Destiny (video game)

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Destiny
Destiny box art.png
Video game box art
Developer(s) Bungie
Publisher(s) WW Activision
JP Sony Computer Entertainment
Artist(s) Christopher Barrett[1]
Writer(s) Joseph Staten
Composer(s)
Platform(s) PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Release date(s) WW September 9, 2014[3]
JP September 11, 2014[4]
Genre(s) Action role-playing, first-person shooter
Mode(s) Online multiplayer
Distribution Optical disc, download

Destiny is a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie and published by Activision. Released on September 9, 2014, Destiny marked Bungie's first new franchise since the Halo series. Set in a "mythic science fiction" setting, the game features a massively-multiplayer "shared-world" environment with elements of role-playing games.

Upon its release, Destiny received mixed to positive reviews with criticism centered mostly around the game's storyline and post-campaign content. The game was praised for maintaining lineage from the Halo franchise, particularly in regards to its competitive experiences.

Gameplay[edit]

Destiny '​s style has been described as a first-person shooter that incorporates role-playing and massively multiplayer online game (MMO) elements, but Bungie has avoided defining Destiny as a traditional MMO game.[5] Instead, the game has been referred to as a "shared-world shooter,"[6] as it lacks many of the characteristics of a traditional MMO game. For instance, rather than players being able to see and interact with all other players in the game or on a particular server—as is the case in many conventional MMO games—Destiny includes on-the-fly matchmaking that allows players to see and interact only with other players with whom they are "matched" by the game.[5] 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.

Character building[edit]

Destiny players are given the opportunity to create a character, known as a Guardian, choosing both a race and a class. The Guardians are divided into three distinct races: Humans, Awoken, and the Exo, though as of now the playable races are purely cosmetic and have no effect on the game mechanics of Destiny. Unlike choosing a race, choosing a class has a distinctive effect on how Destiny is played and on character development. Each class has two sub-classes (the second subclass is unlocked at a further level), each containing a skill tree upgrading system to unlock and customize grenades, powerful melees and other abilities. The most effective ability of a sub-class is called a 'super', which is a specialized skill move that a Guardian can use in battle once charged.[7][better source needed]

Classes[edit]

Destiny features three major classes in addition to the three playable races. Each class comes with its own specific upgrades, perks, and special abilities that allow the player to finely tune their individual characters to provide a different play style. Each play style has their own advantages. Players can create all three classes on one account, but must level them up individually.

Titan
Drawing inspiration from Bungie's own Master Chief and the Stormtroopers of Star Wars, the Titan has a bulky, armored appearance. Its two sub-classes, Striker and Defender, offer unique play styles. The Striker can disorient and disrupt the enemy with its electricity-based grenades before barreling into the fray to finish off enemies with its powerful Storm Fist melee or Shoulder Charge. It can also deal tremendous damage with its Super, the Fist of Havoc, a ground slam attack. The Defender is the defensive sub-class, being able to reinforce its over-shield and create an impregnable wall of "Void Light" called the Ward of Dawn to support its teammates with cover and various stat boosts.
Warlock
The Warlock class has a focus on powerful grenade abilities which simulate "magic", and a variety of methods to use them more often. The Voidwalker sub-class bombards the enemy with nebulous Vortex Grenades, among others, and the super power Nova Bomb. It can also teleport (called "blinking" in-game) as a replacement for its usual mobility power. The Sunsinger class uses fire-based powers to incinerate enemies; its super, Radiance, decreases incoming damage and allows grenade and melee abilities to be used much more often during its duration. Upgrades vary from allowing Radiance to give even more of an armor bonus to allowing the player to activate it while dead to come back to life.
Hunter
The Hunter class is based on the "space cowboy" archetype, in particular Han Solo. The Hunter's two sub-classes are Gunslinger and Bladedancer. The Gunslinger sub-class is designed to reward the player's accuracy. Its unique melee ability is a throwing knife, and various skill tree upgrades will give bonuses to reload speed or stability for scoring precision kills. Its super power is the Golden Gun, a fiery revolver which will slay most enemies with a single shot, but only has a limited time with which to use its three shots. The Bladedancer sub-class has many powers based on stealth and invisibility, and its melee attack can deal more damage from behind. The super Arc Blade will make the Bladedancer draw an electric knife to attack. Like the Voidwalker, the Bladedancer can "blink".

