Destiny Won’t Live Up To The Hype But It Promises A Space Opera Like None Other
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….
It is a period of pre-orders. Indie
spaceships, striking from a hidden
base, have won their first victory
against the evil triple-A Empire.
During the battle, indie spies managed
to steal secret plans to the Empire’s
ultimate weapon, the Destiny, an
ambitious MMO with enough
power to destroy an entire planet.
Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents,
No Man’s Sky races home aboard her
starship, custodian of the gameplay
that can save her people and restore
freedom to the galaxy…
So… Destiny hey. All that money, all that hype; can it possibly live up to it? Although we had some issues with the beta, the overwhelming majority loved it. Almost zealously so. Just a word to the wise, do not cross the Destiny faithful, they will take your family to the moon and murder them.
My blatherings aside, Bungie has yet to really put a foot wrong so let’s assess the facts shall we?
Where do you go after Halo? Well, the answer is to take Master Chief’s cod piece, turn it into a game logo and construct a game around it. Obviously.
Genre: FPS, MMO
Platforms: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Release Date: 9 September
Price: PS3, Xbox 360 – $60 (R699); PS4, Xbox One – $60 (R755)
Destiny is ambitious in that it’s trying to be an epic space opera in one breath and a compelling MMO in another. That means that when the game exhales you get the distinctive whiff of Mass Effect, Borderlands and Halo. The former two may be unintended affectations but Bungie is hardly trying to hide the Halo influence.
Senior environmental artist Jason Sussman was asked about whether Bungie felt its next game had to look nothing like Halo. “That wasn’t our goal,” he said. “I think Chris Barrett, our art director, has talked about how we went really high fantasy at first. We wanted to branch out and do something fantastic. Then we started falling back on some of the things that we know how to do really well, merging those worlds together. We weren’t trying, intentionally, to say, ‘Hey, let’s not make it look like this.’ We just wanted to make something unique and special, not only to the players, but to ourselves. We wanted to do something new, something bigger, something different in all the right ways, but still remaining true to our foundation.”
There’s an undeniable Halo essence in the way Destiny looks and the way the guns behave. Even in the way characters move. Hell, the music is very much Halo-esque. This is by no means a bad thing as it should really drum up the space opera feel and will most definitely appeal to the Halo faithful.
The game features three classes:
Warlock – “Warlocks have long studied the Traveler, mastering some of its arcane energies. Its true purpose still remains a great mystery, but discovering truth has always driven you into the unknown. Now, our enemies are the only thing that stands between you and the lost wonders of our Golden Age.”
Titan – “The first Titans built the Wall, and gave their lives to defend it. Now, you stand in the same high place, steadfast and sure, protecting all who shelter in your shadow. You hail from a long line of heroes, forged from strength and sacrifice. Our enemies may be deadly and merciless, but so are you.”
Hunter – “Hunters once prowled the wilderness and wastelands, taking big risks for even bigger rewards. You’re no outlaw—at least, not anymore—but making your own luck has always meant bending the rules. Your unique brand of daring and ingenuity is needed now more than ever.”
Each class is meant to play differently and players should find one that suits them. The above video should give you a glimpse as to how character development will go down. The problem here is that fast character progression and MMOs do not mesh well. What do you do if you’ve leveled your character up completely before the main campaign has even reached its second act? Probably join a dance crew and tour the desolate ruins of Earth. I kid.
The idea is to not have players grind for weeks before they max out their level cap. Instead Bungie wants players to focus on interacting with other players (more on that later) and equipping the gear that lets you go deeper into the game. Equipping better weapons and armour opens players up to more strikes, raids and higher levels of PvP. Once you’re done leveling the game becomes about collecting gear and exploring much like Diablo. Essentially, once you’ve climbed the ladder you start moving horizontally trying out different weapon loadouts, builds and abilities.
It doesn’t sound like something that can last but then I’m no expert.
Onto the Borderlands aspect that people keep referring to.
Destiny has a big emphasis on exploring the remains of Earth, Mars and the Moon and a big part of that is the social aspect of Destiny. Ideally the game wants players to never be alone. Like a suicidal teenager. That means that in order to succeed Destiny needs a large and constant player base or rather for your experience to be what Bungie wants Destiny to be, you need friends. The video below shows off looting, weapons and armour. Basically the sort of stuff that made people enjoy Borderlands. Sans the humour, insane weapon variety and fantastic art direction. Actually, that’s not entirely true. More on that in a few inches.
Strangely enough, Destiny isn’t all that violent for a first-person shooter. This is where the Halo influence comes in again. Enemies don’t spew blood everywhere like in other shooters, they just kind of drop dead. Most of the major games we pick up these days are rated M for Mature while Destiny is rated T for Taneleer Tivan. No it’s not, you know what it stands for.This opens the game up to a much wider audience theoretically, even if 12 year olds play GTA and CoD anyway.
Destiny operates in a few modes, much like synchronous or inductive AC machines. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Consider yourself lucky.
The first mode is called Patrol and unfortunately does not involve searching desolate ruins for sexual predators. Instead players are free to explore the environments through open-ended missions where you’re free to do whatever you want. Next up is Bounty which more closely resembles your traditional MMO raid mode. A successful raid gets you weapons, armour and other shiny items.
Those are slightly slower burns than Strike mode though. Strike is where you go for a quickie. Three man fireteams, structured progression and short 15-30 minute runs.
