Bungie finally making games again for something other than a Microsoft platform should in itself be cause for celebration, but to see what they’re attempting to do with Destiny should be no less than lauded… if they pull it off, of course.
They’re sticking with what they know – like the Halo series before it, Destiny will be a first-person sci-fi shooter – but beyond the genre template, Bungie are heading a bold new direction. Looking to create a truly next-generation ‘shared world shooter’ for home consoles, Bungie are using a brand new in-house engine and developing an entirely new IP to to make the future of multiplayer shooters happen.
Destiny’s Child (of Halo)
Bungie have a hell of a task on their hands to make Destiny as rampantly enthralling and persistently entertaining as each multiplayer component in every Halo game made by Bungie. From Combat Evolved through to Reach, the Halo series continued to provide hundreds of hours of entertainment. Combat Evolved debatably redefined the FPS in a legacy-leaving way; Reach redefined the Halo series – both off and online – in a fundamentally impressive way.
There will be few who look at Destiny and don’t see the long-reaching influence of Halo coursing through the game’s inner workings. Destiny’s ‘The Moon’ trailer doesn’t look like a Halo game, but it shows flashes of what defined Bungie; these brief flashes will be important in helping to instill belief in the hearts of those who have been Bungie fans even before 2001.
The post-apocalyptic setting fits into the current state of big-budget game storytelling: be the stories past, present or futuristic, ‘triple-A’ game developers these days are enjoying what the premise of large-scale societal devastation can offer narrative construction.
Break down the walls of civilisation and destroy the human world, and then build upon the newly-made foundations whatever broken society best fits the characters and themes you create and devise. Bungie are opting for the ‘brink of extinction’ apocalypse model, having humans fight for survival and the protagonist playing a Guardian, one of the saviours of the human race against an alien threat.
The Guardians are the races in Destiny; you’ll be able to choose from one of three (Humans, Awoken or Exo) before choosing to be either a Hunter, Warlock or Titan class. Having both races and classes should add a healthy layer of diversification to the expansive online component of the game, especially when you consider that each race and class will inevitably offer their own unique perks that slightly alter the overall gameplay experience for the player.
The Writing’s On The Wall
It’s safe to say that Destiny will be a game that will receive significant interest upon arrival. When it drops September 9, you can expect the sales figures to be high purely out of curiosity. The beta will inevitably be the yardstick through which many judge the final package, and it’s going to be an important day in Bungie’s history when they roll out the beta and players can come back to them to let them know plain and clear if they’re on the right track or not.
Bungie’s ten-year partnership with publisher Activision will also be inevitably tested, should Destiny not be as well-received as hoped and expected when the beta is released. Not being tied down to Microsoft anymore though should give Bungie free reign to explore new ideas otherwise not possible to implement into the Halo series. The MMO element within Destiny is certainly something that Bungie perhaps wouldn’t have been able to try with Halo.
Activision may simply want to observe what Bungie do with Destiny, and let their name and legacy reap the rewards they’ll sow alone. They may want to provide some creative input, even steer some of the game’s more FPS-oriented development towards resembling their most immensely successful property…
Bungie prospered from their split with Microsoft. The latter still own the Halo property – 343 are the studio of choice continuing to produce games under the Halo name – and the former’s switch to a level of independence enabled them to both work on current-gen Halo games and future titles.
Tweaking and attempting to improve the structure of campaigns and multiplayer alike within their Halo franchise would have been of note to the studio which birthed one of the largest (and greatest?) franchises in gaming history, but to produce something new for the first time in over a decade for brand new technology? That must have been too tantalising an opportunity to do anything with other than prioritise.
The Halo multiplayer tweaking will play its part in the formation of Destiny’s multiplayer, namely the matchmaking system that will be less new, more a whole step up from Halo: Reach. Creating a ‘dynamic’, ‘ever-changing’ in-game world that players can interact with through social media is something a touch more revolutionary for both studio and home consoles.
But will this revolutionary idea stand the test of time? Gamers have the ability to be a more fickle bunch these days, quickly flitting to the next new shiny thing on the shelf as the industry churns out more and more games more frequently. Can Bungie expect Destiny to survive the length of the new consoles? It’s being released simultaneously towards the end of the current console life cycles (and less than a year into the lives of the ones replacing them), but if the PS4 and Xbox One both make it to their sixth birthdays as expected, will Destiny make it to five before succumbing to the ravages of consumer disinterest?
What can Destiny bring to the perceived future of gaming? If the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are indeed as future-proof as they’re being made out to be, will Destiny similarly aim to become a game that survives in the long term?
Halo: Combat Evolved will always be Bungie’s ultimately defining game, but Destiny may well be a game that defines its platforms, should the concept prove as successful and revolutionary as it seems.
All fingers and toes are crossed, I sincerely hope they succeed here.