It's been a long time coming, but Bungie and Activision finally unveiled Destiny—Bungie's first post-Halo game—at a special event last week. With a host of other journalists invited up to Bungie HQ in Seattle, we saw and heard first-hand what Destiny is going to be all about.
The good news is that everything you've heard is true. It's a sci-fi first-person shooter with elements of massively multiplayer games. It sounds like it's going to be huge, and it will hopefully combine the best elements of multiple genres.
Unfortunately, the good news is also the bad news, as everything you've heard, through leaks, rumors and other sources, is just about everything Bungie and Activision were willing to divulge. We didn't learn much in Seattle beyond what was already known or suspected, though our official first look at Destiny did give us some insights as to just how Bungie is hoping to revolutionize the shooter genre next.
A DECADE-LONG LEGEND
Some gamers may be skeptical of Activision and Bungie's 10-year deal, but both companies will benefit from it in the end. Activision gets a cut of Bungie's tasty, tasty sci-fi-pie, of course, and Bungie gets heaps of money from the publisher. But Bungie also gets job security, as Destiny's story lead, Bungie's Joseph Staten, said during the company's presentation in Seattle.
"We signed a big deal that lasts for a long time," he said. "But if you're a storyteller, that's not terrifying. It's exciting.
"What it means is we can plan for the future. We can drive giant stakes into the ground. We can build a big world rich with history and mysteries that in some cases aren't going to get unraveled for years to come."
We smell some cliffhangers coming, but if Bungie can deliver them in a compelling way (and given our love of Halo, we believe they'll be able to), then Destiny may become the first epic series of video games conceived as a project spanning an entire decade.
Speaking of that big, rich world and all its history, Bungie has finally elaborated on the game's setting and story. It's set on Earth long after a cataclysm of epic proportion, from which humanity was rescued—by the skin of our teeth, the way it looks—by a floating, city-sized orb called "The Traveler."
The Traveler, mysterious and awesome, hangs now above the last human city on the planet, shielding and comforting the dregs of humanity. Hostile aliens from across the solar system (and presumably beyond) are trying to take advantage of our sorry state, and it's up to the Guardians (that's us), who can channel some of the Traveler's residual power as magic-like attacks, to keep humanity and Earth safe.
Sound interesting? Bungie promised that the plot itself will be "literary," and Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg called it "elevated in its tone." But Staten added another layer: "The most important stories we tell?" he asked. "They're not going to be told by us. They're going to be told by players."