Activision’s manufactured blockbuster “Destiny” set sales, playing time and Twitch broadcast records in its first few weeks, but many gamers have lashed out against the game’s perceived lack of storyline by crying havoc online and in reviews.
My fellow reviewers have beaten and bruised the fantasy shooter, chopping off chunks of total scores for the above reasons and leaving it with a pedestrian PlayStation 4 Metacritic score of 76. This older generation of gamers, many in their early 30s, held “Destiny” up against its spiritual predecessor “Halo” and didn’t like what they saw.
And this was a huge mistake.
It’s impossible for any game to live up to “Halo” simply because of the rose-colored glasses of teenage enthusiasm we all had on when it first debuted in 2001. I was 13 when I first played “Halo,” and its mindless action and pretty colors were everything I wanted in a game.
What are “Destiny’s” greatest features? Its mindless action and pretty colors.
“Destiny” wasn’t made for us. It was made for teenagers. That’s why it’s one of the only major first-person shooters in the last decade to be rated Teen by the Electronic Software Rating Board.
This is a very sound strategy for the “Destiny” team. Remember that developer Bungie and publisher Activision signed a 10-year contract to keep cranking these titles out.
By grabbing hold of the 13-year-olds now, they can guarantee a lasting fanbase for the entirety of the series. A 32-year-old gamer may lose interest in a series or gaming altogether by age 40.
It’s similar to what George Lucas did with the second “Star Wars” trilogy. “Star Wars: Episode I” was created for young kids because he knew he had to keep a large group of people around for a decade. Each film got darker and more mature as this audience grew into adulthood, and I wouldn’t be shocked if “Destiny” did the same.
I think this is what’s motivating the critical backlash against “Destiny.” For the first time in our lives, we aren’t the target demographic of video game designers. For a lot of people, that’s upsetting.
I received a copy of “Destiny” on its launch day, and I’ve been playing it ever since. It’s fine. It doesn’t hold my attention for longer than an hour or two, but it is a well-designed game with a wealth of gameplay options sure to please most gamer groups.
“Destiny” does have one ingenious feature: The incredibly hard raids. The Vault of Glass raid went live Tuesday, and it took the PrimeGuard gaming clan over 10 hours and 1,600 character deaths to become the first players to beat it. This difficulty will keep hardcore gamers interested for months.
I am not saying the flaws critics cited aren’t there. The storyline is painfully simple, and I had zero investment in any of the characters I encountered throughout the game.
However, as a professional game reviewer, I do think that “Destiny” was harshly scored because of these flaws. It’s a beautiful game with a ton of multiplayer content; the lack of storyline depth doesn’t warrant a 20-point deduction.
There’s also a question of whether the immense hype behind the game harmed it or helped it. Clearly, the millions of dollars spent on marketing and promotions led to great sales numbers. But I also think it inflated people’s expectations to an impossible-to-satisfy level.
Does Activision care? Probably not. It’s a billion-dollar company that made a killing. Everyone bought the game. Some people were disappointed when they popped it in, but that doesn’t matter from a business standpoint.
I do believe that disappointment could affect future sales. Many of us won’t be so easily fooled next time.
I can’t really blame the “Destiny” team too much, though. It’s a business. They used every tool available to create a success before the game was even released.
“Destiny” isn’t super compelling or life-altering like a “Bioshock: Infinite” or “The Last of Us,” but it is an entertaining game that you can enjoy with friends and strangers around the world.