After years of secrecy, Bungie officially announced Destiny, a first-person shooter for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with elements of open-world sandbox and persistent online multiplayer. Destiny is described as the world’s first “shared-world shooter” and is part of a 10-year publishing deal with Activision.
Similar to Halo, Destiny takes place in a distant future after a golden age for humanity where it has populated the solar system and beyond. Your story takes place after the events of a horrible conflict where humanity was attacked by an unknown force and was brought to near extinction. Just when we were pushed to the edge of annihilation, a mysterious savior known as the Traveler managed to keep doom at bay. The Traveler’s ship, an enormous sphere, now hangs low in Earth-orbit like a second moon, and mankind has built their last safe city beneath it. Humans are slowly beginning to return to other parts of the planet, but they are not alone. They quickly discover a variety of alien creatures have taken up residence in their former territories, and the aliens are determined to get rid of humans once and for all.
Keeping that from happening is where you step in. Throughout Destiny, you play as a Guardian, one of the sentinels who keep watch over the city and are able to wield some of the Traveler’s technology and power. Guardians will break down into different classes, three of which were revealed: Titan, Hunter and Warlock. What makes each class special wasn’t specifically discussed yet other than the Warlock’s magic-like elements. Players will determine their own look and feel, with multiple levels of customization and gear available. They will also have their own space located in the Guardian home, a Tower in the Last City, which is fairly sizable. Each Guardian will have their own ship that they can use to travel around the Solar System in.
This underscores the fact that the game doesn’t just take place on Earth. You’ll use these ships to visit other planets and locations, such as the Dust Palace on Mars, derelict fleets floating in the rings of Saturn, the Shattered Coast of Venus, the Ocean of Storms on the Moon complete with an area called the Hellmouth and more. Bungie wouldn’t say if you’d be able to have space battles and such, but don’t be surprised if we space battles similar to Halo Reach.
While many games make the same promise, Destiny’s vision of “an extended period of time” isn’t 100 hours. It’s more like 10 years. Bungie’s plan is for the Destiny story to unfold gradually over the course of 10 “books,” each with a beginning, middle and end. Through this will run an overarching story intended to span the entire decade’s worth of games, although like many other topics covered during the day, Bungie gave little detail about how this will work. Destiny is huge in both its size and scope. Big enough, in fact, to transcend genres, according to Eric Hirshberg.
“When we saw Destiny coming together, we realized that it belonged to a genre that we couldn’t quite pin down,” he says. “That it brings aspects together in a way that feels absolutely fresh. It has elements of FPS, of open world sandbox and of a persistent world and it brings them altogether in a very fresh way.
There will be at least six-player cooperative play, but beyond that, Bungie wouldn’t say how many more players you’ll be able to partner up with, or how many you can see on the screen at once. Cooperative play is a huge part of the experience; the game was built from the ground up with social and cooperative play in mind. As players explore the world of Destiny, Bungie’s network code will constantly work to match players within proximity of each other when they enter public areas (such as quest areas, towns and more). While the concept sounds like an MMO, Bungie says players shouldn’t expect to see town squares littered with hundreds of players. “[The] amount of players you see is design controlled,” Bungie COO Pete Parsons said, adding it’s “not about stuffing as many people in there as possible.” There will even be an iOS app for Destiny that will let you connect with other players, see important stats and info (available through Bungie.net as well), and be notified when there’s new stuff to do.
While you can play by yourself, focusing on your own journey and completing whatever missions you come across, it’s also an always-online experience. What that means for players that don’t have an internet connection, or a Gold account in the case of the Xbox 360, isn’t exactly clear. There are no plans to charge a subscription fee but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a ton of downloadable content for sale. The game will be sold on a disc, they said, although they wouldn’t confirm whether it would also be available for digital purchase.
In short, Bungie is creating a universe in Destiny. A living, breathing universe filled to the brim with lore, characters, nature cycles, environments, activities, AIs and quests for players to get stuck into. It’s mind-blowingly ambitious and, from the outside, looks to be every bit as medium-affecting as Halo was back at the dawn of the 21st Century.