A Disappointing Destiny

When this game was first announced I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It quickly became one of my most anticipated titles to date. I’m not one to shy away from MMOs and usually they have me hooked from the get go, so I could not WAIT to play Destiny.

A few problems arose for me around release – so I wasn’t able to pick it up from day one. The comments from friends and family seemed extremely positive, so as soon as payday came round I decided to put down some of my hard earned moolah and pick the game up.

I chose to go with Exo, a race of humanoid machines. After a little research on the class systems within the game, I soon jumped in as an Exo Hunter. I’d played the Destiny Beta so the game play leading up to the tower was very familiar. After scouring my surroundings and spending a little time in the tower I was left unsatisfied with the interaction I was able to have with other people. About ten missions in, I still felt a lot of isolation, only ever grouping with people to complete challenges to then quickly disband and move on to other things.

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Character Creation isn’t as expansive as I first hoped.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much isolation in an MMO, I’ve felt less lonely in single player games, due to significantly more engaging NPCs. This isn’t due to the players themselves but from the poor array of tools offered to hold any form of interaction others.

As I continued to play I felt as though there was barely any tutorial or help at all to describe my surroundings. I was harvesting spin metal and didn’t really know what purpose it served; this was relative to many other parts of the game too. After killing enemies there was very little direction to what was and what wasn’t loot, it didn’t seem prominent enough when dropped and was left scattered and almost blended into the playing field. I missed out on a lot of loot early on due to this, a brief explanation of this would have served me well.

Although the planets and landscapes are visually beautiful and the view from the tower is quite a breathtaking feature, I felt let down by the maps themselves. I’d have liked nothing more than to descend towards the city below and explore it for all it was worth. The linear driven maps and sceneary quickly became as tiresome as the variety of missions. Having to complete similar tasks over and over again become tedious, very quickly and I felt as though the missions could have had a lot more scope in terms of story, plot, character interaction and variety.

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Although beautiful, the landscape has very little to offer in terms of exploration.

I felt as though the story was lacking, it seems like Destiny has a fantastic lore and back-story to offer and I’d have loved for them to focus on this a lot more. Yet I found myself muting cut scenes and instead chose to listen to a podcast later into the game. There was just nothing engaging about it at all. I found myself using my sparrow a lot to quickly travel from point A to point B. There proved no point in exploring much of my surrounding, it just felt empty with nothing to offer.

I’m a big fan of being able to switch between first person and third person within RPG type games like this one, seeing my characters progress and evolve, especially aesthetically, is very pleasing to me. The amour and clothing equipped by my character looked great but being unable to remove my helmet to see my characters face when outside of the tower was baffling. I soon found that most pieces of armour within their icon avatars looked quite different to what they did when wearing them. As I reached later levels I found that nearly everyone else at my level within my class looked very similar, a problem pointed out by many others.

One part that I couldn’t get my head round was the choice of changing your ship. Although the only time I ever got to see it was in the incredibly long loading screens when travelling between planets and missions. To manually take flight towards other planets within it, the option customize it and even engage in dog fights in open space would have been a brilliant addition to the game.

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The Crucible is a great addition and breaths more life into Destiny, if broadened it could even work as a stand alone game.

I was also disappointed to find out that I couldn’t engage in any PVP combat while traversing planets, instead I had to enter the Crucible, to which I was met with level 32 players while only being a mere level 10 at the time. Although weapon stats were levelled to accommodate all contenders, I quickly found that those of a higher rank still managed to keep there skills that they’d obtained when levelling up, this resulted in lower level players quickly becoming disposed of. Although not been able to match make I felt like Crucible was a strong part of the game and one of the only parts where I felt as though the game succeeded.

The point where the game comes alive is with friends. I suggest rounding up a group of your closest Guardians as this is where the game really shines and salvaged it for me a little. I really wanted Destiny to be this big phenomenon for me and to a lot of people it is. But I was just so disappointed with so many aspects of it that I found it hard to push myself to go back. My friends list of Destiny players has since dwindled as other have lost interest in it and moved on to other games.

