Modern Console Gaming Destiny

destiny3Yesterday Destiny launched on PS4 and Xbox One.

“Based on extraordinary audience demand, retail and first party orders worldwide have exceeded $500 million for Destiny,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “This industry milestone marks another blockbuster success for our company and demonstrates our unique ability to create some of the most successful entertainment franchises in the world. The success of Destiny, along with the recent introduction of Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone, is further validation of our unique capabilities to create great entertainment franchises from the ground up.”

And the game is big. It deserves to be heralded with trumpets and great pomp. I spent all night last night wrapping my brain around the game and trying to understand how it was going to work. Destiny really is the first Modern Console Big Game. (Some say that TitanFall was the first, but I whole heartedly disagree. TitanFall was largely a failure, in my opinion. But TF definitely tried to create this new paradigm… although it missed.)

So While I will sprinkle in some comments about Destiny, I more want to talk about the modern console gaming destiny. Less upper case D, more lower case d. But first a few thoughts on the game so that you can understand where I am coming from. If you don’t know much about the game, the basic premise is that Earth was visited by an enormous orb looking planet hundreds of years ago that elongated life spans, and brought peace to the universe. The inhabitants of earth then began to colonize the planets and search for other life. But then The Darkness came and reversed all of that, casting a shadow of death across the galaxy. And thus begins the battle of Destiny.

This live action trailer probably gives you the best real feel for what the game is actually like.

But Isn’t Destiny Just Halo?
In a word, No. Halo was cute. It was First Person Shooters (FPS) for tweens. A comic book version of Call of Duty, if you will. But Destiny isn’t that at all. I remember during one mission last night… I was heading down into the guts of the Russian Cosmodrome and found myself saying to myself, Bungie made this… Bungie made this… (as if it were a talisman to word of the freaking scariness exuding from my television), um, wait, BUNGIE MADE THIS?! So no. There is no connection between Destiny and Halo.

There are similarities in the story and the mechanics though. You basically are Master Chief inside Destiny. Your guide throughout the Halo series, Cortana, was a ghost in your machine that continued to talk to you and lead you on your missions. Your guide in Destiny is a floating geometric shape named Ghost that leads you on your waypoints and tips you to incoming threats. The feel of the bogies are also very similar to the Halo Covenant. They dodge and move similarly and coordinate similarly. And oh by the way, there is this Darkness thing that looks more like ascending black ink that comes out of spores… which is very very similar to the Flood throughout the Halo series.

But that is probably where the similarities end. And I will chalk those up to Bungie using a winning formula and taking it to the next level. But what about game play? That is where the game really goes in a different direction.

I had heard this buzz that the gameplay would be “alive” and I was on the lookout for it. And I saw opportunities to play coop with random individuals, but chose not to. I would probably play co-op with my friends, but all my friends are still back on the 360, and haven’t made the jump to the One yet. But when I landed at my mission sites, I noticed other random people running and attacking the same bogies I was attacking. It just happened. Which was weird. In Halo, the stories were linear, and solo. Sure, we could play multi-player matches. And that is what everyone did AFTER you finished the story line. But that isn’t how Destiny works.

“Bungie has emphasized that the universe of Destiny will be “alive.” Events may happen in-game that are not necessarily controlled or planned by the developer, which will help to create a dynamic developing experience for Bungie and a dynamic playing experience for gamers. The game’s style has been described as a first-person shooter that will incorporate massively multiplayer online game (MMO) elements, but Bungie has avoided defining Destiny as a traditional MMO game.”

This quote from Wikipedia is spot on. Bungie has actively avoided calling Destiny an MMO. Which is brilliant, because I don’t play MMO’s. MMO’s are for dweebs that spend hours and hours leveling their character on the flute by writing macros and even worse geekiness. MMOs are just dumb. But to take FPS’s mechanics of running and gunning and blending it with the open endedness of an MMO is where it begins to get interesting. But I’ll get to that.

State of the Union on Entertainment Dollars
This infographic isn’t mine… but I updated it with all the latest information for Destiny. The original was designed by SwitchYard Media. Its already confirmed that Destiny brought in more that a half billion dollars in a single day – and that isn’t even counting all the pass through stores. Its assumed that Destiny will bring in closer to a billion dollars in one day. But it has to be noted that Destiny cost $500 million to create. By far the single most expensive piece of entertainment (movie, or video game) ever created. That being said, Destiny is going to not only be the most expensive piece of entertainment, but most likely, it will also be the single highest grossing game or movie ever made. The large game conferences love to point out to Hollywood each year that they have recently become (2011) higher revenue generating than the elder statesmen entertainers on the block.

So if Destiny is the future of not only gaming, but entertainment in general, what can we expect? If you are playing a single player game… the first thing you can expect is that other guys will be shooting at your bad guys. Wha? Yeah, I accidentally teamed up with a couple players last night, and we pushed through the bad guys together. Normally the levels are built to handle around three players a piece. Right? So each level, the complexity and difficult of the levels are ranked for a cooperative of three people to play them together. But if you are running solo, you will just naturally find that there will be others on your board at the same time. Which changes your game play immediately. I never said hello. I never talked to them. And yet we both started running through the same valley to hit the target together.


Another enormous change between most games and Destiny is that MMO piece. The game isn’t laid out linearly. Only certain planets are open to certain levels. Only certain campaigns are available until certain accomplishments are completed. But the more interesting piece here is that Bungie’s hope is that the non campaign efforts will organically grow into the real meat of the game. Informal bug hunts assembled by teams is where they hope the game will be going. I liken it to the difference between the two different X-files episodes. The first type was the bug hunts where we see Mulder and Scully trying to figure out what monster is haunting America today. The second though was the mythology episodes that follow a larger story arc. Both are important. But the team play will be the life blood of this platform long term. Obviously there is hope that Bungie will release new packs for more story arc. It will be how often people play with their buddies though that will determine just how successful this Modern MMO play will succeed.

I already am rueing the fact that I am on the cutting edge of console play. That all my friends are still back on old systems. But this is the first time I’ve felt that one. Up until yesterday, I was wishing I was still on an older platform. But now I will be pushing everyone I know, not only to get on One, but to pickup up Destiny at their earliest convenience. Which basically means that Bungie’s half a billion dollar play is already paying off. And seeing as though Bungie has already sold me on two new add ons that I’ve purchased, Destiny is going to be the platform of the future for a long time coming.