The Top Five Best Video Games Of 2015

2015 has been a bittersweet year for gaming. We’ve seen countless sequels, an overabundance of open-world games, the usual triple-A shooters, tons of Steam Greenlight asset flips, and even a few new IPs to polish off the list. While almost too many games found their way into our consoles and virtual libraries, only a few conquered my heart in any long-lasting way.

While this list is in no way a definitive list of the absolute best video games, I’ve painstakingly plucked five fantastic games from the herd that I sincerely believe deserve the highest of praise.

This list is in no particular order apart from the final pick; let’s begin.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Lara

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider is the only game on this list that I haven’t completed, and yet in the time I have spent with Lara, I am utterly enamoured by the incredible job Crystal Dynamics did with this sequel.

Tomb Raider got a lot of things right as a reboot, but it also had its set of flaws that held it back. Rise impressively fixed and improved upon every single aspect of the original reboot in such a way that it has become almost an instant Game Of The Year contender for me. I’ve done almost nothing other than play this game this past week.

From sprawling landscapes filled with relevant items to collect, to the treks through rich and detailed environments that feel as if they exist in a real place – rather than constructed stages for the player to trudge through without real context -, Rise offers nothing but joy throughout.

It’s also worth noting that Crystal Dynamics deserves praise for their take on open-worlds, as this world felt worth exploring amongst dozens of boring, dull worlds to grind through endlessly.
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Life Is Strange

I paid no attention to Life Is Strange at first. I had no interest in playing it and I assumed it’d be some weird Telltale clone. After my friend had spent hours talking about how excellent it was, I decided to buy it one night on a whim, hoping that this wasn’t just some hype.

It wasn’t. In fact, Life Is Strange ripped my heart from my chest and spat all over it, and I loved every moment.

The main draw to this story is that the characters are so incredibly well written. Every single person, minor or major, feels like a real person. They have distinctive personalities and characteristics that make them stand out in a sea of copy-paste characters. I remember everyone, even if some of them are a bit cliched, and that is rare indeed.

Chloe and Max have a deep, and complicated relationship and Max receiving her powers puts such a strain on not only her but everyone around her. The dialogue in the game is sometimes a bit silly but, for the most part, it is engaging and feels like you’re watching some indie flick.

The plot starts off very simple but soon delves into something bigger than you could expect. The whole time you’re sitting there questioning what is happening, only to get a sucker punch to the gut when the game reveals that you are in fact clueless about what is really going on behind the curtains.

It is all backed up by good voice acting, solid pacing, memorable moments and excellent music. A very attentive eye to even the smallest of details and countless references to pop-culture and even the state of Oregon leaves this game nearly oozing character.

Play it, but don’t read anything else about it.

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StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void

I remember trying out StarCraft when I was in public school. I hardly knew how to play, but I adored the atmosphere and interesting mechanics. Fast forward to now and StarCraft is amongst my favourite franchises of all time.

Legacy of the Void is a perfect culmination of what the fans wanted and what Blizzard learned over the past several years making RTS games. They put a ridiculous amount of effort into this game, making sure that the story goes out with the biggest bang ever. From the brand new co-op mode to the epic campaign filled with varied missions and interesting characters, Legacy of the Void is not only the best entry in the StarCraft series overall but reminds everyone that the RTS genre can still be a heavy hitter.

But it doesn’t end there, as the biggest change to the franchise is how improved the multiplayer is.

Gone are the slow starts. Gone are the ultra-cheesy Protoss openers, and gone are the slow economic macro games. Blizzard has tried its absolute damnedest to make LOTV as fast paced as possible, and it’s almost too much to handle. Every second there are 50 things happening on screen, and you have to physically train yourself to adapt to it. The incredibly delicate balance of constructing buildings while simultaneously collecting resources, scouting your opponent to react to their next moves before they execute them, building an army, pushing your units into dangerous territory to keep the enemy suppressed and afraid, expanding your economy into new frontiers to reap new mineral patches, and using your mind to psyche out your opponent in a variety of devious ways all attribute to your success, and everything is now way faster.

The new units don’t help either, as they are game changers themselves. Protoss now have their form of a Baneling, yet regenerates itself upon destruction. Zerg has its trusty Lurker that hides beneath the ground, thrusting its spikes into the bodies of anyone standing in their vicinity. The Ravager launches deadly attacks into the sky, obliterating anything that stands in the way. Terran possesses the Liberator, a siege tank that flies and holds down a position like the beaches of Normandy, and the Cyclone that laughs in the face of cheesy Protoss that want to drop an Oracle at your main base three minutes into the game.

