by Tatiana Morris
Bungie, the same developers that brought us Halo have been working on their next space-epic first-person-shooter, Destiny, for quite a while. In fact, the game is done and set to release in a week from today. Recently though, it came to light that review copies for Destiny won’t be arriving at several notable gaming outlets until Monday, September 8, a day before the game’s launch. Reviews tend to spring up a few days prior to a game’s release, but this will likely not be the case for Destiny. As an MMO-like experience, it’s probable reviewers will need considerable amounts of hands-on with the game before formulating a score.
Before you run to cancel your pre-order, consider SimCity’s launch. The game’s reception was great before it released. The online play was smooth; the game was garnered high scores. But that all changed upon release. One video game news outlet even revised their SimCity review twice, taking the score from 9.4 to 8 to 4. Why? The game’s launch didn’t go as intended — servers crashed rendering the game unplayable. It could be argued that by waiting a day to avoid all of the launch madness, the game would have received a true score.
This is where we come full circle, back to Destiny. Bungie didn’t create a game with offline play as an option; it’s all online, as in always-online (even the character creation process is done online). By the time reviewers receive their copy of the game the world will be inhabited. It will be lived in and the servers will have been tested by the absurd amount of people who pre-ordered it. The game will be reviewed at face value.
In any case, a responsible video game site would delay their review of an always-online game or make it an on-going review. You simply can not experience an always-online game prior to its release. Imagine World of Warcraft’s Azeroth inhabited by just a few review sites. The world would be empty; queues for dungeons would take too damn long and a group quest wouldn’t be possible (unless you’re a Paladin, you can do anything if you’re a Paladin). While a game’s review doesn’t always look at the atmosphere that players create, it does give you some insight on the variety builds/talents/specs in the game (think Diablo 3’s classes; glass cannon vs damaging soaking).
It could very well be argued that Bungie and Activision are afraid of review scores (and people are arguing that), but seeing as how the game already had 4.6 million beta players experience a portion of it, that’s likely not the case. Bungie’s history should be assurance enough that any delays in reviews aren’t stemming from a lack of confidence in their product.
The only valid concern that I can see is the concern on the length of the game and the content itself. The beta gave us a good idea of how it will play, but not what the story or other planets are like.
TL;DR: The world is not going to burn down because Destiny’s review copies are going out later than you’d like.
We’ve reached out to Activision and Bungie regarding review copies and will let you know if we hear anything official.