Feature Article

Discovering Destiny: What Awaits You in Bungie's Upcoming Shooter

We can be heroes.

by

A few weeks ago, I went to Bellevue, Washington to visit the offices of Bungie and see Destiny. I hoped to come away with a better sense of what Destiny is, and why I should be excited about it. I wanted to know what's going to set this game apart from other shooters. Alas, much of Destiny is still shrouded in mystery, and there were many promises that a good deal more will be revealed about it at this year's E3, but here's what I learned about Bungie's latest game.

Traveler's tales

My time at Bungie began with a presentation by studio COO Pete Parsons, who described in broad terms the universe in which Destiny takes place. "In the very near future," he said, "humanity is visited by a mysterious, moon-sized sphere. We call it the traveler. It breathes new life into our solar system, paving the way for massive human expansion. We rush into the stars, building great colonies on Mars and Venus. It's an amazing era of unbounded human progress. We call it the golden age. It's a time of miracles. But it doesn't last, for the traveler has an enemy. It's a great evil that's been haunting it for eons. It's a darkness you couldn't possibly imagine. And when it finds us here on Earth, it nearly destroys us. And just when all hope is gone, just when the darkness has taken everything, the traveler sacrifices itself to save us all, and the darkness is defeated, at least for a while. The traveler's sacrifice leaves it silent and immobile, hanging above Earth. Beneath it, we begin to rebuild."

I loved the way that the world of Destiny appears to tell the story of humankind's alternately glorious and troubled history. In Old Russia, rusted cars, centuries old, cluster desperately around a tunnel entrance. Those people probably didn't escape from whatever fate it was they were running from. Also in Old Russia, I glimpsed a massive rocket with multiple space shuttles strapped to it, a remnant from a time when humanity had set its sights on conquering the stars, a symbol of dashed hopes and unfulfilled potential. It's details like this that make me yearn to explore all of Destiny's landscapes--those on Earth, the moon, Venus, Mars--and discover more about humanity's past.

"We are going to be reacting with the community, we're going to be working with the community to continue to support this game, and develop it and evolve it."

But it's not just the built-in narrative that Bungie hopes draws players to Destiny. The game's designers want the stories that players create for themselves to be at least as important as the fiction that Bungie has developed. Tyson Green, the game's investment lead, said, "We want to make sure that there's a story that people tell about sort of the longer-scale game, where they say, 'Were you in the tower on this day when that happened?'... That is something we're excited about. That's how I think we want to evolve the, I guess I would call it the metastory of the game. There's a narrative that we're gonna tell that's really core to the campaign experience but there's a metastory that's gonna be, I think, core to the actual player experience."

There's tragedy in humanity's past, and hope for its future.

Investing in action

It's also vital to Bungie that aspects like character classes and loot enhance the central action rather than interfere with it. Green said, "As [Destiny] evolved and firmed up--we're talking years ago--we really said, OK, first and foremost, this is a straight action game. We have, I guess, a reputation to live up to. And so that's really what we concentrate on delivering. And we have tailored the investment systems to support that rather than replace it."

I got a chance to play Destiny, but was limited to a frustratingly narrow slice of the game. The mission I played was called a strike; strikes are three-person, replayable missions that culminate in boss battles and that reward you with material you can use to upgrade your characters and your gear. (They're like a smaller, less challenging variety of the six-person raids that will be part of Destiny's endgame content.) Along with two other players, I ran through the same strike three times, once as each of the game's three different character classes. All three classes felt formidable and the diverse assortment of weapons I used, from straightforward rocket launchers to exotic fusion rifles, felt powerful. But I had little opportunity to explore the different abilities of each character class. I asked Brandi House, a workflow engineer on the game, to shed some light on the different classes for me.

"I love the warlock," she said, "but I tend to enjoy a lot of really RPG-style games, so it's the one that is kind of the traditional RPG-style character where you get abilities that are much more toward the fantastical side. He wields the power of the traveler in a literal sense. On the other side of the spectrum is the titan, which tends to be much more of the heavy armor--more prototypical shooter-style gear where it's just a very heavy character. And then in between is the hunter where you get a little bit more roguish-style capabilities, a lot more abilities around knifing things and trying to maneuver around enemies."

If you like your sci-fi with a bit of fantasy flavor, the warlock may be the class for you.

The abilities of the classes differ, but not so much that any well-balanced team will need to have one of each. Any class can use any weapon, and Green doesn't want players to feel like they need one warlock, one titan, and one hunter on every strike. "We don't have the so-called holy trinity from MMOs," Green said. "Titans aren't tanks and warlocks aren't healers. Thinking in those terms, it would be fair to say that all of our classes are hybrid DPS, where they have some ability to help each other by rezing each other and defensive abilities like the titan's void barrier obviously benefit everyone in that group, but there's certainly nothing that requires you to have a balance or punishes you for not having a balance."

