Why is Destiny the Exception?

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Is Destiny a failed game? It’s a question worth asking. If we just go by how the game’s been received by critics, it doesn’t look too good. All the heavy hitters in game journalism gave the title some pretty low scores; most criticized the absent and confusing story, repetitive gameplay and other aspects.

This years Game Awards didn’t even list Destiny as a nominee for game of the year. Though it did win best online experience, the only other award was best music: Composed by now-ex employee, Marty O’Donnell.

The game, however, is still widely seen in advertisements on television, internet banners and in game stores everywhere (Activision did put a lot of money into it, after all), and it has a dedicated fan base, that for some reason or another, can’t stop playing the game—Nicholas commented as much in his 2014 retrospective piece.

But let’s put Destiny into some perspective here. Haze, the 2008 PlayStation 3 shooter, made from the team behind the much loved TimeSplitters series, was given a 6 out of 10 by Gamespot—the exact same score they gave Destiny. Haze game had some decent hype behind it, and many predicted it would be Sony’s first real breakaway shooter (since they just can’t get Killzone to appeal to enough people).

Haze

Despite being largely hated, Haze did have a small but regular group of players when it’s servers were still up.

Haze has ultimately been forgotten about. Any plans for sequels or future DLC was obviously scrapped and Free Radical was eventually absorbed by Crytek. We will likely never see another Haze title, and almost everyone regards the game as a truly awful experience.

Too Human, another highly anticipated game also shares similar review scores with Destiny. IGN gave both titles a 7.8 out of 10. Like Haze, Too Human is considered a failure, and all plans for the future of the series has been scrapped. The lawsuit didn’t help either. Silicon Knights, the developer, also shut down this year.

too-human

Few games could trigger a love-hate reaction like Too Human did.

So why is it that Destiny “thrives” while games like Too Human and Haze are largely ignored? There are two possible answers. The first is money; it is no secret that Activision poured a large amount of money into this series. While Too Human and Haze may have had the backing of Microsoft and Ubisoft, respectively, neither publisher had invested as much money and ambition.

Another critical aspect responsible for Destiny’s is the fact that review scores were not published until a week after consumers already owned and had played the game. Had scores been revealed prior to the game’s availability, it is reasonable to suspect that many would have cancelled preorders, or ignored the game with pessimistic dismissal.

One can only wonder how other low-scoring games would have fared had reviewers released scores after the game was already available.

My own experience with Destiny is, admittedly, very limited. Hype within my own social circles died down almost immediately; in fact, there was a lot of hesitation just prior to its release. I remember sitting in front of my computer, debit card in hand, debating on ordering the game the night before it released. Whispers through the internet made myself and almost everyone I knew cautious.

Though I had read plenty about the game, watched tons of videos, and spoken with level-capped players, I didn’t get any experience with the gameplay until the demo released last month.

My first reaction was one of shock: Why was this game getting such bad reviews? Okay, I had no idea what was going on with the story. It was in no way as entertaining as Halo, but it was still a good shooter. The detail in the environment was rich, and I wanted to explore the world further.

After finally getting around to playing games such as Diablo III, and Dragon Age: Inquisition, I lost all interest in playing the explore-kill-loot game in Destiny’s world. With only a handful of locations to explore, and the gameplay and mission structure too redundant, I can’t justify spending money or time on it. And the DLC isn’t improving on the experience. Dedicating time to playing Destiny simply because I enjoy shooters and RPGs, to me, seems like listening to Nickleback because I like distorted electric guitars. Sure the elements of something I love may be there, but they just aren’t utilizing it to any lasting, artistic effect.

Despite these concerns, Destiny retains its status as a widely played game.

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One Comment

  1. There is a 3rd possibility; the critics were wrong. Obviously a review is a matter of opinion so it doesnt make sense to really say it is wrong. However, I believe the most viable explanation for Destiny’s success despite failing reviews is that most people enjoy the game much more than the critics do. Which makes me wonder why we even give so much credibility to critics when they are obviously so out of touch with the mainstream gamer. Critics: 3/10

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