e3 2014Destiny - Bungie After Halo With 40 Minutes of Hands-On Gameplaye3 2014 - RSS 2.0
After Bungie's split from Microsoft and passing the torch with the Halo franchise, the question on everyone's mind was what was next for the venerable developer. Besides a few earlier titles like Marathon and Oni, the folks over at Bungie had been working exclusively on Halo for nearly a decade. Earlier last year we finally got our answer when their next shooter Destiny was officially unveiled.
Leading up to E3, we got the opportunity for some extended hands-on time with the Destiny alpha. Rather than say a 15 minutes demo on the show floor, we got to dive deep on the initial starting levels of Destiny. And I have to say, Destiny is the first games that's given me serious thoughts of it truly being a "next-gen" console game.
Everything centers around the self-described "shared-world shooter" experience. While Destiny has many of the trapping of a typical MMO, it's more akin to splitting the difference on a cooperative shooter and a full-blown MMO. It's bigger than the former, but it has a more narrow scope than the later. It might not be breaking new ground when compared to games like Planetside, but it lends itself well to the trappings of being developed for a console audience in mind, nor is it Destiny's goal to go for shear number of players on screen.
For instance, when you enter the world there will be other player sharing the space, but it's not necessarily all the players in the game or server. You're free to work together with these other players or go off hunting on your own, though there will occasionally be public events that encourage you to lend a hand as they are practically impossible alone. What the game loses in some functionality it makes up for in cutting out some of the complexity, and Destiny is handling all the details of behind the scenes making it more ideal for the jump-in and jump-out nature of consoles. Want to get a team together to tackle a mission? Destiny can match you up quickly and get you into the action.
It manages to capture that secret sauce of letting you solo on your own but while still feeling connected to other players. If you see someone in trouble you can run over and revive them, finish off that tough opponent together and then simply go your separate ways without needing to jump through a bunch of mechanical hoops or loading screens. Granted, the game is a lot more fun when you're in a fireteam with a few of your friends.
Destiny takes us back to the post-apocalypse setting, though in this case it's post-apocalypse set after a "Golden Age" of humanity's advancement. After expanding across the solar system humanity collapses back in on itself, reduced to a single city on Earth that's saved by the appearance of "The Traveler", a big white sphere that hovers over humanity's last bastion. Guardians, the player characters, are now attempting to push out and reclaim lost lands only to be beset by alien species that have moved in during the interim. The alpha was pretty light on story elements, and it's the aspect of the game I'm most eager to see more of. Bungie has always done a good job in making sweeping and epic single-player narrative, but I want to see how this transitions into a space designed for multiplayer. You're just a Guardian, not the Master Chief. Sadly some of the voice-over work sounds a bit phoned in, but hopefully this is only placeholder for the alpha.
To start the game, you're going to need to create your Guardian. There are three races to choose from, but besides some dialogue differences they are purely cosmetic. There are Humans, obviously, but surprisingly, and it's not yet been fully explained, there are two other races to choose from. The Awoken, which appear like ethereal or supernatural humans of sort, have all manners of abnormal skin and hair colors. The Exo are androids or robots of some kind, and where the other races customize their hair, Exos are adding various antenna and technological elements to their faces.