The Taken King Launches Without A Raid

I generally try to avoid talking about the year long, sixty dollar beta, Destiny, but this is just too rich to avoid. According to The Taken King Director Luke Smith, the new Raid titled ‘Kings Fall’ will not be available on the day of launch.

Really Bungie…?

What’s more, Luke didn’t even comment on a potential release window for the raid, which is considered one of the most important pieces of content for Destiny’s end game. What a sad state of affairs for both Activision and Bungie.

Despite all of this, he has offered a final statement on the matter and it is as disappointing as one might expect.

“But I promise for people who are excited about the raid will know when it’s time to take time off work. We’ll give em’ a heads up”

How kind of Bungie to let us know when it comes out after hiding this fact until mere weeks before The Taken King releases. It’s not as if anyone wanted to play the Raid after Disappointment of Wolves released without a raid, instead opting for the utterly horrible “Prison of Elders”.

The Taken King was supposed to be the reinvention of Destiny. It was supposed to show everybody that Destiny can and will be a great game. While this may still happen, shipping without a vital piece of content just shows that even an entire year after launching, Bungie still can’t get their s%!t together.

Destiny Community Outraged – Bungie Responds… Sort of

Destiny

Earlier this week, the Bungie dev team came under fire because of an interview reported on Eurogamer.net wherein Bungie’s Creative Director, Luke Smith, said some things that the community perceived as arrogant and insensitive. If you haven’t read it yet, the interview can be found here. Destiny Community Outraged – Bungie Responds… Sort of.  For example, when asked about the special emotes found only in the Collector’s Edition, Mr. Smith told the interviewer that, if he fired up the game and revealed the emotes, we would “throw money at the screen”. This comment seemed to be the focus of most of the rage on reddit and other social media sites as players began to feel as though they were only dollar signs in Bungie’s eyes instead of valued consumers.

The long and short of it is that Bungie attempted to defend the price tag that was placed on Destiny’s upcoming expansion, The Taken King. At E3, it was announced that the expansion would cost $40 for a digital download. For players jumping in fresh to the game, there will be a Legendary Edition for $60 that would include both of the prior expansions, The Dark Below and House of Wolves. Lastly, the version that is the center of so much controversy is the Collector’s Edition, an $80/£80 bundle that includes both prior expansions alongside some in-game bonuses in the form of new emotes, shaders, and special items. The problem here, however, is that the veteran players who invest hours upon hours every week in their Destiny experience will undoubtedly already own both of these expansions, so it really serves no purpose to increase the price for players to purchase something all over again. Also, something most American players don’t realize is that the dollar is not a direct 1:1 ratio with the pound, so European players are actually being asked to spend closer to $125.

Well, David “DeeJ” Dague and Luke Smith both responded today via Bungie’s regular Weekly Update. However, there will probably be some mixed feelings about their response. The update essentially opens with Smith’s apology (which was necessary for damage control). If nothing else, the community would have been even angrier if there was no acknowledgment that he was wrong, even if they do not wholeheartedly accept his apology. DeeJ followed up by revealing a $20 digital download upgrade that appears to only upgrade your already purchased copy of TTK that seems to still cost $40. I’m not sure if they are changing the price from $40 to $20 and including the content, but the wording does not read that way. He also announced a set of “VIP rewards” that will go to players with a level 30 Guardian, or to those who have played both expansions. This set of rewards appears to be an emblem and a Sparrow, Destiny’s speeder, next to all three classes standing in what looks like camouflage gear.

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Now, if I have learned anything from my time in this game, the reward is likely not new pieces of armor, but is probably a shader that will make our current gear look like the picture. Again, a weak attempt to acknowledge players who have poured countless hours into their game by appeasing them with cosmetic items.

Honestly, considering how many times Bungie has responded to community concerns with “we hear you loud and clear,” it still seems like they are only trying to buy back the support of their players while also keeping a solid profit margin. I know that I was expecting more of a resolution than what we got, especially since we still don’t have an answer on the Collector’s Edition pricing issue, and DeeJ acknowledged that “we won’t see the Collector’s Edition Upgrade” because they are “working on it”. We will wait and see.

The decision in front of Destiny players now is whether or not to even bother with The Taken King this September, especially considering the veritable treasure trove of new games coming out during the holiday window. I personally think we can expect to see a dip in Destiny’s daily login numbers over the next few months, as the sour feelings linger, followed by a small rise of players deciding to give the new content a shot.

Will you be one of the ever-faithful and give Bungie a second chance? Or will you, as one of my Fireteam members so eloquently put it, “push the eject button”?

Content Stigmatisation: The Bane of Gaming

Gaming

I love content me. There is nothing better than completing a game only to find tens of hours of additional game ready to play that is not directly linked to the “main game”. Extra modes, unlockables, challenges, and characters; they all add the experience. Whilst not a sure-fire, set in stone rule, the more content a game has, the better the value. Well isn’t it a shame that content in modern games is, well, missing. Ergo, the value of gaming has dropped.

