Unceremoniously leaked last November as an ambitious current- and next-generation RPG adventure set within a brand new universe from the creators of Halo, Bungie's Destiny has officially -- and more thoroughly -- been unveiled today after weeks of teasing and a recent viral-website countdown to February 17th.
From the in-depth developer diary above to official concept art and details below, here's what we learned.
Privy to the plot premise when it leaked last November, many fans already have a rough notion of Desinty's space-faring story. The developer diary released on Bungie's homepage today elaborates even further. Entitled "Pathways Out of Darkness," it tells of how Earth, once living in a Golden Age of interstellar space travel, was eventually ravaged by an outerworldy threat. Existing records know little about the event -- only that Earth found last-minute salvation from a mysterious, colossal sphere known as "The Traveler," which now hovers, silent and inert, closely above its surface.
Destiny begins with humanity's last vestiges struggling to survive and reclaim their place in the galaxy, and the trailer reveals much about how this design shapes the enormous game universe. Strange and deadly creatures inhabit humanity's old worlds, plotting and preparing to enact our extinction. Ostensibly these worlds, when traveled to, will serve as our touchstone for exploring Destiny's diverse and sprawling environments, battling its unique alien adversaries and progressively restoring our civilization's power.
Players will take on the role of a "Guardian" of Earth's Last City, imbued by the overhanging Traveler with an assortment of special powers. According to details provided to Polygon, these powers will vary among at least 3 customizable classes: the Titan, a heavily outfitted soldier well-attuned for front-line combat; the Hunter, a stealth-oriented sniper; and the Warlock, a lightly-armed warrior who instead wields powerful magic. The site also reports that Destiny will be an "MMO-like" first-person shooter -- one that Bungie describes as a "shared-world shooter," and one that Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg says blends inspirations from Halo (regarding its FPS component), EVE Online (regarding its sandbox atmosphere) and any contemporary MMO (regarding its persistent, continuously evolving universe).
The final minute of the Destiny documentary even provides a first taste of in-game footage. Sweeping, overhead shots of a majestic city, a derelict space installation and a frigid ice planet tease the scope of the prodigious project while a quick flash of first-person gameplay shows soldiers racing towards an apparent Stargate-esque portal. While instantly impressive, it is all affixed with a work-in-progress label. And as a game confirmed to be slated for next generation consoles as well as the Xbox 360, and PS3, we expect far more beauty to behold in the latter stages. That said, the lack of a PC version is sorely missed.
Until then, though, the concept art released today by Bungie -- and interspersed throughout the video -- expands on last year's leaked materials in establishing the game's visual direction. Destiny might be something "completely new" compared to Halo, according to composer Martin O'Donnell, but the studio's ability to conceive captivating and compelling new worlds doesn't seem to have changed one bit:
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While story and general concepts comprised the crux of Destiny's unveiling today, several of the previews that appeared online have also revealed some intriguing, but as of now unexplained features. Competitive multiplayer will be component of gameplay (this is a studio that developed Halo for a decade, lest we forget), according to Polygon, although Bungie's Pete Parsons claims it won't separate players from the main world. iOS support will allow players to interact with Destiny through Apple's various devices -- and not just for retrieving statistical updates, says Parsons, but for "meaningful activities that allow you to have a great window into the world."
And as ambitious as the initial details outlined for Destiny may be, Bungie faces the immediate, imposing challenge of growing the game over an extremely extensive lifespan. Remember: This is only the first of many Destinys; whether it launches in late 2013 or in 2014, Bungie is under contract with publisher Activision to release four separate installments of the game at a biennial rate. How this will shape the Destiny universe is something its developers aren't even certain of. How it will shape the Bungie business model remains to be announced. Currently, Bungie claims to have no plan in place for a subscription model, the preferred monetary method of some MMOs, but wouldn't speak to anything regarding microtransactions or DLC.
Ranters, we've endured months waiting get a fuller look at Destiny. It's here. What do you think of the epic new universe Bungie is beginning to build?
Destiny will release on the Xbox 360, PS3, and unspecified next-generation platforms. It was originally believed to be targeting a late-2013 launch, but now appears slated for some period in 2014.
Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.