Why Destiny is Just Like Halo…And Why That is Just Fine

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In among the impressions of the Destiny beta will be a lot of talk of how the game is just another Halo.

Those impressions are not wrong. In fact, they are pretty much on the money. Destiny is a hell of a lot like Halo. For some, that will be a major turn off. For some, that will be a problem. For some, that will be a gateway to a lot of features criticizing people for enjoying something that is really the same as not just Halo, but every other shooter that has come out in Halo’s wake.

None of those people are wrong. Any feature criticizing the sameness of Destiny, or really the ridiculousness of people getting excited about another goddamn AAA shooter game, is valid. All of these shooters are kind of the same, and that they are so popular is kind of a strangler of the gaming industry. But in among all that sameness, sameness that I have experienced for many years and have openly criticized in the past, is something that is almost impossible for me to explain.  To me, Destiny doesn’t quite feel like everything else. There’s a singular nature to Destiny, buried deep down under all of that sameness. The trouble is in finding the words to describe it.

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I suppose a lot of that can be put upon the game’s incredible sense of physical place and atmosphere. The world of the Cosmodrome and Old Russia, and the Moon, for those lucky enough to get there, felt like nothing else I’ve played in years. They feel futuristic yet ancient, run down but filled with life. Destiny does a better job of creating a world that feels like it existed before my arrival into it and will continue to exist long after I’ve passed through it than any game in recent memory.

The world feels downright mystical (the game was originally straight up fantasy, and was heavily influenced by tales of knights and Camelot), and much of that also comes from Martin O’ Donnell and Michael Salvatori’s jaw dropping score. The music is sweeping and grand, but mellow and understated. It knows when to go big and when to go quiet. Nothing is overdone, nothing is bombastic, nothing is out of place. Destiny is a game with atmosphere to burn, and the music goes a long way towards that.

But the greatest part of Destiny’s whole that completely and totally sells this high-science-fantasy world Bungie has created, is the part they harp on about the most; the “living world”. Or, to use non-buzzword terms, the MMO-like elements of Destiny that match you with any given number of Guardians as you’re wandering throughout the world. As you walk through the Cosmodromo of Old Russia, and as you wind your way through the Tower, other Guardians in the same place will appear in your game. You don’t have to interact with them, but they are there. It is amazing what this element, which seemed so hard to describe for Bungie and for those who played the game in previews, brings to the world to make it feel far larger than just you. The talk of knights and Camelot was not just talk; that is how Destiny feels, like the ancient tales of knights who would go out on adventures together and alone and come back with tales of glory and the loot to prove it. Destiny is high-fantasy done in space, and it really does feel like that.

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But, again, isn’t this all rather familiar?

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About Author

(Writer)

Ricky Donaldson is a writer at childhood's end, and actually wants to do the inane, rambling excuse for game journalism that he practices for a living. He also knows how to fix a mean cheese toasty and can fix the head gasket of a 1997 Ford Explorer... he thinks, anyway.

  • Da GeeZ

    OK, I read the title and instantly felt like posting a comment before reading it, but I stopped myself, read your article and basically I’m gonna say the same thing I felt when I read your title… ‘ Why Destiny is Just Like Halo…And Why That is Just Fine ‘ … it’s not, quite simply Destiny is not like Halo, Destiny doesn’t even come close to a Halo game.
    Destiny feels like the heart and soul has been ripped out of the game design. Enemies are almost lifeless and generic in their AI behaviors, we’ve seen these enemies so many times now. There’s not one enemy type in Destiny that has the characterization or unique qualities of any enemy type in a Halo game. They are bland, yeah sure they are competent and tidy in their execution, but Bland in every respect.
    The guns do not have the unique qualities that a Halo gun has. Every gun and enemy in the Halo Universe had specific qualities, weaknesses and strengths that gave a weapon a definite purpose against a specific enemy. In Destiny, these strengths and weakness have been almost completely washed out, they are there, but there’s nothing special about any of these weapons when compared to the Halo arsenal. It’s like Bungie had to level everything out to make the MMO part work.
    The world is barely next gen people, come on be honest. Compare the Ps3/360 versions to the Xbox One/Ps4 version… there’s very little real difference. Why does the foliage in the Russian district look like the trees and foliage from Halo:Reach?!?! It’s just so unbelievable the way the foliage has been created and implemented. Of course the individual elements are crafted extremely well, but the overall effect doesn’t look like an earth setting… it looks like a Halo:Reach environment.
    The music is, I’m really sorry, completely forgettable. Can anyone hum a theme from Destiny? I can’t remember anything about the music. Maybe that’s the point, it’s not about creating a score that’s theme based, it’s just about supporting an environment or situation rather than the music being a key feature. But the music is another key aspect of Destiny that pales against Halo… the music is forgettable and indistinct.
    Multiplayer, my experience with Destiny was a monotone of franticness. There’s no indication or way of knowing if the opponent approaching you has an instanta-kill ability full charged or not. Do I retreat? Should I be cautious? Should I attack? It’s just plain pot luck in the end… if I get instata-killed or I end up in a shootout. The characters are mediocre in their design as well, I just can’t tell by looking at a model if they are on my team or not, you end up watching numbers and colors on icons above someones head.The vehicles do not feel as nice as any of the Halo vehicles.
    Back to single player, why are the NPC faces perfectly still when they talk on inventory screens(buying/upgrading/missions etc). The characters are completely lifeless and don’t move when they talk! What’s going on? They could of at least of done something on these screens. It’s just another place where the life in this world has been sucked out of it.
    The only unique feeling I got from Destiny was a growing feeling that we were the last surviving humans. That was a real tangible feeling that slowly seeped into you as you played. And this is thing… that was the only real thing I came away with from the Beta… that feeling.
    It’s a real shame, I so wanted to love this game. So mate… but Destiny pales in comparison to Halo.

    Destiny: Combat Devolved :(

  • McMahon

    Funny you put something about Russia in your article. Just giving credit to your motherland. Better dead than red, Ricky.

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