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Is Destiny like Dark Souls in that there's actually an amazing story to be told but the developers had no idea how to do it so they just let/make us players figure it out through vague descriptions and/or having to go to a website to learn about what's actually going on?
For me the difference is in Dark Souls I was captivated by the world and felt there was lore hidden beneath the surface just waiting for me to discover through exploration. With Destiny, it felt like the lore was hidden because DLC.
I feel that. At least with Dark Souls, you could look at the descriptions of actual in-game items discovered through thorough exploration and pick up on pieces of the backstory from that, whereas with Destiny you need to read the cards on the app/website or whatever to get the big picture. Still, you're right, plenty of the lore in Destiny wasn't even revealed until the DLC came out.
There's some story there in the game, but you really have to pay attention or it would slide right past you, and once you complete the main story-line in the Vanilla version of the game (not the DLCs) you are basically left wondering what just happened. So yea, the Grimoire is a huge story buff to the game. If you really want to understand the things that are happening, you almost have to read it. If you are just wanting to shoot things and don't care, I wouldn't bother.
Honestly, that's really disappointing. Halo is the only first person shooter off the top of my head where I care more about the story than the multiplayer, so it's possible, no, expected that Bungie could tell a good story despite Destiny's repetitveness. To shove all of their lore into a text-heavy website thing is not doing it justice.
From my experience that's exactly how I'd explain the game. Everything is there to make something cool and grand but the execution falls flat and demands excess interaction rather than just telling the story through the actual game.
Posted a video series on Destiny lore I enjoyed into the related links at the top.
Once you actually get into reading the grimoire cards, Destiny actually has a pretty interesting backstory. It's just a shame it's not more directly implemented into the gameplay! I highly encourage fellow Destiny enthusiasts to read the grimoire cards because it really adds a lot of depth to the game. In particular, I find the lore behind the Vault of Glass to be particularly interesting.
I hated how they did the story in the game. It kind of killed some of the attraction to Destiny for me along with feeling like there wasn't enough places to go. But I'll check out that youtube vid sometime. Who knows maybe it will draw me back in.