Destiny had an incredibly rocky start back in 2014, as it failed to live up to the colossal hype that surrounded its release. Receiving fairly average review scores, it didn’t appear as if the game would last more than a year before interest severely depleted. Yet, two years later and Destiny’s still going incredibly strong with 2015 alone having 20 million active players. Now it’s highly possible that a fair amount of these accounts are inactive, yet even if we take a fraction of this number it still will have a massive community.
With two DLC packs and one large-scale expansion behind it, Destiny seems to be a game that just cannot die. It’s not like Destiny is a perfect game as there have been a number of changes and balance issues that have been addressed. Yet, there are still people playing in the Crucible, smiting Oryx, and dismantling mines in the Prison of Elders. With an expansion on the horizon and the inevitable Destiny 2 in 2017, what makes this game so popular?
One of the secrets to Destiny’s success could be attributed to a consistent stream of free content that Bungie has been releasing following The Taken King expansion. Many of these events were focused around holidays that had been slightly altered to fit into the Destiny world, such as the Halloween inspired Festival of the Lost. Though these seasonal additions don’t drastically change how the game is played, many of these events include new quests and loot for Guardians to obtain. However, it’s not just the PvE scene that has received some love, as various competitive modes have been releasing on both a monthly and weekly basis.
Both Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris bring players in to test their skills against one another. Given that Destiny lacks the ability to create custom game modes and currently has no real thriving eSports presence, this is really the only high-level play in the game. Also, these PvP events allow players the ability to get some of the best and highest level equipment in Destiny. This gives these events significant weight, as it offers Guardian’s the opportunity to level up quickly.
Consistent PvP Scene
This may surprise a lot of non-Destiny players, but the competitive aspects of Destiny have been thriving. Aside from the various events, the roster of game modes available is quite impressive. Each one caters to a different playstyle, with some focused on more objective based gameplay and others taking a more chaotic angle. Mayhem stands out among the rest as it significantly speeds up the cooldown timer for every one of your Guardian’s abilities. This creates a spectacle of pure destruction that almost no other game has been able to truly rival.
Arguably the best, and in some cases worst, aspect about this constantly evolving multiplayer scene are the numerous buffs and nerfs various gear pieces have received. With Bungie releasing droves of new weapons with each major update, they have stayed dedicated to balancing these weapons to the best of their abilities. Though this can create a few problems, specifically for the PvE scene, as Bungie had stated in their April update preview that they have no intention on splitting the buffs/nerfs between PvE and PvP. Yet, this hasn’t deterred Guardians from logging on and blasting each other to pieces.
Games like Destiny live or die by the loot and level progressions that the player has to go through, as they need to both feel rewarded and still have the desire to push forward. Let’s make no mistake here, Destiny’s early loot system was ludicrously bad. It was an unbalanced, broken mess that would tease players with the idea of getting higher level gear, only to rip those dreams away once the Cryptarch stepped in. Thankfully, Destiny has improved their leveling and loot system so much over the past two years that it feels like a different game at times. With the light level raised to 335, Bungie made the smart choice in allowing players multiple roots for obtaining these high-value items. This move gives players more freedom in how they hit the max level, which removes the feeling of grinding out gear being nothing more than a chore.
The amount of gear has also drastically improved, as every big update includes a plethora of new and old favorites to obtain. Even though The Taken King removed a fair amount of fan favorites, Bungie has slowly been reintroducing them with slight modifications so they fit better into the game. The rocket launcher Dragon’s Breath received a complete overhaul, making it one of the game’s most entertaining weapons to use. By offering so many options for your respective Guardian, it gives players the ability to make their hero feel truly unique.
Destiny’s community is very, very vocal about their opinions when it comes to the various changes needed. This has helped Bungie to pick out the most glaring issues and adjust them. Weapons such as the Thorn and MIDA Multi-Tool have been toned down, while certain weapons like the SUROS Regime received much-needed buffs. This doesn’t just go for Destiny’s varied arsenal, as the assortment of powers each Guardian has also have been finely tuned over the last two years. It’s incredibly easy for a game like Destiny to turn into an unbalanced mess, yet Bungie has been clearly taking steps to adjust any major issues that arise.
What’s more surprising is entire mechanics around the game have been changed thanks to the community. Leveling up your gear via the infusion system used to be a chore, but after a lot of feedback it has been altered into something far superior. Entire game modes such as Sparrow Racing League were created, specifically thanks to the massive amount of requests from the player base.
Ease of Play
There’s no question that Destiny can be quite an intimidating game to join. With three raids, two dozen missions, and an extensive assortment of gear, starting out in this war-torn universe can be a bit challenging. Yet, one of the best aspects of Destiny is actually how easy it is to play and the rewards that come with it. The actual gameplay is arguably one of the best features, thanks to the simple to play/hard to master formula embedded into the foundation. Certain aspects can be quite challenging, yet it’s a game that never truly feels unfair with how battles play out.
Yet, the sheer genius behind Destiny’s addictive gameplay is a lot of their activities won’t suck hours out of your day. Only have thirty minutes? Run a few strikes. Want to kill an hour or so? Perhaps a few rounds in the Crucible or the weekly Nightfall will suffice. Every one of these activities can drop high-level loot, allowing players to always have the sense of being rewarded… well, unless the game’s RNG is feeling particularly stingy. By removing the need to grind hours upon hours for certain gear pieces, this gives Destiny a slight edge over some other MMOs. There’s something for everyone on any time restraint, which is one of the best aspects.
Destiny is a game that can be both casual and competitive and it does a remarkable job balancing both. That’s not to say Destiny doesn’t, hasn’t, or won’t have problems in the future, but that it’s a game that keeps soldiering on regardless. There is no arguing how much it has improved since launch and that it still has a dedicated community logging on every day to slaughter armies of angry aliens. While it’s still unsure if Destiny as a franchise can make it to the promised ten years, it’s clear that it won’t be going away without a fight.