But why has game content went the way of the dodo? Simple: DLC. It seems more and more common for developers to release a game with blatantly missing content only to “fill in the gaps” later with overpriced, underwhelming DLC packages. Last years Destiny is a shining example of how a game was neutered and then spoon fed with addons at a later date. You have a game ripe with potential, the only draw back being there is nothing to do, the main story is short and actually goes out of its way to not explain the universe, and low and behold, ridiculous DLC comes along to fill in all those gaps at an extravagant price. Buy a half finished game at full price, then pay more for the right to play the other half later on.

This kind of thinking is ripe in the gaming industry of today, and with day one DLC actually having the audacity to exist (we are looking at you Capcom), especially when the content is already on the disk (still looking at you Capcom), the problem is not going away. And whilst we are staring uncomfortably at Capcom, what is with Street Fighter 4 Super Hyper Turbo Champion Extreme Edition Plus Arcade? Everything you have added to Steet Fighter over the years could, and should be added as DLC, and in some cases, a patch.

Microtransactions. Oh how I despise you. Once only found in terrible F2P mobile games, microtransactions have begun to crop up in AAA titles. Traditionally microtransactions are designed to allow you to skip tedious parts of a game, which is great in a F2P title that has freakishly long downtime. But when you had this kind of rubbish in full price games like Forza or Assassins Creed, you are literally paying the developer money to:

  1. Play their game
  2. Play any on disk day one DLC
  3.  Not play the game

And this trend will not stop, because people do it. Developers are literally asking you for money to not play their game, after you spent a small fortune buying the game in the first place.

Content in gaming nowadays is a taboo. If you want to have a meaningful, full experience you simply have to fork out additional money for features that should have been present all along. That, or wait a year or so for the Directors Cut, otherwise known as: The actual game we should have released a year ago.

The Six Biggest Missed Opportunities In Destiny

Destiny

Destiny is a unique and innovative mammoth of a game, but it has unfortunately released with too many questionable design choices. The game has been severely held back from its full potential by Bungie. While not not surprising, I can’t help but feel a lot of disappointment. The game tends to shine in several areas, but all aspects of the game are marred by bad design and a lack of inspiration or thought.

Everyone is aware of the abysmal loot system in place, and everyone is aware that Peter Dinklage’s voice performance was sub-par. I’m here to bring you the six biggest missed opportunities in Destiny aside from the obvious, and how they could’ve made the game so much more than it is.

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The Lore 

When I heard that Dark Souls was the inspiration for how Bungie would tell Destiny‘s story, I was thrilled. I am too big a fan of the Souls series, and it had me even more excited for Destiny. One of my favourite parts of Dark Souls is how you have to dig to find the story. If you want to know who Gwyn is, why Quelaag resides where she does, and so on, you must dig through item descriptions and listen to dialogue to uncover details. If you were to map out a tree of lore for Dark Souls, it’d be massive and intertwined; the same cannot be said with Destiny.

Destiny tries to do the exact same thing, except that you aren’t finding items and reading them for your plot, you’re not speaking to NPCs and hearing their story, and you’re not walking through the ruins of an ancient city, scouring it for clues. In Destiny, you shoot things in the head, boot up the mobile app on your phone or PC, and read page after page of bland details. There’s no life to the world, as it’s been sucked out and placed on a tablet for your ‘viewing pleasure.’

Instead of Guns having jokes in their text, they should have history. Instead of loot chests containing grind-heavy spinmetal, they should have items that give you plot points. Instead of consumables simply explaining their purpose, they should offer insight into some of the smaller details of your character and how it functions. Instead of having about four cutscenes that slap exposition at you, there should be insightful dialogue with every NPC that you speak to – and more of them.

If you want to be Dark Souls, you have to try a lot harder than this Bungie.

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NPC Interaction

As previously mentioned, NPCs are scarce in Destiny. The worlds you explore are barren wastelands and dilapidated buildings, and the only life they offer are the enemies you slaughter. I don’t know why Bungie thought the only NPCs that the game has should be in The Tower, but that was already a mistake. NPCs that do reside in The Tower have absolutely no life to them. They have no personality, no character, and no lore. Bungie couldn’t even bother to give them actual names in some cases, as the robotic servants and other such characters are the most basic unmemorable names possible.

Why is it that NPCs do not talk to you? Why is it that they have nothing insightful to say about the items you bring them? Why did Bungie get celebrity voice cast and not utilize it to the full extent of their ability?  None of it makes sense to me, and it seems that if they wanted to make a living world, they should probably have life in it.

