Whether you play Destiny during the ongoing beta or when it launches in September, you'll only be able to play with (and against) players on the same system as you. Mixing players from PlayStation and Xbox platforms with each another was never expected, but some might wonder why players on Xbox 360 and Xbox One or PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 can't play with one another. The reason for this isn't some insurmountable technical hurdle, but instead because developer Bungie wanted to keep the playing field level.
"I'll speak for the hypothetical player," Bungie engineer Roger Wolfson told Digital Trends when asked why cross-platform play wasn't included. "I have a disadvantage sniping across the map because [my opponent with a next-gen console] is only two pixels on my screen and I'm four pixels on his. You see that in the world of PC gaming, where people are always racing to the best video card to give themselves the advantage."
"Regardless of where the reality is, there's definitely a perception among gamers that better hardware means you have an advantage," Wolfson added. "We don't want to have to enter that fray, so to create the best, most level playing field, both actually and perceptually, we separated it by platform."
Cross-platform multiplayer hasn't been an especially common thing in the past. 2007 first-person shooter Shadowrun is perhaps the best-known example of this, letting owners of the Xbox 360 and PC versions play against one another. That was an experiment with mixed results, though many of its problems stemmed from the differences in playing a shooter with a controller versus a keyboard and mouse.
While the graphics in the last-gen console versions of Destiny will no doubt be less pretty than what we've seen on PS4, Wolfson noted that many aspects of the game remain the same on all platforms. "I've been playing some on the Xbox 360 as well as the PS4 [at home] as we head into the beta window, and I've been really pleased at how I can almost forget that I'm playing on a last-gen console," he said. "There's really no difference at all in loading, the action game is as fluid and as action-packed, [and] there are as many combatants on the last-gen."
The Destiny beta launched on PS4 and PS3 yesterday. The Xbox One and Xbox 360 versions will join in next Wednesday, July 23, before the beta comes to a close on July 27 at 11:59PM Pacific. The full game lands on all four platforms on September 9.