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Is Destiny the first ‘real’ console MMO? – part one

Thursday, 12th June 2014 17:19 GMT By Dave Cook

Destiny is in alpha right now, and VG247′s Dave Cook has been playing it on PS4. Have consoles received their first made-to-order MMO or is this genre simple incompatible with Sony and Microsoft’s plans? Find out here.

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Looking for part two instead? Go here.

For whatever reason, Activision really doesn’t want to call Destiny an MMO. Perhaps it’s because that genre has a lot of preconceptions floating around it, or maybe it’s because those three letters suggest something that isn’t a ‘real’ game in the eyes of console purists? I’m not entirely sure where the issue lies, but that’s what I’m looking to discuss here.

I’ve been playing Destiny now for just three hours. That’s not a long time I admit, but I rather quickly found myself eager to jot down some initial thoughts here, because for many of you out there yet to rub shoulders with MMOs, Destiny’s first impressions will be quite important. You might even be looking to upgrade to the new generation for this game alone, while others – I’m certain – aren’t quite sure what to expect.

It’s a largely untested concept on consoles, so that’s why this is a two-part article; I want to hit you with that first wall of expectation and give you an insight into what Destiny stands for, before hurtling into the finer points in part two.

Ready? Let’s go.

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Welcome to the downfall of humankind

What struck me most tangibly during those first few hours was Destiny’s sense of place. I went a Hunter class – skilled in the art of long range and blade combat – and found myself in a starting zone amid the ruins of Old Russia. Amid its snow-capped fields and cliffs lies the rusting wreckage of space craft, once destined to ferry humanity to the stars, where a prosperous future lay. It’s clear that the dream died before lift-off.

Destiny brings this graveyard of metal and rock to life as snow twirls through the air and brilliant sunshine trembles through the twisted wreck of lopsided shuttles, forever rooted to cracked launchpads. This backdrop serves as stage to all of your initial questing, which can be tackled solo or as part of a three-player Fireteam, although you will still see other players running around the environment as you go. You can choose to interact with them and help in their battles, or not. The choice is yours.

”Early on I found enemies to be quite aggressive, but with a little perseverance I defeated them all and headed back to the Tower, which is where Destiny is at its most ‘MMO.’“

If you’re unfamiliar with MMO tropes; just think of other players as NPCs in any other shooter. They’re certainly not intrusive, and aren’t capable of attacking you or stealing loot dropped from enemies you’ve killed. You can fight them via PvP in The Crucible arena, but I’ll get to that in part two. The closest games I can liken Destiny to right now are Borderlands and Guild Wars 2, due to its open world nature and co-op play.

My first quest involved checking out a congregation of Fallen, a hostile race of creatures found lurking around an old space hanger. I encountered a pack of their footsoldiers outside the complex and engaged in my first battle which, to my surprise, felt quite different to Halo. My Hunter class came with a double jump skill, so leaping around did feel a bit similar to Bungie’s series, but the gunplay felt faster and definitely slicker than Master Chief’s handling.

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I darted between decayed containers and wreckage to cover myself while unleashing my fully-automatic rifle and shotgun into anything that crossed my path. My instant reaction was that it all felt quite good in my hands, and the intelligence of the AI largely surprised me. Troops scramble for cover and pick alternate routes to get the drop on you, which is a damn sight better than the MMORPG staple of clicking to attack, or circling each other while issuing commands. It’s a fluid shooter.

Venturing into the complex, I happened across a Titan who had been downed by a pack of tougher Fallen, and with a simple hold of Square he was revived and back on his feet. The interiors were dark and illuminated by eerie lighting, once again delivering a great sense of place, while the music dropped back to up the tension. As I stalked the halls, taking out more grunts, I earned Glimmer – Destiny’s currency – and even progressed my character to level four.

”Destiny is the story of humanity’s losing war against alien invaders, and the Tower is the only thing standing between them and extinction. It stands as the game’s social hub.“

This unlocked my Hunter’s Golden Gun skill, which enabled me to summon a flaming pistol capable of discharging three high-power rounds. What it boasted in power, it lost in accuracy due to being iron sights only, which was a nice piece of balancing on Bungie’s part. At the heart of the complex I found myself attacked by a horde of Hive, Moon-dwelling aliens that attack in packs like zombies. They were being led by smarter, gun-wielding types and their wizard leader.

In something of an RPG twist, the wizard blasted me with a bolt of magic that inflicted poison on my Hunter, and corroded her health over time. Similar to Halo, you have a health bar that depletes then regenerates as you avoid damage, so survival was simply a case of staying hidden. Early on I found enemies to be quite aggressive, but with a little perseverance I defeated them all and headed back to the Tower, which is where Destiny is at its most ‘MMO.’

Next: Into the Tower.

