It feels strange, that a game so long lambasted by its detractors for a supposed lack of content is now such an immediate and straightforward recommendation simply because of the vast swathe of experiences it offers. Because before you get into its long-term depth, before you start looking at the tens and hundreds of hours you’ll get out of its strategic character customisation, and higher-level RPG theorycraft, and the depths and nuances of its many, resonating gameplay systems, the fact is that in 2015, Destiny – the currently complete version of Destiny – is one of the most generous, eclectic, and heavily packed FPS offerings of the last generation or so.
What new Destiny players will get if they pick up the game’s Taken King Legendary Edition (and it’s new players this re-review is chiefly aimed at; long-term fans can get the granular breakdown of the big year two expansion over in Matt’s TTK-specific review diary) is just staggering. Combined, the vanilla game, incremental add-ons The Dark Below and House of Wolves, and new, full-sized semi-sequel expansion are an insanely weighty proposition. Given that you can now get the entire package for the price of a single game the value is impossible to ignore any longer.
It’s been a long and occasionally rocky road to this point, of course, Destiny’s growing content taking a few mis-steps along the route to where it is now. Mistakes have been made at various times, particularly in terms of the relationships between levelling systems, rewards, and player freedom. But all of that is well and truly in the past. Because with The Taken King, and the bold changes made to the game’s meta-structure in the name of accessibility and gratification, Destiny is now finally, truly a game that can be recommended to everyone.
If you just want to play it as a straight FPS, you’ll find none better so far this generation. On the simplest level of core shooting mechanics, Destiny is nothing short of a delight. Bungie’s long-honed expertise in control, AI, and ‘gunfeel’ result in the smoothest, most instinctive, most tactile, just plain butteriest shooting you’ll find in a modern console game outside of the Halo series that made the studio’s name.
But the quality of Destiny’s shooting is the sum of more than just its immediate handling. The longer-term joy comes from the way that the solidity of the combat model facilitates such versatility and scalability. Destiny’s 40+ story missions and 12 intensive Strikes (13 on PS4) – while already a deeply satisfying blend of dynamic, high-flying strategy and kinetic, on-the-fly improvisation on first play – are immensely replayable thanks to the game’s uncanny ability to completely remix and refresh with each and every new weapon, ability and character class used. The architecture and enemy layout may repeat, but the experience never does.
And then there’s the competitive multiplayer which, whether you indulge in such things as a serious, regular pastime, or simply like to dip in from time to time for a quick blast of knockabout carnage, offers something meaty and meaningful for everyone. Taking in 13 game modes and 23 maps (26 on PS4), the Crucible presents as handsome a suite of PvP possibilities as you could want.