Weapons[edit]

Weapons play a key role in Destiny. There are three different weapon types, Primary, Special, and Heavy. A player can only have one weapon equipped at a time for each of these types. However, a player can have nine weapons on stand-by in their inventory for each type. Weapons are not class-specific and can be used by any class. There are five varieties of firearms; common, uncommon, rare, legendary, and exotic. Players may only have one exotic weapon equipped at anytime, although they can carry others in their inventory.

Plot and setting[edit]

Bungie described the setting of Destiny as a "mythic science-fiction" world.[8] The setting follows a prosperous period of exploration, peace, and technological advancement known as the Golden Age.[9] In a universe where humans have spread out and colonized planets in the Solar System, an event known as "the Collapse" saw the mysterious dissolution of these colonies, the end of the Golden Age, and mankind teetering on the brink of extinction. The only known survivors of the Collapse are those living on Earth, who were saved by "the Traveler," a white, spherical celestial body whose appearance centuries before had enabled humans to reach the stars.[10] The Traveler now hovers above the last safe city on Earth, and its presence allows the Guardians—the defenders of the City—the ability to wield an unknown power, only referred to as "The Light."

Upon mankind's first attempt to repopulate and reconstruct after the Collapse, it is discovered that hostile alien races have occupied mankind's former colonies and civilizations, and are now encroaching upon the City. Throughout the game, players have to combat aggressive aliens who have occupied the Solar System. There are four separate races in the game, each occupying different planets. The Fallen are an insectoid race of nomadic pirates who scavenge ruined settlements on Earth, the Moon, and Venus for resources. The Hive are a macabre race of ancient aliens who have created massive underground settlements beneath Earth and the Moon's surface. The Vex are semi-organic androids who are attempting to seize control of Venus and Mars by turning them into their machines, which they have already done to Mercury. Finally, the Cabal are a military-industrial empire of massive amphibians who have established massive fortifications on Mars. Every race utilizes different strategies and weapons in combat. The Fallen possess cloaking and short-range teleportation technologies to increase their mobility. The Hive use superior numbers to overwhelm their opponents in close quarters while more elite units attack from a distance. The Vex utilize hard-light shields and teleport units of infantry into the battlefield en-masse. The Cabal rely on heavy armor, ballistic shields, and jump packs to combat players. All of these races are hostile towards each other, as they can often be observed attacking one another in-game for territorial dominance. The player takes on the role of a Guardian, and is tasked with reviving the Traveler while investigating and destroying the alien threats before humanity is completely wiped out. Destiny centers on the journey of the Guardians, the last defenders of humanity, set to protect Earth's last city.

Development[edit]

Technology[edit]

Destiny incorporates a new game engine that allows global illumination and real-time dynamic lighting to occur together in cohesion.[11] In addition, Bungie's goal is that Destiny will natively render graphics at 1080p on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.[12] An innovation in Bungie's "hopper" technology, which has been the backbone for Halo '​s matchmaking system, will allow better player matchmaking in order to create a more natural experience in either cooperative or competitive multiplayer modes.[13]

Design[edit]

In designing the playable classes, Bungie was inspired by different sources of science fiction. Hunters are a reconnaissance class meant to be reminiscent of the classic bounty hunter. Bungie cites as influences Star Wars '​ Han Solo and classic characters from old Western films such as Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name. Warlocks combine weapons with special powers from "the Traveler," and are meant to be a form of "space wizard." The Warlock class is influenced by the Star Wars series's Jedi Knights, The Lord of the Rings series's Gandalf, and The Matrix series's Morpheus. Titans, which favor heavy weapons and melee attacks and are intended to be reminiscent of the classic "future soldier," were inspired by Bungie's own Master Chief from Halo, Stormtroopers from Star Wars, and other "space marines" from science fiction.[14] Players are accompanied by Ghost, a robot AI voiced by Peter Dinklage.[15]