As much as I’ve tried, I’ve just not been able to agree with others on how great this game is. I felt as though it lacked so much, although does have so much potential to be so much more. On paper it seemed like a perfect game, but that’s not always the case when facing it hands on.

As negative as I may have been within this article, Destiny is worth picking up, especially if your going to be playing with friends. The crucible adds a great break from farming but those looking for an in depth MMO should really only rent or completely avoid this one.

The reason I may have seemed so harsh was due to the expectation I had prior release. I’ll more than likely work on Destiny until I receive the platinum, but I really can’t see it being a game that I may reminisce on further in the future. It seems my Destiny within the game is not the one I hoped for, I hope the series is able re-work the potential it has and expand on this within a future instalment.

/ CR

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A weekend in the Capital Wasteland

After this weeks latest news from Bethesda, I felt a sudden urge to jump back in to Fallout 3. Reading the timestamp on my latest save file, I was so shocked to see it had been at least five years since I last stepped foot in the Capital Wasteland. Five Years! I can hardly believe it’s been nearly seven long years since the game released. Fallout 3 was one of those games that really resonated with me.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked free from Vault 101, finally liberated and unshackled from a life underground. As a player, looking out onto that horizon for the first time ever, and setting eyes on the outside world, that lonesome wasteland that was to become my playground for the next 200+ hours, that instant sense of pure freedom that was captured in that moment – Wow.

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That Incredible view from the clifftops of Vault 101.

It sent shivers down my spine, knowing that I could literally set off on my own adventure, in any direction I wanted, it totally blew my mind. There was no restraint at all; no matter what dangers lay up ahead it was my choice on where to go, or what to do first. It really was one of them moments in gaming that doesn’t crop up too often.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked free from Vault 101, finally liberated and unshackled from a life underground.

Fallout 3 is one of those games, to me personally, that will never be forgotten. It holds a special place, along with a select few others, that remain dear to me as the years go by.  Whenever I play, I like to play on the hardest difficulty. I love the true survival grit Fallout holds, where running into a group of Raiders can be a matter of life or death.

Having to scavenge on limited supplies, scarce of health pick ups and ammo drops, always making sure to make every bullet count and being tactful about how I approach the next clan of Super Mutants. Never have I felt such accomplishment in a game where the smallest of tasks can become the biggest of victories.

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About to unleash a barrage of gunfire on some unsuspecting super mutants.

The desolate landscape and pure isolation rings true to what a dystopian future may one day appear to be. Exploration just opens up more and more as you find yourself wanting to know more of the lore and history behind the Capital Wasteland.

The sense of curiosity that starts to stir as you set out to seek what loot the next collapsed and crumbling ruins of a building may hold, a building that once stood strong in a time now lost, it keeps you going back for more. If the fear of a lurking Centaur around every corner fills you with dread, it is suddenly lifted by the amazing soundtrack that plays over Galaxy News Radio.

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The environment really is something special, every crack and crevice holds something torn and spat out by the wasteland.

I really can’t express my adoration for the game. I still feel the same excitement now as I did compared to the first time I played it, and I know so many others feel the same way. As I’ve started a new save, I get the same feeling of always wanting to play it wherever I am, the same way you do when you get a new game. Yet this game is years old. I’ve played it through on Xbox 360, PC and PS3 numerous times, and it still feels fresh and exciting every time I play it.

A weekend looks certain to turn into another few weeks, as I find myself wanting to sink more time into the barron lands of Washington, DC. So when Bethesda announced this week that they would be holding their very first E3 press conference this year, you can imagine what video game series I, and many others, straight away pointed towards – Fallout!

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Bethesda’s recent post detailing their conference that’s being held at this years E3 2015.

I can’t even imagine how I would react to the news of another game in the series. I can only dare to dream at this point. But lets hope those dreams, rumours, hopes and speculations ring true, come June.

/ CR

Escapism and Video Games

This is something I wanted to touch upon at later date, but I think now is a fitting time to address it. Escapism from life into video games. It’s something I’ve never really felt part of, I’ve never really felt as though I’ve ever needed to escape my real life problems and venture into a virtual world to forget them. When situations like this arise I’ve always looked upon gaming as exploring another world to forget the trivial ­day to day occurrences in my own. By this, I mean to experience the world of another character or avatar and relive their stories, rather than trying to use gaming as something to mask my own life problems.

