A game doesn't need to be innovative to be fun.
Too many developers and gamers think that every new game has to do something bigger, better or different in order to be a hit.
It just isn't true. Sometimes, a well-designed title with familiar, easy-to-learn features is exactly what people are looking for.
Activision-Blizzard's upcoming sci-fi shooter "Destiny" fits into this category.
I can't be certain of this yet, since the full game won't be officially released until Sept. 9. But I did journey to The Devil's Lair with a "Destiny" tester at E3 and mess around with an Alpha, or earliest playable version, of the game in June. I also spent 20 hours last week blasting aliens to bits across the solar system in the Beta version for Playstation 4 that Activision gave to preview.
Those experiences lead me to believe that "Destiny" will be a fun and challenging game with very few ground-breaking ideas — and that's OK.
"Destiny" isn't broken. All of the mechanics work properly. When I shoot a bug-like alien, it dies. When I shoot another guardian in a player-vs.-player game, he or she takes some damage and then mercilessly kills me. I can jump to ledges that appear low to the ground, and my hoverbike handles the terrain of the planets as it should.
This functionality is rarer than you might think. Many ambitious shooter titles are riddled with bugs and mechanical issues, especially in the early testing phases of the game. The fact that "Destiny" avoided this minefield from day one is encouraging.
"Destiny" also features some great customization options. Characters can be outfitted with different weapons and armor, all of which have various strengths and weaknesses.
There are only three classes to choose from, but one Hunter (a class) could play totally differently from another Hunter. Characters progress according to which weapons and skills they use the most, so even two Hunters with matching equipment aren't necessarily identical.
The customization feels a lot like the "Borderlands" franchise. Those titles all feature thousands of different guns, armor pieces and progression options.
"Destiny" doesn't really play like the hilarious and over-the-top "Borderlands" games, but I definitely felt some "Borderlands" nostalgia when pushing through "Destiny."
"Destiny" keeps things fresh with multiple gameplay options. Players can soldier on alone or with a few friends in the story and exploring missions. The strike missions offer a greater and more rewarding challenge, and the PVP maps are yet another option for the more competitive players.
Unfortunately, a few things plague "Destiny."
Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister in the "Game of Thrones" TV series) was cast as the player's guide and faithful robot companion. This was a monumental victory for nerds everywhere. I was super excited when I first heard him speak.
Then I listened to what he was saying.
For some reason, the development team gave a white-hot actor one of the worst voice-acting scripts in video game history.
For example, players spend the first few hours blasting waves of little alien beasties before eventually encountering a much tougher adversary, a large floating creature called a wizard. When I first saw this flying monster, Dinklage's character exclaimed "that wizard came from the moon!"
There was no advice on how to kill the beast or further explanation. Players are only told the painfully irrelevant fact that this thing, which will be dead in 25 seconds anyway, came from the moon.
The collective groan of gamers everywhere has since manifested into multiple T-shirts with the now-infamous quote on them and a declaration from "Destiny" developer Bungie promising change before the release of the title.
One part of "Destiny" that will be impossible to fix before September is the graphics. Bungie decided to keep the PC, PS4 and Xbox One visuals to a minimum to keep the overall gameplay experience similar to the game's PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.
I think that was a mistake. The resulting PS4 title looks like a game that could easily have been released six months ago. The environments are well-designed and brightly colored, but the character details are well below average.
If you look at visuals alone, games like "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" and "The Order: 1886" will absolutely blow "Destiny" out of the water. I really don't think there is any comparison there, and that's a shame.
That being said, I still had a lot of fun playing "Destiny." It's the simple, mind-numbing fun that I look for after work or on a day off. Thousands of people will enjoy playing millions of hours of "Destiny." I don't think we can ask for anything more.