Reveal[edit]

The first known reference to Destiny was shown in Bungie's 2009 game Halo 3: ODST, in which a sign on a wall read "Destiny Awaits" and showed a picture of Earth with a mysterious orb floating nearby.[16] Though several vague statements by Bungie employees in interviews and presentations from 2010 through 2011 were interpreted to be Destiny references, the next overt references to Destiny were not shown until Bungie's August 2011 20th anniversary documentary, O Brave New World, in which appeared several early environment renders, an environment editor named "Grognok," and a brief shot of actors performing a scene with motion capture equipment.[17] At that time, the game was still known by its original code name Project Tiger, a term used by Bungie co-founder Jason Jones when discussing the game in August 2011.[18] The game later became known by its working title Destiny.

On May 21, 2012, a publishing contract between Bungie and Activision was published by the Los Angeles Times. The ten-year contract originally had been entered into evidence under seal in Activision's lawsuit against former Infinity Ward employees Jason West and Vincent Zampella, but was later unsealed by the judge in that case.[19][20][21] The contract outlined an agreement between Bungie and Activision to develop and publish, respectively, four Destiny games, with the first to be released in the second or third quarter of 2014.

Initially, claims made by Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick suggested that the total investment in Destiny would be around $500 million; It was subsequently stated by Bungie's COO Pete Parsons in an interview that the game's development cost is not even close to $500 million, saying, "For marketing you'd have to ask Activision people, but for development costs, not anything close to $500 million.".[22] Activision subsequently confirmed the $500 million figure, stating that up front infrastructure costs and investment in the game's engine were included, and could be amortized over the life of the IP.[23]

The first public details of Destiny were leaked in November 2012, revealing concept art and plot details.[24] Bungie supplemented the leak with the release of further details, whilst expressing regret that details of an upcoming video game had once again been revealed before their planned release.[25] In describing Destiny, Bungie's lead writer Joseph Staten stated that the studio was approaching the game with the intention of "building a universe" that would "take on a life of its own."[26] Further information became available in February 2013, when Bungie released a video documentary revealing information on Destiny and some of the core ideas behind the game, including the company's "seven pillars" philosophy, identifying the seven underlying elements of the early development process that they adopted to make the game appeal to as wide an audience as possible,[9][27] with particular emphasis on making the game accessible to casual, novice gamers and dedicated fans of the genre alike.[8] Also revealed were plans to incorporate social media into Destiny, allowing players to remain connected to one another even when offline. With the in-game universe being in a state of perpetual change, Bungie explored the potential of using a mobile app to update players about new quests and inform them as to what their friends are doing in-game.[8]

During a PlayStation 4 preview event on February 20, 2013, it was announced that Destiny would be released for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, and receive exclusive content.[28][29] It was later announced that Destiny would be released for Xbox 360 and Xbox One[30] On October 1, 2013, Bungie announced that a closed beta of Destiny would be made available to those who pre-order the game at selected retailers. Additional beta codes were also given out via social networking services.[31]

On April 11, 2014, Bungie terminated the employment of its long-time composer and audio director, Martin O'Donnell. Initially fans were concerned that the absence of Martin O'Donnell would affect the in-game music of Destiny; however, Pete Parsons of Bungie later confirmed that Destiny '​s music was already complete and that O'Donnell's absence would have no effect on the development nearing its completion.[32] At E3 2014 on June 9, Bungie announced an alpha version of the game for PS4, which was open from June 12 to 16.[33] On June 17, 2014, Sony Computer Entertainment announced that Destiny would be a PlayStation exclusive in Japan.[34]

