On behalf of the entire team here at ++Good Games, we apologize for the way the Destiny reviews have been handled in by the gaming press this week.
Destiny walked into its own personal firestorm in the wake of the “#Gamergate” controversy which had put the ethics of video game journalism under a magnifying glass. Bungie’s title was the first major release since the “games journalism boil” ruptured and it appears in an attempt to secure the mindshare of gamers out there, Destiny was dragged across the coals for no other reason (from our perspective) other than a distraction from the news of what goes on behind the curtain.
For almost a full week, the team (and many of our audience) at ++Good Games has been happily playing the game online and remote playing through their PlayStation Vita. This past weekend, we logged on to many of the news aggregate sites to see what others were saying about the game and were absolutely shell-shocked by what we saw in the scores. Reviews seemed to waiver in the 5 to 7 range and lambasted Destiny’s experience for being “hollow” and “derivative”. Not once in the 20 hours of online play this week had I heard someone online talking about these reviews so the vitriol and animosity held within them hit us like a thunderbolt.
Were we missing something? Have these people been playing the same game? Could I be so used to disappointment in games that I’m accepting the mediocre and touting it as exemplary? Well, no, I’m not and neither are the tens of people I’ve played with online this week that have shared strikes, victory danced or simply resurrected my sorry ass 1000 or more times in any given level. Everyone I’ve talked to online are having a blast playing Destiny and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.
The reason I’m writing this apology letter is that I feel both Bungie and Destiny are getting shafted this week and there’s no reason for it. Looking at some of these reviews you’ll see that they have nothing but positive things to say about the gameplay but skin their talking points around a ‘flawed exposition’.
“[Destiny] did keep its hooks into me for hours upon hours at a time, so it’s certainly doing something right”
– The Escapist
“Few games have managed to make the act of pulling up iron sights, tracking an enemy, and landing the fatal headshot so natural or rewarding on a controller. Each weapon type has its own personality and weight that just feels, for lack of a less mystical term, right. It’s clear that Bungie’s “30 seconds of fun” design philosophy is still alive and well, if by nothing else than the frankly obsessive amount of tuning and polish that appears to have gone into the simple act of firing a bullet.”
Destiny’s basic mechanics and controls — movement, jumping, shooting, and melee combat — are sound. In fact, Destiny might have the most fun melee attack I’ve played in a shooter in farther-back-than-recent memory. The act of firing and aiming while navigating environments is fine, and it could be the basis for a great shooter.
Each review comes off the same with writers, bloggers and opinioneers™* all lauding the gameplay but faulting the overall game experience on story constructs alone. To that point, I will say that I have paid VERY little attention to the story and it’s entirely possibly it comes off as extremely amorphic and obtuse, but we could easily say the same of games like WoW, Diablo or Final Fantasy XIV (and several other games we love). For myself, the storyline is a vehicle for getting you into different locations and locales and I’ve personally loved little gems that make the experience so much more seamless and enjoyable such as being able to upgrade my character as a cutscene plays out over my headphones in the background.
There are some that are opting to look at this game negatively and that is entirely their right. We’ve had our fare share of this trumpeting during the launch of the XboxOne and PS4 consoles and the recent #GamerGate conspiracies but there are tens of thousands of us that aren’t letting these sounding boards define our view of this game. I wanted Bungie to know that there are people out here fully enjoying the experience and screaming, laughing and sharing an experience that will transcend these first reviews.
In closing, we wanted to share a quote from legendary author (and little known game reviewer), Mark Twain, who accurately captures our experience with Destiny.
“It’s lovely to live [in the world of Destiny**]. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened.”
– Mark Twain
*opinioneers™ is a term used behind the scenes at ++Good Games and refers to those who are so fervently passionate about their opinion on games being the correct one that they’ll infiltrate forums, comments and conversations to insert their $.02 (or $.25) into whatever social media coin slot they can find.