|Platform||XB1, PS4, 360, PS3|
Sometime in humanity’s future, between reaching the stars and the arrival of a giant, mercury-skinned sphere hanging precipitously in Earth’s atmosphere like a new moon leaning in for a kiss, some spacefaring dark forces left our species shattered and our world in ruin. Said sphere, however, was also the source of our salvation, and now, several hundred years after humankind’s collapse, Earth’s resurgence and safety is shepherded by space magic–imbued space knights and space wizards called Guardians—that’s you, players—who hold back the alien tide that’s populated the solar system since the sphere, the Traveler, parked itself perpendicular to our planet.
Having sunk several hours into Destiny’s admittedly limited alpha build (made up of the areas we’ve already seen in most of the gameplay footage released thus far, namely Russia’s Cosmodrome and its surrounding areas), I remain uncertain as to how well it’s going to land along the gamer spectrum. Longtime Bungie fans (read: Halo nuts) will be pleased to hear that Destiny is more than a little familiar. The Guardians move with a tad more hustle the Chief, but there are echoes to the bounce and rhythm of their footfalls that evokes a certain shade of Halo. But where Halo sent players more or less hurtling down killing corridors, Destiny—despite protests from its creators—is much more in line with an MMO. But not exclusively so.
There are three primary ways to experience Destiny. Those seeking an experience more in touch with Halo’s structure can find something akin to that in the narratively driven main missions that string together an overarching story. Supplementing these is a bevy of task-based assignments that undeniably feel like the sort of repetitive, loot-grinding loops you’d expect from quest-heavy MMOs. Then there’s multiplayer. My hands-on time with was limited to one mode, battle over control points, but its flow and overall “feel” (for lack of more concrete term) was mired in the desirable familiarity that Halo veterans will find welcoming. All were enjoyable, each for their own reason. I doubt, though, that anyone expected Bungie to produce anything short of a competent product.
Obviously, it’s too early to tell, and being restricted to the rust-covered remnants of Russia perhaps stifles some of the aesthetic heavy lifting that Destiny’s otherworldly destinations will bring to the table, but from what I was able to play—one Strike mission, one story mission, and a dozen or so fetch quests in various different forms—Bungie’s ambitious new project strikes me as a little on the safe side as far as its design goes, but suitably strong enough in its mechanics to sustain prolonged interest and investment from a wide swathe of player types. And it’s that, perhaps, that’s most interesting about Destiny. Not so much the revolution in how we play that every developer touts, but rather how one game represents something that so many different kinds of gamers can rally behind. Then again, Earth is a little old hat these days. Perhaps once we can take to the stars in Destiny and hunt for loot under the canopy of Venus’ sea of sulfuric acid clouds, Destiny will reveal itself as a vehicle for exploration-driven revelry.