Building a social world

I couldn't shake the thought that Destiny seems to be covering a lot of the same gameplay territory as Borderlands. It's a shooter in which you have class-based abilities, you level up characters, and you find loot. Where Destiny has a chance to distinguish itself is in its emphasis on creating a world that's alive with other players. Taking a cue from massively multiplayer online role-playing games like Guild Wars 2, you might be doing your own thing in one of Destiny's environments when a public event occurs nearby, perhaps the appearance of a larger group of enemies than one or three players can reasonably handle on their own. These are opportunities for players to work together, but often in games, having to share a world with other people can have a negative impact on the experiences of some players. I asked House how Destiny attempts to ensure that other players can't spoil your fun.

"I know some of the people who are social design-style people here have thought really hard about that question," she said. "They've done a lot of great things that I think help with that situation. One: if you don't choose to party up with someone, you cannot hear their voice. So voice chat is only by choice. Two, there's no friendly fire, so you're never accidentally thrown into a PVP match or multiplayer match because you showed up in a public space. So they can't come and start trolling you and trying to kill you. And then you're just given incentives to help each other, so really mostly all they can do is good things for you. [We've] worked pretty hard to try to ensure that, worst case, it's a neutral experience, they're just there, and at best case, it's a really good experience where you actually work together and beat a battle that you probably couldn't do on your own, that sort of thing."

For Green, involving the community is a necessary part of making Destiny as good as it can be. "This game is absolutely going to be the community's," he said. "We are going to be reacting with the community, we're going to be working with the community to continue to support this game, and develop it and evolve it." He also wants to make sure that this is a game and a universe that players can stay invested in for a long time, and he doesn't want the fact that it's being released on consoles from different generations to stand in the way of that. "We're really interested in making sure that a last-gen character can move to next-gen" he said, "just because there's gonna be a lot of people that buy Destiny on, say, a PS3 or a 360 and then they get a PS4 for Christmas and it's like, well, 'Don't tell me I've just wasted my last hundred hours there.' We don't want to lock people in."

Public events will give you the option of cooperating with other nearby players in the world, but Bungie wants to make sure those other players can't ruin your experience.

Another feature Green wants Destiny to include to empower its players is a player economy, though this won't be part of the game at launch. "We're really excited about doing a player economy," he said, "but for launch, we're going to be restricting it to trading items between your own characters. We have a lot to learn about the way the economy works, and also the security situation, both for our own systems and platforms."

I still don't have quite as clear a sense of what Destiny will be as I would like. Player-versus-player combat will be a big part of it, but Bungie is waiting until E3 to reveal details about how this aspect of the game will work. Still, the universe in which it's set already fascinates me. I'm intrigued by the image of the traveler, that massive sphere hanging in the sky, and by the secrets of the long-lost period of human history known as the golden age. We'll find out if Bungie has truly given us a solar system worth exploring when Destiny is released in September.

Discussion

292 comments
diego_corleone
diego_corleone

The pc beggars race are trying to ruining this great article, just accept the fact that Bungie belongs to the consoles, and leave this section for the people that will play it.

Thanks for the cooperation.

bryanhudd
bryanhudd

ITT: profound and incurable mental retardation.

gottago42
gottago42

Borderlands didn't create this type of genre, they will be other games that are similar to Borderlands, Destiny could be good we'll see how it goes

t3ddy_173
t3ddy_173

i noticed every1 is saying this game looks like borderlands..

meme inbound :


say destiny looks like borderlands and no1 cares.

say titanfall looks like cod and every1 looses their mind.

NateDaddy112278
NateDaddy112278

 I want to be optimistic, but... I have a sinking feeling in my stomach that Bungie and I might be drifting apart.  We had good times Bungie, thank you for that, and we will see how this plays out.  

hardeepmeghera
hardeepmeghera

I don't see why a little hype is a bad thing here. I loved the Halo franchise. Major major fan. I don't see why Destiny can't be as good as Halo or might I say even better.

RussellMartin
RussellMartin

Great piece Carolyn! I'm looking forward to this game!!!

Romayo83
Romayo83

I'm surprised nobody mentioned how similar this looks to Halo. Everything from AI movement, weaponry and even the music sounds identical.