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31 Comments

  1. Matt27

    Hey man, thanks for the article.
    My biggest issue with MMO’s is always the grind. Repetitive gameplay that after a while feels more like a chore rather than something enjoyable. It’s easy to forget that you’re supposed to be having fun when you’re grinding away for more credits/experience etc.
    Do you think Destiny has done anything that will make the “grind” more enjoyable in Destiny, or do you think after 10+ hours of play or so that the side quests will get repetitive?

    #1 2 months ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @Matt27 no problem :)

    I dont think it’ll get boring due to the dynamic nature of play. Its less formulaic than click to attack MMOS, thanks to the way enemies react and drop into battle.

    In one area I just had to thin out an enemy type but drop ships kept flying over head and more aliens phased into the fight. It’s like a large scale Halo battle that never ends, but with slicker handling.

    I’m enjoying it for sure. More time will reveal how it stands up.

    #2 2 months ago
  3. Redh3lix

    I play MMO FPS Planetside 2 occaisionally on PC (this is also coming to PS4) so if it’s anything like that it’ll be instabuy.

    #3 2 months ago
  4. OlderGamer

    Dave have you played Defiance? How Desteny different, other then being in a differnt story line/game universe? I really enjoyed Defiance.

    #4 2 months ago
  5. Erthazus

    It’s really is just another Defiance.

    What’s the difference other than millions of marketing campaign?

    #5 2 months ago
  6. Gekidami

    How many players are their per world? Maybe Bungie dont want to call it an MMO… Because it isnt “massively multiplayer”…?

    #6 2 months ago
  7. Mike

    Not coming out on PC?

    #7 2 months ago
  8. zombizmo

    Where’s my alpha code already.

    #8 2 months ago
  9. Erthazus

    @Gekidami There will be hubs aka Cities and there will be tons of players but once you are going to dungeons and exploration you won’t see a lot of players except for public events.

    #9 2 months ago
  10. harr0w

    Its not an mmo as much as they like to make it look like one.

    #10 2 months ago
  11. Seventizz

    I know I’m supposed to, but I just don’t care about this game.

    I have a feeling next year we’ll be reading stories like ‘Destiny – The 500 Million Disaster’.

    #11 2 months ago
  12. Bomba Luigi

    I really dont understand why they are refusing to call it an MMO, it obvious is one. I’m an antisocial prick and dont like to play with others but theres nothing wrong with being an MMO! Lots of other People like that.

    And MMOs on on Console – why not? Its a game and Consoles for playing Games. I dont know about Sales or stuff, but the Internet always tells me it likes FF14 on PS.

    #12 2 months ago
  13. nostramo

    Can i play destiny on my PS4 if i unplug my router,….now this may seem like a stupid question to ask, but if i can not then i be sitting this one out,

    #13 2 months ago
  14. nostramo

    Can i play destiny on my PS4 if i unplug my router?,….now this may seem like a stupid question to ask, but if i can not then i’ll be sitting this one out, there is a reason they shy away from the term MMO when it comes to consoles, i suspect this will do well on xbox one, less so on PS4, time will tell , meanwhile i’ll save my £65 for a shooter with a campaign that doesnt involve the rest of the world.

    #14 2 months ago
  15. bardo

    I think they’re hesitant to call it an MMO because it isn’t exactly client/server based like traditional MMOs.

    Instead, it seems to be a cross between how the original Guild Wars worked (which was already on the cusp of what people would consider to be an MMO) and how Left 4 Dead 2 works (which definitely isn’t an MMO).

    Like Guild Wars, towns are the only areas where you’ll run into a large number of other players. Everything else is instanced. But unlike Guild Wars where those instances were hosted on a server, Destiny seems to use matchmaking servers to connect client node instances together directly.

    So outside of towns, it’s going to feel a lot like Journey (which I don’t think anyone would consider to be an MMO).

    #15 2 months ago
  16. budoshi

    @nostramo you mean unplugged to the internet? no i dont think so its a multiplayer game after all. you could unplugged your router and plug your cable direct to your internet modem? im not sure i understand the whole router thing your asking , as for the game i hope its good and cannot wait to try it.

    #16 2 months ago
  17. OrbitMonkey

    Funny fact, gamers to serious to play party games like Just Dance, will spend hours dancing around the Destiny hubs.

    #17 2 months ago
  18. fengato

    Been playing the alpha for a couple of hours (multiplayer). Feels decidedly last gen – the 30 fps and Reach style visuals make it feel old – in fact Halo 4 on 360 runs and looks as good. Hope there’s a hook to the main game, as Destiny MP is not going to be taking up much of my time.

    #18 2 months ago
  19. Llewelyn_MT

    Borderlands 2 and Guild Wars 2 are among my top 10 modern games I play for fun. Looks like it will be worth checking out. When it comes to PC.

    #19 2 months ago
  20. Revolting

    Is Destiny the first console MMO?

    It’s not even an MMO. It is a brilliant Social FPS with MMO features and influences (loving the alpha so hard), but borderline MMO at the most, and even you do consider it to be one, it’s so very far from the first. It’s not even close.

