Ask a Dork: Destiny
“Do you see Destiny as the future of FPS on consoles? If not, what is the next evolution you want to see in the genre?”
It’s hard to predict the future of any genre of video gaming. In the same way that history is defined by the victors, the trajectory of gaming trends is usually defined by video game success stories. Considering that Destiny, a game that hasn’t actually had a chance to rack in any real sales, is already being labeled one of the biggest new games of the decade I would say that it has a good chance of twisting the paradigm of first-person shooting video games. After all, the limited beta alone was played by 4.6 million gamers and it is apparently one of the most pre-ordered games in GameStop history. That’s a pretty big deal. Also, it’s made by a game company that almost single-handedly changed the face of FPS multiplayer. That being said, it is hard to say how things will go post-launch.
It’s one thing that we haven’t seen any reviews yet. It’s another that we don’t know how the game will be supported in the long term. And that’s a big part of whether the Destiny model will be adopted by other companies.
Let’s talk about that model for a second. What exactly does Destiny do differently? Well, Destiny is an FPS that looks aesthetically similar to Halo, but the way it is played is much more varied. It’s an epic action adventure that claims to feature a cinematic story that allows the player to unravel the mysteries of the universe and reclaim what was lost at the fall of humanity’s Golden Age. You play as a Guardian of the last city on Earth, able to wield incredible power. You are pushed to explore the ancient ruins of our solar system, defeat Earth’s enemies, and become a legend. It is a FPS, but the adventure elements are more akin to that of Borderlands or Mass Effect. Similarly, you can personalize and upgrade every aspect of how you look and fight with a nearly limitless combination of armor, weapons, and visual customizations. Your character can be used in the main story campaign, Tower mode (a social space), the Crucible (competitive multiplayer), Strike (an infiltration mode), and Explore (free-form exploration). The world is always online, and you can venture out into it alone or join with others. To that point, many people have claimed that Destiny is really an MMO FPS. Which has some basis, but I have no real opinion on the matter.
To be clear, I like this. I like the fact that RPG elements are being woven into a highly polished first-person shooter. I like that I’m allowed to enjoy a meaty story mode alone (suck it Titanfall). I like that competitive multiplayer has a ton of unique modes that utilize your customized character – even if the balancing of special moves is still off. I like that Bungie has introduced enemies and removed others during the beta to adjust the experience before release. I like that the world itself feels well designed and alive. The only things I’m not sure about are (1) story quality and (2) if the different modes will actually blend well.
Destiny is throwing a lot at the wall and I’m honestly not sure it is all going to stick. Now, it could just be me, but I get the feeling that this game is made of a bunch of well-polished parts that may not add up to a truly engrossing whole. The game keeps advertising itself as “seamless” – as though all of these modes and elements add up to a perfect hybrid. I’m just not sold on that yet. And part of it has to do with post-launch stuff.
Will the game be great at launch? It’s hard to tell. I haven’t heard much regarding the quality of the main campaign, which is actually important to non-competitive gamers like me. I also haven’t had the opportunity to do a lot of free-form exploration in the game. It could all be great day-one, but I think we’re past the point where FPS games can just have a campaign and three multiplayer modes. DLC needs to be in the mix. New locations, customizable gear, and missions need to be continually added to the game to keep it alive and enjoyable. I’m not sure how long Bungie is going to be supporting this game post-launch, but I can’t see Destiny being a poster child for next gen FPS games unless it is supported for a good while.
If day-one press is good (impressions, reviews, etc.) and sales are there (5 million +), there is a good chance that Bungie will redefine what it means to be an FPS with Destiny. However, many online games have done something different and had large day-one crowds only to fall apart months later. The Old Republic, The Elder Scrolls Online, and All Points Bulletin all come to mind. I think a number of developers will hold off creating a similar type of FPS until Bungie can demonstrate that people are still playing Destiny in droves years later.
With that all in mind, I applaud Bungie for putting so much into this game. I still have no clue as to the quality of the finished product, but I can’t say that I know of a different way that the FPS genre could have evolved. They made playing easier to join and less linear – two things that I do think are the future of FPS. While I acknowledge that the game is going to suffer from hype-fatigue (people will agonize about how overrated it is/was for months), I still think this game as a lot of promise. And I’m going to play it.