There was a very audible drop in pressure when Destiny won "Best Game" at last weeks Videogame BAFTA awards. Did it deserve the accolade or does the public outcry have a point?
I really like Destiny and I defended it when it was released in September last year.
I think it's reputation was always going to be damaged long before it was actually released. Coming from the team that created Halo with a marketing budget the size of Europe and a development fund bigger than any ever seen, it was everywhere you looked. It was so strong in fact, that it was the push I needed to actually take up the next generation console when Sony released the lovely white model which is sat in my living room.
I'm not going to breakdown the game into its elements because in most cases it delivers. Graphics and sound are both very high quality, the main menu music is something I find genuinely soothing when the PS4 is on in the background. The public issue of Destiny has never been about it's core gameplay. The online PvP games are satisfying and fairly balanced between the 3 classes that exist and matchmaking is smooth (enough).
The games successes are also it's failures. By trying to squash two genres together, create a persistent world, write a meaningful story and still retain the skills that made Halo so much fun, Bungie were really pushing the envelope. For me, the story is awful and if someone were to ask me now to explain it, I would say that the big sphere is really important and it doesn't last very long.
The MMO parts of the game vary in their execution. The way the game throws you together with groups of people on the same level works very well, especially for the likes of me who want to just get into a strike and play. I have never completed a Raid and I've got a real issue with the way it works. I cannot find the time to commit to a several hour session with people in the same way that they may have time for, so I miss out. I'd like to see something where you have to go in with a group but there are checkpoints which you can drop in and out of with different people. Therefore, I miss out on many game items.
The planets you battle on are fairly different in design but have no bearing on gameplay. You are in a place, shooting a thing, reaching a goal. Whether you're on a freezing planet or boiling one it would've been nice (and kind expected) to see some elemental differences.
Destiny has also been criticised for it's post-story focus which is grinding to get XP and points. There is a massive amount of repetition in place here which resulted in forum's spreading news of loot caves and technical bugs quickly. I hasten to add I took part in the original loot cave as it was the only way I would ever find time to raise my character to a decent level - which he still isn't. Even so, when the first expansion came out it rendered the work many had done to get high level armour a bit pointless as suddenly, you could buy it. It's a real poor way to reward committed gamers.
That being said. I play the game often and even now, writing about it makes me want to drop in quickly for a session and see what's going on - maybe even start that Hunter I've been going on about. The urge to play is strong even with (unfair) random drops and a pointless story. That urge is Destiny's strongest point.
I know that there are tonnes of numbers going around about how many people have played the game, how many are registered and how many hours have gone into battle. What I'd like to know is what happens when you take away the top and bottom 10% of players. If you've done a Raid a couple of times, you've probably got more time down that the rest of my time in game combined. Also, if you've got X million registered players/accounts, how many of those are actually active? I don't care at all about stats & sales figures because if that was the case Destiny deserves it.
But it's not about that - and if that's why it won then it's a real shame.
My "Best Game" would have been Shadow of Mordor. Gameplay, addiction, story, fighting and let's not forget the Nemesis system! I just think that from an overall viewpoint this game hits the mark. Also, I would not have held it against Dragon Age: Inquisition or Alien Isolation had they won as the people I was sat with agreed it was a three horse race. We gave Monument Valley more of a chance because of the innovation and disregarded Destiny & Mario Kart 8 (sorry buddy).
There is something fundamentally wrong if the game winning is not even considered by part of the audience and even worse when even the BBC comment on how surprising it was.
To be nominated for 4 awards and only win the top prize doesn't sit quite right with me for some reason
Destiny is a great game, no doubt. It's just not the Best Game.