Destiny Alpha Impressions: The Logical Evolution of the FPS

Although it's only an alpha test, one gets the distinct impression that Bungie's Destiny represents a logical evolution of the genre.

Although it's only an alpha test, one gets the distinct impression that Bungie's Destiny represents a logical evolution of the genre.

For years, gamers have complained that first-person shooters need more innovation and general freshness.

Now, some shooter aficionados reply by saying simply: “If you change it too much, it ceases to be a shooter and then, we’re not interested.”

There is indeed a wee bit of hypocrisy involved in the problem. On the one hand, when a formula becomes successful, and people continue to demand it, publishers should give them that formula. Supply and demand, yes? And if you change the winning formula, millions of fans will be pissed. Look at all the franchises gamers wish hadn’t changed (Final FantasyResident Evil, etc.); then they turn around and complain when franchises do change.

Can’t have it both ways. What you can request is the evolution and progress of a genre, without actually altering the genre itself.

After playing the Destiny alpha for a while, it feels…right

I am not a huge FPS buff by any means but I do like the games. I play the occasional shooter now and again (I’m currently having fun with Wolfenstein: The New Order, for instance) and in fact, over the years, I’ve probably played most FPS franchises in existence. I’m not a MMO fan, either, though, so shared-world experiences don’t really appeal to me. And yet, I certainly understand the appeal of something like Destiny, which has a lot going for it.

It has the depth of a role-playing game and yet, the core gameplay remains that of a relatively straightforward shooter. This is an example of an evolution rather than a drastic change; i.e., the genre remains the same but it’s strengthened by the inclusion of an additional, deeper mechanic. Your character levels up and earns skills, and this acts as a logical complement to finding and upgrading weapons and equipment.

It has the scope of a very large MMO but even in the alpha, it doesn’t feel like your prototypical MMO. No, it still feels exactly like a shooter. You still spend the majority of your time shooting moving targets, regardless of the fact that you can team up with other players. Having the option to go solo is great, as you don’t feel as if you always need to be part of a raiding party to advance. Again, it’s an example of implementing more choice and options without sacrificing the core gameplay.

Toss in a few vehicles and a very cool central hub of sorts, and you have a game that remains, at its very center, a shooter. At the same time, it seems to have solidified its own identity; it’s not Bioshock and it’s not Call of Duty. The game feels and looks like a blend of Halo and Borderlands but make no mistake, it builds on the foundations erected by those two franchises. Destiny isn’t content to simply use those foundations and present the same content in a new environment.

That’s what I like best about the game so far: Its unabashed admission that says, “yes, I’m still a shooter” coupled with the obvious effort to make that fairly simple genre so much more dynamic and involving. Is this not what gamers have been screaming about for years? Well, rather than continue to find fault, perhaps we could applaud efforts by certain developers who wish to do just about everything right. Of course, the game won’t be perfect, but I’m not about to ignore said efforts.

Are you?

About the author


A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.