This multiplayer can be talked about endlessly, and that is all thanks to you, Blizzard. Legacy of the Void is a monumental achievement and the absolute best way to end your long-running story. I’ll be spending the next year or more playing this legacy, watching the Korean players with their 700 APM.

Ori and the blind forest

Ori and the Blind Forest

I haven’t cried during the opening sequence of a video game since The Last Of Us; until Ori came along and stomped on my heart, that is.

This breathtaking masterpiece transcends the medium and offers one of the best pieces of evidence towards the ‘games as art’ debate. The beautifully vibrant hand-drawn Pixar art, the varied, colourful, dramatic soundtrack that offers nearly every emotion on the spectrum. Or how about the terrific story or the old-school gameplay that shows Metroid and Castlevania how it is done? What about the nearly flawless platforming segments and unique take on 2D combat?

Everything about this game is memorable and inspired, and it is not only one of the best games this year but one of the best pieces of art I’ve ever experienced. It has an emotional weight to it that many games fail to have and it is a game that will make you think about it well after it is done.

Ori has that power over us all.

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Bloodborne

Bloodborne is a part of the long-running franchise that is the Souls series. Though it differs in name and mechanics, it is still very much a Souls game. As a spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, one of the best games ever created, it had everything to live up to. It nailed nearly everything.

Bloodborne is easily recognizable with its exceptionally stylized, painstakingly well-crafted world. It takes gothic architecture and runs with it to a degree that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in any video game. Winding roads of cobblestone covered in blood and disguised by fog, twisting corridors filled with tattered garb and signs of a once thriving society. Endless swamps and caverns and castles, all with their mysteries and shocking imagery to behold.

It utilizes Lovecraftian themes and puts the Miyazaki twist on them with the story-telling style of previous Souls games. It tells you to part ways with your best friend, the shield, and instead pick up one of the several firearms as you adapt to the new, visceral combat that is, even more unforgiving than previous games. It offers you ‘trick weapons’, transformable weapons that each require careful strategy to fully utilize.

The game has incredible creature design, with horrific foes you can only imagine in your worst nightmares. The world has a foreboding atmosphere so thick that you can taste it. The hair on your arms will stand up, your skin will crawl and turn to goosebumps, and your heart will pound so hard you think you are in need of medical assistance.

This game gives you emotional responses that not even some extreme sports could offer. It is a one of a kind experience and one of the best, industry defining video games ever to grace any of our consoles. It will be forever remembered and forever praised as it sits at the top of the tallest pedestal amongst the best classics we’ve ever had.

And yet, with all of that said, I was only referring to the original game. The Old Hunters expansion improved the game significantly, correcting nearly all of the biggest complaints fans had with Bloodborne.

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Before we say goodbye to 2015, I’d like to quickly drop a few honourable mentions that unfortunately missed the top five.

Splatoon – A fantastic and creative spin on the first person shooter. Full of character and interesting mechanics.
Yoshi’s Woolly World – The most adorable, happy and all around silly platformer this year. Maybe a bit easy, but infinitely fun.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – The best open-world game I think I’ve ever played. I didn’t play enough to feel good about placing it on my list.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D – One of the better JRPGs in recent memory.
Shovel Knight – An impeccable throwback to retro gaming. Only missed the list because it first released out in 2014.

 

Yooka Laylee: Top 5 Things We Want To See

Yooka Laylee

Yooka Laylee

Ex-Rare developers, now part of Playtonic Studios, recently revealed their spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie. This was the chameleon and bat duo Yooka-Laylee. Straight away for many it was love at first sight. This was proven by 73,206 backers that pledged £2,090,104 to help bring this project to life. Now with the studio having smashed all of their kickstarter targets, it’s time to think what do we want to see?

Rare was a highly praised company in its prime and over the years it has only become more and more commended (especially from Nintendo 64 lovers), be that as it may this is not the exact same team who created iconic titles like Goldeneye, Conker, Donkey Kong Country and of course Banjo-Kazooie. It’s worth noting too that it has been 13 years since Microsoft bought Rare and in all that time they were criminally underutilised. The fantastic thing is all of the test footage we have seen so far is from 3 months work which is ridiculous. Game developers spend years and do not create work as appealing as this. So obviously there are dozens of questions for what the final version will be. What aspects of Banjo Kazooie do we want to return? What level styles do we want?  What can Playtonic do to stamp their authority on the world of gaming? Without further ado, here are the top 5 things we want to see in Yooka-Laylee:

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By Maisie Poskitt

1. A Big, Fun Cartoon World

A big, beautiful, colourful, enchanting, comical, crazy world. Is that too much to ask for? It has been years since we have had a world resembling the likes of Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie. Worlds that felt endless. Worlds that when revisited you would find more hidden secrets that make you think “How did I miss that?” It’s about time it made a return and from the looks of early game-play it seems more and more likely.

