Destiny is a unique and innovative mammoth of a game, but it has unfortunately released with too many questionable design choices. The game has been severely held back from its full potential by Bungie. While not not surprising, I can’t help but feel a lot of disappointment. The game tends to shine in several areas, but all aspects of the game are marred by bad design and a lack of inspiration or thought.
Everyone is aware of the abysmal loot system in place, and everyone is aware that Peter Dinklage’s voice performance was sub-par. I’m here to bring you the six biggest missed opportunities in Destiny aside from the obvious, and how they could’ve made the game so much more than it is.
When I heard that Dark Souls was the inspiration for how Bungie would tell Destiny‘s story, I was thrilled. I am too big a fan of the Souls series, and it had me even more excited for Destiny. One of my favourite parts of Dark Souls is how you have to dig to find the story. If you want to know who Gwyn is, why Quelaag resides where she does, and so on, you must dig through item descriptions and listen to dialogue to uncover details. If you were to map out a tree of lore for Dark Souls, it’d be massive and intertwined; the same cannot be said with Destiny.
Destiny tries to do the exact same thing, except that you aren’t finding items and reading them for your plot, you’re not speaking to NPCs and hearing their story, and you’re not walking through the ruins of an ancient city, scouring it for clues. In Destiny, you shoot things in the head, boot up the mobile app on your phone or PC, and read page after page of bland details. There’s no life to the world, as it’s been sucked out and placed on a tablet for your ‘viewing pleasure.’
Instead of Guns having jokes in their text, they should have history. Instead of loot chests containing grind-heavy spinmetal, they should have items that give you plot points. Instead of consumables simply explaining their purpose, they should offer insight into some of the smaller details of your character and how it functions. Instead of having about four cutscenes that slap exposition at you, there should be insightful dialogue with every NPC that you speak to – and more of them.
If you want to be Dark Souls, you have to try a lot harder than this Bungie.
As previously mentioned, NPCs are scarce in Destiny. The worlds you explore are barren wastelands and dilapidated buildings, and the only life they offer are the enemies you slaughter. I don’t know why Bungie thought the only NPCs that the game has should be in The Tower, but that was already a mistake. NPCs that do reside in The Tower have absolutely no life to them. They have no personality, no character, and no lore. Bungie couldn’t even bother to give them actual names in some cases, as the robotic servants and other such characters are the most basic unmemorable names possible.
Why is it that NPCs do not talk to you? Why is it that they have nothing insightful to say about the items you bring them? Why did Bungie get celebrity voice cast and not utilize it to the full extent of their ability? None of it makes sense to me, and it seems that if they wanted to make a living world, they should probably have life in it.
A huge problem that MMORPGs face is that they have dull NPCs. They generally have huge pages of dialogue to summarize the side-quest you’re about to do and why it matters. It’s unfortunate that Destiny couldn’t even contain dull dialogue, as they’d rather have approximately four speaking characters in the entirety of this ‘open world’.
This might seem like a nitpick compared to some of the large problems in Destiny, but I would argue that even the smallest of details matter in the long run. Gestures are a prime example of a huge misstep in basic gameplay.
Another obvious cue from Dark Souls is Destiny‘s gesture system. If you hit one of the four directional buttons on the D-Pad, your character will do an action such as sitting, dancing, or waving. This is a cute idea with comical implementation, and it even benefits the game as you can essentially use basic communication in a game with no voice chat (why?!).
the frustrating misstep comes in with the customization of the gestures, or lack thereof. You get a total of four that are not interchangeable or customizable. Your dance changes depending on your race, but that is the extend of the creativity Bungie put in with gestures.
Why can you not learn taunts or friendly bows? Why can you not customize where your character points or the type of wave he has? Dark Souls allowed the player to do a number of actions to earn a multitude of gestures, all interchangeable at your leisure. This system helped communicate in a world of no communication,and it added flavour to the multiplayer components.
As with everything else in Destiny, they dropped the ball.
Open World of Emptiness
It will forever baffle me that Destiny, clearly inspired by Borderlands, wanted to do away with any sort of actual collectibles and loot. Why is it that we’re given 4 sprawling planets to explore, when nothing in the world is actually worth exploring?
I had an experience with a friend when the game launched. We were casually marching to our first mission on Earth, when we noticed a cave. I immediately shouted that we should inspect the cave, for surely, there’d be some sort of reward for my keen eye and our persistence? To my dismay, all that resided within the cave was an ugly texture that somewhat resembled what a cave would look like … how exciting!
These planets are huge, and there are tons of hidden nooks and crannies for potential chests, containing randomly generated gear and items. This would actually tie in with the lore, in that you could spend time hunting out different gear and items. All of the items you’d hunt could give you benefits and insight into the lore and history of the area you’re exploring.
Instead of this, we get a total of five (wow!) golden chests to collect, half of which are hidden in missions, and a few randomly generated silver chests. This wouldn’t be so bad if the contents were more interesting, or if we had NPCs hiding in caves and other hidden areas that offered some sort of dialogue or side quest. It’s clear that Bungie would rather we go interact with a green flashy thing and get an arbitrary mission of little purpose.
When Destiny was being teased, there were several images of the types of vehicles the game would offer. I don’t think I was alone when I pictured a game that would allow us to actually pilot them. Little did I know however, is that we’d only be able to actually fly or pilot two types, and they’d both be mission-specific and severely underutilized. Beyond the two attack vehicles, you are given a Sparrow, a type of transport land-speeder that allows the player to traverse the world much faster than traditional running. The Sparrow is an excellently designed vehicle, except that it lacks any actual customization beyond colour swaps.
This is not the focus of my point, however, as the main problem I see is the jump ships. We’re given several choices with the jump ship we use to travel between planets, except that you only ever see it on loading screens. There is zero purpose to the ships beyond aesthetic value, and the cost of glimmer to buy a different skin is laughable.
Why could we not have space-centric PVP where you customize and pilot a ship? Why could the Sparrow not be customized and outfitted with boosters or decals or weaponry? Why can we not fly from planet to planet? the questions go on and on, and there are no satisfactory answers to be heard.
I was so saddened to see how little purpose vehicles serve in Destiny, and it’s disappointing that we couldn’t have actual space flight or at least bare-bones customization.
When you reach the end-game in Destiny, you’re given an option to choose a faction to fight for in the Crucible. Doing so nets you specific legendary and exotic gear, though you must rank up the faction before being able to buy anything. This sounds fine, except that it’s yet another prime example of a missed opportunity and only the most basic understanding in how a feature should be implemented.
It seems that Dark Souls is not going to stop being referenced as an inspiration for Destiny, so we’ll do with another comparison. In Dark Souls, covenants (factions) allow the player to align themselves with a specific covenant that will allow you to take part in interesting new gameplay mechanics or expand upon your experience. The Brotherhood of Blood allows you to go fight in PVP arenas where the fight is fair, The Heirs Of The Sun allow you to have a glowing orange figure as you net rewards for helping your fellow man defeat tough areas, the Bellkeepers allow you to defend the bell from intruders by being a sort of guardian. The list goes on and on for each of the Souls games, and there are a large amount of covenants to try out – all with their own specific rewards for your dedication.
In Destiny, you have three factions, none of which have any actual purpose beyond earning their gear, and even that is just as arbitrary as everything else in the game. You buy your class armour to swear yourself to the faction, and fight like normal in the PVP to rank up. There is no new mechanics added, no faction-restricted game modes, or anything to offer the player to entice them to try out a faction. It is just a title and the title is as grindy as everything else. They couldn’t even bother to make your choice a meaningful one, as you can just buy each faction’s item and rank them all up.