    Final Fantasy 14 is a proper console MMO. Before that, DCUO. Before that, Final Fantasy 11 and Phantasy Star II. Console MMOs have been around for literally years.

    Destiny is great, but this headline is ludicrous.

    #20 2 months ago
  21. Docker Al

    Thanks for the article Dave, I was unsure about what this game is really supposed to be. Now I know I have zero interest in picking this up. I was hoping it would be a traditional FPS with a solid solo campaign and a solid suite of multiplayer game modes. It’s clearly not a competitor to BF, TF and COD etc. so it’s not for me. For those that like this type of game good luck to you and I hope it turns out great.

    #21 2 months ago
  22. Dave Cook

    @Docker Al Glad to have helped, I think that question ‘What is Destiny’ was confusing a lot of players.

    #22 2 months ago
  23. Dave Cook

    @Revolting The question in the headline is elaborated on further in the body. Many MMOs on consoles are ports, or try to replicate the PC MMO experience on consoles. It’s a square peg, round hole way of thinking.

    Destiny is a purpose-made MMO for consoles, and yes it *is* an MMO in the same way Guild Wars is an MMO. This is not a derogatory term. I like Destiny and I’ll continue to play it.

    When I say ‘real’ I mean an MMO that really has been made with console gamers in mind first, instead of an after-thought. Sorry you didn’t enjoy the piece though. Can’t win them all.

    #23 2 months ago
  24. Docker Al

    Cheers Dave! If I was Activision I’d be worried about the confusion around this game. I’m sure it’ll be a huge success at launch but Acti need to communicate what the game is all about to avoid disappointing people. I can’t see the really core FPS fans getting into this from what I’ve heard so far for example.

    #24 2 months ago
  25. EQOAnostalgia

    EverQuest Online Adventures was the first MMO on ANY CONSOLE EVER. It was out on Playstation fucking TWO! It beat Destiny by over a decade and was just as massive as WoW and 3 of it’s expansions put together, and it did this with NO HDD!

    #25 2 months ago
  26. EQOAnostalgia

    @Revolting Uhhh yeah… you skipped EQOA which was the very first console mmo. Looks like someone gets an F in console mmo history. PSO btw not PSII. And it wasn’t an mmo the same was Monster Hunter wasn’t an mmo. Gathering into a social hub and heading into a HEAVILY instanced 4 man dungeon does not an mmo make.

    #26 2 months ago
  27. EQOAnostalgia

    @Erthazus Geee let me see… umm well it actually FUCKING WORKS for one, Defiance STILL has a shit ton of bugs and crashes over a year later, Destiny has about 45 million dollars more in production values, it’s not base off a cheesy TV show, Destiny is everything Defiance wanted to be and failed to be HARD.

    #27 2 months ago
  28. tboy1015

    this will not be a mmorpgfps its like borderlands or gta v. where yall meat in a lobby and play coop it might be 16 players in that lobby but yall only there to buy stuff. The first mmo i played on xbox was phantasy star universe. Now thats a mmorpg. Defiance is a mmorpgshooter you can play coop with 1000+ players as with destiny only 4players then you can go to the main vault and play pvp. its borderlands and halo put together thats it. ever game is a mmo but ever game cant be a rpgmmo. For example Call of duty is a mmofps. it has 1000+ players on a sever but we are not free roaming. if any thing this is Borderlands with multiplayer. Just say you cant free roam with 100 people like you do in Defiance. thats why they dont label it

    #28 2 months ago
  29. tboy1015

    First off is Destiny a mmo yes. is it like wow no. what is it then. MMOFPS. but a mini mmo. athis will not be a mmorpgfps its like borderlands or gta v. where yall meat in a lobby and play coop it might be 16 players in that lobby but yall only there to buy stuff. The first mmo i played on xbox was phantasy star universe. Now thats a mmorpg. Defiance is a mmorpgshooter you can play coop with 1000+ players as with destiny only 4players then you can go to the main vault and play pvp. its borderlands and halo put together thats it. ever game is a mmo but ever game cant be a rpgmmo. For example Call of duty is a mmofps. it has 1000+ players on a sever but we are not free roaming. if any thing this is Borderlands with multiplayer. Just say you cant free roam with 100 people like you do in Defiance. thats why they dont label it

    #29 2 months ago
  30. tboy1015

    @EQOAnostalgia you mean a mmo free roam game like defiance. I think all games are mmos if they can hold over a 100+ people on there server. It not a mmorpgfps that only the deference. massive multiplier online means 100+ players can play only on a the same sever. mmorpg is just a interaction with those 1000s. Destiny is just like borderlands 2 with multiplier. i think its like gta5 where you can do coop mission. phantasy star universe allow you to see 100+ players on one server. on gta only 16. thats what i think destiny is like.

    #30 2 months ago
  31. tboy1015

    @EQOAnostalgia i think every game is massive multiplayer online but not as bis as wow or ff11 or ff14. The closes youll can get with game that similar is gta V or borderlands with a social area. thats it.

    #31 2 months ago

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