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Feature Article

Destiny's Competitive Multiplayer: What to Expect From the Crucible

The fates have decided.

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Sometimes, when you leap online to play a multiplayer shooter, you just want to have fun. You're not interested in tense battles in which your every move has match-shattering consequences for your team, nor are you seeking to do right by Internet strangers that happen to fly the same flag. You just want to aim your weapon, pull the trigger, and delight in the power trip when your bullets find their mark. You are the lone action hero.

Other times, you seek the succulent reward of a well-earned victory, the kind you can only find when you and a well-coordinated group of focused soldiers act in tandem. You're not interested in individual power, but in fulfilling a vital role and doing it well, so that your team as a whole may harmonize as one single, violent chorus. The gears come together, the war machine cranks out discordant brutality, and you are happy to be one of the cogs that allows that machine to run.

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Developer Bungie has been building up Destiny as the science-fiction shooter to end all science-fiction shooters, at least in terms of the breadth of its content, so it's not too surprising that the studio would be hoping to deliver a brand of online competition that suits wannabe action megastars and hopeful soldiers alike. Bungie has finally announced its full range of competitive game types, all of which are accessible from the Crucible, Destiny's competitive arena hub. If you played the public beta, then you may be familiar already with Control, Destiny's objective-capture game type, which features teams of six battling over control points within the game's larger maps. I rang up Derek Carroll, Destiny's senior designer, and Eric Osborne, Head of Community, to see what other details they were willing to share about the game's competitive arenas.

Control may be a team-based mode, but it's meant to be accessible to Rambo types as well as to players seeking to perform violent acts for the greater good. As Carroll says, "You don't have to feel like you're not doing the right thing. Pretty much anything that's fun to do is the right thing to do in that game type." If all you want to do is shoot the enemy, you're still helping, though if you're not interested in capturing territory on the map, you can still take to Clash mode, which is six-versus-six team deathmatch. And perhaps just having to be on a team is too stressful for you; unwinding with a video game means shooting anyone that dares to share the same virtual space with you. (Those bastards!) In that case, you're looking for Rumble mode, Destiny's six-player free-for-all extravaganza.

More interesting, however, are the three-on-three modes, starting with Skirmish. Skirmish mode resembles Control, but revives are turned on, so your teammates have longer respawn timers, which in turn demands a lot more coordination among team members than Control typically requires. Finally, Salvage asks three-member teams to recover relics that are scattered around the map. While one team tries to obtain and retain control of a relic, hoping to scan it and teleport it out, the other must halt the process by disabling the enemy's probe and stop the transmission.

This being Destiny, these modes aren't wholly disconnected from the rest of the experience. Says Osborne, "We can also layer events like Iron Banner [which removes gear restrictions that typically would be in place otherwise - ed.] over the top of core playlists, introducing new bounties, armor, weapons, and gear that players can earn for putting their best gear to the test, with level advantages turned on. In the beta, the playing field was leveled somewhat by the level eight cap, and limited access to weapons and armor, but players should expect Iron Banner to become more and more interesting as they build up their guardian with a wider and deeper pool of tools they can bring into the fight."

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It was the three-on-three modes that I was most interested in, and Carroll and I spent the bulk of our conversation discussing Skirmish and Salvage modes, which he described as delivering really fun "nail-bitey" endings. I asked him to elaborate on what makes those modes so intense. He replied, "If you get spread out, you're isolated, and the opposing may be tightly grouped, or even if not physically grouped, than at least tightly coordinated. If you get split apart, you're in big trouble. Three rifles versus one rifle is always a bad deal for you."

"The main difference is in turning revives on," Carroll continued. "We extend the respawn timer to--I believe ten seconds is what we're shipping--so once you're down, ten seconds doesn't sound like a lot on paper, but ten seconds is a really long time to be without a teammate. If you get a teammate or two picked off, you have the choice--is your teammate in a place where you can revive him in time for him to make a difference, or is it more important for you to get to personal safety or to get to high ground to figure out what's going on, and have your teammates revive and run in from the periphery of the map?"

"There's definitely some interesting choices to be made," Carroll added. "Knowing where your teammates are and where the enemy is, what their status is, what weapons they have, what special abilities they have at their disposal, definitely makes it more intense."

