The Destiny of Gaming?
There was a time when human civilization spanned the solar system, and our technological prowess was unmatched. That is all history now. We are a shadow of our former selves. If not for the Traveler, an immense sphere of unknown origin, we would have been destroyed. Its sacrifice saved our race. Now we have made our home in the shadow of this mysterious orb. This, our last city, is all that remains of our once proud empire. As a Guardian, you are all that stands between us and annihilation. But you are not alone. There are others who will stand with you. Together, you will reclaim all that we have lost. And if you survive the trials ahead, you will become legend.
This is the setting of Destiny, the latest social gaming franchise. Although we have seen three generations of game consoles in the last ten years, a new revolution is upon us. This summer, Bungie, the legendary producer of the Marathon and Halo franchises, will unveil a beta version of Destiny. Part shooter, part role-playing game (RPG), and part social media, Destiny will challenge everything we’ve come to expect from a video game.
Bungie is no stranger to the idea of social gaming. Bungie.net allowed players to track their accomplishments in Halo 3 and allowed their friends to do the same. This soon evolved into Halo: Waypoint, which quickly became a smart-phone app. With the advent of Halo: Reach, Waypoint evolved even further, allowing friends to create and share their own challenges, as well as upload game videos. Now updated for Halo 4, Waypoint features all kinds of multimedia from convention photos to video documentaries, and information pertaining to the Halo universe. Other companies have followed suit, each offering apps and websites to track stats and remain competitive. EA released Battlelog for its popular Battlefield franchise, while Activision developed Elite for Call of Duty players. Still, none have been as impressive as Waypoint, and as the Halo franchise continues into its second decade, it will continue to evolve.
For Bungie, however, the time has come to reinvent the wheel. Destiny puts you in the boots of a Guardian, one of an elite group sworn to protect humanity. But rather than just save the world (again), you will be interacting with other gamers on a level never before seen. Instead of waiting in lobbies for a game to start, you will be able to jump right in. Social events will occur from time to time, drawing players from every corner of the world into one location. Some may be doing story missions, while others may be headed for side-quests. Strikes will allow players to join three-man teams, conducting quick missions together. Competitive multiplayer will also be present, with a story all its own. In this way, Destiny promises something for every player, from story-loving loners, to treasure seeking explorers.
With all this, it may be easy to forget about the person behind the helmet, the character through which you experience this world. Everything from the weapons you carry to the armor you wear will tell the story of your skills, abilities, and adventures. Little-discussed features such as War Trophies will also serve to enhance your Guardian’s personal story. Rare weapons and gear will have a distinctive look, which will no doubt lead to gear envy among new recruits as they gaze in awe at grizzled, battle-hardened veterans returning from the wild frontiers.
Bungie promises plenty of customization options from the minute you boot up the game. Upon starting, you will choose your race, an aesthetic choice, but one that will affect how your character looks and moves. It will even affect how your character wears and holds his gear. Second, you alter your character’s appearance — again, cosmetic, but essential in any roleplaying game. Next, you choose your class, of which there are three: Titan, Warlock, and Hunter, each with their own abilities. Titans specialize in defense and close quarters. Warlocks use “space magic” gained from mastering some of the Traveler’s arcane energies. Hunters use stealth and cunning to end their foes, at range, or up close and personal. Choosing a class is the most important step, as it will determine how the character evolves.
Will Bungie succeed in this grand experiment? With over 5 million expected to take part in the beta this summer, the world is certainly watching.