Bungie’s Ten-Year Plan: Destiny Fulfilled?
MMO? First-person shooter? Exactly what is Destiny? Bungie declare it to be a ‘Shared World Shooter’, something of an online experience for users to all consume en masse, with the subscription based model removed. It is, on paper an interesting prospect, but with so many questions derived from its unveiling, it begs the question – can Bungie truly deliver and fulfil their Destiny? (This and more awful puns below).
A Decade In The Making
Destiny is a decade long collaboration between the Halo creators Bungie Studios and behemoth publisher Activision. This relationship, so Bungie tell us, will bring forth an experience that will not only span our galaxy, but also the next ten years of home video gaming. Here within lies my first problem, how do we deliver a ten-year cycle to the console audience? Most of us will have sat the past eight years or so with the current generation, which as we know is on its final legs. So how can a title, spanning not only current gen hardware but also next generation, truly deliver? It’s a big ask, no question, and one that means a solid delivery model is key. Will it be DLC, will it be sequels, disc-based or cloud? Any decisions made now will surely hold ramifications for the future, let alone the present. Its ability to be accessible to a wide audience soon reduces with the inclusion of sole online play let alone the mechanism in which we consume it (and lets not forget the cost).
I’ve read almost every article, re-watched the ViDoc a few times, and continually found myself asking why? Why show no in-game footage? Why reveal little insight into how the system works? Why reveal so close to a massive Sony announcement? We were drip fed small snippets of information, mostly backed up by PR spiel and concept art, of which most was leaked prior to the announcement. The proof is in the pudding, but we were left with half a starter. An unquenchable thirst that could easily be solved with the smallest of demonstrations to instil some confidence into its audience. After seeing Bungie usually handle the reveal of previous Halo titles so profoundly, it seemed odd to have so many entrusted with so little.
A Fresh Approach
From what we’ve heard, the scope, scale and proportion of Destiny is by far the most ambitious project Bungie has ever undertaken. Its something exciting, fresh and inventive, content which the console world has been crying out for with only half-baked attempts to show. The PC controls the MMO landscape, and it will for the foreseeable future, but getting this into the console space is a fantastic move. I am excited, after 2012 being the biggest year for sequels, prequels and remakes (something for which Bungie is obviously counterpart to), it’s a novel approach to see a new IP with such epic intentions, you can’t help but feel giddy.
It is with this excitement, I breed cynicism. One too many times have I been burnt by the hype of such a major property, one filled with such exciting prospects as a shared world experience, one that can be affected in present day and have cataclysmic effects later on. Take Fable as one key example in this regard, we all remember the plant a seed and return years later to see a tree. Delivering on promise has always been a problem for many developers and one, which Bungie is not immune. Halo was far bigger in scale and possibilities than when it reached the console space, features such as online play, co-op etc. added ad-hoc in later titles, that I can help shake the feeling that at launch we won’t see the full version of events of which we have recently been shown.
With the recent announcement of the PlayStation 4, we also got more of a glimpse of Destiny. Although somewhat of a regurgitation of existing information we did manage to get a few sneaky glimpses of gameplay and also a significant announcement that the PS4 will receive exclusive content. The footage looked and felt altogether Bungie, it exuded Halo, but lighting effects were a noticeable improvement. Worlds looked epic, they stretched as far as the eye could see and the parts we did get to see looked awe inspiring, it’s shaping up to be ‘something else’. A fantastic business move from the team at Sony to pull this of, making such a game changer, with heavy links to Microsoft and the Xbox, a must buy on a competitors console. This is not to say that the next Xbox will not have a trick up its sleeve (I suspect it will), but a sly move in order to gain some extra pre-orders off the back of the announcement.
To me, Bungie have a special place in my heart, Halo: Combat Evolved is my favourite game of all time, so I am bound to hold Destiny so close to my heart. Whereas the reveal was somewhat to much of a teaser in my eyes, what they have described in truly ground breaking. A shared world experience that can be encountered alone, with friends or even strangers sets up the most wonderful possibilities. Will we able to build factions? Can we turn from being the hero to become the villain? It’s a universe filled with all manner of opportunities, one that has me frothing at the mouth for even the smallest morsel of information.
Due for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 it begs the question how will the cross gen/cross-platform capabilities work? Will we require a new disc to continue playing once we shell out for the latest and greatest in hardware? Will it look and operate different between consoles? Will cross-play work between them? It’s a prospect that really hasn’t reared its head before, a big multiplatform, multi-console reveal, and one that begs a whole lot of questions. What do think? Can Bungie truly deliver this title? Or is simply going to be an opportunity missed?