I knew that once The Tracksuit had weighed in on Destiny, the conversation would get interesting. And it has.
Much of Halo's most savory material has been in the margins of the actual core products: books, hidden journals, and forums devoted to parsing it. My favorite Halo story - that is to say, the best Halo story - was, technically speaking, an advertisement. Even before the release of the original Halo, it had already passed into legend: angular, hostile communiques from some kind of Sentient established a frankly intoxicating set of parentheses around a game which was at that time about driving a jeep up a hill. That isn't here. And there is a lot to talk about, regarding whether or not you can Go Home Again. I would argue as others have that you cannot. Creating the successor to Halo is an inconceivable undertaking, and I think it's possible to have too much budget, and the documentary holo-film which catalogs this enterprise a decade or so hence is something I would very much like to see. Or sense in some other way; it depends on where the technology is at then. I'm down for smelling what happened if that's what's up.
The big picture and the little picture of the game aren't really stitched together. With Destiny, they've tucked a bunch of worldbuilding away on some of these unlockable cards you're always unlocking. They evoke with their art but it doesn't seem to pay out; I mostly find myself scrunching up my face when I hear the condescension dripping and pooling off the voiceover track. They broke away from Microsoft because Halo had become a prison, and they achieved escape velocity, but the expectations are always there and they can't be outrun. And maybe that's not fair. But nobody gives a shit.
What is weird - and I don't have a USDA Choice explanation for it - is that I have a great time in there. These things I've described are vital to a certain kind of player, and they scaffold long term engagement, for me. They're not anywhere near as important to someone like my cohort. When I'm with him, it all reads as Pulp. The shooting and the interface itself are very accomplished, the soil is good. I think back to the first Assassin's Creed, where there was a delta between what was being made and what was perceived as being made; I think about how that "failure" stands astride the world now with millions of copies sold annually. It was strong bones, in need of flesh.