Bungie has officially announced Destiny as their newest brain child; a project inked with publisher Activision to span a decade-long gaming experience. From what we’ve been shown, it’s clear that Destiny aims to fuse together a vast set of different genre features. But despite their massive reveal event they’ve left much to be desired in the way of hard details. Destiny is an undoubtedly ambitious project but more than anything it feels like Bungie is striving to create something entirely new here. We’ve got a quick and dirty breakdown of the essentials known about Destiny so far:
First and foremost, it’s a shooter
From what brief in-game footage was shown in the ViDoc and the studio’s legendary pedigree for the genre, it’s confirmed that Destiny will most definitely be a first person shooter experience at its core. The Bungie folks have been notably resistant to referring to it as an FPS, perhaps feeling it’s too restrictive a term for what they have planned.
Although they might be reticent to agree, if I had to affix an existing genre label I’d have to call it an MMOFPS. At a glance it appears to be some sort of Franken-Game and I’m immediately reminded of Borderlands; the classes, the loot, the open world roaming only on a massive cross-platform scale. Some screens and video also hinted at the possibility of certain 3rd person aspects, which would make sense given the games heavy focus on character customization and progression plus the shifting perspective camera-work often used in the Halo series. Seamless integration of campaign, co-op and competitive multiplayer seems to be of the utmost importance to Destiny’s experience. Even if on a very primitive level the main focus will be on blasting you some alien scum with friends, vehicle combat and exploration will also be in the mix as well as an immersive story arc whose progression and outcome will ultimately be determined by the actions of the player community.
The story backdrop is an intriguing one, even if it’s vaguely familiar territory for the studio. During the pinnacle of humanities’ golden age exploring the stars an unknown force brought us to the brink of extinction, clinging to our final bastion of hope in the last remaining fortress-city on earth. Nobody is sure what caused the event or why it happened but we know that mankind was spared by a benevolent spherical entity known as the Traveler who still hovers over the city as a silent protector.
Players take up the role of a Guardian; soldiers imbued with mysterious powers and abilities granted by the Traveler. You are tasked with venturing out into the unknown to reclaim various remnants and artifacts vital to unraveling the secrets that shroud the cause of our civilizations’ ruin. An assortment of hostile alien races has taken up residence on the surrounding planets of our solar system and it’s up to the Guardians to put the boot to them.
Bungie has described the feeling of their universe as “mythic sci-fi” and the torrent of beautiful concept art that’s been coming out ever since they opened the flood gates has certainly contained some awe-inspiring scenes. While the setup may have more clichéd sci-fi tropes crammed into it than most, the world they’ve given us a glimpse into has got me salivating for more.
Destiny will have significant RPG elements
While borrowing from the MMO gene-pool can’t be denied, Bungie was quick to dissolve the connection. Continuing in their efforts to disassociate themselves from another established genre they instead opted to coin Destiny as a “Shared World Shooter”. There are multiple character classes bolstering their own unique set of abilities and play styles. So far we’ve seen the Hunter who sports an agile roguish appearance, the sinister-looking Warlock class and the heavily armored Titan who seems like the front-line fighter type. Only three have been announced so far, with little to no details for each beyond logical speculation. Considering the enormous scope Destiny is trying to achieve I would venture to guess that more will be announced as time goes on.
There will be multiple planets available to players, an entire solar system and possibly beyond—all completely open to exploration and adventuring for players with a different breed of instanced dungeon raiding planned. Some vehicles were showcased, primarily the “Pike”; a very sleek-looking hover bike players use to traverse the vast planet surfaces. Different spacecraft will also be available allowing players to travel throughout the galaxy. These can be purchased with credits or earned through competitive matches and fitted with various upgrades. While Bungie declined to comment on whether space combat will be part of the game it’s easy to imagine ships offering that level of customization to be used for more than simply fast-traveling in style.
Destiny will be a persistent, “always online” open world
One thing Bungie wasn’t coy about sharing was information regarding the games’ requirement for constant internet connectivity, a fact that will surely be met with a mixed response from fans. Citing it as an “uncompromising” core requirement to achieve their vision players with no internet connection will be missing out on the new sci-fi epic. As everything the game hopes to deliver will play out in an ever-progressing, persistent open world setting it isn’t hard to understand that no internet = no dice.
Bungie spent a significant amount of time detailing how their advanced networking capabilities will affect the overall gaming experience for players. In particular they were eager to point out their goal wasn’t to cram as many bodies into the game space as possible but rather to integrate them in a more organic, selective way. To hear them describe it, it seems like the system might work in a similar way as Journey where parties or individuals might occasionally cross paths throughout the world, choosing to assist one another or keeping to themselves if they so desire.
It will be available for current and next gen consoles, with no subscription fees
Destiny is set to debut first on Xbox 360 and PS3, with plans to roll out next gen versions sometime after the consoles’ respective successors hit shelves for the 2013 holiday season. No word yet on whether PC gamers will be getting shafted or not and nothing has pointed to the series coming to any of the Nintendo systems. Another point Bungie was sure to adamantly drive home was that for all its MMO tendencies, Destiny will not require a subscription fee in order to play. This is great news except for the fact that aside from the PS3, all confirmed platforms are speculated to have some manner of service charge for online support. Despite this caveat it’s still nice to know we won’t need to fork over an additional cost on top of that to enjoy Destiny beyond an initial purchase.
More to come
Bungie has some big shoes to fill with Destiny, namely their own. They’ve woven an interesting conceptual tapestry together with monolithic goals in mind. The first big reveal gave a taste and left us wanting seconds, but so far all signs are pointing to yes in my magic 8-ball brain. For now all we can do is sit back and wait for more concrete information to emerge in the coming months.