A Destiny beta is scheduled to begin in “early 2014” and Bungie has confirmed it will be available first on PS3 and PS4.
Here’s all the new information:
- The core experience has that similar Halo-esque “tight loop” of battling groups of varied enemies
- Characters level up along a branching upgrade tree
- The player character’s appearance, gear and vehicles can be personalised
- Bungie doesn’t call it an “MMO” since it’s a loaded term, it says Destiny is difficult to describe, but people that like MMOs will enjoy it
- Humanity is guarding the last safe city on Earth against the enemy of the Traveler, who appeared generations ago and bestowed technology and mystical powers on humans to prep them for expansion into the solar system
- Locations in Destiny include planets, moons, asteroids and other features of the solar system, and are open for exploration
- The game is very much about the places players get to go and see
- Technical director Chris Bucher says it’s about finding out what happened on the Moon, interacting with alien factions, seeing what they’re up to
- Story has a conclusion
- Bungie is hoping to keep offering new locations, storylines and other content to keep players coming back
- There’s lots of co-op and competitive content outside of the main story
Characters and progression
- Destiny is attempting to give players choice and a “flexible suite of character creation tools and upgrades” to build and rebuild their characters
- Multiple characters can be created and assigned in slots to encourage players to adopt numerous roles
- Guardians races are mostly a cosmetic choice and early character creation offers basic choices such as gender, face customisation, hair styles and tattoos
- Humans are survivors of the Collapse trying to rebuild civilization
- The Awoken also survived the Collapse but have been deeply affected and are described as having an “aloof” personality.
- The exo are self-aware machines built during the golden-age of humanity, but have no memory after their reboot; they draw on familiar sci-fi archetypes.
- Class choice is important as each has “a strongly defined role”. In MMO speak all characters are damage-per-second characters, but can solve different situations differently. Bungie calls it “more of an emotional archetype”
- While class choice dictates the style of abilities that characters can unlock, Focus determine the ability itself
- A ‘Focus’ is described as a sub-class, and the main way characters level and improve
- Focus goes from level one to 20 with abilities, passive bonuses, grenades and more unlocking along the way
- Focus let’s players “take the Traveler’s light and turn it into effects in the world… [it] defines how you’re going to be playing the game right now, much more so than your class”
- Each upgrade tree is “distinct” with each tier offering new and different things ranging from proximity and homing grenades to upgrades that alter movement with teleports and double-jumps. Another tier may have changes for melee or upgrades for a super ability
- Focus can be swapped out at will, much like picking a new weapon. Players can pick a different Focus profile to change the way the character plays without having to throw the character away and start from scratch, as in most MMOs.
- Warlocks draw on the mysterious power of the Traveler for spells to supplement their gun-shooting
- Classes also have one piece of unique gear, for Warlocks this is robes.
- Warlocks star with a focus called “Circle of Night”, it offers them good damage potential but less protection. The Focus’ super ability is called the Nova Bomb, and can wipe out large groups of enemies from a distance. But another focus, ‘Hear of Fusion’, can also be built-up if the player wants to play a support role
- Titans are heavily armoured and space marine-like. They’re suited to charging in and taking damage and their Focus is designed to make them deadly at close-quarters. The ‘Fist of Havoc’ super ability can be used to create shockwaves and, later on, can be imbued with electrical charges
- Hunters are a middle ground, they are bounty hunters that use pistols and are suited to stalking enemies. They start with the gunslinger Focus that lets them do big damage to single targets, but their super is a special weapon capable of one-hit-kills
- Players will need to think about how Focus and their gear work together, since some items carry their own bonuses and abilities
- An accompanying floating AI companion can be used as a flashlight
- A personal vehicle likened to a speeder from Star Wars can be customised and used to move between locations in the open-world. It cannot, however, be used in combat.
