A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Destiny is a sci-fi-themed shooter in which players use futuristic weapons against a variety of robots, aliens, and -- in competitive play -- human avatars. It's not nearly as graphic or gritty as M-rated military shooters such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, and it doesn't have any language or sexuality concerns. But the adrenaline-filled, weapons-based combat is nearly constant and often very intense, due largely to the first-person perspective and ability to melee-attack enemies when they get close. The relatively straightforward story of good (humans) against evil (aliens) is obviously designed to make the combat as guilt-free as possible, but the creatures whom players fight are clearly intelligent, and their apparent one-dimensionality is slightly troubling as a result. Parents also should know that this game supports non-moderated voice chat that can expose players to inappropriate comments.
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What's it about?
Set centuries in the future, DESTINY imagines a solar system in which humanity's survival is hanging by a thread. A moon-size, benevolent entity known as the Traveler arrived hundreds of years ago and helped usher in a golden age for mankind. People reached beyond Earth, terraforming and settling other planets in the solar system. Then an evil known as the Darkness showed up, forcing the Traveler into a silent hibernation and ransacking human civilization. Only one city remains on Earth, protected by a group of warriors known as Guardians. Players take on the role of one of these fighters, selecting a class and special ability, then head out to explore the wastelands of Earth, the moon, and other planets in an effort to understand and defeat their species' nemesis.
Is it any good?
Destiny, made by the same studio that originated the iconic Halo games, is beautiful, challenging, and fun. The landscapes, both earthly and alien, are at times breathtaking and may cause players to stop fighting simply to appreciate their splendor. But it's the action that will keep players coming back -- especially strike missions, which see teams of three players going up against impossibly powerful bosses and seemingly never-ending waves of lesser enemies. RPG-like leveling and looting let players customize and grow their warriors as they like. An integrated competitive mode called the Crucible lets players engage in traditional multiplayer modes such as deathmatch while evolving their heroes. Add in finely tuned controls and a terrific and seemingly never-ending selection of powerful, upgradeable weapons, and you have the sort of shooter that fans of sci-fi FPS games ought to gobble up.
And yet, it's not without problems -- chief of which is repetition. The four gorgeously rendered worlds that players get to explore are big enough to fit a few missions without much backtracking, but the game is designed so players continue to visit these locations almost endlessly, eventually making them feel small and over-populated. Plus, players looking for a compelling narrative may come away disappointed, since even the story missions are virtually all action with very little meaningful exposition. The seeds of a fascinating new sci-fi mythology exist, but they never quite sprout. Still, fans of shooters and online games are bound to have a fair bit of fun, even if it doesn't last quite as long as they might have expected, given the immense hype that preceded Destiny's release.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media in games such as Destiny. Where do you draw the line in terms of violent games for your family? What factors into your decision? Do you see a difference between players killing human enemies and more fantastical foes, such as aliens, zombies, or monsters?
Discuss online safety. What would you do if you encountered a bully online? Someone making derogatory or discriminatory comments? Someone asking for your personal information?
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