Destiny (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, 360, PS3) review: My week with Destiny

The Good Destiny is a solid first-person shooter with great visuals and jaw-dropping backdrops. It's even better when played with a group of friends. Leveling up your character is addictive and will have you coming back for more.

The Bad The story in Destiny isn't really worth paying attention to. Many of the game's missions are redundant and uninspired. Multiplayer matchmaking is also unfair on beginners.

The Bottom Line Destiny is a victim of the hype machine created around it. It's a refined console shooter that feels great during the action, but goes stale during just about every other component of the game.

By now it's extremely possible you've been exposed to or have heard of a game called Destiny. It's made by a developer named Bungie, known for its creation of the iconic Halo series that debuted exclusively on the original Xbox. With Halo handed off to 343 Industries, Bungie got busy preparing a game that would turn into Destiny.

Destiny is a sci-fi first-person shooter set way, way in the future after a giant ball of goodness, known as "The Traveler" (no, not that Traveler), has arrived on Earth. The Traveler gave humans all kinds of awesome technology and made possible interplanetary space travel. A few centuries have passed and now an alien force wants to destroy mankind. You're a Guardian, part of a special faction of Earth protectors that must help save the world, or at least what's left of it.

That's the gist I can extract from the game, because if there's one thing Destiny struggles with -- well, there are a lot of struggles here -- it's with storytelling. Compared with some of the other narratively charged offerings these days, Destiny reads at a kindergarten level. There's just not much going on. It doesn't feel important. Consequently, the lack of exposition detached me from any kind of incentive as I marched through the campaign. Its failure to feel epic is a letdown. It wasn't long before I was skipping the cinematics. My only real driving force was wanting to level up my character, which is perhaps the game's only saving grace.


It's the character customization that I think most players will fall in love with, because there's a generous amount of self-expression baked into player creation. You decide your character's class, race, gender, hundreds of design details, color accents, and more. As you play on and level up, you'll unlock new perks, guns, and other rewards. Weapons and armor can also get upgrades, but because the rate of leveling up is about once per hour, you'll never spend much time with a specific weapon before a shiny new, more powerful alternative becomes available.

Check out GameSpot's coverage of Destiny

The interface for managing your character and inventory is a smartly designed menu system that's controlled with a cursor -- like using a mouse. It's a clever aesthetic choice and feels very natural, especially to someone with a bunch of RPG gaming on PC under his belt.

Destiny introduces some interesting co-op experiments by essentially forcing you to share your game world with other random players (or "randos" as some put it). You don't need to play with these people, though they'll occasionally show up in a mission. It's not until you team up with friends that the real co-op magic becomes clear. Sure, you can play alone, but Destiny -- especially deeper into the game -- is best experienced with buddies.


The always-connected nature of Destiny doesn't really do much if you're just trying to blast through the campaign. Most of your interactions with randos will come at the Tower -- a home base for buying weapons, accepting or collecting bounties, and doing other managerial tasks. After a few encounters, I never found it appealing to talk to a rando again.

My favorite parts of Destiny all involve the actual gameplay. It's a highly refined first-person shooter that feels like a matured version of Halo. It's not nearly as floaty as Halo's controls, but instead it plays more precisely and technically.

I make these comparisons to the Halo series, obviously because Bungie is behind both games, but also because there is a fair amount of similarity between the two. You've got a regenerative shield that protects you, waves of attacking alien races that reek of The Covenant, and the generally "chanty" orchestral presentation of the game (which is actually quite lovely, all things considered). Where the two franchises differ is what gives Destiny its unique personality, but it's one riddled with repetition and is sadly trite.


For your first 10 hours or so, you'll wander from the Moon to the Tower to Earth to Venus and back again, completing mission after mission of what's essentially the same thing over and over.