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2. Collectibles

Being brought up as a Nintendo fan you are rewarded for getting everything the game has to offer. Whether this is collecting all 120 stars or all 100 Jiggys you were always guaranteed a merit for your hard work. This is why if Yooka-Laylee wants to please its fans and truly be the successor to Banjo-Kazooie it must have a collectible element to it. But what would a chameleon collect? Bugs? No matter what it is, you need a reason to keep going back.

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3. Memorable Allies/Enemies

Every now and then you need a friend. Someone to help give you hints, teach you new moves or simply have a joke with. On the other hand you also need an enemy that aggravates you therefore spurring you on to defeat them. Bottles, Gobi the Camel, Captain Blubber, Boggy the Polar Bear, Tooty and my personal favourite Mumbo Jumbo. These are memorable characters that stick with you throughout the game making the experience continuously better. Playtonic are more than capable of thinking up some witty new characters to go alongside our fearless duo. Wasting no time they have already announced Trowzer the Snake (Get it?) which is a promising sign that they haven’t lost any of their talent.

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4. A Quirky Villain

Now this is where magic can be made. The villain of a series can bring such character and Charisma. Gruntilida was and is still to this day brilliant. Her rhyming evil stole every scene but mostly it was her comical nature and quirkiness that made her iconic. For Yooka-Laylee to stand in good form long-term you need a presence that frustrates the player in one moment and splits their sides in the next. Please make it happen.

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5. Something New

I realise that Playtonic want Yooka-Laylee to be the spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie, however it has been over 15 years since its original release. I’m sure it will be a great throwback and have just as many unforgettable moments but I believe it is time to evolve the concept. Playtonic have an opportunity to give us something we’ve never seen before. Whether it’s a new game-play mechanic or unexpected take on the genre, do something to wow us and breathe new life into the retro-style platformer.

If this can be pulled off well, Yooka-Laylee could go down as one of the greats. More importantly it could reinvigorate the classic platformer. I don’t want to wait another 10 years for another Kickstarter called Project Harmonica…

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What do you want to see in Yooka-Laylee? Leave us a comment below to tell us why. 

5 Games I Need To See At E3 2015

E3 2015

With E3 mere weeks away, everyone is beginning their yearly ritual of building hype and prepping for disappointment. It’s no doubt that we will be pleased with all of the exciting new titles, and disappointed with all of those that either don’t exist or missed the cut.

Each and every person who anticipates E3 has a select few games that above all else, they need to see at E3. With that I present to you my personal select few. Some might be obvious, some might be hopeless, but if I could ask for anything at E3, it would be these five games.


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I – Resurrect The Guardian

I’m starting to think that hoping for  The Last Guardian to make an appearance is like waiting for the cows to come home. Every year I think that we will finally be graced with an amazing demo showing off the enhancements they’ve made since it’s original showing in 2009, and every year I’m let down as the show ends, the lights go out, and there is no griffon and boy running around being adorable together.

I long for this game, and it looks like it could be as incredible as Shadow of the Colossus was. With rumours of cancellation showing up more than E3 itself however, I’m starting to think that maybe we’ll never even see it again.

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II – You Are The One Who Will Open The Door

Every time I think about Kingdom Hearts, I think about how much I adored the series that gave me so many fond memories as a young teenager. Kingdom Hearts was a game that showed to me the infinite creativity of video games on the PS2. After spending over a decade debating, pondering, and otherwise obsessing over even the most minuscule of details with my close friends, just thinking about another sequel has me watering at the mouth.

On the other hand though, the last several years has proven that Kingdom Hearts is a franchise worth milking to an almost sickening degree. Kingdom Hearts III has been put on the back burner so they can monopolize on every possible story-line on every possible device known to man.

What we’ve seen on Kingdom Hearts III is sparse to say the least, but the focus on theme-park rides in half of the trailers we’ve seen has left me with such a disgusting taste in my mouth, that I pray to Xemnas that we might finally get a proper trailer showing much more than an advertisement for Disney.

Please Square, show it off and show the fans why Kingdom Hearts is a console seller like it used to be.

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III – I Need More Blood

Bloodborne is a game that amazes me in every way. It is an incredible piece of art that stands proud amongst games like Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls. It’s no surprise then that after investing almost two hundred hours in the game, I’d love to see some more Bloodborne in action.

With the recent announcement of a Bloodborne expansion on the horizon, I can only hope, despite how futile it might be, that Sony and Fromsoftware have at least a cinematic trailer prepared for E3 to start the inevitable hype train.

