clean connection in a Crucible match is extremely fun (if you like PVP). Other times... this happens:
Many have described this game as gorgeous. While it does, indeed, look nice, it looks like a highly polished mod of a previous generation console game, because it is. The game was designed with the graphics limitations of the XBox360 and Playstation 3 in mind. Large land objects block the player from seeing too many things at once, so we won't suffer a drop in frame rate. It lacks the overwhelming sense of realism found in current generation games like Dying Light and the Silent Hill demo. Faces aren't as expressive as in Infamous Second Son, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare or, for that matter, Halo 4.
It's a good game. It ties together genres that usually don't overlap in MMOs. It's biggest detraction is that that's all it is. A good game that mixes together game types. It isn't at the forefront of graphics, storytelling or game mechanics. It was created by a studio that mastered first-person shooting long ago, so that is top notch, but everything else is just...decent. It is mindless fun, but little else.