Ac­tivi­sion largely stood by while its ri­vals scram­bled after the App Store gold rush, but it, and Bungie, have clearly been pay­ing at­ten­tion: Des­tiny of­fers up daily and weekly chal­lenges that echo the struc­ture of a mo­bile game. Each day a se­lec­tion of mis­sions of­fer up ex­tra XP, dol­lops of cur­rency and the odd As­cen­dant up­grade ma­te­rial, while the Night­fall Strike of­fers those of level 28 and above an XP boost to ev­ery­thing they do un­til the weekly Tues­day re­set. PVE and PVP modes and events, some of which add new rep bars and ven­dors, come in and out of ro­ta­tion. Ex­ec­u­tives fret con­stantly about the sec­ond­hand mar­ket, but this is the best in­cen­tive to keep the disc in the tray Ac­tivi­sion has yet pro­duced. in the thick of bat­tle, with your shield long gone and ord­nance rain­ing around you, your downed team­mates urg­ing you to keep your cool, it’s hard to care.

Not mak­ing you care is what Des­tiny does best. Even in the worst ses­sions, where four hours have been traded for a pile of Relic Iron, an up­grade on a gun we rarely use and some low-level gear we im­me­di­ately de­stroyed, there is a tan­gi­ble sense of progress. The ben­e­fit of wrap­ping the game in so con­vo­luted a frame­work is that ev­ery­thing you do has a con­se­quence, even if it’s minis­cule in the grand scheme of things. You are al­ways work­ing to­wards some­thing, and it’s al­ways some­thing worth hav­ing. It is in­cred­i­bly hard to put down.

So Din­klage was right. Des­tiny is amaz­ing. It’s amaz­ing that one of the most re­spected stu­dios in the world, with enor­mous amounts of money and time, could have made a game with so many need­less is­sues. It’s amaz­ing that a stu­dio un­der con­tract to Ac­tivi­sion Bliz­zard, the company that de­fined the MMOG with World Of War­craft and the loot grind with Di­ablo, could have made a game that so of­ten mis­un­der­stands both. Yet what is most amaz­ing of all is that de­spite its litany of weird lit­tle prob­lems, Des­tiny is fan­tas­tic, its com­bat up there with the very best, the thrilling rhythm of its bat­tles still not fad­ing the 30th time through, and it has no sin­gle sys­temic prob­lem that is not fix­able. This, as Ac­tivi­sion is so fond of re­mind­ing us, is a decade-long project. For all the prob­lems with the game’s story, its struc­ture and its pace, Bungie has nailed the me­chan­ics at the first pass. The next nine years are go­ing to be very in­trigu­ing in­deed.

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