A huge problem that MMORPGs face is that they have dull NPCs. They generally have huge pages of dialogue to summarize the side-quest you’re about to do and why it matters. It’s unfortunate that Destiny couldn’t even contain dull dialogue, as they’d rather have approximately four speaking characters in the entirety of this ‘open world’.

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Gestures

This might seem like a nitpick compared to some of the large problems in Destiny, but I would argue that even the smallest of details matter in the long run. Gestures are a prime example of a huge misstep in basic gameplay.

Another obvious cue from Dark Souls is Destiny‘s gesture system. If you hit one of the four directional buttons on the D-Pad, your character will do an action such as sitting, dancing, or waving. This is a cute idea with comical implementation, and it even  benefits the game as you can essentially use basic communication in a game with no voice chat (why?!).

the frustrating misstep comes in with the customization of the gestures, or lack thereof. You get a total of four that are not interchangeable or customizable. Your dance changes depending on your race, but that is the extend of the creativity Bungie put in with gestures.

Why can you not learn taunts or friendly bows? Why can you not customize where your character points or the type of wave he has? Dark Souls allowed the player to do a number of actions to earn a multitude of gestures, all interchangeable at your leisure. This system helped communicate in a world of no communication,and it added flavour to the multiplayer components.

As with everything else in Destiny, they dropped the ball.

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Open World of Emptiness

It will forever baffle me that Destiny, clearly inspired by Borderlands, wanted to do away with any sort of actual collectibles and loot. Why is it that we’re given 4 sprawling planets to explore, when nothing in the world is actually worth exploring?

I had an experience with a friend when the game launched. We were casually marching to our first mission on Earth, when we noticed a cave. I immediately shouted that we should inspect the cave, for surely, there’d be some sort of reward for my keen eye and our persistence? To my dismay, all that resided within the cave was an ugly texture that somewhat resembled what a cave would look like … how exciting!

These planets are huge, and there are tons of hidden nooks and crannies for potential chests, containing randomly generated gear and items. This would actually tie in with the lore, in that you could spend time hunting out different gear and items. All of the items you’d hunt could give you benefits and insight into the lore and history of the area you’re exploring.

Instead of this, we get a total of five (wow!) golden chests to collect, half of which are hidden in missions, and a few randomly generated silver chests. This wouldn’t be so bad if the contents were more interesting, or if we had NPCs hiding in caves and other hidden areas that offered some sort of dialogue or side quest. It’s clear that Bungie would rather we go interact with a green flashy thing and get an arbitrary mission of little purpose.

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Vehicles

When Destiny was being teased, there were several images of the types of vehicles the game would offer. I don’t think I was alone when I pictured a game that would allow us to actually pilot them. Little did I know however, is that we’d only be able to actually fly or pilot two types, and they’d both be mission-specific and severely underutilized. Beyond the two attack vehicles, you are given a Sparrow, a type of transport land-speeder that allows the player to traverse the world much faster than traditional running. The Sparrow is an excellently designed vehicle, except that it lacks any actual customization beyond colour swaps.

This is not the focus of my point, however, as the main problem I see is the jump ships. We’re given several choices with the jump ship we use to travel between planets, except that you only ever see it on loading screens. There is zero purpose to the ships beyond aesthetic value, and the cost of glimmer to buy a different skin is laughable.

Why could we not have space-centric PVP where you customize and pilot a ship? Why could the Sparrow not be customized and outfitted with boosters or decals or weaponry? Why can we not fly from planet to planet? the questions go on and on, and there are no satisfactory answers to be heard.

I was so saddened to see how little purpose vehicles serve in Destiny, and it’s disappointing that we couldn’t have actual space flight or at least bare-bones customization.

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Factions

When you reach the end-game in Destiny, you’re given an option to choose a faction to fight for in the Crucible. Doing so nets you specific legendary and exotic gear, though you must rank up the faction before being able to buy anything. This sounds fine, except that it’s yet another prime example of a missed opportunity and only the most basic understanding in how a feature should be implemented.

It seems that Dark Souls is not going to stop being referenced as an inspiration for Destiny, so we’ll do with another comparison. In Dark Souls, covenants (factions) allow the player to align themselves with a specific covenant that will allow you to take part in interesting new gameplay mechanics or expand upon your experience. The Brotherhood of Blood allows you to go fight in PVP arenas where the fight is fair, The Heirs Of The Sun allow you to have a glowing orange figure as you net rewards for helping your fellow man defeat tough areas, the Bellkeepers allow you to defend the bell from intruders by being a sort of guardian. The list goes on and on for each of the Souls games, and there are a large amount of covenants to try out – all with their own specific rewards for your dedication.

