Remember the Destiny beta? That fantastic art design, the shooting that felt very nice? The (great) subdued tone that (not great) spread into Bungie's subdued handling of almost every gameplay element - from the missions to free roam questing to the MMO hub - resulting in a surprisingly flat and uninspired experience?

Well, at the time I hoped that Bungie had simply withheld a bunch of stuff from the beta. Seemed like the sort of thing a developer might do to keep the actual game a surprise. Surely the final experience would be more tightly paced and better designed, with more motivation than a nearly invisible carrot dangled way off in the distance in front of the player's gun.

Turns out I was wrong. The beta was 100% representative of the finished product. Destiny is restrained as fuck. It's so good at holding back that you'll swear you're missing half the game.

It's a shame because there are some great concepts in the background fiction. Delivering that stuff in a subtle way could work as well as it did in the Dark Souls games. Unfortunately Bungie created a game where those tidbits are spread too far apart, and the spaces in between require the player to trudge through bland and repetitive missions, then take pointless diversions through half-hearted approximations of other genres.

How far does the restraint go?

  • If you look at the game packaging closely, you'll realize the letters in the title only spell out Destin
  • Enemies are labeled with such vague names as: Bad Thing, Some Sort Of Alien, Other Guy, and You Know
  • The game runs at 90% transparency, appearing as a faint hint of movement overlaid across your console's UI
  • Bungie liked Skyrim's infinitely spawning "go and kill x in a cave you haven't visited, for a boring reason" quests, but thought they were a little too thrilling and on-the-nose. The analog in Destiny asks you to "go and kill x in a map you've already visited, for no particular reason".
  • The silent, awkward countdown at the end of every mission is punctuated by a pulse-racing additional moment of silence
  • When you put your little floating computer guy on an Important Object and defend him as he goes about his future laser scanning work for the tenth time, it almost seems like he's about to make a clever comment about the situation seeming familiar, but he doesn't
  • Eagle-eyed players will note that bullets only travel just far enough to enter bad guys' bodies, always stopping before they exit
  • In PVP there are no rounds or scoring, just the honor system
  • When the camera switches to third person mode it pulls back just far enough to display a close-up view of the back of your head that takes up the entire screen
  • Advancing your character's level unlocks skills with such bonuses as "run a bit slower" and "wait longer between shots"
  • The character customization lets you choose whether your dude's eyes are open or closed, then tells you that's enough and deposits you into the game

To be fair, the white PS4 that it came with is very nice. 6/10

Madden 15
The menus and in-game advertising are still the absolute worst, but anything that makes Breaking Madden possible can't be all that bad. 6/10

– Dennis "Corin Tucker's Stalker" Farrell (@DennisFarrell)

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