Game review: First look: Destiny

Destiny screenshots.

What do you get when you mix three parts Halo, one part Mass Effect, one part Borderlands and one part World Of Warcraft? Destiny.

In this game, mankind discovers a giant sphere called the Traveller while exploring Mars.

The Traveller turns out to be an advanced being who shares its knowledge and technology with the human race. Humanity enters into a golden age, tripling lifespans, terraforming planets and colonising other planets.

Human expansion goes on for centuries until it attracts the attention of an ancient enemy of the Traveller, known as the Darkness.

The Darkness attacks and destroys all civilisations and the Traveller is forced to retreat to Earth, where it sacrifices itself to save humanity from extinction. A place known as the City is the last safe place on Earth.

It is here that heroes known as Guardians congregate in a walled sanctuary known as the Tower.

Destiny comes from Bungie Studios, which created Halo, and it is a futuristic sci-fi shooter that feels and plays a lot like the Halo series.

The mystery behind a gigantic superstructure is once again the common theme in the game. In Halo, it was the Halo rings. Here, it is the Traveller, who remains visible from the City as the game progresses.

Combat is also largely the same, as players use a triple combo of guns, grenades and melee to take out their enemies. In combat, players can hop onto tanks, quad bikes and other vehicles.

As in Halo, players will also be accompanied by an AI. In Destiny, this AI is called Ghost and it is voiced by Game Of Thrones star Peter Dinklage.

Where Destiny aspires to go one better than Halo is in its role-playing elements. As in Mass Effect, you can choose your class and level up your character to unlock additional powers. Unlike in Mass Effect, you cannot pause the game to select which power to use.

All powers must be executed on the fly in real-time combat, making Destiny more of a shooter than a role-playing game. There are three classes - Titan, Hunter and Warlock - which parallel the warrior, archer and wizard archetypes of role-playing games.

Just as in Borderlands, having more powerful guns answers most problems. You can carry up to 12 guns in each group - primary, secondary and heavy - but only equip one of each at a time.

Within each group, the guns are differentiated into types, such as assault rifle, handgun and scout rifles, and within each type, into many different varieties and powers.

You will definitely be dreaming of guns. There are plenty to choose from. The colour of the weapons, as in Borderlands and Diablo, tells you how difficult they are to come by. White weapons are common; green ones, uncommon. Blue is the colour of rare guns; purple is legendary.

Got a gold gun? That piece of exotica will make you the envy of your friends.

During the nine-day Destiny Beta which ended last week, I found an abundance of whites and greens but only one blue one.

Last but not least, Destiny plays also like an MMOG such as World Of Warcraft. Players congregate at the Tower to chat, form groups, get new missions and buy equipment. While there are story missions to complete, players can also make exploration runs to find treasure, or form teams to engage in all-out multiplayer battles against other players in the Crucible battleground.

Completing missions and winning Crucible battles earn you special credits that can be exchanged for powerful legendary weapons.

As there were more than 4.6 million players trying out Destiny during the beta period, I have no doubt that this is one game that will become an instant classic when it makes its debut next month.


Available on Sept 9 for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360; release date to be confirmed for PC

Role-playing shooter

This article was published on Aug 6 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.

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