In Destiny, you have three factions, none of which have any actual purpose beyond earning their gear, and even that is just as arbitrary as everything else in the game. You buy your class armour to swear yourself to the faction, and fight like normal in the PVP to rank up. There is no new mechanics added, no faction-restricted game modes, or anything to offer the player to entice them to try out a faction. It is just a title and the title is as grindy as everything else. They couldn’t even bother to make your choice a meaningful one, as you can just buy each faction’s item and rank them all up.

Destiny PS4 Alpha Gameplay Leaked

Destiny

UPDATE: The files are no longer available for download, we have removed the links as they point to nowhere now.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Over the last day or so, Destiny first real gameplay footage on the PS4 has been leaked all over the internet. Activision has been swiftly removing every trace of the videos, making it impossible to see what all the hype is about. Luckily enough, there remains a download that still works, so get it while it is hot as this will probably not last very long.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

I for one think this looks excellent. It’s reminiscent of Borderlands and Halo, and that is never a bad thing. If Bungie can deliver on their promises and negate my worries, this game could turn out to be an E3 show-stopper. The wait is almost over, so this can distract you until the big show!

Source: wccftech

Is Destiny In Trouble?

Destiny

It was revealed at the Milken conference that Activision is investing $500 million dollars into Bungie’s latest venture, Destiny. While this appears to be great news for fans at first glance, I am slightly worried about what this could mean for the highly anticipated shooter.

It is worth mentioning that the sum of money will not only go into development costs, but everything from advertising to packaging. Regardless, it is estimated that Destiny will need to sell around 15 million copies at $60 to break even. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is.

Most games cannot dream of receiving that kind of success, with moderately budgeted titles selling only a fraction of the units. You occasionally get a smash hit like Grand Theft Auto V that sold 32 million units, but a lot of that is attributed to the fact that Grand Theft Auto as a name holds more value than any IP can dream of with its first title.

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Like Call of Duty or any other big name, you need only place the name on a box and it will sell; Destiny, as a new IP, doesn’t have that power. If they have one thing however, it’s that Bungie is revered as a top-notch developer, responsible for one of the most influential series in gaming history, Halo. While Destiny isn’t a household name, Bungie’s name and Halo could help ship units for sure. But is that enough?

Early previews of Destiny seem to flock to the idea that the game, while possessing frenetic fun and a slew of unique ideas, is either lacking something or is simply not ground-breaking.  This could be due to the fact that shooters in general are over-saturating the market, leading to genre-fatigue. Or, it could also be attributed to the fact that Activision is notorious for not wanting to take risks. When you think of the amount of money invested in Call of Duty, Skylanders, and other Activision franchises, it makes sense why their games never actually evolve.

Throw enough money at an IP, and the risk becomes too great to deem as “smart” business, though it is cowardice at its finest. Destiny, while ambitious, doesn’t seem to offer anything we’ve never seen before. It is playing it safe in a lot of regards, and the fact that Activision is already a ‘play it safe’ publisher helps the argument that they’re simply afraid to try anything risky. I feel it’s necessary to point out that we hardly have any details on Destiny at this point, and it could turn out to be one of the most innovative multiplayer games on the market, but until we can play it, it’s all hype and conjecture.

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Moving on, this brings up my biggest concern. Is Destiny already doomed? If it doesn’t sell enough units, Activision will have no reason to push the franchise, especially with such huge losses. If the marketing campaigns, big names, and the fact that Destiny will be on several platforms make it a success, are we destined to have tired sequels and franchise-fatigue? The game isn’t even out yet and Activision already has 10 years of content planned.

What this truly means for Destiny as an IP has yet to be seen, but if you’re worried like I am, I’d say we’re justified.

Destiny: Bungie Releases New Screenshots and Presents ‘The Tower’

Destiny

Bungie has unveiled today one of the main stations of the upcoming sci-fi action role-playing game, Destiny. The Tower is a wide and technology advanced station that will allow players to interact with each other and perform all kinds of equipment upgrades, as the company stated:

In the Tower, you can show off your Guardian and upgrade the awesome gear you acquired on your last mission.

In this safe zone, players can also organize themselves in small groups to journey and protect what’s left left of Earth. While staying at The Tower, it’s possible to access to new and exclusive missions, since the universe of Destiny will be mainly focused on dynamism and interactivity. Furthermore, Bungie has launched two new screenshots exposing the beauty and the quality of Destiny’s visual engine, Umbra 3. This new engine will proportionate a realistic global illumination and a real-time dynamic lighting with stunning effects.

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This is an entrance image of the freshly unveiled station, The Tower. With this image it becomes clear that The Tower is no ordinary station. The dimension and richness of the scene foretells its importance.
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A nocturne landscape image exposing Destiny’s visuals and effects described by Bungie as: “The Moon will be consumed by darkness.”

Destiny is a hybrid game that will combine role-playing and first-person shooter elements. The release date is scheduled to September 9th, 2014 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.