Current Status: Story complete; level 21.
I finished Destiny‘s story and hit level 20 on Thursday night, and then sloooooooowly grinded my way up to level 21 by Sunday night. Did a lot of strikes, co-op missions/patrols, a few rounds in the Crucible. (I am terrible at the Crucible.) I’ll even cop to spending 20-30 minutes shooting at the Cave of Loot (though I didn’t get all that much for my efforts).
I am more or less done with it, though, I think. While it’s true that the next big game doesn’t come out until 9/30 (Shadow of Mordor), I’m not really feeling the pull to keep coming back. Destiny’s endgame is similar to Diablo III in many respects – you’re basically just doing the exact same stuff over and over and over again, grinding away for better gear, BUT Diablo III has several big advantages over Destiny, even if it’s similarly tedious after a while: there’s far more to do in Diablo right now, the loot is far more generous, and you can also hit the pause button if you need to take a bathroom break or if your kid is crying or if your aging TV decides to suddenly switch itself off.
Now, to be fair, the launch version of Diablo III on PC had a similarly lackluster endgame and barely resembles its current form. And as Bungie has repeatedly said that they’re playing the long game with Destiny, I fully expect new content to roll out over the next few months, and I might even come back to check it out every once in a while (though I expect I’ll be woefully outclassed when I do).
But even as Destiny’s gameplay remains mechanically solid – and it is, there’s no question about it – there’s almost nothing else that’s compelling me to stick with it. Leveling past 20 is arduous and arbitrary (as @LegendaryEngram is so cruelly brilliant in pointing out). The Strike playlist consists of maybe 4 missions – maybe there’s more, but it certainly feels like there’s only 4 – and I’ve done them all to death. I’m done with final bosses that sponge up 15 minutes’ worth of shooting, and I’m even more done with final bosses that are bullet sponges AND teleport, because teleporting is bullshit. Few things feel as cheap as when you only get one grenade that takes minutes to recharge, and then the boss vanishes mid-throw.
I’ve said before that it can be a bit of a critical cop-out to compare one game to another, and so it would be hypocritical of me to compare Destiny to its most obvious influences and contemporary titles – Mass Effect, Borderlands, Diablo III, Halo. But if I’m being honest with myself – and therefore with you – I have to admit that the game that Destiny most reminded me of is this year’s Watch Dogs. Both games were hyped beyond all rational measure, and they both appeared to look like phenomenal games during their preview stretch. And then they came out… and left so much to be desired. Both games featured solidly designed mechanics and impressive-looking graphics, both games eventually grew somewhat tedious and tiresome and repetitive, and both were saddled with dreadfully poor writing and voice performances (though it should be noted that each game’s writing is bad for much different reasons). I think there’s obviously still plenty of time for Destiny to right the ship, and as said above Bungie’s playing the long game here, but as of right now, these two games are battling for my Biggest Disappointment of 2014 award.