Was not overly impressed by the graphics either. Looks last gen. I'm still looking forward to playing this game. Hopefully the final product is a better piece of work.

cboye18
cboye18

This game is similar to Borderlands, just with coating of a MMO and Facebook. Sorry, but the core gameplay itself wasn't impressive in the least IMO.

animalmother013
animalmother013

Still hoping for splitscreen. I would so buy a ps4 and this game just for that.

phbz
phbz

Disappointment awaits. :\

profchrisk
profchrisk

I'm intrigued by this title, but would like to see it in proper action with all the moving parts in place....

wezkilla
wezkilla

a halo spin off of borderlands? not hating but i honestly saw borderlands and not much else 

jamesbigmac
jamesbigmac

Honestly, it looks like they crafted an incredible universe with a lot of back story and lore, but they forgot about crafting an interesting second to second game play feeling. The shooting seems boring and monotonous, but the world seems amazing.

musalala
musalala

This looks very borderlandy..without the jokes ...not sure How I feel about it to be honest

hippiesanta
hippiesanta

Carolyn potit .... will try his best to trace if there's any misogyny element in this Destiny

Gravelord_Nito
Gravelord_Nito

the pc bitching race haha :D i actually had one tell me, we CAN pirate games bcs we spend so much money on our rigs. yeah, the game developers must be real sympathetic that you splash the cash to someone else and think you just deserve something.

hardeepmeghera
hardeepmeghera

Honestly, I can only see the negative feedback coming from those pc gamers. I'm sure everyone else who have consoles, just have to be looking forward to this. Just cause a game ain't being released on your preferred platform, don't go degrade it just cause you're not gonna get to enjoy it come September.

dani_i89
dani_i89

Shame on Bungie. I used to love them because of Halo. Now they are kinda like that super awesome best friend you used to have who boned you girlfriend. Dirty shame on them for crossing into MMO territory.

steelmouth
steelmouth

I don't know I steel feel like something is missing in this game, Its doesn't have that "whoa!!! I have to tell every body about this" factor but we shall wait and see though I foresee a 7-8 score

dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

A game like this just screams PC community.. The fact that they are skipping the pc community is probably one of the stupidest decision in the last decade of gaming..  I could just picture this game glued to the top of the steam top seller list for years.. Plus, its a multiplayer oriented game so it would be useless to pirate

Trickymaster
Trickymaster

@diego_corleone  Yeah well except  that Bungie's Halo was first released on PC and Mac... There is no reason why they can't develop it for PC. The game is developed on PCs!!

t3ddy_173
t3ddy_173

@Romayo83  

the graphics look bad because utube doesnt do true 1080p, trust me i know...

if u play killzone/infamous u will notice the diff between ur tv and utube.

also the game is created by the creators of halo, the music is made by the same person.

billzihang
billzihang

@Gravelord_Nito Ah, so you base your argument on the statement of one person.


Yea...


About bitching, let's just examine how you consolites go mental whenever you hear about graphical downgrades. Usually because you're too ignorant to understand it's perfectly legitimate for developers to show the maxed out PC versions.

phbz
phbz

@hardeepmeghera  I´m a console and PC gamer and I don´t care at all for this game. Might be wrong, but it looks as another hyped game. 

Rickiej
Rickiej

@hardeepmeghera  Totally not true, I'm stoked for this game and I'm a PC gamer. We all know that our platform has better graphics overall, but gameplay is still the key factor in a fun game. Look at all those indie games that had major succes over the last few years! Gameplay is EVERYTHING.

cooolio
cooolio

@dani_i89  It has mmo elements but it is not one.  You will not be seeing 20 other people in different areas.

Gravelord_Nito
Gravelord_Nito

@dannydopamine8 stupidest? no. every company wants to make money. and they want people to buy this thing, not download torrents of it. so stfu

Gravelord_Nito
Gravelord_Nito

@billzihang @Gravelord_Nito it was said by one person, but it does apply to you all. very VERY little of you, next to none will actually buy the game. and when you do, it will be off of steam for like 2€ or something. so why on earth would a big company cater to you? its bcs you only matter to yourself, everyone else couldn't care less :D

i lie actually...i am quite delighted when some game doesn't appear on the pc(like red dead redemption did), and when a major title like gta5 comes to consoles a long loooong while before it actually gets to pc. yes, it delights me greatly ^^

hardeepmeghera
hardeepmeghera

@phbz So you're honestly not gonna pick up a copy of Destiny come September? 

spartanx169x
spartanx169x

@cooolio @dani_i89  You will see a lot of people in certain areas. That has been said multiple times. They did not give exact numbers. But it will be enough for "Public events" Which are straight out of the MMO handbook.

billzihang
billzihang

@Gravelord_Nito @dannydopamine8Sigh, the same old same old boring tripe.


