Destiny is the same gameplay experience on last-gen, but looks pretty rough

720p is so last-gen

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[Screenshots shown here are not the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions.]

The marketing for Destiny would have you believe that the only place it makes an appearance is on the PlayStation 4. But no, it certainly made its way to Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The latter of the three, specifically, are particularly surprising. Of course, Destiny was announced before the now current-gen consoles were even announced, so Bungie made due on its original announcement to bring their new shooter to last-gen systems.

You already know our thoughts on Destiny, and now you’re not sure whether or not the PS4 or Xbox One versions are truly worth it over the PS3 or Xbox 360. After spending some time with both the PS3 and PS4 versions myself, the technical disparity between the generations has finally become quite apparent.

Destiny (PS3 [tested], PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Activision 
Released: September 9, 2014
MSRP: $59.99

Bungie was very adamant about keeping the Destiny experience exactly the same no matter what platform a player chooses (outside the PlayStation exclusive content, of course). That is, the overwhelming majority of content, environments, quests, enemies per screen, enemy levels, weapons, etc. are all exactly the same no matter what system the game is played on. This is where the similarities end for the last-gen versions.

Getting Destiny set up on PS3 was an ordeal. After a small patch install, the game has a mandatory 6 GB install process. Before that, however, a 170 MB Compatibility Pack needs to be installed via the in-game PlayStation Store embed, and the aforementioned mandatory install cannot run in the background. I have no idea what content the game needed to download to be compatible with a week after launch, but it was apparently necessary and took forever to download. It gave me a nice hour to catch up on homework, so that was nice. How did we ever put up with this?

I have been playing a bit on PS4 when I’ve had time, so it was a nice surprise to immediately see my character greet me after the start screen. I convinced myself that I would have to start completely over and test the character transfer system later, but, nope, as long as you’re signed into the same platform family with the same account everything will just be there. Even my controls were saved. After selecting my character, my ship didn’t appear in the destination selection screen or loading screens (even after restarting). The ship sounds still played out, so it’s definitely supposed to be there.

Destiny on last-gen runs at a sub-720p resolution, and, while this may have been passable about a year ago, this really is hard to look at nowadays. Nevertheless, it’s still understandable. There also appears to be little, if any, anti-aliasing, texture detail is far lower, skybox quality is much lower, and shadows are extremely pixelated. The worst offender probably has to be the clipping issues.

Shrubbery and foliage will appear about twenty feet in front of you, and trees randomly appear/disappear for no apparent reason. Enemies appear to have rendering priority, and awkwardly stick out in seemingly empty areas off in the distance; instead sometimes actually lurking in tall grass that only appears after getting closer or zooming in.

It may sound like Destiny is just entirely poor-looking on last-gen systems, but that’s not the case. I do still think it looks nice as, stylistically, it’s all there. And that’s probably why the result is the way it is; Bungie wanted to cram every single detail from the current-gen versions into the PS3 and 360 while not suffering from performance. As with PS4 and Xbox One, the game is locked at 30 FPS and never substantially dips even when things get crazy, so they certainly succeeded there.

It’s up to you how paramount a bump in resolution and substantial detail increase in every aspect really is to you. If any system is an option to you, or a new one will be very soon, then the choice should be very clear. Would you rather spend fifty hours looking at a blurry, pixelated game when you could have the same experience but instead with the game’s assets’ full potential presented to you?

Destiny on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 may fall short in graphical prowess, but stylistically, and content-wise, it’s the exact same experience that can be found on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The cloud-based character transfer system for in-line platform families makes it very worthwhile for soon-to-be adopters of current-gen consoles who simply can’t wait any longer to play the new hotness to do just that if they’re not bothered by the graphical limitations.

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Brett Zeidler
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