While we're not looking to expand the team - not least because our lovely Patreon patrons are helping to fund Digi's ongoing existence on the basis that it's written primarily by self-styled "erotic gaúcho" Mr Biffo - from time to time we may feature a reader-written piece, so there's always something new to read on the site.
And at the risk of opening the floodgates, here's the first one of those now, from Digitiser 2000 reader 'Super Bad Advice' - a response to Biffo's recent Destiny cuss-piece. Please don't swamp us with submissions - we'll let you know when we're looking for writers. Thanking!
DESTINY: GRIND OR GREAT?
Let’s get something out of the way – Destiny didn’t live up to the hype of THAT trailer. To be fair it couldn’t have, unless it’d come free with weapons-grade hallucinogens in the box, but it’s still not quite the ‘awesome space heroes’ funfest we’d all hoped for.
Yes, it's guilty of needing obscene piles of grinding. It’s smaller than expected too, with content frequently reused – albeit cleverly, but it’s still warmed-over fedora rather than fresh, hot trilby. There’s also the persistent rumours of cut content that fleshed out (read: made sense of) bewildering storylines and shelved plans for more player interaction.
And finally, there’s Peter Dinklage’s dismal thesping as your tetrahedral sidekick. Nothing says ‘epic sci-fi adventure’ like being repeatedly lectured by a charmless Rubik’s cube, after all.
So if it’s such a quivering bumheap, why am I writing the ‘good cop’ article?
Well because despite all the wonky bits and the daily bounty grind to upgrade gear (and until you do your shiny new gun will be about as effective as shouting BANG! at your TV), it still nails some things absolutely and – I think, at least, or I wouldn’t be writing this – manages to be more than the sum of its bits. And as the game’s still evolving it also has something that other released games don’t – potential.
More on that anon, but first: other goodness. Like the Pavlov’s dog of gaming, you can’t say Bungie without slobbering out Halo. Thankfully Destiny nicks the peerless shooter mechanics of its maker’s previous efforts, and the laser sharp gunplay in PvP and PvE make the repetition and grind much more bearable.
The PvP maps are splendid, with leaky boltholes and sniper-friendly crannies leading to some truly adrenaline-sodden firefights. There’s also a perverse joy in single player repetition making you competent enough at a level or strike to tackle it solo on the hardest setting. And there’s loot – poncing about like Lord Bullets McShooty with a rare gun like Thorn (only winnable by completing a ghastly multi-step bounty) is a true mark of skill as a gamer.
For me though, Destiny’s real meaty chunks in gaming gravy are found in the social side. Granted this could be better still with simple additions like chat to ease organising raid/strike groups (or even an in-game noticeboard – don’t they have cork and drawing pins in the future?) and trading to offset the randomness of loot.
But once you finally have that smorgasbord of mates together to do raids, strikes or crucible with, Destiny transforms from a good but flawed shooter into an absolute riot. Coming to the aid of a flapping random guy when you know it’s a person and not an AI jeremy is one thing (specifically: a good thing). Saving an old chum at the last second to prevent a wipe when you’ve slogged through a top-tier strike together is a level above.
Just like in school, failing and arsing about is always more fun with friends. Destiny’s highs are undoubtedly the raids, and allocating roles, planning tactics and going in guns blazing is still a laugh even when it inevitably goes south and you end up getting brutally maimed, like a bunch of drunk pensioners foolishly goading a swan down the park.
Then, there’s the reward of slowly improving until you can finally take down the boss and everyone gets to bask in the warm glow of victory, like those selfsame pensioners after making the swan retreat by pelting it with murray mints. It’s all silly gung-ho nonsense, but frankly that’s the daft stuff gaming should be about.
That, and observing people’s ludicrous cack-kneed jumps – and subsequent swears-laden plummeting – in the Vault of Glass’s infamous ‘Super Mario’ platforming section. That never gets old.
This on-tap camaraderie – especially for a decrepit stay-at-home like me, with mates across the country you don’t see as much of now because of family, work and that – is the ‘killer app’ that’s kept me playing, talking about it on Facebook, and coming back to earn that next upgrade so I (and hence my team) can hopefully do better next time.
I’m not saying you can’t get this buddy-buddy stuff in any other game: of course you can. It’s just Destiny is the first game that’s sold me on it.
Why? Well I’ve never fancied the full-on MMORPG thing, and for many games head-to-head multiplayer is still you vs ultragamer skanks who’ll annihilate you in seconds and then shout ‘Your ph@t moms iz a n00b, d0g! ROFL0LLLLLL!!?!?’ up your headset. To its credit, Destiny’s largely free of that – even the wonked-by-design playfield of the hardcore Iron Banner PvP event is more about teamwork than much else.
Then there’s that juicy potential. The online leak of the 10-year plan shows the current incarnation of Destiny will get content for ages yet, with new story arcs, raids and strikes. Bungie have also shown they’re listening to the userbase by making tweaks as they go to improve the experience, reduce grind/ease upgrades etc.
It’s arguable Destiny is a work in progress, but I think the end result could be something a lot closer to the crazy space heroes trailer we might have thought possible. The signs – strong community, great developer and publisher support – are certainly good.
Maybe things won’t pan out – if the new stuff’s lousy or support drops off it’ll rapidly become a lot less appealing to play. But while we’re waiting to see if Destiny evolves into a true ‘gaming butterfly’, or just some sort of rancid moth that probably lives on sick, there’s more than enough to keep me coming back. Not least of which being the chance to mock friends who hash up a simple double jump a fat plumber could make. Mamma Mia!
By 'Super Bad Advice'