Then there’s Faction Wars which could be just as comfortable in Saints Row or Sleeping Dogs. Essentially you challenge other factions competitively. It’s like a gang war but it’s not because there’s no such thing as space gangs.
Destiny doesn’t really believe in NPC allies, any ally you find will be a real person because you can blame the developers for buggy AI but you can’t blame them for shitty allies. As mentioned above, if you’re playing Destiny you have to be social. Well, you could be a lone wolf but that’s going to be awful boring in an MMO. Like any game where you have expansive environments, there is crafting of sorts.
“Why would you want to recruit a Non-Player Character, when the world of Destiny is populated with Guardians?” Bungie asks. “Every hero from the last safe city on Earth will be driven by a living, thinking player with a racing pulse and an itchy trigger finger. You’ll come across characters bound to the software, of course, but your allies will be the other players who join you on your adventures.”
“The Tower will be a place where you can restore and upgrade your weapons and gear,” Bungie replied when asked about crafting. “Some of the loot you capture on your missions will be items that you can equip or wield. Other treasures that you reap from the action you sow will be raw materials that you need to upgrade your inventory. The best thing is that your rewards will be pre-destined. The fates know what you need, and your fortunes will favor the brave.”
That’s a welcome feature, there’s nothing more annoying than games which load you with resources you already have way too much of already.
Now is as good a time as any to address the $500 million elephant in the room. Yes, Activision is dumping an obscene amount of money into Destiny and while not all of that is going into the first game, it speaks of Activision’s long-term plans with Bungie to turn Destiny into something huge. That means you can expect it to be around for some time. As such it’s a good thing that Bungie already has expansions planned for the Destiny.
They will contain story missions, co-op activities and multiplayer maps, new weapons, armour and gear. Each pack will cost $19.99 individually, or $34.99 for the Expansion Pass. Yes, folks, we don’t do season passes anymore, it’s all about expansion passes these days. They are as follows:
- Expansion I: The Dark Below – set deep beneath the surface of the Moon, discover an ancient tomb that has been unsealed, and a dark god who has risen an evil army in the depths of the Hellmouth, the home of the Hive enemy race
- Expansion II: House of Wolves – details will be revealed later
PlayStation platforms will also include additional exclusive content for Expansion I and II and will remain exclusive until at least Fall of 2015
Speaking of expansions, Destiny has the prerequisite amount of collector’s editions. In the old days you wouldn’t see this happening for a new IP but hey, when the hype train has enough inertia that even Denzel Washington can’t stop it you might as well paint hot rod flames down the side.
Bungie knows a thing or two about pushing an overhyped franchise and they firmly believe that Destiny can live up to it. If the recent resounding applause that the Destiny beta received is any indication, they might be right.
“At Bungie, we want to make a game that matters–to break new ground in your imagination. We don’t want to make something that’s just good enough to ship,” Bungie said. “Our goal is to change the way you think about all the games you play. We want to redefine what you come to expect when you have a weapon in your hands and your own hunt and evade scenarios are afoot.”
Remember Titanfall? Tread carefully, Bungie.
One thing Destiny has going for it is a sweeping soundtrack that will surely make love to your ears. Another thing it has going for it is the visuals. It looks pretty great on the old consoles and slightly greater on the new consoles. It’s not just a high polygon count though, Destiny has a great visual direction too. Something else the game should have going for it is Peter Dinklage.
He plays Ghost, your companion (sadly not a direwolf), and will feed players information, exposition and drone on about how incredible mutants. No he won’t. That would be cool though. Dinklage’s performance was regaled in the alpha but seems much improved in the beta and who knows, by the time the game improves he may be as captivating to here as he is in Game of Thrones.
Now, I know I said the elephant in the room was the budget but if that’s true then the Sarlacc in the room (room in the Sarlacc?) would have to be the lack of a PC version. Well, the lack of a PC version releasing this year. For a long time it seemed as if Destiny wouldn’t be receiving a PC version and then a glimmer of hope came from Activision CEO Erik Hirschberg.
“It is [a good fit], and it’s something we’re talking about and looking at very carefully, and obviously it makes a lot of sense with the genre and the type of game it is.”
“Again, no announcements, but it’s something that’s a heavy point of discussion. And you asked how we are dealing with the complexity of developing for so many platforms, how about one more on top of that?” he added.
This came following a listing on the Steam database which shows Destiny releasing on PC in March 2015 also knows as “the place where delayed 2014 games go.” Keep faith, master race.
Ultimately, if this is what you’re looking for in a game then Destiny is what you seek.
Suspected Selling Points
- Bungie’s pedigree speaks for itself
- Destiny has impressed thus far in alpha and beta
- The game will appeal to Halo fans
- Destiny’s success relies on social interaction and a reliable userbase which may not last
- There isn’t a whole lot to set Destiny apart from similar games
- As with so many other games, the hype may be to the game’s detriment when it doesn’t live up to it
If you’re a huge Halo fan or one of the many Destiny faithful who have spawned in the past few months then nothing I say will matter. In fact, you’ve probably already pre-ordered the game. To the rest of you, Destiny will no doubt be great. Bungie’s pedigree is known and Destiny has thoroughly impressed most people with its beta. If it interests you then by all means go ahead and buy it on day one. However, keep your expectations in check because hype can be all-consuming.