As Carroll described these team dynamics to me, I recalled how my colleagues and I failed to coordinate our class choices, and as a result, almost all of us ended up playing the beta as warlocks. It was hard for me to imagine an all-warlock team having much of a chance against a more well-rounded trio, yet Carroll assured me that such a team can still be effective. "The sandbox is designed so that you can play how you want to play and what you're comfortable with." Nevertheless, team composition does play a role. "If you have a void titan that has the bubble shield super ability, their ability to lock down zones or protect their teammates while their reviving can be a game-changer. When you get down to smaller team sizes, all your choices are magnified--they're more important because there are fewer choices being made. In a six-v-six match, your individual contribution is more averaged out, it's less important because there are more people making more decisions all the time. [In smaller matches] your team is counting on you to do your job; there's more pressure on the individual."

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Of course, such statements are not just hypotheses, but well-tested theories supported by mountains of data Bungie has collected from the beta testing period. And overall, Carroll is happy with how those numbers broke down. Classes were fairly even in distribution, allowing everyone to be the sci-fi soldier they wished to be without having to worry about class equilibrium. So far, no particular player build or group arrangement has thrown a particular game type or system out of whack, but Carroll acknowledges that something like that is always possible.

"Because we're data mining all this stuff, down the road it's certainly possible something like that might come up," says Carroll, "and we'll be able to react to that, but the beta was an amazing success, and there were no dire surprises on the sandbox side." This kind of data-mining would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. Says Carroll, "It's amazing to be able to react to the data. In previous games, a lot of times in the console world, you ship a game and that's it. The way Destiny's designed, that ten-year commitment, that desire to be constantly growing and tuning and tweaking, gives us the opportunity to make those changes, and guide it based on how the community is receiving it and what we're interested in."

If there's a downside to this ongoing collaboration between players and developer, it's the high degree of expectation built into the experience. "We've said we'd do it, so now we have to do it," says Carroll. Players might ask for changes they never get, and the development team might get branded as jerks--an inescapable aspect of the Internet, it would seem. In any case, Bungie is tweaking and nudging rather than conducting grand experiments at this stage of development. "It's all in the service of the best Destiny we can make," says Carroll. "When 4.6 million people play your beta, it gives you the idea that people are watching, everybody's watching. If we mess something up, or broke something, it's not going to go unnoticed."

Adds Osborne, "Launch is going to be a great new beginning for us. We'll be able to see what players do, where they go, and react in ways we never could before. Of course, we're really excited about what that means for our competitive multiplayer game, but it's also a support philosophy that we're expanding to cover the full breadth of Destiny."

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It's certainly clear that Bungie intends for Destiny to be the next big thing, a promise that it could very well live up to, given the success of its beta and the amount of talent and resources being poured into the project. I haven't played any of the newly-announced competitive modes, so until that time comes, we can only take the team's words and intent at face value. Bungie's impressive track record, however, makes it easy to believe in Destiny's future.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Kevin-V

Kevin VanOrd

Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play bass in Rock Band.
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Avatar image for drizzy_drexx55
Drizzy_Drexx55

I have a 3.07 K/D

I you have a 2.0 K/D or higher and are interested in a PVP based clan, apply at

"Paragons of Power"

on bungie.net

We will be tackling all areas of PVE, but will be focused on PVP when it comes to it.

Avatar image for miniwheats7
miniwheats7

Well at least the high res images are new in this article. I like those.

Avatar image for Ghosthunter54
Ghosthunter54

Only thing I didn't like about it was that it leveled up your single player guy. If you wanted to play the campaign on hard and be 3 levels down, you got a REAL challenge. I played a few in the Crucible, and the whole campaign turned into a cakewalk. No bueno.

Avatar image for miniwheats7
miniwheats7

Wait to play the crucible until you beat the game simple or make 2 separate characters.

Avatar image for Ghosthunter54
Ghosthunter54

<< LINK REMOVED >> Best thing would be to let you unlock weapons and armor in MP that you could use or not use in SP, rather than leveling you up.

Avatar image for milky3
milky3

I wish iron banner would be always be an option. It would be more rewarding to bring our own weapons and armor into the crucible.

