It’s no secret that Destiny was given a drubbing by critics in the wake of its release. However, there’s certainly an argument to be made that a game of this type can’t really be reviewed in the traditional sense — and that’s exactly the stance that Bungie COO Pete Parsons seems to be taking.
In a new interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Parsons has the following to say about the challenges a reviewer faces tackling a game like Destiny:
“If I were a reviewer it seems like a nearly impossible challenge to do because there’s just no way you can experience… you barely experience sort of the campaign side of it and just PvP and no way you can get into all of the end game activities, and so it really asks a great question which is ‘how are games like Destiny going to be reviewed in the future?'”
While Parson’s bias towards Destiny is undeniable, there’s a broad logic to what he’s saying. The days of games being a ten-hour campaign with some multiplayer options for afterwards seem to be on their way out, with more developers choosing to take advantage of persistent internet connections to deliver experiences that evolve over time.
Earlier this week, Ubisoft announced that their upcoming social driving game The Crew would be released to press at the same time as the general playerbase. The reasoning behind this was explained as a matter of the game needing a fully populated world to deliver the correct experience for critics to sink their teeth into — although the studio’s recent strife concerning Assassin’s Creed: Unity might lead you to doubt their intention.
Video game criticism faces a big problem; there’s an increasing amount of titles that simply can’t be given a comprehensive review in the traditional manner, but the only alternative on the table seems to be delaying reviews for extra time with the game once it’s already in the hands of its players. This latter option can sometimes mean that the review itself goes unnoticed, given the ‘Day One’ mentality that goes with many big video game releases.
Despite some harsh critical responses to Destiny, the game has managed to find a large player base and Bungie seem to be doing their utmost to cultivate that crowd. The people that got into it really do love it — and it’s likely for reasons that wouldn’t show up in a review; a particularly intense moment in the Vault of Glass with friends, a memorable trip to the loot cave or simply a dance party in the Tower.
It could well be that the traditional review is on its way out, with impressions and ongoing reviews taking its place as a better way of keeping players informed about the latest titles. Just as video games evolve, press coverage of them has to evolve with it — the question is, how to do that without allowing an unfair advantage to studios who use embargoes and talk of ‘populated player counts’ to cover their tracks after releasing a shoddy product.