It’s hard to know how to categorise Destiny. On the surface it looks like a game that combines the elements of the First Person Shooter (FPS) and the Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) genres.
Like what you’d get if you bolted Halo to World Of Warcraft’s sprawling massive environment. But both its developer Bungie and its publisher Activision are keen to disabuse us of this notion – not least, because, unlike other MMOs, players won’t need to pay a subscription fee to play Destiny
Destiny is built from the ground up to be a co-operatively played persistent world experience. What this means in real terms is that, from the sounds of things, players will be let loose in a vast in-game environment made up of different planet levels, all of which have their own ever-present weather systems and day/night time cycles.
The key aspect the developers are keen to shine a light on is the fact that players will encounter each other within this dynamic universe and be able to team up, go on adventures, and effectively live their own tales of adventure within Destiny’s sprawling universe.
Developer Bungie was incredibly cagey about the details they showed off in a three or so hour briefing at their studios in Bellvue, Washington – a briefing which led to more questions than it answered, and Bungie wasn’t prepared to go into much further detail beyond what it showed.
Most of the presentation was played out using concept art for visual aids and only a snippet of footage running on the in-game engine.
What seems to be set in stone, though, is the setting for Destiny. The action kicks off in the very distant future on earth after a Golden Age of intergalactic human expansion, during which humankind colonised other worlds and reached the apex of civilisation. Then, without warning, something attacked the human empire and very nearly wiped it out of existence altogether.
It's taken an age for the humans to regroup; during that time the identity of its would-be genocidal aggressor has been lost in time. The only details the humans know are these: there are very few of them left, and those that have survived owe their existence to a large spherical alien ship hovering above the earth called The Traveller.
Players, for their part, take on the role of a character called a Guardian - a soldier charged with protecting the last city of the humans, which is situated on earth, just beneath the silent husk of The Traveller.
In the brief gameplay experience Bungie's story lead, Joseph Staten, talked us through, it became apparent that players will be able to engage in gun and vehicle-based combat, that Guardians seem class-based - we were introduced to Warlock, Titan and Hunter classes - and players are able to team up with strangers on the fly.
However, the presentation prompted a ton of questions. Would there be RPG aspects? How big was the game's environment? How many more classes were available? What if players run into each other and decide to fight? Does the game have any features that enforce co-op play?
Bungie ducked most of these queries, although they did say steps had been taken to force players to work together - and that this wasn't the only style of play Destiny accommodated.
In spite of this non-commital stance you have to hand it to Bungie; their new game looks big, beautiful and ambitious. Destiny appears to be a massive undertaking for Bungie, as well as a labour of love and if it comes off as expected, it'll be every bit as genre-defining and industry-affecting as Halo was back in its day.
Destiny release date: TBC
Destiny release date: TBC