Avatar image for evanlp
evanlp

<< LINK REMOVED >> you always bring your own armor and weapons into the crucible. they will just be auto-leveled to match everyone else in the game so damage and health is the same for everyone. iron banner just turns off that auto-leveling. it will be interesting to play iron banner but if you're level 20 and someone else is level 15 you're going to destroy them so it could be very unbalanced. especially if there's a full party of high level players you get matched against.

Avatar image for Kinguard73
Kinguard73

Is it me or is the PvP gear's designed based on trees and wolves? So a dog and it's toilet/marker is the design? Oh boy I gotta get a set of those.... *cough*

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Lachy101

That's the iron banner logo/style, some look cool, others not so much, but mixing it with other armour might work...... You dont have to wear it... You have to buy it anyway, it's was in beta.

Avatar image for MVan86
MVan86

Glad to hear Bungie are really investing time and energy in all modes and especially Crucible - first purely PvP MP experience I've had where things felt balanced and fair yet also a lot fun.


Destiny though won't be for lone wolves in the PvP arena - it's a team based game, at least in team modes, like games should be. So I expect to hear a lot of whining from people who expect a certain kind of game and find Destiny isn't that.

Avatar image for Kinguard73
Kinguard73

<< LINK REMOVED >> is Rumble team based? just asking... =)

Avatar image for lilhurk1985187
lilhurk1985187

I expect to wait until the $ony timed exclusive dlc to release on xbox.

Avatar image for Gen007
Gen007

I wasn't a big fan of the crucible when i played in the beta which i found odd considering i like halo. Id would have rather them focus completely on the story / co op component imo. So far though in not seeing the game changer that this title is being hyped up to be.

Avatar image for upol94
upol94

Gamespot still claims that they dont take money from corporation, how funny.

Avatar image for spacecadet25
spacecadet25

<< LINK REMOVED >> They don't probably need to, Gamespot takes so much money for advertisements, including advertisements that usually lead to a site with a virus, or try to auto-redirect you to their page without even clicking on the ad.

Dangers of viruses in their ads is the number one reason why I've considered to stop going to this site, though I like the site overall better than IGN.

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MattyTheButcher

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> adblock


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spacecadet25

@MattyTheButcher @spacecadet25 @upol94 Already have it, it works fine on every other site I go to. Gamespot is the only site I have problems with. Also, this site locks up when you've been on it for awhile, but I don't have that problem with news sites such as CNN, which also have tons of articles and videos and ads, and way more users at any given time.

Avatar image for waffleiron88
waffleiron88

im guess destiny MP will have shooting, objectives, and babies hiding in corners watching the radar. just a wild guess

Avatar image for spacecadet25
spacecadet25

<< LINK REMOVED >> That's what I was thinking, and I hate the people that live and die by the radar, and the fact that I bet tons of people cheat by finding ways to always have the radar on in games where it is a temporary perk.

We need an online shooter with no radar, whatsoever. Call of Duty had a mode with no radars, but I bet hacks found a way to turn it back on.

Avatar image for bradypp
bradypp

I need to wait for the review to see how fun it'll be playing solo since there's no split screen co-op :(

It's rare I play this type of game with friends online, it's more lets jump into a shooter and have some fun with family, friends or solo.

Avatar image for sammoth
sammoth

So in other words Halos modes with MMO gear. Great more unbalanced crap. If the crucible comes down to better gear it's going to ruin it.

Avatar image for MVan86
MVan86

<< LINK REMOVED >> No it's not "just MMO Halo" - Destiny is a totally different beast.


Crucible is wonderfully balanced aside from Iron Banner events, which you have to CHOOSE to be part of.

Avatar image for atlus25
atlus25

<< LINK REMOVED >> in the beta the "iron banner" events were the only crucible matches that took into account what gear and character advancement you had.

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sammoth

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Exactly and that's my point.

Avatar image for evanlp
evanlp

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> the iron banner will only be once a month for a weekend. and you don't have to play it if you don't want to. the rest of the time everything will be auto-balanced. so what is your point exactly?

Avatar image for Razor10000
Razor10000

not being 60fps is disapointing but still probably one of my favourite mp fps games

Avatar image for vadagar1
vadagar1

what can we expect


lots and lots of bullet sponges

Avatar image for Alecmrhand
Alecmrhand

Good story Kevin....as always.