But for the first time ever, I’ve used video games literally as an escape, not in a negative way as to say I’m running from my problems, but to escape something negative that may have happened, or be happening and turn that into something positive. Sometimes work leaves me frustrated and stressed out, just like it may do anyone else. We all have these problems whether it is work, studies, how life may be treating you in general, family/friend problems, tragedies or anything that may bring you down in the real world. Whatever it may be, there comes a time where you just feel like closing the door on everything and forgetting the world for a while. Recently this is exactly how I’ve felt, due to similar problems – problems with friends, feeling financially tight, generally feeling down in the dumps, but mostly, feeling unaccomplished with work.

Whatever it may be, there comes a time where you just feel like closing the door on everything and forgetting the world for a while

I love my job, but as a designer my work is always being judged and faces a lot of criticism from others. Now I don’t mind criticism in the slightest. How can we improve if we are constantly lavished with praise? But what I don’t like is criticism that just isn’t in anyway constructive. Lately I’ve fallen to a lot of that within work, mostly from clients, and not much of it has been constructive, meaning it’s harder to work out where I’m going wrong, leaving me little chance on fixing my mistakes, if any.

This hasn’t left me in the best of moods lately. When this is combined with all the other stuff that’s going on, it just brings me down sometimes, but hey, that’s life. When times like this arise I usually try to deal with them first hand but when something is totally out of my control, I’m not able too.

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I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo III recently and it’s a game I’ve absolutely loved from the get go. Over the last few nights when I’ve came in from work, mentally exhausted and frustrated with what the day as thrown at me, I’ve sat down and literally just played Diablo 3 non stop, on PS4. Whether it’s working towards another trophy milestone or farming bounties with friends, I’ve played from the minute I’ve arrived home to the moment I lay down to rest. It’s the first time I’ve ever looked at it as an escape from life, or to be more specific, from the monotonous, frustrating and unaccomplished past couple of days I’ve been part of.

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I wouldn’t class it as running away from my problems, as I always like to face them head on and find a solution on how to move forward, but sometimes there literally isn’t anything you can do. Which is the case here, rather than sit around moping I wanted to fill that void, channeling that negativity from those problems into something positive. So transfixed onto the screen I ploughed away at given tasks within the game, feeling a sense of accomplishment as I done so. I finally levelled my hardcore character to level 70, thus unlocking the reward for the said requirement.

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I also focused on leveling my other characters while farming bounties with friends. I managed to hunt down the 100 treasure goblins and smash through the high tier of bounties like an unstoppable steam train. Each night I’d put all my focus into these tasks, to at least achieve that feeling of accomplishment that I couldn’t from work.

Each evening I’d come in, start the game in a stressed state of mind, feeling down and not in the best of moods and I’d come out the other side, usually at around midnight, with a sense of fulfilment, a feeling of accomplishment and generally came away happy. It’d make the next day easier, I’d use the same focus within my job as I did within the game, trying to finding that sense of achievement, I’d come home start from where I left off and just power through each night. The next day I’d try and mirror this within work. As it came to the end of the week I found that I had achieved the platinum by finishing every given requirement.

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The game had gotten me to that point, the point where I could think clearly again, my stress had cleared, my problems shifted and work was looking up. Sometimes life just throws you curveballs, whether it be your job, studies, your loved ones, stress, things not going your way or just problems in general – life gets hard. In these situations sometimes we’re left powerless, we feel powerless.

So how liberating is it when you can just disappear into a world where you have ultimate power, where you can vanquish evil, save the world, become the champion or just head towards the horizon. Maybe that’s why we love games so much, because when the chips are down and we’re at our weakest, games are still there for us. They can help us overcome hurdles that life stacks in front of us and allow us to tackle problems similar to how we may do so in video games, teaching us to try harder when something may not be going our way, to change our approach when we can’t move forward or just to fulfil that sense of accomplishment when everything else seems lost.

/ CR