A public beta version of the game was released on PlayStation consoles on July 17 and Xbox consoles on July 22. Before the beta closed on July 27, it attracted around 4.6 million players.[35][36] During Sony Computer Entertainment's Gamescom 2014 press conference on August 12, 2014, Bungie announced that the first expansion pack for Destiny, titled The Dark Below, would be released in December 2014.[37] On August 23, 2014, Bungie and Activision confirmed that Destiny had gone gold.[38]

On September 2, 2014, Activision revealed that an exclusive item would be available for those who bought Destiny and pre-ordered Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.[39] On September 5, 2014, Sony Computer Entertainment announced and released a trailer about an exclusive mission for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 versions. The Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions will receive the mission sometime in late 2015.[40] That same day, publisher Activision announced that those who buy the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions digitally were able to download their respective next-gen version at no additional charge.[41] The offer was available until January 15, 2015.[42]

Post-release content[edit]

Prior to the official release of Destiny in September 2014, Bungie declared that a major component of the game would be a continuous release of new content, part of the game's 10-year-plan. Bungie Director of Production Jonty Barnes said: "We're going to continuously update the game from now until the end of time. That's always going to be part of the philosophy of Destiny. We always wanted to build a new universe but keep building upon it, rather than to do a complete and utter restart periodically."[43] By the time of Destiny '​s launch, two planned packs of downloadable content (DLC) had been officially announced: The Dark Below and The House of Wolves.[44]

The Dark Below[edit]

Destiny '​s first DLC pack The Dark Below was released on December 9, 2014. The pack features an inclusive storyline around the race the Hive that was told over the course of three new story missions, one new strike and one new raid called Crota's End . It introduces the non-player character (NPC) merchant Eris Morn who gave quests, bounties and items to players.[45][46] PlayStation 3 and 4 versions of the game received additional timed-exclusive content, including a strike and weapons.[47] A hard mode for Crota's End unlocked on January 21, 2015, which offered new challenges and rewards.[48]

The House of Wolves[edit]

The House of Wolves is the second planned DLC pack for Destiny with a tentative release date of second quarter, or Q2, of 2015.[49]

Other content[edit]

The player versus player (PvP) area of the game called The Crucible has received multiple week- or weekend-long events/game types, including Salvage and Combined Arms.[50][51] The most prominent Crucible event is the Iron Banner, in which players compete for exclusive gear and items and the gameplay limitations on player attack and defense abilities present in other Crucible gametypes are greatly reduced allowing for players with more powerful gear to do more damage.[52] The Iron Banner is typically a week-long event and returns periodically.[53][54] Destiny also released a two-week-long event called the Queen's Wrath in which players completed new bounties for exclusive gear, weapons and items.[51]

Soundtrack[edit]

Destiny Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Michael Salvatori, C Paul Johnson, Martin O'Donnell, Paul McCartney, Skye Lewin, and Stan LePard
Released September 26, 2014 (2014-09-26)
Genre Classical
Orchestral
Ambient
Video game soundtrack
Length 2:18:48
Label Bungie Music Publishing

Destiny Original Soundtrack is the official soundtrack for the video game, composed by Michael Salvatori, C Paul Johnson, Martin O'Donnell, Skye Lewin, and Stan LePard, with contributions and input from British musician Paul McCartney. Released digitally via iTunes on September 26, 2014, the soundtrack contains 44 instrumental songs from the game.[55][56] The soundtrack marked Martin O'Donnell's final work for Bungie, after years of composing for the Halo franchise, as well as several games before that. In addition, McCartney wrote and recorded an original song inspired by the game.[57][58][59]

Early in Destiny '​s development, O'Donnell was contacted by Pete Parsons (current Chief Operating Officer of Bungie), and was asked to begin writing music for the game. At the time, Destiny was still in its infancy, as it lacked any gameplay material for O'Donnell to score music to, so instead, O'Donnell began creating music based solely on the games ideas, stories, and artwork.[60] By February 17, 2013, over 50 minutes of the soundtrack had already been recorded with a 106-piece orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London.[61] O'Donnell gave the early pieces of music to Bungie in hopes that they would foster inspiration within the development team.[62]

