Sunday, February 17, 2013

Destiny Preview: What We Know

Destiny has to be one of the best kept secrets in gaming today (other than the next-gen consoles) as well as one of the most ambitious games players have been apart of in recent memory. I say that because Bungie has confessed that Destiny will be the only thing they will concentrate on for the next ten years. That takes extreme dedication, confidence, and nerve to do in an age where IPs are a dangerous road to travel on when developing video games. Let us get to the juicy details of Destiny.
"We're doing something really ambitious, and I hope by the end you'll agree it's a little crazy"
Jason Jones

The Story

Destiny takes place far in Earth’s future, where forces bent on mankind’s ultimate destruction were stopped at the last minute by a mysterious object/being known as the Traveler. The Traveler is an enormous sphere hovering over the planet, and it wasn't made clear to us if that is just the name of the ship, or the being that may have piloted it.

The last remnants of mankind have built a sprawling city underneath the Traveler, and have only just begun moving back into the world when the game begins and throws you into the guardian position. Outside the desolate colony strange alien creatures prowl the ruins of mankind’s golden age, still intent on wiping them out.

"[This] is the kind of ass-kicking trek through the universe that only Bungie could create"Eric Hirshberg

The Player

You are a Guardian, a defender of mankind’s last safe city on Earth. As a Guardian, you are able to wield the technology and power of the Traveler.

Guardians have different classes, and while there will be more added later, we were shown brief glimpses of the Warlock, Hunter, and Titan classes. The Warlock has the power to wield magic, the Hunter has stealth abilities and the prowess to use ranged combat, and the Titan is a tank built to stand their ground in heavy weapon combat.

As Guardians, players will battle alien species with exotic names like Sandeaters, War Rhinos and Spider Pirates. They'll wage war with time-traveling robots and evil space zombies. They'll have shared, social experiences that complement a crafted, mythic science-fiction universe.

There is a social space near the Tower where the Guardians dwell called the Overwatch District; relax and gamble, trade and repair gear, or “Gaze out over the Twilight Gap.” There isn't much detail on the Twilight Gap, but apparently it represents a big chunk of mankind’s history in the game.

“Return to the City” is “Destiny’s third person social space” where you can “refuel, repair, and rearm before going out on your next adventure.” We aren't clear if this is part of the Overwatch District or not, but they sound similar. It could be another part of the province.

The Gameplay

Loot is a very important part of the game, with tiered gear and items, and rare and exotic weapons that tease players with unique names and enhancements. The weapons mentioned were that of a standard armory; pistols, shotguns, machine guns, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers.

Players will have access to a hangar containing their own ship, which can be upgraded, or you can purchase a different ship as you gain experience.

The interesting thing about Destiny is that you can explore our very own solar System in your ship, visiting places like Luna; our moon, Mars, Saturn and more. Mass Effect allows you visit Luna and a futuristic Earth, but Bungie is going to allow the players curiosity to take over and encourage exploration. There is no confirmation on if space-battles will occur or "dog-fighting" will be apart of gameplay.

There should be no chance of players being bored with all the worlds, locations, and beings throughout the game. Destiny's artwork itself is mesmerizing at the scale and scope of what Bungie wants to achieve: a derelict fleet adrift in the rings of Saturn, a time-traveling robot, mile-long tomb ships and the secrets they contain, space zombies, and more.

Although there are no details on quests and the mission style, the game will feature bounties; "go here and retrieve this item," "travel there and kill X amount of creatures," "eliminate this character and bring back this item," etc.

"Let me just rip this bandaid off right here: We have absolutely no plans to charge a subscription fee for Destiny"
Eric Hirshberg

The Open World

Destiny is forged in an online, persistent world that requires a constant internet connection in order to play. This is definitely something gamers who are used to single-player gameplay offline will have to get used to. Destiny will follow many MMO rules and themes but ultimately Bungie is crafting something new and unique.

Bungie and Activision have made a large investment in back-end server technology in order to deliver a seamless, open world experience to the player. That means no lobbies, no load screens, no invite-to-party messages, and so on.

You will encounter other gamers as you play Destiny, like in Fable or Journey, and you can team up with them, or ignore them. This will happen constantly, as there is no standard single player campaign. Instead, the game is built around a cooperative experience, and also contains competitive multiplayer.

Bungie isn't trying to jam as many players into the same spaces and funnel them into playing a certain way. It will be server-based, although it isn't clear how that will happen just yet.

Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg describes Destiny as a “shared shooter” that takes place inside an enormous open sandbox universe. While he doesn't want to label Destiny as a “MMO FPS,” the game definitely contains elements of both. But also according to Hirshberg, “We have absolutely no plans to charge a subscription fee for Destiny.”

More concept art was created for Destiny than all of Bungie’s other games put together. The world is so large, that Bungie created a new piece of tech that they call Grognok: The World Creator in order to build large-scale environments quickly.

The game will feature changing weather cycles, and a day/night cycle with real-time lighting just as we were teased with Alan Wake's engine.

"Activision's approach has been to try to do a few things exceptionally well"
Eric Hirshberg


Destiny is all about building your own story, and no two players will have the same story. This creates an element of diversity in games that can work in both FPS and RPG genres.

No two players should look the same thanks to tiered gear and numerous weapons that can be researched on This adds a tone of customization and freedom with player choice and preference.

Deep iOS integration that is shown in the Developers Video Documentary above, promises more than just the ability to check your stats on a mobile device. In-game messages were being pushed to the device, encouraging you to get back into the game. This, if done correctly, can be a major step in how we play games and how we perceive and embrace the games we play.

Bungie promises that Destiny will be appealing to all skill levels of players, and that there will always be something to do, either by yourself, or with other players. This may become a challenge with gamers who have a lack of charisma or knowledge of Destiny, but Bungie plans to create a realm that can fit everyone.

As much information as Bungie has released there are still unanswered questions and an overwhelming since of excitement with this game's development. I cannot wait to experience this saga.

-Daniel, Jedi Editor
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