E3 2013: Destiny Preview

June 22, 2013

Halo left a profound impact on the Xbox community, but now Bungie have broken free of their famous heritage with a multiplatform sci-fi online-only shooter Destiny, to be published by Activision. I was treated to a closed door hands-off preview of Destiny at E3. Looking as if it was running PlayStation 4 code, I essentially viewed a more detailed presentation of the demo seen at Sony’s press conference.

Destiny takes place on planet Earth’s very last city, 500 years into the future. Bungie explain that humans have already ventured out into the galaxy, but have been forced into retreating back to their homeworld. A fabled and legendary race has put a halt to mankind’s dream of intergalactic expansion, but Destiny starts with humans on the cusp of venturing into the stars yet again.

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In the presentation, our Bungie staffer assumed the roll of the Guardian character classes. The Guardian is best described as a human-like ‘knight’ that travels the galaxy eradicating threats to mankind. In addition to choosing your classes and skills trees, weapons and appearance can be customised, adding a nice level of personality to the game. A second Destiny player immediately dropped into the game; as our host explained, players will be able to join their friends seamlessly. When Destiny is released, players will also share a gigantic game world and have the ability to go exploring anywhere they please.

Bungie gave us a first glance at the immediate area, a giant wasteland left on earth referred to as Old Russia. The group proceed to enter a giant, but seemingly abandoned old industrial complex. One player activated his ‘ghost’, a drone that scouted ahead in our demo and was able to turn on the internal lights.

This unfortunately attracted the attention of enemies, known as ‘The Fallen’. A firefight initiated between our players and the enemy, with multiple goons and a mini-boss charging into the area. One character unleashed some sort of magical ability, with the camera pulling back to a third person perspective as they jumped into the air and released a ball of energy at the mini-boss.

When the enemies were finally defeated, the fallen mini-boss dropped a glowing sphere, netting the player new loot. In this demo, the player received a weapon dubbed the ‘Thunderlord’, a machine-gun that can discharge lightening ammunition and that also has it’s very own upgrade system. Destiny‘s shooting mechanics look exactly like Halo, which I believe is a good thing. Nevertheless, players shall have a greater and more creative range of weapons at their disposal, such as the aforementioned Thunderlord.

Exiting the interior structure, the Bungie players found themselves in an open grass field, and were then joined by a third player. Suddenly, an alien dropship materialised overhead, dropping a mammoth boss into the environment. Bungie explain that these moments are public events, similar to instances in established MMO games. A troop of players immediately converged on the boss, acting together to bring it down and undoubtedly shares in any spoils of war it might drop.

Visually, I personally think that Destiny looks like a more vibrant version of Halo Reach. The game doesn’t hold a candle to other next-gen titles on display at E3, but it still looks and runs solidly, and the demo showcased fantastic lighting effects and the massive sweeping environments that players can traverse.

After the demo, a number of people mentioned to me that Destiny can be likened to an online only incarnation of Borderlands, with the same focus on levelling up, looting and completing co-operative mission objectives. Nevertheless, everyone had nothing but glowing praise for the game, and many attendees placed it at the top of their most-anticipated lists.

Destiny is a ambitious multi-platform endeavour, and Bungie have high expectations for a crafting an immersive world that relies heavily on player interaction. But with the same talent behind the Halo series, Bungie can rely on their trademark shooter gameplay while delivering on their promise of a strong narrative and deep customisation. And of course, a score by the talented Marty O’Donnell is sure rise the epic bar a level or two. Destiny is scheduled to arrive on current and next-generation consoles in 2014.