There have been a lot of revelations at E3 this year, particularly in regards to the consoles that will be the main players in the next generation of the console wars. As much as I'd like to spend this article singing praises to Nintendo and Sony while writing a dirge for Microsoft, the post-op analysis can wait for Friday when E3 is over and done with. Given the daily announcements and news, who knows just what will be announced today; for all we know Microsoft could suddenly announce that they have been trolling us for months with The One and that their true next generation console kicks is a beast of monstrous ability that can destroy the Playstation 4 with the same ease that the Playstation 4 is currently destroying The One. Who knows just what will happen? No, today we're going to talk about a Bungie/Activision collaboration called Destiny.
Let's get the boring loathsome generalities out of the way; Destiny is a post apocalyptic action-adventure first-person shooter that is part one of a 10 year publishing deal between Bungie and Activision. Scheduled for a 2014 release and slated to be launched on both the upcoming Playstation 4 and Xbox One as well as the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, this collaboration between the creators of Halo and Call of Duty garners ambivalence at first glance. These days the North American gaming market is beyond flush with first person shooters, one of the bigger reasons that I abandoned console gaming. In addition this game requires an online connection to play, which is fine if you're making an massively-multiplayer online (MMO) game. Bungie and Activision however have made it clear that Destiny will be not be an MMO, and the online requirement's main purpose isn't as a digital rights management (DRM) measurement. Here, gamers and laymen, is where Destiny gets interesting and provides us a glimpse at one of the many possibilities of the future of gaming. The most surprising part of it is that my fascination with the game has nothing to do with the storyline.
The first thing about Destiny that is worthy of interest is that the world will be “alive,” which is to say that events will happen in-game that aren't necessarily controlled or planned by the developer. Just as an idea alone this is something that should make any gamer drool since few things in gaming are ever truly random or beyond the developer's planning. Rather than a static world where even random events are anticipated, the world of Destiny will be a dynamic one much like our own. While not many details have been given so far of what kind of events will be uncontrolled this is certainly an aspect of the game that I'm looking forward to seeing elsewhere in the gaming world (Attention Activision: the Blizzard branch of your company could put this to good use).
The next target: The mandatory online gameplay. Again this isn't some horrible DRM stunt like what Blizzard tried to pull off with Diablo 3 and what EA tried with SimCity. Online is required to play because while it isn't like World of Warcraft or EVE Online, Destiny will incorporate the multiplayer characteristics of the MMO genre. Destiny is being described as a “Shared-world shooter” and differs from standard MMOs in that an individual player will only be able to see and interact with other players that they have been matched with by Destiny's matchmaking system (As opposed to regular MMOs where you can see and interact with everyone in the game or on the server your character is on). Given the gradual trend towards online play the industry is taking this is quite possibly the most futuristic thing about Destiny. While my personal wanderlust habit will always drive me to oppose an online requirement for any game outside of the MMO genre (Not everywhere I roam has a decent internet connection) a few decades down the line this just might be the standard for the gaming industry.
Throwing a little more fuel on the fire will be a few smaller details: The graphics engine that Destiny will utilize is a specially designed multi-platform in-house engine that has been under development for the last four years and that Bungie boasts will be good for Destiny's planned decade long run. Like the randomized event not many details have been revealed about the engine, but it is known that it will allow global illuminations and real-time dynamic lighting to occur together. The game will also feature an upgraded version of Bungie's “Hopper” technology that has been the backbone for the Halo series' online matchmaking system.
These are just the few details that can be scrouged up aside from the gameplay video, but between now and the 2014 release who knows what else Bungie will pull out of their hat. I for one am honestly looking forward to it, especially if the rumored PC release becomes a reality as Destiny on it's own will not be enough to turn me away from the PC Gaming Master Race. What I'll look forward to even more is to see if the gameplay features Destiny introduces will catch hold in games and become the standard rather than the exception.