I think Destiny's success comes down to their commitment to the game well beyond launch. Its obviously built on a foundation of solid, if not exceptional mechanics, so if game play ideas dont work, they will change them, if other parts need tweaking, it will be done. I get the feeling that, unlike most games, Bungie wont be ceasing their work once the game launches, only shifting gears from creation to development.


What we are playing at the end of 10 years may look nothing like what we get on September 9th. I guess in that way, it is more of an MMO than a typical FPS.


Its going to be an exciting ride.


I hope we eventually get to go to Uranus. What good is a game about discovery if we cant explore Uranus?


Yep, i went there.

Avatar image for wolfpackzero
wolfpackzero

<< LINK REMOVED >> Agreed sure the Beta disappointed some people but they forgot that bungie tweaking this game for ten years also i'm in it for the story right now in the game industry especially in shooters we all have multiplayer and no story what's so ever why was the traveler in mars what's the Darkness motivation for destroying the traveler who are the awoken and exo's I feel very confident that this game won't be a point A to point B game and unlike most shooter's it doesn't have story made of sand paper

Avatar image for MVan86
MVan86

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I don't grasp why people were disappointed at all - aside from if they thought they were getting something in particular instead of coming to the game with fresh eyes.

Avatar image for spacecadet25
spacecadet25

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Is the period button not working on your keyboard? Some well placed periods go a long way in making a rant more readable :)

Avatar image for unreal849
Unreal849

<< LINK REMOVED >> "Commitment to the game beyond launch" could very well mean "avalanche of dlc".

Avatar image for spacecadet25
spacecadet25

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Kind of like Evolve, where they even had a story bragging about how easy it will be for them to install future DLC. I said something like "why would I care, unless they are going to pass that cost savings on to the consumers with cheaper DLC, or unless I'm someone who loves to buy overpriced DLC over and over."

I had someone reply saying I was ignorant, and he was so specific (and lengthy) on why this is good for the developers, but never explained why it was good for the consumer. He sounded like he worked for that company.

Marketing a ton of post-launch DLC is just not exciting (especially before the launch). Make a sequel with all that effort.

Avatar image for FLEEBS
FLEEBS

Good read, Kevin.


I'm super stoked about this game. I for one believe Bungie will deliver.

Avatar image for drysprocket
drysprocket

Well said Kevin....and since when has taking the team's words ever bit us in the ass? :)

I'll be passing on Destiny, based on the beta- but look forward to the reviews.

Avatar image for Kevin-V
Kevin-V

<< LINK REMOVED >> Oh it happens often. I still like to hope for the best, though!

Avatar image for Kinguard73
Kinguard73

Thank god for more pvp options. I am no pvp player myself per se but I am glad they have option for play style they would prefer (I- myself found rumble looking to be my choice of pvp since I know least everyone I see is an enemy.

Avatar image for LocoBaxter
LocoBaxter

Another good article kev. Muchos gracias

Avatar image for GreyWolf217
GreyWolf217

The Mass Effect series wasn't the most ground breaking in the FPS department but the story was freaking great. If Bungie has a story half as good as Mass Effect's they will have done right by me for sure. You don't have to do something completely different and new to be interesting you just have to be the best at what you do. Tight shooting, solid multiplayer yay! Yet don't forget the story, call of duty has yet to do that for me at least.

Avatar image for FLEEBS
FLEEBS

<< LINK REMOVED >> Mass Effect couldn't be ground breaking in the FPS department because all of the Mass Effect games are third person shooter RPG's. However, I do agree that the story was awesome. I still liked ME3 despite the apparent dislike almost the entire rest of the world has for it.

Avatar image for Jallakebab
Jallakebab

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Mass Effect's effect story was a complete and utter mess. The game had good characters and an interesting setting, which made up for a lot in that regard.

Avatar image for unreal849
Unreal849

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> ^ I sort of agree. The overarching plot was rather bad IMO, but the smaller stories and character building were great. This is exactly why I love ME2 the best - it strays from the main path and explores the little details of the universe. ME1 and 3 get caught up in the grand reaper plot for a very poor payoff.

Avatar image for TheSneezinPanda
TheSneezinPanda

Cancelling my pre-order on this game to make some space for CoD: AW, NBA 2K15 and Sunset Overdrive. Call me crazy but I just don't see it as THAT much fun. It definitely has potential, though.

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