Unlike the Halo series, where pieces of music were only 2–3 minutes long, Martin has stated that the soundtrack for Destiny has no time restrictions, with the pieces clocking in "as long as they need to be."[61] O'Donnell collaborated with Paul McCartney on the soundtrack for the better part of two years, as they traded ideas, melody samples, and themes back and forth.[63] On April 11, 2014, Martin O'Donnell was dismissed without cause by the board of directors at Bungie.[64] This caused concern as to whether this would affect the game; however, Pete Parsons stated that O'Donnell's work on the game had been completed before his dismissal and would appear in the final product.[65]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (XONE) 78.55%[66]
(PS4) 76.83%[67]
Metacritic (PS4) 76/100[68]
(XONE) 75/100[69]
Review scores
Publication Score
Computer and Video Games 8/10[70]
Eurogamer 8/10[71]
Game Informer 8.75/10[72]
GameSpot 6/10[74]
GamesRadar 4.5/5 stars[73]
GameTrailers 8/10[75]
Giant Bomb 3/5 stars[76]
IGN 7.8/10[77]
Joystiq 4/5 stars[78]
Official Xbox Magazine 8/10[79]
Polygon 6/10[80]
The Gaming Report 7.5/10[81]
Hardcore Gamer 4/5[82]

Destiny received generally mixed to positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox One version 78.55% based on 10 reviews and 75/100 based on 11 reviews[66][69] and the PlayStation 4 version 76.83% based on 64 reviews and 76/100 based on 95 reviews.[67][68] Bungie halted pre-release reviews stating that they felt the game should be graded only when its social aspects were operative and populated with "thousands of gamers" in order to give a proper assessment.[83]

GameSpot described the game as "a multiplayer shooter that cobbles together elements of massively multiplayer games but overlooks the lessons developers of such games learned many years ago"; however, the game's competitive multiplayer modes were praised for carrying on Bungie's expertise from the Halo franchise with well-designed maps.[74] GameTrailers gave a generally positive review, but also criticized the weak story and uninspired game locations. However, they did praise the graphics as well as the rush the combat can provide the player.[75] A general lack of cohesive communication between players was also criticized, with Game Informer calling it "downplayed and difficult".[84]

Destiny was criticized for its lack of story content, with many pointing to the disjointed narrative and shallow plot implementation.[citation needed] Bungie has since acknowledged that the story was lacking in some respects, and stated that the game's first DLC expansion, The Dark Below, would focus on providing more background to the universe of Destiny.[85] The game's end-game content was the subject of criticism, due to its particular focus on grinding for rare items through various means (including multiplayer games and other missions).[86] The discovery of "loot caves"—locations with quickly re-spawning enemies that could previously be used to farm for rare items, along with initial issues surrounding the "Vault of Glass" raid boss, became associated with these lingering issues.[87][88][89][90] Despite the criticism, the game received the title of Game of the Year from GamesRadar[91] and the BAFTA Award for Best Game at the British Academy Video Games Awards.[92]

Sales[edit]

On September 10, 2014, Activision claimed that Destiny was the most successful new gaming franchise launch, as the game shipped more than US$500 million to retail stores and first-parties worldwide.[93] As of September 17, 2014, there have been over 11 million gameplay sessions within North America.[94] It was also the biggest software launch for the PlayStation 4 since holiday 2013.[95] On November 4, 2014, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg revealed that the game has 9.5 million registered players.[96] On December 23, 2014, Bungie revealed that 13 million people have played the game since its launch.[97] As of January 5, 2015, the game has 16 million registered players.[98]

Destiny sold 91,277 physical retail copies for PlayStation 4 and 49,503 retail copies for PlayStation 3 within the first week of release in Japan, placing second and third place respectively within the Japanese software sales charts for that particular week.[99]

Destiny was the third best-selling retail game in the United States in 2014.[100]

Sequel[edit]

In November 2014, Bungie confirmed that a sequel to Destiny was already in production.[101] Players' characters and progression are expected to carry over to the follow-up.[102]

References[edit]

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