The game falls into the mythic science fiction and first-person-shooter genres and features what seem to be planetary amounts of backstory. Bungie released a short video documentary relating to the backstory of the universe in “Destiny” wherein they allude to Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) elements as well as Role Playing Game (RPG) elements.
The story for the game as described in a video documentary is one of a destroyed earth that has come through its struggle and is beginning to rebuild. The race of humans has been all but wiped out, in some un-described cataclysmic event, and in fact would have been if not for a mysterious moon-sized object known as “The Traveler.” This object hovers in geosynchronous orbit with the earth and the humans that were left have begun building a new city in its shadow. It is alluded to that humans had colonized other planets, but the event destroyed those civilizations and left only their ruins.
The game setting is such that human civilization has been rebuilt in the shadow of “The Traveler” and civilization has reached a point of interplanetary expansion once again. However, when the humans of this new era reach other planets that were once their own, they find “strange and deadly creatures [that have] occupied our old worlds…” as described in the vid-doc. This easily sets up for conflict in the game, where the player is cast as a guardian of the city who is also imbued with special power from “The Traveler.”
The game’s mechanics are largely unknown, but Bungie has said that the game will require constant online connectivity and the presence of multiple interplanetary factions across the old human home worlds. It is easy to imagine the game playing like “Planetside 2” which featured large-scale player controlled battles involving vehicles and foot soldiers alike. “Planetside 2” also featured factions as the source of conflict, and means for players to identify with their avatars. These possible similarities lead me to believe that the game will have a persistent world state and play in some respects like a console based MMO.
The next most prominent mechanic is player classes. There are three shown in the vid-doc sent out by Bungie that include the “Hunter,” “Warlock” and “Titan,” which correspond to well-known tropes for gamers like sniper, mage and assault classes. It is unclear if there are more classes, and Bungie has not commented to any such effect to suggest there are. However, with RPG elements finding their way even into non-class based games, it can be assumed that the three known classes will have spec-trees or other player controlled gameplay customization features similar to that of “Final Fantasy” or “Borderlands.”
Concept art from the game illustrates a variety of landscapes ranging from forested citadels to desert based military complexes. Each picture is stunning in its own right, and has set high expectations for the game itself.
Bungie has set high standards internally on this one and has comprised seven pillars that the game must hold up to. First it must be a “world players want to be in” if any game does not fit this criteria, then why play it? Secondly, it has to have “a bunch of fun things to do” because if it doesn’t, then it still fails as a game. Three and four fall into one another, “[have] rewards players care about” and have “a new experience every night.” These are similar because they involve player experience in the game.
“Call of Duty” is seen as redundant because it gives the same reward varieties and the same experience every time you play it. It seems that “Destiny” is looking to get away from that. “Destiny” will also be “shared with other people” through constant online connectivity and “enjoyable by all skill levels” which suggest level-gated areas, a common trope of MMOs. Lastly, it will be “enjoyable by the impatient and distracted” which suggests that it will play to the interest of the modern casual gamer that is used to iPhone games that last a maximum of 15 minutes, or can be consumed in small spurts rather than long sprints.
After coming off the “Halo” franchise, Bungie has a lot to live up to with this next game, but if they can maintain these pillars of development throughout the process of creating the game, then they have a definite contender for game of the year. The game has no release date as of yet, but has been announced for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation3 and has a timed exclusive over Xbox 360. More details can be found at destinythegame.com.
By Sean Burke