Bungie shows off a large collection of Destiny concept art from very early explorations of the game’s characters, races, classes, enemies, and worlds.
Destiny is in what its fans and developer call Year 3, with many anticipating a concept update in the spring followed by what Activision promises to be a full sequel later this year. But with it being over two years since the launch of Destiny in September 2014, fans are starting to commemorate their time spent with the game and with each other. Recently, IGN’s Fireteam Chat celebrated their 100th episode, and during that podcast, Bungie shared a large amount of concept art, much of it being pieces no one outside of Bungie has ever seen.
Game Director Christopher Barrett and Community Manager DeeJ sat down to spin through the art and explain some of the thoughts and creative process that went into designing Destiny. They explained that many of the pieces come from the musings of artists before many things were decided on from the worlds to the classes to what weapons were actually in the game.
The first few pieces are early concepts for the Vanguards, Cayde-6 and Commander Zavala. While Zavala looks very similar to how he is in the game, the early concept of Cayde cast him as a human instead of as an Exo.
The three iconic classes of Destiny—Titans, Warlocks, and Hunters—are well known to fans, but at a time in Destiny‘s development, Bungie was exploring what those classes would look and feel like. From a heavy space marine with a minigun to a space wizard with a pistol, and a roguish soldier with an energy blade, all those details had to be worked out when creating Destiny‘s classes.
Christopher Barrett pointed out that Bungie wanted to imbue Destiny with a “painterly, Impressionistic quality” and that they wanted to strike a balance of the contemporary or familiar, sci-fi, and fantasy in order to strike something that “feels timeless.” Some of the early explorations of how to strike that balance can be seen in this piece, called “Ho Hum Soldiers.”
DeeJ explained that this is just one direction some of the early concept work went:
“You can see how raw the thinking was here. You know, there’s guns and magazines in the forefront. You’ve got something that looks very M4 there. It’s just where Destiny arrived is a very iconic and specific blend of sci-fi and fantasy, but you can kind of see that this far back in the process, the artists were all over the map. There were some things that looked like it was very near future in almost like a Halo sense. And there were other things that were totally like off the reservation into Lord of the Rings territory.”
Barrett and DeeJ then showed off some concept art of the Awoken and Exo races. The Awoken, Barrett explained, are meant to be an alien “space vampire elf” race, which can be seen in the piece below. As for the art showing the Exo, this was the first piece of art that really solidified what the Exo would look like in the game.
Bungie also showed off the enemy races of Destiny, starting with the Fallen, the first enemy faction players come across in the game.
These next pieces of art showcase the Vex. They include an early concept for a type of giant Vex ogre and explorations into the different kinds of “Future” and “Ancient” classes of Vex that players come across in the Vault of Glass raid.
Many of the races had general descriptive names before they were fully defined, like the Vex being described as “time traveling robots” or the Hive as “undead space zombies.” As for the Cabal, one of the descriptors Barrett said was that they were “rhino soldiers,” hulking militaristic beasts. In a hilarious piece of concept art, Barrett says an artist had a little fun with that concept:
Finally, in talking about the Hive, the developers showed some art of Oryx, the Taken King. While many players have surely faced off against this hulking Hive beast in Story missions and the King’s Fall raid, the art showed off some great detail and inspiration behind Oryx’s design. As Barrett says, his shape was inspired by the lore of the Hive:
“There is the lore with the Hive that is wrapped up with moths and worms and stuff like that, sort of insect side of them, so we were exploring looking at moth wings […] and bringing that into the design of Oryx’s cloak.”
Next, Bungie showed off concepts of the world of Destiny, planets and locations that players are no doubt familiar with. These were concepts of the Tower, including one of the Speaker’s machine, which one concept artist actually took further and built in 3D in Destiny‘s engine because he wanted to get it in the game.
Another, is a piece that many will think came from concepts for the Rise of Iron expansion, but the developers say this is an rendering from much earlier than Rise of Iron. But clearly its ideas made its way into the game’s latest expansion.
Next are concepts are the planet Venus, including those showing Venus covered in forests, the library of the Ishtar Academy, a Mordor-like image that may have served as early inspiration for Mars’s Black Garden location, and a Fallen ship in a volcanic caldera.
Then there are early concepts for the Moon and Mars, which changed dramatically for the final game. Mars was once imagined as a very dark and industrial place, not the buried skyscrapers and dunes that are in the game.
Next, this early concept of the Moon had a giant Hive ship on the surface of the Moon, but instead Bungie decided to bury that ship underground and imagine the Hive building a kingdom under the surface. Instead of players landing on the Moon to see the Hive straight on, they would instead start exploring the tunnels underneath the lunar surface and discover the Hellmouth and the domain of the Hive.
Speaking of the Hive, Barrett gave a description of the Hive and their ships that will be hard for fans to unhear once they’ve heard it. It seems especially true of the Dreadnaught:
“The artists made fun of me when I told them I wanted it to feel more underwater. But literally I wanted the Hive to feel like a sunken ship that was slowly floating through space. So you had something that had been buried at sea for thousands of years that had barnacles growing on it, that had treasure, that had undead inside it. So, yeah, they were basically underwater tombs.”
Clearly, Bungie spent a lot of time dreaming up their newest franchise. And there is undoubtedly even more work currently going on as the developer works on the sequel to its rich sci-fi shooter.
Destiny: Rise of Iron is out now on PS4 and Xbox One.