For those who’ve been living under a rock for the last week I’ll briefly recap; Destiny is a brand new IP from Bungie, the creators of Halo. Like Halo, it’s a sci-fi FPS, and will apparently feature a persistent world. Quite how we are meant to interpret that is as yet unknown.
Personally, I’m filled with equal parts curiosity and nervousness, because (and I know this is heresy) I don’t like Halo. I don’t like how it changed modern FPS. I didn’t like the shield regeneration mechanic, and how it’s spread to the wider FPs market. I don’t like how it changed the movement in FPS. I’ve always been a Counter-Strike player, and for me, this twitch based, health reliant, gameplay is a better standard of competition than most modern FPS.
DISCLAIMER: This isn’t to say Halo is objectively bad, it’s got a great score, and the world building and environments are great. It’s just that I don’t like much else.
So in contrast to the gushing euphoria which has overtaken the rest of the internet, here’s my roundup of what we know (and what we don’t know) about Destiny so far.
Destiny is set after the Golden Age of Man, where man has colonised other planets. An unspecified ‘something’ attacks mankind and civilisation is brought to its knees. It’s a first person shooter. It offers a variety of weapons, armour, vehicles, environments and can be played co-operatively or competitively, and will be released on current and next gen platforms.
Slick Announcement Video
This is kind of the obvious first step. If you haven’t seen ‘Pathways Out of Darkness’ I certainly recommend you check it out. However, it has a grand total of 8 seconds of actual gameplay footage. Whilst Destiny certainly looks like it has a lot of potential, I refuse to call it ‘the next big thing in FPS’ on the basis of a concept and 8 seconds of gameplay.
Persistent Online Universe
This is a thorny point. Destiny will feature a persistent online universe filled with other players. You’ll also be able to see other players running around on their own mission while you’re playing story mode. What is unanswered is how expansive and how open world this online universe will be. This, though, is something which I think we can be confident in. Bungie are good at building nice environments, and if they are taking the time to do it properly, the worlds players will be exploring in Destiny will be very interesting indeed.
This is kind of a given. Players will be able to customise ‘every aspect of how you look and fight’. In today’s FPS market, you can’t afford to not have a customisable player character, and that means, plenty of weapons, almost always visual enhancements, and preferably vehicles as well. Combined with the almost MMO-ish aspects of Destiny, and the thought of not having a plethora of customisation options is laughable. Whether this customisation will play out as anything so structured as a class or level system is unknown, alternatively Destiny could go the Dust 514 route and have skills which can be trained, as opposed to formal classes.
A Communal Social Space
‘The City’ which is assumed to mean Earth’s final city, serves as a social space for players. Not much more is known about The City, a press release describes it as ‘Destiny’s third person social space to refuel, repair, and rearm before going out on your next adventure.’ This feels reminiscent of World of Warcraft’s Shattrath City from the Burning Crusade expansion, a neutral city, where horde and alliance players could co-exist. Although from the looks of it, all players in Destiny will be part of the same faction, Guardians of Earths last city.
Distinct Visual Aesthetic
Whilst this is linked to the world building touched on earlier, it covers more ground. Everything we’ve seen so far from the concept art to the eight seconds of gameplay to the Pathways Out of Darkness video has a very distinct visual appeal. If pushed for comparisons it’s quite Mass Effect meets Halo meets Star Wars original trilogy. There are a few parts of the concept art that hint towards the MMO region, the very stark differences between environments and enemies is something which MMO’s use a lot. The variations between zones in World of Warcraft is a good example. The sharp variation keeps players interested when switching between zones.
The details on this are almost non-existent. But from Pathways Out of Darkness, it looks like Destiny will also have a mobile app which players can use to interact with the game, even while they’re not online. Although quite what form this interaction will take is obviously, at this point, almost entirely conjecture. This cross-platform play is something which has been gathering pace in the industry for the last couple of years. The latest example being Dust 514, which connects a PS3 exclusive FPS to the EVE Online universe. Destiny’s interpretation does seem to be somewhat different though, with Bungie taking advantage of the most ubiquitous platform of all, the smartphone.
A ‘Tabula Rasa’ Player Character
Tabula Rasa, a blank slate character, or John Doe if you prefer, is where a character has very few or no predefined characteristics, attributes or story. This is so that players can mould their own characters, forge their own destiny, if you will. Whilst this isn’t a certainty in Destiny, it seems to be very likely. Your character is a Guardian of The City. And given that you play in a persistent online world, potentially including thousands of others, it’s very hard to make everyone feel like ‘the chosen one’ while they watch ten other ‘chosen ones’ run past them. This was a mistake Age of Conan made, and which Elder Scrolls Online is going to have to work hard to avoid.
And that’s it. While we do have some information on the general trends and themes in Destiny, we have almost no specifics. And some of what we do have is conjecture, or educated guessing based on vague sentences. What is presented above is a combination of what we know for sure, and what can be relied upon, whilst not actually being 100% confirmed.
On the basis of the above information, I would certainly say that Destiny is interesting. It has a lot of potential to be really engaging. However, we have no indication of whether it will achieve this potential. It’s one to keep tabs on, and I’ll certainly end up buying it, if only to see whether Bungie can live up to the potential on show. My advice? Wait till E3 and see what Bungie put out about it there, that will hopefully provide us with a better indication of the direction they’re taking the game.