How to you explain the fact that most companies release PC versions? and make profit. It's only a minority that live in a box and ignore PC gaming.

gottago42
gottago42

@s3as3a Did you read the article that said 70% of PC games are pirated, that's why many console games don't come to PC

Gravelord_Nito
Gravelord_Nito

@Rickiej @Gravelord_Nito@billzihangsee, when you defy people openly, you come off as childish. if you said stubborn, you'd be right on the nose ^^


i am not saying which platform is better, i really don't care about that. annd though it may sound like a generalization a lot LOT less people buy games on pc then they actually pirate. blizzard is almost the only company that profits off of that market. sure you and i know how big starcraft is for example, but you'd be surprised in gaming circles, online (fB for example) how many people don't play it or you need to explain it to them.


the point i am making is, that the pc fans are the ones being childish and elitist, and i have heard more then one claim bcs of superior hardware, its his god given right to download games.


its not profitable to cater to pc market. look at how from software threw out both dark souls on the pc. horrible ports. why? bcs they already made so much money that if something does drip in from the pc, its ok.


best of luck always ^^


Rickiej
Rickiej

@Gravelord_Nito @billzihang  I don't know your age Gravelord_Nito, but you do act a bit childish. I have bought many, many PC games for the full price on steam and other sources.(last weekend I bought Dark Souls 2 for 49 euro's on steam) 
So you are really generalizing a bit here...


And to counter your RDR and GTA argument, the PC platform has enjoyed exlusives titles for more than two decades. Think about all those MMO's, Mostly all Blizzard Entertainment titles, countless strategy games, and a whole lot more. You are simply ignoring a legacy of great games by ignoring this great platform that existed for so long.


While I do hope Destiny will eventually come to the PC, I know Bungie isn't really fond of the PC platform so I'm expecting nothing. On the other hand there are enough(too much sometimes) games to keep me busy forever. And shall we for once... lay down the battle axes, and stop whining about which platform is the best. We are already not very popular among the casual folkes as a stereotype(nerds!), so let's atleast stick together as one big gaming community! Have fun and may the games be with you :)

phbz
phbz

@hardeepmeghera @phbz  As I´ve said I might be wrong, there are still months to go. But as I stand now I don´t see me buying this game. 

cooolio
cooolio

@spartanx169x @cooolio @dani_i89  Yeah, but i think that the OP thinks that cooperating with other players will be the key to advancing in the game, but that is not the case.  There is a story that you will see unravel through cutscenes that is based on your own characters story.

Gravelord_Nito
Gravelord_Nito

@x-TwilighT-x @Gravelord_Nito@billzihang@dannydopamine8 twilight. no, gaming has begun with consoles, with things like pong and whatnot. and you said it yourself, it was bcs consoles were always cheaper, and its consoles that made the gaming into a commercial success. as it grew more and more, games were appearing on the pc(and i don't mean mine sweeper). so yes, consoles actually started the gaming.

destiny is a mmo, and you are jumping to conclusions, using the fact that it is an mmo and can't be really pirated to make all i said sound silly. the thing is, its the consequence of the its all really, that the company doesn't even consider a game like that to be on pc, even though it can't be pirated. they just don't want to bother.

i do hope whichever device you choose you will enjoy it though. best of luck

x-TwilighT-x
x-TwilighT-x

@Gravelord_Nito @billzihang @dannydopamine8  eh? Gaming really began on pcs. Consoles were only designed because computers were too expensive for the average consumer market.


Also most online only games don't suffer from pirating, with the exception of a few, given that Destiny is MMO your point about pirating is moot, and not related as to why bungie is releasing this game later on the PC. Personally, I haven't decided which device I would like to purchase this on. I don't mind waiting a while if I want it on the PC.

anarky23
anarky23

Yeah they do call themselves that. At least the stupid ones do.

Gravelord_Nito
Gravelord_Nito

@billzihang @Gravelord_Nito@dannydopamine8 look man, i actually have a pretty damn great pc. and sure, that stuff costs a LOT. but you cannot twist stuff around and make it out that some serious profit does come from pc versions of the games. pc gamers download torrents and rarely RARELY buy anything.

and calling themselves the master race is so damn funny. i will always acknowledge that games are the legacy of the console. its where gaming began

Destiny More Info

First Release on Sep 09, 2014
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
  • + 2 more
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One
Destiny is the newest franchise from Bungie and its ambitious successor to Halo. It is a first-person shooter with elements of open-world sandbox and persistent world where humans are up against an alien threat seeking to rid them of existence.