There’s something special about Destiny. Bungie and Activision have put together a game that has outsold every new IP in history, but has done so without allowing reviewers to have early access to the title. As many of us at PowerLeveled have been working together to work our way from level one to raid-ready, Destiny simply isn’t ready to be reviewed in the conventional sense – and it may never be.
Bungie is developing Destiny on the mind set that this title has a 10 year life cycle. Similarly to the way that Sony sees their console generations, Bungie doesn’t plan to kill the Destiny universe for at least the duration of your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. At launch, even as we’re fighting off hordes of enemies in Destiny’s first raid, this means that we are asking more questions about the Destiny universe than we have received in answers.
Along side the primary story line that we follow through around level 18, there is little to learn about the Destiny universe, which we believe is intentional. Bungie has always been known for their secrets, from skulls in the Halo series, to the inclusion of Destiny’s “tri-corn” in the ODST series. Finding any of the 50 Ghosts that currently reside in Destiny helped give us tips as to the stories of the Hive, Vex, Human kind and more, but we’re still scratching for more.
Bungie is building something that we haven’t seen in the FPS space before, which we believe is costing the game a load of traditional review score points. When you play through Destiny from beginning to “end”, you won’t find yourself fighting through the traditional story arc. The story isn’t complete, because we’re fighting a war to push back the forces of darkness. This leaves many reviewers at a miss – as well as us here at PowerLeveled. Our review score is built on a very solid model of five simple categories, Game play, Graphics, Story, Polish and Replay Value. While Destiny is breaking through with some of the best game play, graphics, polish and replay value in shooters today, the story doesn’t give you the sense of completion that any review requires – and that’s killing scores.
Rather than a focus of completion, Bungie is building a long-term life of Destiny’s story campaign. That’s something that you have never heard from another mainstream FPS before it. Typically we’re spending four to eight hours playing a story campaign, feeling finished, then move along to hundreds of hours in our shooters just killing each other. We’ve spent so many years looking forward to expansion packs of five maps for our multiplayer combat that we simply don’t know what to do with an ever-expanding campaign. Bungie has always been great at building a story, but we’re not used to the slow build.
There is no denying the game has some of the best polish in shooters. I’ve put over 100 hours into Destiny, along side my friends and colleagues, making replay value hard to question. We’re spending our late hours raiding to a great sense of frustration and accomplishment outside of PVP – even when we simply open the front door to Bungie’s first ever raid. Yeah, game play is there as we expected. Bungie has yet again built one of the most complete shooter experiences, and is changing the genre. The only question that still stands is whether the community will follow them for the next 10 years and learn more about the collapse. Reviewing Destiny is nearly impossible to complete – we’re going to learn more about the world of Destiny next week when we take on another of the Queen’s bounties.
If you want a review number from PowerLeveled, find us in the game, we’ll tell you to ask our game play hours. Destiny is great.