Finding Destiny in the Borderlands

Image by Flickr user: JBLivin (cc)

Destiny’s 2.0 update has arrived, and with its arrival the stage is set for the coming of The Taken King. Many changes have been made in preparation for the launch of Destiny’s first major expansion, and the sum of these changes is a game that feels both familiar and foreign. It reminds me of how playing Destiny first felt after it released last September. See, I’d had the chance to try Destiny earlier that summer, and I came away from the experience with a specific image of what the game was going to be. I imagined a Halo-like shooter with an enthralling tale to tell and a vast open-world wherein I could forge my legend as a guardian of the light! That’s not quite what Destiny was though. I couldn’t quite say what it actually turned out to be; so, even as I sunk dozens of hours into it (both fun and not), I just could not let go of what I’d thought the game was supposed to be. That is, I couldn’t until I finally realized what Destiny actually is, and that’s Borderlands!

Okay it’s not exactly Borderlands, but the goals and basic gameplay are the same! In the Borderlands games, players spend their time wandering around the planet “Pandora” and shooting things in order to gather more and more powerful equipment. In Destiny, players spend their time wandering around our local solar system and shooting things in order to gather more and more powerful equipment. In essence they’re both “shoot ‘n loot games”.

General goals aside, it turns out that these games have several elements in common. They’re both built around shooting for one. In both Destiny and Borderlands, a large chunk of the fun is going out and playing with the weapons you find as you progress. The controls are properly responsive, and most weapons have just the right amount of weight to get across the feeling of actually firing them. Your character often feels like a juggernaut, tearing though enemy waves as they either tank or nimbly dance away from everything that’s thrown their way. Everything gained in both games is determined by an RNG system, they’re built with co-op play in mind, and the actual gameplay spaces are rather devoid of things to find when it comes right down to it. For all their similarities though, the games do differ on a few important points.

For one, Destiny lacks Borderlands’ sense of humor. Borderlands is built upon a foundation of zaniness and bright visuals. The game is meant to be over the top in every aspect: in its world, its guns and especially its characters. It helps alleviate the emptiness of the world, and keeps the shooting interesting beyond the simple fun of just shooting guns. Destiny on the other hand is plain in most senses. Its goal is to place us in a far flung future in places that at least feel familiar. The result is spaces and characters that, while mysterious and grand, end up being mostly forgettable. Borderlands is entirely about the coop experience while Destiny also features a robust competitive component. Destiny focuses more customizing the gear you find, while Borderlands is more about simply finding more gear. Most of all the Borderlands games actually have an end to reach, while Destiny is prepared to continue for the next several years.

My biggest complaint with Destiny was that it wasn’t the game I thought I had signed up for. It didn’t have a hard objective for me to complete, so I was afraid that I was simply just wasting my time with it. However, I really enjoyed the first Borderlands games in their time. The games had a definitive goal, but looking back, I recall doing a lot of just going out for simple fun of finding new guns to try. Having a major goal to complete definitely helped me enjoy Borderlands, but I think the adventure by itself might have been enough in the end. Now that I know Destiny is a game in the same vein, I think that perhaps I can finally let go of what I expected it to be and simply enjoy its adventure as well.

Did you come into Destiny with certain expectations you? Were you able to accept and enjoy Destiny for what it is or are you still looking for the game you thought you were getting? Do you feel like your time with it was wasted?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. duckofindeed says:

    It’s interesting to hear more about these games. I keep hearing about them, but I didn’t really know what they were. There were so many people cosplaying as characters from Borderlands (Claptrap, for example) at the comicon I went to earlier this year, so it was especially interesting to hear more about what it involved. I always seem to be behind in the popular games….

    Liked by 1 person

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