Destiny is for people who love to play with people — or, maybe more accurately, people who love to yell and curse at fellow first-person shooter players online.
And who doesn’t love that, right? Well, we can think of two people.
What if you’re not good at shooters or you don’t play well with others? Can you still enjoy the persistently multiplayer universe that Bungie has created? Two unlikely candidates from GamesBeat jump in (separately, of course) to find out.
The newcomer: Stephanie Carmichael
The last first-person shooter I remember playing (and thoroughly enjoying) was 2K Games’ BioShock about five years ago. Maybe it was the moodiness of the beautiful, frightening underwater dystopia or the thoughtfulness of its underlying ideas, but I couldn’t spend enough time in Rapture.
Most other FPS games turn me off. Either I’m playing with people who are years ahead of me in experience (try enjoying yourself when you’re taking shots to the head every other minute) or I’m bogged down in a brainless military story. Halo is sci-fi in nature, sure, but give me a gun and dress me a uniform that makes me identical to everyone else, and I’m still part of the “bro” team. No thanks.
I liked Destiny before I even played it. It appealed not only to my explorer side, the adventurer who wants to search high and low on mysterious, multicolored worlds, but also the part of me that likes a little customization. What better way to separate me from the rest of the squad than to give me an actual face and sense of style? Destiny gives me that and more: gear to swap out, upgrades to unlock, and a real gender (with a voice and battle grunts to match).
Plus, I’m not just another recruit in an army of hundreds I call my “brothers.” I’m a Guardian, newly risen from the dead, with no ties or allegiances to anyone else other than a common mission: to defeat the Fallen and save Earth. In Destiny, we play in the same space, but we’re more alone than we are together. As soon as we meet, we’re already going our separate ways.
I don’t see my fellow Guardians as fellow soldiers as much as I do as rivals. Who among us will be the best of the best, the hero of Earth? We’re all narrowly focused on our own progress, obsessed with racing our way through the galaxy to be the first one to push the Darkness back. We have little time to think about each other, let alone share dance moves.
But I’ve never been much of a competitive player, and Destiny seems built for people like me who like to help people more than hurt them. Strike missions are cooperative, with three players banding together to kill enemies and topple fierce bosses with gargantuan health bars. Assisting and reviving teammates is imperative because if all three players fall, you’ll all have to restart from the last checkpoint (which can be far back if you’re in a Darkness zone).
I care more about these kinds of partnerships than I do the Crucible competitive multiplayer matches — which are as typical as any other shooter’s — even if the sole connection between me and another player is our network handles and little else (unless I’m playing with friends). Normal gameplay can be similar, with players drifting in and out of your vicinity. They might pick off a stray enemy, lending a little extra firepower, before charging off on their own quest.
I’m still no good at multiplayer, but I’m not as bad as I thought I’d be. The PlayStation 4’s rimmed analog sticks help me aim well more often — better than I have in most other shooters I’ve played. And I like that I can see health bars above my enemies’ heads. These small features are a huge boon to a newcomer like me.
The nicest thing is, I don’t feel like I have to stick to the Crucible to connect with other people in Destiny. It’s not the only way to interact with real, human players. So while I’m perfectly content to go through the story and do my own thing, when I do come together with others, I’m glad that (for once) my worth isn’t just measured in KOs or headshots. Assists and revives — and simply being there to provide a little cover fire — matter just as much.
For the anti-multiplayer take, read on …
The solo adventurer: Paul Semel
As someone who’s only half kidding when he says “I don’t play well with others,” I looked at Destiny with skepticism. While Bungie kept saying you could play it on your own, the studio also said the shooter was made to be played with other people.
Which is fine, if you like that sort of thing. But given that it comes from Bungie — y’know, the people who made the great campaigns in the Halo and Marathon games — and how much I prefer story-driven single-player stories to co-op modes and competitive multiplayer matches, I worried that Destiny would be a game I couldn’t play solo — but one I would really want to try alone.
Now that it’s here, though, is it a game you can play on your own? Well, yes and no. Mostly yes — with a “but.”
First off, you have no choice in the matter. You not only can’t stop other people from invading your space, but you also can’t even limit it to just your friends (though you can control who can formally join your game, turning solo missions into co-op). This is why you’ll sometimes find yourself moving in for the kill … only to have someone else finish the foe off.
What’s worse, having other people around ruins the stark vibe. In Destiny, invading aliens have decimated Earth and other human colonies, leaving huge swaths of land as barren wastelands. But these wastelands feel a lot less barren when other people are hanging around.
Then you encounter moments when the difficulty ramps up considerably, as if Desinty is asking, “Are you sure you don’t want some help?” You also can’t pause, which is really annoying if nature calls. Or your mom.
The thing is, after blasting my way through Destiny, a lot of the above issues didn’t bother me as much as they did when I started it. Sure, seeing other people around ruined the mood, having them kill someone I was trying to kill ruined the satisfaction I got from completing a difficult task, and not being able to pause … OK, mom just called back.
And, I’ll confess, I even had fun playing the occasional co-op mission or round of Clash (Destiny’s name for team deathmatch). Which is why Destiny is a game I really wanted to play solo … and I did. It really is that fun — even if you do have to play with others.
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