Despite looking very beautiful, one of the areas where Bungie’s upcoming open world sci-fi shooter Destiny seems be somewhat lacking is the introduction of new ideas. The available classes, for example, amount to a traditional RPG selection of either warrior, mage or rogue, and it’s lucky that the classics never get old because “only you can save mankind” is about as classic as narratives get.
Thanks to Bungie hosting a recent press event for Destiny, new details and gameplay footage have been hitting all over the net and we’ve been eagerly combing them to find something to get really excited for. The impression from many of those who played it was that the game is strikingly reminiscent of Halo, and some who tried the hands-on cooperative Strike mission admitted that it was a little boring.
Speaking in an interview with Polygon, Bungie COO Pete Parsons noticeably dodged a question about what makes Destiny different to other games like Borderlands and Diablo, and instead talked more generally about the studio’s interest in incorporating shooter gameplay into an RPG.
“What we wanted to do was to take that visceral simulation that we love about shooters, that we’ve been making for a long time, and marry it up in a really elegant way with the investment game. So the world is all about you, you can become legend, you can build and grow who you are over time.”
Creating a narrative where the player is, as Parsons puts it, “the most important person in the universe” is fine in the context of a purely singleplayer RPG like Skyrim, but in the context of a multiplayer game – particularly one with competitive multiplayer – that notion becomes a little bit more difficult to maintain. After all, if there are three players out on a mission together then they can’t all be the most important person in the universe, and if they enter a battle against three other players the universe is seriously going to have to start picking favorites.
The marketing for Destiny so far has contained a lot of promises, starting with the massive bundles of concept art that were released early on. In-game footage of those same environments is, gratifyingly, just as beautiful as the artwork, but when it comes to gameplay mechanics we’ve yet to see anything that really demands attention. Even Bungie seems unsure about what exactly makes Destiny‘s gameplay so great; for example, in an interview with Destructoid investment lead Tyson Green promises that Destiny‘s multiplayer will be balanced, but when it comes to explaining how this will be accomplished, things get a little… vague.
“Sage [Merrill], our sandbox lead, he likes to say a balanced game isn’t one where everything is just equal, where everything is perfectly the same. A balanced game is one where not everyone is doing exactly the same thing. That’s one of their valued principles, is they want everyone doing different things, trying different things, [and] for some things to be better than other things.”
You know, stuff. Things. Green’s other selling points for Destiny‘s PvP gameplay include the ability to use the same character from the singleplayer campaign and to bring equipment from singleplayer into multiplayer, which probably won’t help reduce comparisons to Borderlands. Finally, he assures players that they will “never have to participate in a multiplayer session if that’s not your thing,” though he adds that some items are only available in multiplayer and cooperative Strikes.
Obviously not every game needs to innovate in order to be great, and Destiny certainly seems to include a lot of tried-and-tested gameplay elements and design choices that have worked well for other games in the past. What it’s currently lacking, however, is a unique hook to make it stand out in a market that is very well-supplied with sci-fi shooters and RPGs. With so much competition and a consumer base that’s more demanding than ever in the wake of new console releases, Destiny can’t afford to be boring.
Destiny releases September 9, 2014 for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.