My blood lust is far from over, and I’m just waiting to continue my adventures through Yharnam.

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IV – Fifteen Years Later…

E3 2013 will stand was one of the most exciting gaming events I’ve ever witness. I am a Final Fantasy fanboy, I admit it, and when Square-Enix literally smashed my face with a sword called Final Fantasy XV‘s revival, I craved for them to finish the job.

The E3 trailer showed us that Square was coming back to compete. It showed us that Final Fantasy was no longer about robotic pink-haired Cloud clones and mobile scams. It was finally the console Final Fantasy game that every fan had been waiting for.

While we have been getting tons of delicious tidbits of information on the game and even a playable demo, I’d love to see another gameplay trailer that wows us with some of the mechanics they’ve been working on. Beyond that, a release date to finally end our waiting. It’s been a thousand years Square, and we’re all waiting for our baby to come back to us.

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V – Wii U Would Like To Play

Yes, I admit it. This is not a singular game so it’s kind of cheating, but I care not! The Wii U was a console that became the laughing stock of the industry for the first year of it’s life. It had almost no worthwhile games that weren’t direct ports, and it seemed like Nintendo had completely lost touch with where consoles belong in the market.

Then E3 2014 happened and Nintendo showed us that they were trying to topple the giants and take back their throne. With games like Kirby, Yoshi’s Woolly World, The Legend of Zelda, Starfox, Smash Bros and Splatoon, Nintendo went from a joke to a serious contender. Now they just need to keep bringing the heat.

Please Nintendo, don’t let 2015 be 2012 or 2013 all over again. Show off your big titles and show us why the Wii U was a valuable investment. I need to keep believing that you can come back.

Top 5 Trends In Gaming That Need To Go Away

Video Game

Video games are an interesting form of media. On one hand, we have almost limitless possibilities of video game to advance the realm of interactive storytelling. 

On the other hand, developers and publishers are holding the medium back when they apply the same tired trends over and over to games because they think that is what the fans want or can’t be bothered to find some inspiration.

Today I’ve put together a list of the top 5 trends in gaming that I wish would just disappear for a while.

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I want to note that I don’t disapprove of every iteration of the ideas presented below, simply that they’ve all become so overused and sterile that every time I hear about one in a new game, I feel a bit sick.

Zombies

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. Zombies were at one point an innovation. Resident Evil showed the world how scary a video game could be by utilizing the tried and true film creature, the zombie.

While there have been games as of late that do something interesting with the concept; namely The Last Of Us, most zombie games are nauseatingly similar to a point that every new zombie game to come out looks like the ten before it.

If you are going to use zombies in your game, you best come up with an interesting way to apply them, as they’ve been used so much that even the zombies are sick of being badly represented.

THINK OF THE ZOMBIES!

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Uninspired Skill Trees

Role-playing games took the world by storm. They showed us that we could have customization in games that would further enrich the experience, while simultaneously giving you the feeling that you have an impact on the journey of your character beyond simply guiding them through the world.

The problem is that developers now use skill trees so much that we hardly see games that don’t have some sort of progression system in place. Furthermore, a lot of the skill trees we do get are so uninspired that they almost needn’t exist, and single-handedly cripple their sense of immersion by some of what they offer.

I did an interview a while back with Charles Cox of 4gency, the studio behind the intriguing and unique Habitat. Not only was Charles a genuinely kind person with goals and aspirations that reach the stars, he also recognised the terrible trend in skill trees and with his game, sought out to prove that we could still have skill trees that matter.

Why do I need to unlock the ability to stealth kill If I am capable of wielding a knife and employing stealth to traverse the level, would it not then make sense that I, as someone skilled in the art of sneaking and murder, could then take out someone from behind vcover? One could argue that I might be learning as I go, and in some cases that’s true, but when we have such arbitrary unlocks like 5% health increases, it has almost no impact to the point of not needing to exist.

This is even more apparent when you almost exclusively play as these big tough brodudes capable of punching through solid concrete. We needn’t have such pitiful upgrades.

Use your untapped pool of creativity developers!

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Crafting

 Remember in Skyrim how you could spend twenty minutes chopping wood or drying leather? picking herbs and smelting iron? I sure do. I remember it because it was so commonplace that it’d be impossible to forget.

Remember how every game that had crafting had this slow, tedious, unrewarding grind that took so much out of you that your entire playtime would be spent doing these acts?

While crafting can be an excellent feature that can make you feel as if you’re truly empowering yourself and your character or doing what it takes to survive, these needlessly forced crafting systems in half of the Steam Greenlight games and triple A titles need to stop being a thing.

