Destiny’s Death Knell Could Be The Lack of Content
I’ve wrote about this within my alpha impressions article, and unfortunately it’s looking more and more like a serious threat to Destiny‘s success. I’m talking about the now confirmed fact that the game will only have one explorable PvE area for each planet at launch, meaning that you’ll only get Old Russia for Earth on September 9th, and likely for quite some time after that.
This is honestly a huge disappointment. While there are indeed a few areas which we haven’t been able to go into (mostly due to NPC so powerful to kill us instantly), between Alpha & Beta we’ve got a good grip on what to expect from this region, and it’s not looking good. Remember that beautiful, inviting expanse shown in the trailers? Well, despite what had been originally promised, you can’t actually explore it at will, not even close.
After playing just a few days in the Alpha and Beta phases, Old Russia quickly grew….old. I couldn’t bring myself to go there anymore, and that’s not just because of the small size; the issue is that after completing the area’s story missions, only the Explore mode remains, but the missions available here are even less interesting than your average MMORPG daily quest. They’ll send you once again to the same places to kill more enemies for whatever reason. I found myself far more willing to play The Last of Us Remastered – a game I already completed on PlayStation 3 – than going to Earth once again.
Earth isn’t even the smallest destination (the name Bungie gave to its regions), as confirmed by a developer on Neogaf; that would be the Moon, one of the additional planets which will be available in the full version alongside Venus and Mars. According to the datamined information, there will be 32 storyline missions (which haven’t been exactly mindblowing so far in terms of plot, either) and 5 Strikes (Destiny’s version of dungeons), although PlayStation users can add another one to the table, Dust Palace, thanks to the exclusive deal sealed by Sony.
Destiny’s disappointing world size is perfectly reflected by its social hub, called the Tower. It looks gorgeous as does everything else (Bungie’s artists are just amazing), but it’s incredibly small, especially when compared to cities such as World of Warcraft‘s Stormwind or Orgrimmar, and WoW originally released ten years ago. While Bungie has been careful not to label Destiny a MMO, it’s all too obvious just by looking at the Tower – NPC vendors, trainers, the bank, the mail and so forth; much has been speculated on The City, supposedly the last bastion of civilization in the whole earth, but for now only the Tower seems to be explorable, with the rest being just a backdrop located below.
Let me clarify that this is strictly related to the PvE component of Destiny. The PvP, which takes place in the Crucible, is an entirely different matter and it’s likely that it will hook competitive gamers for a long time, much like the Halo games did; however, as confirmed by the aforementioned developer post, Bungie’s main goal with Destiny is to cater to the huge PvE crowd who’s interested in cooperating rather than competing. As the numbers of the MMO genre clearly show, we’re talking about the vast majority of gamers (although that may change in the future), and it is only natural that the studio targeted this kind of game towards them.
However, the sense of scale and immersion in the world is pivotal for these players, almost as much as the content itself. Based on the datamined information and the early adventures in Alpha & Beta, I’m not really sure that Destiny will be able to keep this crowd engaged for a long time, despite the great atmosphere and gunplay. Is this because of the limitation imposed by PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, or just the game design?
I’d guess a little of both, but at this point, it doesn’t really matter. Bungie and Activision have a long term plan with DLC, but if they try to shove them in the faces of their users to counter the initial lack of content, it may well backfire.
There were two incredibly hyped new IPs in the FPS genre set for 2014: Titanfall and Destiny. The first one has already been released and it’s almost forgotten by now; will Destiny share a similar fate? I can’t say for sure right now, but I cannot rule it out, either.