Punching Grimdarkness With Your Space Magic Fists

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

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Everything began with the discovery of the Traveler. With it, humanity entered a golden age of peace and prosperity, reaching out into space and colonizing the solar system, from Mercury to the Jovian gas giants. Unfortunately, all of that came crashing down with the Collapse. the Traveler’s ancient enemy, something only known as the Darkness, swept through the system, obliterating everything in its wake before it was forced back out by the Traveler’s Light in a final battle, sending the Darkness back into the depths of space but crippling the Traveler and plunging it into a deep slumber. For the next several centuries, humanity was besieged by aliens as, slowly but surely, they were pushed back to the Last City, safe beneath the sleeping Traveler. With its last breath, it created tiny drones called Ghosts, sending them out to find those worthy of wielding the Light, turning them into the knights of the Last City. These Guardians now strike out and travel the solar system searching for loot, fighting to protect humanity, or doing it just for the adventure. All the while, the Darkness is making its return and its minions are paving the way.

Bungie’s next big project after their conclusion of Halo, Destiny, first hinted at in Halo 3: ODST and formally revealed in February of 2013, is a First Person Shooter with MMO and RPG elements. Players create their own Guardians, gathering new and better equipment as they level up and travel to exotic locations within the Sol System. Much like an MMO, players can encounter other people whole on Patrol wandering the wilds of Earth, the Moon, Venus, Mars, and the Dreadnaught of Oryx. Being a shared world, they can disappear just as quickly as they appeared, or they might hang around the area, gather materials or even assisting the player in different tasks. If one wishes, they can team up with two other people to patrol together, participate in Crucible (PvP) matches as a team, or go on challenging Strike missions to fight particularly dangerous enemies. The ultimate test of skill and teamwork comes in the forms of Raids, where a fireteam of six is needed to run these gauntlets to fight some of the most powerful enemies in the games.

Besides the Guardian the player creates, a cast of other characters are there to help you on your journey. Your personal Ghost is your main companion, currently voiced by veteran voice actor Nolan North and previously voiced by Peter Dinklage. Acting as your commentator during missions and your means of activating various bits of technology, Ghost is always there to provide information and help when needed. The denizens of the Tower, the headquarters of the Guardians in the Last City, are probably the ones you’ll become the most familiar with. Vendors like the Engram-decrypting Master Rahool, Shipwright Amanda Holiday, and the three representatives of Dead Orbit, New Monarchy, and Future War Cult, carry equipment that will further give you the means to fight back against the Darkness. The Vanguard, the “leadership” of the Guardians, represent the three classes, guiding Guardians and giving them missions. The de facto leader of the Tower and Last City is The Speaker, the one who speaks for the Traveler and tries to interpret its will. Other friends, or allies with tenuous relationships, of the Guardians and city include the reclusive Awoken of the Reef, the mysterious Jovians, the ancient Warmind Rasputin, and the Exo Stranger that has taken an interest in your Guardian.

Though humanity has started to claw its way back to its previous glory, there are many forces that would deny them that. There’s the Fallen, four armed marauders of a broken empire that have taken up residence on Earth, the Moon, and Venus, scrounging and looting anything out of desperation for survival; The Hive, dogmatic zombie-like abominations that worship the Darkness, have burrowed deep within the Moon, hollowing it out and periodically attacking Earth with Seeders; The Cabal, militaristic aliens that aren’t afraid to destroy anything that blocks their path, planets included, have laid claim to Mars; and the Vex, incomprehensible and ancient machines with a mastery of time, reside deep within Venus and Mars, bent on making their supremacy inevitable. These four factions are the main threats the Guardians fight, but behind them all in some aspect, the Darkness is still the antagonist of the game.

Much like the Bungie developed Halo games, Destiny‘s gameplay is well done and solid. The many, many weapons of the game are spilt into three distinct categories and all handle well: Primaries (Auto Rifles, Scout Rifles, Pulse Rifles, and Hand Cannons), Specials (Shotguns, Fusion Rifles, Sniper Rifles, and Sidearms), and Heavies (Rocket Launchers, Machine Guns, and Swords). Everything from the weapons to the equipment come in different ranks of rarity and power with Legendaries (Purple) and Exotics (Yellow) being the most rare and best equipment in the game. Along with that, each class has a set of different abilities to go with their three respective subclasses. Titans are your heavy hitting tanks, Warlocks focus on their special abilities, and Hunters are swift marksmen.

With a ten year lifespan planned for the, Bungie has a number of expansions planned. So far, three have been released; two for “Year One” and the third signaling the start of “Year Two”. The first expansion, The Dark Below, brought the arrival of Eris Morn, who warns of the coming resurrection of Crota, the Knight of Luna and the God Prince of the Hive, who was responsible for slaughtering thousands of Guardians before in a great war. Guardians are tasked with stopping his resurrection, followed by the chance to end him once and for all in the raid “Crota’s End” traveling to the bottom of the Hellmouth and his home dimension. The second one, House of Wolves, saw the eponymous Fallen House betray the Awoken of the Reef, with the Queen assigning the Guardians to hunt down Skolas, the Kell of the Wolves and a mad war criminal who sees himself as the prophesied “Kell of Kells”. The third and largest expansion is The Taken King, where Crota’s father and the eponymous God King of the Hive, Oryx, comes to the solar system to avenge his son’s death personally, bringing with him The Taken, shadowy beings of each of the four races twisted by the Darkness.

Of course, Destiny is nowhere near perfect. A bit of a troubled production in the later stages resulted in the base game being pretty flat in story telling and an unforgiving loot system. While the lore present in the Grimoire Cards is very well-written and shows more of this world than the actual story, it still doesn’t account for the relative emptiness of vanilla DestinyThe Dark Below didn’t do much in terms of the story, but House of Wolves did a little bit better in that department. However, The Taken King has done an immense job in adding in more story and fixing a lot of issues from year one. More focus is given to some of the side characters, such as fan-favorite Cayde-6 (voiced by Nathan Fillion), and the voice acting has improved as well. If The Taken King is any indication of the amount of content future expansions will provide, then the future seems brighter for Destiny.

The game still has a ways to go before all of the problems currently plaguing it are fixed, but the latest expansion has shown that there is still a lot of good potential for this game. While definitely a bit of a letdown in Year One, now is a great time to jump in if you’ve been thinking about getting it or have been on the fence about it. Though the story might leave something to be desired for lore-fanatics like myself (the Grimoire Cards are definitely well-written and fascinating, though), the gameplay is still tight and well done. Whether you go solo or have a fire team at your back, maybe you too can become legend.

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