Whether Bungie like to admit it or not, Destiny is essentially an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game) with co-operative and competitive game modes available, upgrading your character(s) as well as its loot and weaponry. By completing mission after mission within the “story,” racking up kills against other players or by fulfilling criteria in the strikes and raids, players gain experience points (XP) up to Level 20, after which only certain ‘legendary’ or ‘exotic” weapons can be upgraded through using XP. With the introduction of the latest DLC, “The Taken King,” this model has been adjusted so that players can level up their characters past the shockingly low level of 20 to level 34 or 40 depending on how much DLC they have bought.
As you may be able to deduce, I am not a huge fan of Destiny or the model it incorporates. There are though many gamers out there who are still in love with the game, willing to shell out their hard-earned cash to access as much content as possible, which Bungie are keenly aware of. The Taken King has been marketed almost like a brand new game, with console bundles on offer along with the “Legendary Edition” of Destiny.
As single player gamers though, this all pales into insignificance of course. However, games like Destiny, and others I will come on to, can help shape the future of single player games as well with the quest system in place as well as a few other interesting ideas.
Each day, Destiny offers up new quests or “bounties” for the player to overcome. These can range from killing a number of certain types of enemy, to collecting a certain amount of loot, to not taking any damage for a specified amount of time. These quests must be fulfilled that day and, if completed, you will be gifted with a leveled reward. The idea is that the player is forced to mix up their tactics for each day or change which missions they wish to take on (perhaps because this versatility is unattainable in the base game…). With three different classes on offer, each with their own different bounties and recently added sub-classes, the amount to do in a single day is plentiful and rewarding. This way, the player is not inundated with seemingly endless quests that require months to complete, but with different shorter tasks that can be completed in one sitting. The player then feels rewarded for completing their “dailies” instead of potentially losing interest in the long haul of month-long or even year-long tasks.
Other games use a similar idea to this one, mainly mobile or touch-screen type games. A more popular example however could be from Hearthstone: Warriors of Warcraft, a card game spin-off from Blizzard, incorporating the characters and classes from World of Warcraft. This game is often cruelly considered “pay-to-win” as opposed to “pay-to-play,” as attaining more packs will inevitably grant you more powerful cards for future use, with the quickest method by means of real-life payment. However a cheaper, yet much more time-consuming method, is by completing these daily quests, which offer up gold upon completion, which can be used for buying packs (among other things). Much like Destiny’s daily quests, these quests give the players a chance to test out different decks, with the reward of more cards at the end all that hard work.
How does all this apply to the Single Gamer? Well imagine a title like The Witcher 3 or Dragon Age: Inquisition, both admittedly enormous games with plenty to do, but often slandered with the complaint of having too many “fetch quests” or the player becoming overwhelmed with a myriad of quests to complete. The designers could therefore include their own versions of these daily quests, such as obtaining a certain number of kills with a certain weapon or spell, or crafting a number of different potions and so on. Both are quite basic examples but the possibilities are endless and integrating them into epic stories such as these wouldn’t be too difficult. Geralt for example (from the Witcher) could have personal Witcher trials to maintain his training, to be carried out alongside his usual objectives. At times you can wander in to a village or town, and walk out with four or five extra quests on your hands. Therefore, my suggestion would mean reducing the amount of scripted quests, but also giving the player something extra to do each day they log in.
Another possibility is the inclusion of random or hidden quests. This is something that Bethesda have touched on with their Fallout and Elder Scrolls series. The random aspect of these Destiny quests could be an inspiration to more Single Player games to include random encounters in their worlds. By doing this, no two people can say they’ve experienced the same game, and the occasional monotonous grind of herb collecting (for example) can be infused with picking off enemies with a weapon you haven’t used yet, or a spell you are yet to master.
A different yet equally-interesting idea from Destiny is that of Daily Heroic quests. The quests themselves aren’t too innovative, but the idea is that you must complete these trials with an added obstacle to overcome – for example, buffed enemies, or even de-buffed characters to use, almost like a challenge mode of sorts but integrated into the main game itself, something that single player games have only grazed the surface of. Games tend to have an “all or nothing” approach when it comes to difficulty as the level of ease is set at the beginning and maintained throughout.
But why not have certain missions or quests where you can adjust the parameters slightly, while keeping the overall difficulty maintained? Often with single player experiences the motor skills set in and a level or side-quest can be plowed through with relative ease, so why not keep the player on their toes by allowing them to add extra enemies, or reduce the weaponry for each section while increasing the rewards? I’m referring to the main storyline itself, instead of extra modes like I mentioned before.
Earlier I talked about the level cap in Destiny, and how only weapons could be upgraded. Despite the obvious flaws in this logic, the idea of leveling up weapons alone is an intriguing one. The characters we play tend to get stronger as we progress so why not the weapons as well? I’m not referring to add-ons or ammo upgrades that you can find or buy, I am talking about them actually leveling up the more you use them. Aesthetically, their shape and design will change over the time as well as the damage dealt and the options available to them. It would be like gaining a new weapon without having to loot or buy it.
So, Destiny is not an ideal game. It has many flaws that have been discussed elsewhere by people who are actively interested in playing it. From the outside however we can observe with both disdain and admiration. The incessant need for DLC just to make the game slightly more varied is a worry. However, the franchise has a lot of fan power behind it still and is obviously doing many things right. Subtly admiring these assets and transferring them into games more suited to our interests is a definite possibility for future developers.
These are my thoughts, do you agree or disagree? Are there any more examples from Destiny that you think could be transferred? Are there any Single Player games out there that already use these ideas that we have missed? Let us know in the comments below and as always, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.