Whether it’s Anthem, The Division, Borderlands 3, or something else, the general public and media (Twinfinite included) can’t seem resist the urge to compare anything that combines FPS and RPG elements to Destiny.
I’ve fallen into that trap in the past, but after a console generation of trying to find the next “Destiny-killer” I’m calling off the search.
Borderlands 3 was the last game I was going to entertain going head to head with Destiny 2 and potentially creating a narrative that a game could do a lot of the same things Destiny does, but better.
The skill tree in Borderlands 3 is among the most complex, deep, and customizable in the industry as far as looter-shooters go, and there’s obviously no shortage of interesting weapons to collect.
Like Destiny, Borderlands 3 has an interesting in-game universe that goes for humor and personality over deep lore and a serious story thread.
If Gearbox rolled the dice a bit and experimented with something “raid-like” to challenge Borderlands 3 players with something more complex than just enemies with more HP and damage, I think you could then make an argument that someone is out doing Bungie and Destiny.
What happened though is that Borderlands 3 is a great Borderlands game, but doesn’t strive to be anything more than that. Gearbox showed zero interest in implementing virtually anything that has developed within the looter-shooter genre since their last game.
They stuck to a very safe blueprint and delivered a game for their core fans without messing around. Like I mentioned in my review of Borderlands 3, that’s totally fine. I really like the game and I anticipate playing it a lot with friends for a while after launch.
I love blowing stuff up with my family and friends that play, laughing at side missions together, and talking about the cool builds we have put together.
The best comparison for Borderlands 3 is Diablo, not Destiny, despite the radically different gameplay.
It’s fun to play with friends in bursts to get some cool stuff, crank up the difficulty and see how fast and effectively you can burn through content until you get bored and move onto something else for a while.
However, the bottomline is that it doesn’t scratch the same itches that Destiny does for me.
I have no desire though to try that hard to improve at Borderlands 3 beyond whatever comes naturally. That’s because there’s nothing really compelling me to do so.
My friends and I might try and see if we can handle True Vault Hunter Mode at Mayhem 3 one day… or maybe we won’t. Who cares? It’s just the same thing we’ve been doing but harder. If we’re having fun for long enough to get that far, sure, maybe we’ll go for it.
Destiny is a completely different mindset. The stuff you do over and over is a means to an end for any hardcore player. You’re collecting better gear, improving your play and increasing your knowledge of the game in order to complete the game’s pinnacle raid and dungeon activities.
I’ll watch videos, study the best players, and break my back trying to get whatever gear I need in order to give myself the best chance to succeed. I doubt I’ll ever take Borderlands 3 that seriously.
And to be clear, that’s not a knock on Borderlands 3, it’s just for me, I put the two games in different boxes.
The closest thing to Destiny is The Division. They definitely share and siphon fans from each other a bit, but The Division has enough differences (setting, perspective, realism vs. space-fantasy, etc.) to carve its own spot for fans that prefer its style.
Personally, I enjoy Destiny’s sci-fi feel as there’s more freedom there for Bungie to do some truly crazy stuff, but The Division is a solid looter-shooter for those that prefer something a bit more grounded (or just prefer tactical, cover-based third-person shooters).
EA’s Anthem is the prime example of someone trying to go right at Destiny and its player base and failing miserably. Its development problems are well documented, but on top of that, it fell short of quite a few key things that Destiny does very well.
It didn’t launch with a game world that players will want to learn more about and stay in. That was probably probably the biggest gut punch considering BioWare developed Anthem.
In addition, the endgame was even more barren than Destiny 1, there were lame microtransactions, the equipment wasn’t nearly as interesting (even compared to vanilla Destiny 2 standards), and the game was plagued with technical issues that turned off many who unsure whether or not to stick with Anthem for the long haul.
The Destiny franchise, for all its flaws and mistakes over the years, has persisted, survived, and thrived because it does things that no other shooters have done. While many have tried, no game has been able to hit Destiny in the mouth quite yet.
After years of playing catch-up with itself after a rough vanilla launch, Destiny 2, with the upcoming Shadowkeep expansion, finally appears ready to actually start improving on itself again with cool new features such as armor 2.0.
Between Shadowkeep, and the free New Light version of Destiny 2 coming next month, expect Destiny to keep trucking along for the foreseeable future, whether the haters want to admit it or not.
There will probably be other games in the future that the gaming community will anoint as the next “Destiny-Killer.” Hardcore Destiny fans know in their hearts after seeing Bungie shoot themselves in the foot so many times with this franchise that the only people capable of killing Destiny is Bungie themselves.