Bungie: Good at setting, bad at story (Fan Creations)

by Kahzgul, Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 22:28 (2374 days ago) @ Ragashingo

There’s been enough good story beats and dialogue through the Grimoire and through D1 and D2 themselves that I believe that the writers do in fact treat the Destiny characters that way. It’s just, Destiny isn’t a book being penned by one person. It’s a huge project trying to serve many goals which it does better at some than at others.

Yeah, there are other games that have better, more personal, more in-depth stories. Destiny is no Life Is Strange or The Last of Us, but at the same time, those games are no Destiny in other ways like FPS gameplay or PvP multiplayer.

The fault of the plot is only partly the writers' fault. I'm sure they did their best within the constraints they were working under. Ultimately, making the plot important and letting the plot inform game design is the job of the lead designers, and I think the Destiny design team has made the technology and gameplay more important than the plot.

Ultimately, I think this is a mistake on several levels. Most of the inspired gameplay I've encountered in my life is either puzzle based (Destiny does this well with their raid mechanics), or has come from using the gameplay mechanics to further the plot (destiny rarely has gameplay that is unique to the plot. D2 is far better than D1 - the story missions contain unique mechanics like the sunlight burning you, or the many times you shoot turbines). These moments where the plot does inform the gameplay are some of the best moments in the game! It's a shame that there aren't more of them, and that there are literally no plot --> gameplay elements in the patrols.

This is, I think, a really big missed opportunity in this game. Having plot happen during exploration, and having that plot inform the gameplay, would have gone a very long way to making the game feel like a living world. Maybe when you first get to the farm, all of the enemies around are fallen, and then later, instead of discovering cabal in a different part of the map, the cabal actually start spawning in where it used to only be fallen. The world would feel more alive.

In any storytelling venture, be it a book, a movie, a video game, or any other form of narrative, making the story more important than the trappings around it is really important. I know this sounds completely obvious, but all too often we see major productions making the plot secondary to a big action sequence or shiny graphics.

To me, video games can often get by on little or no story at all if the mechanics are truly compelling (see: Mario 64, Tetris, State of Decay, Fortnite's pvp mode)., but I feel like Destiny 2 doesn't quite hit the mark. I haven't figured out a good way to explain it yet, but the world of Destiny 2 *needs* a story. It may actually be that because the setting is so rich, the lack of story is just glaring. Perhaps it's that the gunplay is not as rewarding in D2 as it was in D1 and as a result is less compelling? I'm not sure what it is. Whatever the cause, the gameplay is not so compelling that I can forgive the lack of plot.


You mentioned that this was, in your esteem, "just a chapter" of a larger story. I think you're probably right, and that Bungie is telling its "10 year story" with this as just a small part of it. And I also think that's a horrible mistake and a disservice to the gamers who buy these games. Each game should tell its own story, as should each expansion pack. Those stories should feed into a larger, overarching narrative that can span several installments (ideally the whole shebang), but the individual components need to play out their own narratives.

As I said before, D2 has legion opportunities to do that, and it takes none of them. As Edison said, "Opportunity knocks all the time, it just wears coveralls and looks like work." Bungie did not do that hard work of making a compelling story worthy of their setting and which would have affected change in the game world, but rather took the easy way out of having the end of the game be essentially the same as the beginning.

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