I don’t want to have another game full of pointless items to collect and combine so that you can arbitrarily add a supposed layer of depth to your shallow experience.

Come up with an interesting way to beyond simply looting herbs from bushes, or at the very least, don’t make it so damned time consuming.

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Forced Multiplayer

 Xbox Live and Playstation Network showed us that we could have truly immersive and unique multiplayer experiences on the home console. It was a blessing and it felt amazing to take a game you loved online to compete with your friends and foes alike for the top spot.

And then every game had to do it…

The recent trend of shoehorning multiplayer into your game to add the buzzwords “replayability” and “online experience” to your box is getting so out of hand that our single player experiences are suffering greatly. I like to play games for narrative, and I also like to best my friends in an online setting. That said, I don’t want to take my friends on in every single game that comes out, especially ones that are clearly not designed for multiplayer.

When you decide to focus several months of development time on an underwhelming and shallow multiplayer experience, you are not investing your time productively. Your single player is what will sell your game believe it or not, because even die-hard multiplayer fans are getting sick of having Dead Space multiplayer, or Bioshock multiplayer, or Open World Zombie Shooter Crafting Simulation 2015 multiplayer.

If you want to make a rich multiplayer experience, you best have a team big enough to handle the task because a throwaway campaign will do nothing but hurt sales.

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Open Worlds

 I’ve talked a bit about open worlds when I wrote my piece on Catherine, but I want to specifically focus on why I am so tired of open worlds and I think this is the best time to do so.

First and foremost, not every video game needs to be a non-linear, open world experience. When you choose to go open world, you sacrifice the following things: pacing, storytelling and a sense of progression.

Some games did it very well like Vice City or Red Dead Redemption. Even something like Far Cry, despite it lacking any sort of decent plot.

Most games however, have an issue wherein having an open world experience breaks up the story so much that by the time you get to the end, you forget everything that has happened before it. Beyond this, being able to select which quest you do and when takes away any sort of intricacy or agency. It leaves you playing short episodes within a bigger world, and none of these episodes have any sort of impact on either in most cases. While that’s fine, your story will lose it’s conciseness and a lot of the flare it’d have if it were a more scripted and linear experience.

Another point I want to focus on is that developers keep taking our beloved franchises and making them open world. Some might be screaming excitement but I on the other hand feel a great sense of anxiety about whether or not these video game will deliver what their predecessors achieved.

Why does Final Fantasy need to be open world? Final Fantasy XV is going to be a huge video game with sprawling cities and massive landscapes for us to explore. Except, I don’t want to. I play Final Fantasy games expecting to be enthralled in the story they offer. I like having choices and being able to do what I want, but you need to have a limit on it or we’ll end up back to square one, picking herbs and exploring shallow areas that give us little to no reward. Why would you prefer that over having a constantly progressing story that doesn’t take huge breaks for you to endlessly wander? Wouldn’t you rather have a tight progression system not hindered by the bad pacing of an open world? One that makes you feel as if you are growing throughout the story?

The demo, while gratifying and exciting, spent way too much time with your characters repeating banter while traversing a huge and empty landscape. Furthermore, your progression while it worked, was partially linked to you randomly finding weapons to unlock new abilities for your sword-slinging limit-break. While this is okay, it was clear that taking it open world made it suffer.

Final Fantasy isn’t the only video game though. We have existing franchises that had open world-like qualities like The Legend Of Zelda, Dragon Age, Metal Gear Solid, and The Witcher where you could do what you please, but they still offered a concise and satisfying narrative —  in Zelda’s case, a rewarding adventure through diverse dungeons full of traps and puzzles. So I wonder to myself and ask you again, why would we want to break up all of what makes these video games great for the sake of having a gigantic empty world? Unless they manage to fill the world with life; something I am not counting on.

The Witcher 3 doesn’t need to be the biggest video game world in history. The Witcher 2 balanced open world mechanics with storytelling in an almost perfect way, so having The Witcher 3 potentially disregard all of this so you can explore massive landscapes seems counterproductive to me. You should only need big worlds in narrative-driven video games to get from point A to point B with some small excursions along the way. They should feel as if they don’t drag on for too long, and they should be there to house the story, not take you out of the story or sabotage the pacing. (Sandbox games don’t apply to this)

Dragon Age had wonderful progression and it offered side-quests if you so chose to take part in them. Now we have The Hinterlands that alone, offer sixty hours of meaningless and frivolous side-quests.

How rewarding…

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Despite everything I just said, I don’t mean to say that every single thing listed here should be abolished, just that developers should be cautious how they apply these ideas. They’ve been doing nothing but crippling otherwise interesting games for far too long.

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.