What is Bungie’s Upcoming [not]MMO FPS Destiny All About?

The creators of one of the most famous FPS video game franchise ever, Halo, have announced that their next project is a notMMO FPS. Bungie’s unveiling of Destiny felt just as odd as it sounds.

Destiny has come to us with very few details and a lot of flashy hype. As with any investigation, it’s best to begin at the beginning. As a writer, the background of the game intrigues me:

Everything changed with the arrival of the Traveler. It sparked a Golden Age when our civilization spanned the solar system, but it didn’t last. Something hit us, knocked us down. The survivors built a city beneath the Traveler, and have begun to explore our old worlds, only to find them filled with deadly foes.

The Traveler, as it turns out, is a giant sphere that hovers just over the surface of the Earth.
Why is this the beginning? Because the unveiling of Destiny came with only a few multimedia pieces and a lot of concept art–those included the Traveller as hype. The game itself hasn’t been spoken to, its mechanics, or even gameplay displayed. Bungie has done a great job of announcing a game without announcing anything of substance.

This will become a theme.

What do we know?

Bungie has announced that Desinty will be a sci-fi shooter of the FPS genre but while it will take place on a persistent world and involve massively multiplayer gaming architecture, it will not be an MMO.

Bungie intends to make this game something that will not just last, but will take 10 years to unfold. As a persistent-world video game, Destiny is intended to be a long-term evolving project that will bring players together in that world and continue to grow as it goes. No doubt, the developer studio is looking at the trail blazed by games such as Ultima Online and World of Warcraft.

Unlike most successful modern MMOs, Destiny will not run on the PC: it is so far only being released for the PS3 and the Xbox 360.

Of course, as Bungie has explained, Destiny is not an MMO.

An MMOFPS that is not an MMO?

This probably means that Destiny will have massively multiplayer elements in that lots of players can gather in the community areas that would act as hubs for players to move out into the rest of the worlds. It could mean that while the world is persistent and the actions of the players will affect how the politics or unfolding of the story; but when it comes to playing together it might become that all combat in the game is instanced.

This would make the game function a great deal like CrimeCraft: Bleed Out but it would be much more interesting to see it run a lot more like Firefall should (if they could get their act together and make it work.)

The developers have studiously avoided the word MMO and anything connected and instead use terms that involve the word “social.” The game is described as not starting at a menu, but thrusting players instantly into the persistent-world–in this way it might work to totally immerse players without asking them if they’d like to log on. It also means that it might be instanced across a single shard rather than persisting across multiple servers.

If these aspects turn out to be true, Destiny will be playing with ideas already being forged by games such as Guild Wars 2.

How does Destiny look?

Looking at the current concept art, Destiny has a strong sense of science fiction monsters vs. humanity coupled with a heroic post-apocalyptic story from the background. Players will probably be suited to the usual suite of FPS-styled weapons with a lot of character customization to address the social spaces that it will generate.

Many of the enemies we’ve seen in the concept art are humanoid (if different shapes and dress) and this means that while Destiny may not innovate enemy types, it will carry us into the usual FPS tropes. This at least won’t alienate players who already like shooters.

Also visible in the beautiful concept art is a lot of desolate, post-human ruin with elements of sci-fi. The dystopian beauty permeates much of the concept artwork and this is something we’ve gotten used to in a lot of upcoming and current games including the Crysis series, The Last of Us, and others that take place in post-human worlds. The models and designs displayed in the concept art show a particular variation of strangely glowing armor and flowing capes as well as grim-militaristic guns rather than the shiny-futuristic.

The concept art of the Traveler itself is a majestic image of a giant sphere dipping into the Earth’s atmosphere. A small city filled with skyscrapers rising, timidly, up from beneath its umbra. No doubt, its presence in the game means that players will not only be able to explore the city itself, but the Traveller; and knowing that Earth itself is overrun by alien enemy.

Other scenes show jungles that have overwhelmed ruins, a desert devouring buildings, and a beautiful-yet-pristine crumbling civilization being swallowed by glacier buried under blowing snow. No doubt, players will be treated to staggeringly different environments with interesting things in them to explore.

Until 2014

Although we can speculate using Bungie’s own words and their amazing concept art we’ll still have a long wait for its release. We’re probably looking at 2014 as a potential date–and it’s already been announced that Destiny will be available on the PS4. No doubt, the Xbox720 will also get a copy, but Microsoft hasn’t announced that console yet.

Hopefully Bungie will bring us some substance to speak about in that time.

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