- Players also have a unique personal spaceship that is used to warp between planets. It can be seen floating in orbit along with those belonging to other players before co-op. There’s an element of showing off with a spaceship’s design
- The Fallen: Vicious space pirates made up of once noble species. They’ve fallen from grace and wear distinct sigils to represent their allegiances. They’re arachnid-like in build, with four arms. They have mechanical vehicles inspired by Japanese mechs. Dregs are the lowest of the fallen, so they’ve had two of their arms chopped off. Vandals wield swords and guns and charge into battle. Captains are strategists coordinating battles; they have energy shields and are well-armoured. Shanks are mechanical drones that are essentially hovering turrets.
- The Cabal: A corrupt “industrial, militaristic empire” that is imposing in everything from physical stature to their “unwavering resolve”. Legionnaires dive into battle, while Centurions are mobile thanks to jump jets that launch them across battlefields. Gladiators are very big and strong, often shooting Gatling guns. Psions, meanwhile, use their mind powers to pilot ships
- Vex: A familiar science fiction machine race that arrives in the player’s time and space via warp gates. They are mostly machine, but show signs of organic elements. They shrug off headshots, but are staggered by damage to their abdomen, where their power cores are housed. Vex Goblins swarm enemies, while Minotaurs are larger and potentially more damaging. Hydras are robotic centipedes that float around the air and attack, while Harpies move in and out of battles
- The Hive are an ancient race kept alive on “tomb-like sarcophagus ships”. Thralls attack in a mob-like formation to pester the enemy while Troopers do the big damage. They are joined by Knights with giant cleavers, Wizards flying overhead and blasting Darkness-fuelled spells. Finally, the Orge is massive and enjoys stepping on things
- Old Russia: Here players can explore the ruins of the Cosmodrome, a real location in Kazakhstan that serves as a launch site for the Russian space program. The Cosmodrome was humanity’s bridge to outer space; it’s now home to colony ships forgotten in the wake of its collapse
- Venus: Once a scientific research settlement for humanity, it has now become engulfed in a jungle and a sulphuric storm rages. The buildings are being eroded away by the ocean but at its centre is the Vex citadel, a tower with an unknown purpose.
- Mars: Formerly a thriving metropolis, it is now buried under a sand, with only the peaks of skyscrapers visible. It’s home to the Cabal, who are clashing with the Vex.
- The Tower: Home for the guardians, described as “Earth’s Camelot”. This is where players will be able to purchase items from vendors, turn in quest items, and interact with other players. It also has “class-focused areas” for Titans, Warlocks, and Hunters
- Earth’s Moon: Infested by the Hive, the moon’s surface has splintered and spread around space. It once housed a human colony, but much of it has been buried in lunar soil.
Co-op and competitive
- There is a defined story in Destiny, but there are plenty of side-quests that can be tackled without other players
- Bungie has implemented a system that does matchmaking in the background to make it easy to get in and out of solo/co-op play. It says “the whole game is matchmade, in one sense… we have that technology running all the time invisibly”
- All players are together in one world, instead of spread out across different servers like MMOs
- It links together small groups based on the locations they’re in and the times
- Some areas are designed so that three players can go there and play through without being interrupted by other groups, while others are big public areas where the difficulty is scaled to match the amount of players
- In competitive game modes downed players can be revived before they respawn
- Guardians start without access to heavy ammo and pick-ups are dropped in occasionally to encourage collisions
- Maps are quite vertical and players have lots of movement options to help them get around
- Environments shift and change
- Halo players will feel at home with Destiny’s shooting
- Left trigger is always ironsight
- Right bumper is melee, but the type of melee attacks differ depending on the player’s chosen Focus
- Left stick click starts a sprint
- Y/Triangle swaps weapons between primary and secondary, but holding the button brings out a heavy weapon
- Left bumper throws grenade
- A/X jumps and can be double tapped to activate the movement tied to a Focus ability
- Both bumpers held down will wind-up a super which, depending on your character, can be a high-damaging attack, a support action such as reviving/buffing/healing, or something else entirely