[tabs] [tab title=”Game Details:“]Destiny was released on September 9th, 2014 on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One video game consoles. It was developed by Bungie and was published by Activision. Our Lag Factor review analyzes the visual fidelity and gaming performance of Destiny, in relation to various types of input latency. This Lag Factor analysis was performed on the PlayStation 4 version of the game.[/tab] [/tabs]
Destiny is the latest video game developed by Bungie, known throughout the world for developing the legendary Halo series. While the series now sits with Microsoft’s own 343 Studios and remains an exclusive title, Destiny was designed as a multi-platform title from the start. Releasing on the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One insures that Destiny will reach a very sizable audience. Having already made $325 million within the first five days of the game’s launch, how does it stack up on a technical level? Read on to find out.
How Destiny Looks:
This is Bungie’s first foray into the latest generation of consoles, and the improvement in graphical fidelity certainly shows. While the beta version of Destiny had resolution differences among the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (the Xbox One version was rendering at 1600 x 900), Bungie has managed to bring both versions to parity on resolution. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game run at a native 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution for the final retail release. One thing that impressed me about the beta version was how consistent the frame rate was during gameplay. The same holds true with the final retail version, with the game running at a locked 30 frames per second. The action on the PS4 version rarely encounters any major hiccups when engaging in battles with the Fallen. I certainly do wish this game ran at 60 frames per second, as several game studios have expressed interest towards achieving higher frame rates with the newer consoles. With that said, I’d much rather take a locked frame rate over one that struggles to stay consistent; I’m sure Bungie felt the same way with Destiny in order to achieve a consistent experience among all platforms. The game does feature a form of post-processed anti-aliasing, which I have mixed feelings for. While the post-processed anti-aliasing serves as a low-footprint method of anti-aliasing most modern games, it has a tendency to blur the image slightly, resulting in a softer picture. I didn’t really mind it much in the previous generation of games, as most of them were sub-720p resolution anyway, so a little extra blurring to clear up jaggies didn’t hurt. However, with many of this new generation’s games running natively at 1080p, the inclusion of this type of anti-aliasing lessens the impact of running at a native 1080p resolution. I would’ve liked to see Bungie include an option to disable this form of anti-aliasing, as some other developers have started to offer some graphical customization options within their recent console releases (The Last of Us: Remastered comes to mind).
Anti-aliasing quirks aside, Destiny is one pretty game. The color palette varies based on the locations traveled in Destiny, so the game isn’t dominated by shades of gray and brown. Moving between the outer and inner areas of the missions allows you to really enjoy the contrast ratio of your HDTV (or hate it, depending on how well your display handles black level). The outer areas vary among desert, snow, lunar, and other types of terrain, whereas several of the inner locations are darker and more atmospheric. The quality of textures within Destiny‘s worlds are impressive, showcasing quite a bit of detail as you traverse through different terrain while taking down your enemies. An effect I particularly enjoyed was the melee attack, now featuring a white flash upon impact, which creates a nifty dissipation effect if the enemy doesn’t survive it. No doubt the addtional RAM and forced HDD storage of these new consoles play a role in the texture detail of Destiny. This game is a fine example to show what the newer consoles are capable of graphically.
How Destiny Feels:
Destiny stays true to the foundations of the FPS genre, and doesn’t do much to mask itself as something else. The game functions on the basic mechanics of shooting, reloading, seeking cover when it gets tough, and pushing forward when momentum is on your side. Bungie brought sandbox-style shootouts to the mainstream audience when they released Halo, and Destiny tries to evolve the combat that made the Halo series popular through their leveling system. As you progress through the game, your level determines the upgrades you unlock, including jetpacks, grenades, and various super abilities depending on the class you have selected at the beginning of the game. Most of Destiny’s mechanics are present in several shooting games that have released in the last decade, so there are no surprises in terms of how the game controls. It is, however, important to discuss how your HDTV will affect your performance and enjoyment with Destiny.
As mentioned earlier, Destiny runs at an almost fully-locked 30 frames per second on the PlayStation 4. This means that the game is going to have a minimum of 100ms latency present regardless of the display you are playing Destiny on. Translating to frames, this would result in anywhere from 6-8 frames of latency that is fixed into the game itself. This is because one frame lasts on screen for approximately 16.67ms. The good news is, Destiny doesn’t suffer from an erratic frame rate, so your controller latency will remain relatively constant throughout your time with the game. To compensate for this, Bungie has added fairly generous auto-aim into Destiny‘s engine, which helps aim your weapon more precisely during intense battles, to reduce the amount of time it takes for you to manually target the game’s enemies. Your skill (and your display) affect your battles depending on where you decide to aim your reticle on your enemies. Destiny differs from many other FPS games in this regard, as your ability to kill enemies depends on your character level, weapon, and your ability to consistently land headshots. The game displays points depending on which part of the enemies you manage to hit, with headshots being displayed prominently as yellow colored points. Mastering headshots is the key to success in Destiny, as headshots do far more damage than any other type of shot on the enemies. Most enemies will not die with simply one headshot, and require several in succession to do the most damage. To test the importance of input lag towards the game’s handling, I set my Sony KDL-65W850A HDTV to several different picture modes while playing Destiny, as input lag varies between them. My KDL-65W850A tested to be 18ms with game mode engaged, being one of the fastest HDTVs in our input lag database. This mode gives me comparable performance to many fast gaming monitors in my input lag database, such as the ASUS MX279H (which also earned our excellent input lag rating). Setting my Sony HDTV to other picture modes yielded anywhere between 70-100ms of latency, which is a very noticeable increase over game mode’s 18ms input lag.
The biggest difference noted upon enabling game mode in my display was the speed of aiming the reticle. The game’s auto-aim allows you to quickly aim at targets regardless of your display’s speed. However, being able to aim with precision was an entirely different matter. Destiny encourages you to accumulate as many headshots as possible, and failing to do so can be the difference between recharging your shield, or being stuck on the respawn screen. During the game’s later levels, it is not uncommon to fight Hives, Fallen, and other types of enemies simultaneously. Certain enemies like the Hive are much faster than more power-oriented ones such as the Fallen. When using my HDTV’s Photo picture mode, which has an input lag rating of approximately 70ms, it was difficult to dispatch enemies with efficiency, as my ability to land quick headshots was neutered over using the much faster game mode.
Aside from the shooting mechanics, Destiny controls admirably on almost any HDTV you play it on. This is due to the locked frame rate and auto-aim, so anything in the game that doesn’t require twitchy reactions will fare just fine. However, based on my experience with Destiny so far, I feel that playing the game on an HDTV rated great or excellent in our input lag database will enhance your experience with the game.