So, let’s just get this out of the way: post-Halo Bungie is a thing. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s happening. Calm yourselves. Seriously, breathe. You really shouldn’t be too worried about this. Bungie has successfully moved on from an award winning game franchise before. Remember Marathon? Yeah, the first time you felt the sweet rush of a perfectly timed rocket jump and the world stood still? That was Bungie. They went on to make the Halo series after 3 Marathon games so I’d say they handled the pressure pretty well. So don’t panic. Bungie’s got your back in a big way.
Destiny. Say it with me: Destiny. This is the massive multiplayer online (MMO) gaming experience Bungie has crafted to sate your unquenchable thirst for galactic war and epic awesomeness. After now having played both the Alpha and Beta versions, I’ve experienced enough of Destiny to be confident we will survive in this post Halopocalyptic future. See what I did there?
My amazing puns aside, when I first read about Destiny I thought “Oh look, Halo 2.0” and in some respects I feel that is still accurate. All I really saw in those initial press releases was more science fiction and kick ass, machinegun-wielding, alien-killing Earth heroes clad in bad-ass space armor. Not that more of all that would be a bad thing, but I always like it when great studios branch out a little bit and take risks when they create a new game. I figured that the 10-year publishing deal Bungie signed with Activision had played some role in the familiar direction of Destiny so I let my initial thoughts fall to the wayside. I still wanted something different from Bungie of course, but I wouldn’t fault them if they gave me some kind of Halo-inspired goodness. It does make solid business sense, after all.
Finally, the days came when I got to delve into the world of Destiny and see if my fears were all in my head or part of a sad, twisted reality where unit sales trump a unique gaming experience. Honestly, it’s a little from column A and a little from Column B.
When you’re creating a character or visiting the Tower, which serves as the games safe zone and trade hub, Destiny feels like more of a MMO than it does a first-person shooter – even though Bungie don’t like it being described as such. The camera switches to third person so you can see your bad-ass space threads, and you’ll see other players happily tromping around in their equally bad-ass space threads. You can gesture to your fellow players and make friends or engage in impromptu dance contests. You can buy weapon and armor upgrades from traders and even upgrade your spaceship, and pick up missions from notice boards and quest givers.
On my first visit to the Tower, I was keen to upgrade my weapon right away. Besides having a particular love of death bringing, I had created a Warlock character – essentially the games magic-user class – and as such sacrificed armor for mobility. I am a firm believer that the best defense is a good offense, and since I didn’t have a good array of amazing space magic spells or anything yet, I opted to even out my offensive standing with a bigger gun. Did I mention I am American?
After spending some time showing the other players at the Tower how to dance, I hopped into my spaceship and blasted off to adventure and certain alien killing glory.
Destiny feels like Halo when you’re out in the field fighting the good fight. I swear one time I really thought I was Master Chief fighting off the Flood. I was alone in a dark tunnel system deep underneath a Cosmodrome in Old Russia when the music started to swell and light became more and more scarce. My flashlight popped on automatically (a handy feature) and I was plunged into paranoid darkness. Luckily when you’re not on the Tower Destiny switches into first person and plays like a first person shooter (FPS). So, I brought up the iron sights on my (upgraded) assault rifle and carefully checked my corners because I’m a serious FPS bad ass. I started hearing strange, creepy, and kind of squishy noises coming from in front of me. I slowly walked up a small flight of stairs that opened into a large room. Then, suddenly, the Flood… err, the Hive attacked! I fired merciless bullets of death with pinpoint accuracy mowing down at least 6 of them but they kept coming. So I kept firing. When the smoke cleared, I stood alone in a room full of dead Hive, I gave myself an epic high five and strutted out of that room like the boss I am.
That sound familiar? I bet it did. It played out a heck of a lot like a Flood scenario in Halo. There was gradual darkness, a swelling string chorus, and then sudden rush of enemies. It’s like something out of the “general spooky bad guys” handbook. In fact, the Hive themselves look, act, and die like the flood. They’re easy to kill but rush at you in large numbers usually in small spaces making them somewhat dangerous. Other enemies in Destiny also reminded me of Halo baddies such as the Fallen resembling the Covenant Elites. Even the evil alien menace story line mirrors the Halo plot in ways albeit Destiny‘s story seems much weaker if not standard science fiction fare comparatively. Heck, your “ghost” which leads you around and allows you to interact with certain objects in the world is like your own Cortana!
All in all, when the Beat closed, I walked away from Destiny having had tons of adventures. I had perched on broken down spaceships in an aircraft graveyard tactically picking off distance aliens with sweet head shots. I had run, guns blazing, into a cave system mowing down enemy after enemy to appease my bloodlust. I had sat down on a cliff overlooking a beautiful future Earth landscape pondering the consequences of the cave rampage moments before. I had taken a speeder bike and jumped it from one beached boat to another all while shooting aliens taking cover inside the dilapidated barges like rats in a trap. All these adventures and more made me realize I don’t care how much like a previous Bungie title it feels, because Destiny was an absolute blast, and I’m looking forward to September 9 when Destiny is slated to fully launch. Really, I honestly don’t know how long I can keep this bloodlust under control.