Destiny Is Like Tapas.
That is the sum total of brilliance and insight my brain is capable of at the moment. Weeks of sleep deprivation and sickness appear to have left me addled and delusional to the extent that when my remaining two functional brain cells spark together and come out with the epiphany above, the rest of me goes “Awesome dude – you should totally use that!”. And so here we are.
There is some logic in there though.
Based on my roughly equivalent number of hours enjoying tapas (Spanish and Australian incarnations) and Destiny (having just hit level 21 the old-fashioned way) the two share a fundamental similarity: their magic is based on a variety of simple, high quality ingredients that combine to create something immensely fulfilling.
The key elements that have had me hooked on Destiny since deciding to give it a second look* a week ago have been:
- Great movement and combat mechanics. Controlling your shiny new Guardian is a smooth, finely tuned experience. Especially once you’ve made it through the early levels in which Bungie sensibly drip-feeds you new abilities, the whole run-jump-shoot-punch package is thoroughly satisfying.
- RPG-style grinding for rewards. I should mention here that I’ve been playing the updated Destiny 2.0, which I believe has undergone improvements to its loot and reward systems to help players acquire better weapons and armour more easily. Not knowing much about what it was like before the recent Taken King patch I can’t say how much difference these changes have made, but the simple ‘keep leveling up to access more powerful gear’ cycle has kept me cruising to the Level 20 milestone in enjoyable fashion.
- Amazing locations. Completing the original story missions in all their vast, finely crafted locales has been an aesthetic pleasure. So much effort must have gone into envisioning and bringing these worlds to life that it makes me wish there was a quick access camera mode like in The Last Of Us: Left Behind to make taking snapshots easier. While the screenshots included in this post don’t really do justice to the in-game experience (due to some atmospheric layers of reflections, mist, dust and cloud that constantly interact with objects and lighting not being incorporated into the final image) they do give an indication of just how detailed Destiny’s visuals are.
- Speeder bikes. Until Star Wars: Battlefront arrives this November, Destiny’s Sparrows have to offer the most authentic speeder bike experience available for those of us that grew up with dreams of pelting around the forest moon of Endor. To be honest I haven’t gone looking for alternative speeder bike options, but the fact that they exist in Destiny’s universe is a big plus.
Now if these points represent the quality toppings in my figurative tapas, the most important ingredient of all (the ubiquitous fresh bread in this analogy) would have to be Destiny’s multiplayer potential. I say ‘potential’ because due to joining the cause well after everybody else I don’t have any equally addicted, similarly leveled close friends to team up and shoot aliens with. Had I been in the position to get onboard back when the tsunami of hype was building for the game’s release perhaps the satisfaction I’ve found in the points above would have been multiplied. The joy of multiplayer gaming has been an underlying theme in this blog and I presume that Destiny’s Fireteam experience ticks all the right boxes.
Bearing this in mind, mine has not been an entirely solitary journey. Having made it about a third of the way through the first Strike mission (longer and more punishing than the precursor story missions) solo, I heaved an audible sigh of relief when an unknown Hunter appeared out of nowhere and joined the fray. Their presence immediately alleviated the pressure and made defeating the final boss possible. Even without voice chat I felt a sense of comradery evolve over that 45 minutes of combat which went deeper than all of the single player alien popping fun that came before it. I’ve since come across a clan called Dads of Destiny via the Destiny app that will hopefully allow more for of this exciting team play in future, and with understanding, similarly time-poor teammates to boot.
The Destiny/tapas analogy gets more than a little tenuous at this point as sharing tapas with friends is its own highlight apart from what goes into the food itself, but you get the idea. What I’m suggesting is that in the same way that the fresh bread underpins all of the exciting toppings in the tapas experience, the shared multiplayer experience provides the foundation for every other aspect of Destiny.
I’ve heard it said that the hardest thing for an artist is knowing when to stop adding to their work and call it complete. Forgetting about delicious finger foods for a moment, I think that even though Bungie have determined to stick to the minimal side of completion (your mission is always essentially to shoot aliens and repeat), referring to Destiny as a simple game is selling it short. From my current vantage point as Level 21 Guardian and constant media consumer there appears to be a shed load of post-game content and PvP play available to keep fans blasting away into the distant future, even if the story missions do all seem to latch onto the S in FPS with single-minded, exclusive fervor. Destiny pays respect to many of the First Person Shooter conventions established back in the days of Wolfenstein and Doom, but makes sure to keep things refined and streamlined; no frustrating, Zelda-like puzzle moments here. In fact if there is anything resembling a puzzle in Destiny I’m yet to come across it…