It’s safe to say there has been a lot of interest in what Bungie were going to do after they left the hugely successful and critically acclaimed Halo series in the hands of Microsoft and newly formed 343 Industries. This Autumn the wait will be over when Destiny will be released on the Xbox 360, One, PS3 and PS4 consoles, and like the Halo games that made Bungie famous this is a sci-fi First Person Shooter with big ambitions.
In the past Bungie have had the backing of Microsoft to help finance their games and this time they have teamed up with another huge name in video games: Activision, a publisher that has been around since 1979 and has been behind huge releases such as Pitfall, Quake, the Tony Hawk series and most recently the juggernaut that is the Call of Duty series. That’s arguably the most famous name in First Person Shooter games at the moment and interestingly a title that Destiny will surely be up against when they’re both released in the traditionally busy run up to Christmas at the end of this year.
In the past few days it has been announced that Activision is backing the release of Destiny with a budget of around £300m available for developing, marketing and updating the game. A huge amount of money in any industry but in video games it could well be a record amount. This is proof that Bungie are getting the backing from their publishers to produce a game that is going to blow the competition out of the water.
So far what we know of Destiny is that it is set 700 years into the future in a post-apocalyptic universe known as the ‘Golden-Age’. Humanity had spread out throughout the solar system before an event known as ‘the collapse’ saw many human colonies wiped out. Earth itself was saved by a spherical object known as the Traveller, the same object that arrived mysteriously centuries before enabling humanity to spread out across the stars. One final human city sits beneath this object with Guardians of the city empowered by the Sphere with an unknown power referred to as the light. As hostile Alien races encroach on Earth you will play a guardian trying to save what is left of humanity.
The first glimpse we had of Destiny was in fact in a Halo title, 2009’s ODST, a poster on a wall simply said “Destiny awaits” with the white sphere above Earth. This Sphere (the Traveller) is the main image you will see in any promotional poster of footage for this game, as such I am sure this will be integral to plot and there must be some reason why little has been mentioned about this object, surely we will find out all about its power through out the game.
Whilst this game is billed as a First Person Shooter it is also being touted as an open world game that will evolve over a life cycle that has been predicted at a decade-long. Does this mean that this title will receive updates over many years, or will it simply be followed up with a Destiny 2, 3 and 4 over the next few years? I would guess that it will become a series of games that will keep Bungie busy over the next decade instead of one title evolving over time. It would make no sense to limit yourself to just one big launch, especially with £300m riding on it; although make no mistake, a huge profit is expected and the massive outlay only increases the expected return.
From the gameplay we have seen so far this game look very much as though it is from the same minds of Halo, and in my opinion it looks as though it is too close to Halo at the moment to be regarded as something truly new. In the world of Sci-fi you have any number of possibilities you can use, yet Bungie still look like they are pulling the world and the weaponry out of a barrel with Halo on the side. The enemies look to have the same style weapons as shield that we have seen many times before in the form of Grunts, Brutes and Elites. I have to say I was expecting much much more from a renowned studio such as Bungie.
What disappoints me most about this game looking so similar to Halo is the fact that I felt the Halo series getting stale. I enjoyed Halo Reach, Bungie’s last in the series, but it certainly felt like the innovation had gone, and except for an underwhelming space ship section there was nothing that hadn’t been done several times before. The first Halo felt new, fresh and introduced some great mechanics to the FPS genre. Halo 2 built on this but even since then the innovation has just not been there and by doing a very similar looking game I worry that this could well play like a re-skinned version of Halo.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all Halo was a huge seller for Microsoft and really gave the Xbox brand a boost when it was released over ten years ago now, I do fear that with all of the hype and expectation this game may not be able to stand up to it. For £300m Activision aren’t wanting a steady seller, they will be demanding a game on a par with the Call of Duty series. Destiny does not have the fan base that COD has built up over the years and if reviews for this game aren’t incredible then this could be very costly, both for Activision and Bungie.
The more gameplay videos that are released for this the more I seem to set my expectation for this lower, there has been so much hype and with E3 around the corner I hope Bungie have something new to show the masses. I am still excited to see how good this game will be but at the moment I do fear that this will be a Halo clone when most people are expecting its successor.