Destiny (video game)

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Destiny box art.png
Cover art featuring the game's three character classes: Warlock (left), Hunter (center), and Titan (right). The spherical Traveler is in the background.
Developer(s) Bungie[a]
Publisher(s) Activision[b]
Artist(s) Christopher Barrett[2]
Writer(s) Joseph Staten
Release date(s)
  • WW September 9, 2014[4]
Genre(s) Action role-playing, first-person shooter
Mode(s) Multiplayer

Destiny is an online-only first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie and published by Activision. It was released on September 9, 2014, for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One consoles. Destiny marked Bungie's first new console franchise since the Halo series, and it is the first game in a ten-year agreement between Bungie and Activision. Set in a "mythic science fiction" world, the game features a multiplayer "shared-world" environment with elements of role-playing games. Activities in Destiny are divided among player versus environment (PvE) and player versus player (PvP) game types. In addition to normal story missions, PvE features three-player "strikes" and six-player raids. A free roam patrol mode is also available for each planet and features public events. PvP features deathmatch game modes, as well as objective-based modes.

Players take on the role of a Guardian, defenders of Earth's last safe city as they wield a power called Light to protect the City from different alien races. The Guardians are tasked with reviving a celestial being called the Traveler, while journeying to different planets to investigate and destroy the alien threats before humanity is completely wiped out. Since launch, Bungie has released three expansion packs furthering the story, adding new content and missions, and new PvP modes. Year One of Destiny featured two expansions, The Dark Below in December 2014 and House of Wolves in May 2015. A third, larger expansion, The Taken King, was released in September 2015 and marked the beginning of Year Two, changing much of the core gameplay. In December 2015, Bungie announced that they have shifted to an event-based model: limited-time events will happen more often instead of releasing a new expansion every few months.

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. On day one of its release, it sold over US$500 million at retail, making it the biggest new franchise launch of all time. It was GamesRadar's 2014 Game of the Year and it received the BAFTA Award for Best Game at the 2014 British Academy Video Games Awards.


Destiny gameplay

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 communicate 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 communicate only with other players with whom they are "matched" by the game (to communicate with other players in the game world, players must use their respective console's messaging system).[5] Time-limited events and modes are also occasionally added or featured in-game.[7][8] Activities in Destiny are divided among player versus environment (PvE) and player versus player (PvP) game types across Earth (the Cosmodrome), its Moon, Venus, and Mars (maps for Mars's moon Phobos and the planet Mercury are also available in PvP). Another PvE area, a massive ship called the Dreadnaught that is situated in the rings of Saturn, and two PvE maps for Phobos were added with The Taken King DLC, but requires the purchase of the DLC.

Character progression and classes[edit]

Players are able to improve their characters, referred to as Guardians, by gaining experience points (EXP)—when a set number of experience points are accumulated, the player's character will "level up" and gain improved statistics which further enhance performance in battle. Quests, including the "main scenario" quest line, are specific tasks given to the player by non-player characters which reward items and EXP. Completing main scenario quests progresses the overarching plot of the game.

Destiny features three character classes. Each class has their own specific upgrades, perks, special abilities, and two sub-classes that allow the player to finely tune their individual characters to provide a different play style. After choosing a class, players select one of three species for their character: Human, Awoken (bluish-gray-skinned descendants of Humans), or Exo (humanoid machines). They can then customize their character, such as changing its gender or skin color. A character's species is only cosmetic and does not affect gameplay. Players can create two more characters to have a character of each class. The Taken King DLC added a third sub-class for each class, but requires the purchase of the DLC to access the new sub-classes.[9][10]

  • Hunters are designed to be like a bounty hunter with a focus on agility and mobility. Its Solar-based "Gunslinger" sub-class tree includes stat boosts that award accurate play, a throwing knife attack, the ability to upgrade to a triple jump, and the "Golden Gun" super, a very powerful, flaming magnum with a base magazine of three shots. The Arc-based "Bladedancer" sub-class has a heavier focus on close combat, offering an extended-range "Blink Strike", and an "Arc Blade" super (which allows the player to quickly dart between and kill enemies) with a temporary invisibility option.[9][10] The Taken King added the Void-based "Nightstalker" sub-class that includes a bow-like super called "Shadowshot" that tethers enemies together, limiting movement and preventing enemies from using abilities for a short time.[11]
  • Warlocks are designed as a mage, or a space wizard, with a larger focus on offensive abilities, recovery, and melee attacks that can reduce the cooldown time of its abilities. Its super in the "Voidwalker" sub-class, "Nova Bomb", is an explosively powerful sphere of Void energy capable of being thrown in different ways. Its "Sunsinger" sub-class features abilities based around the Solar element, with the "Radiance" super allowing the player to temporarily improve their statistics, or revive themselves if killed.[9][10] The Taken King added the Arc-based "Stormcaller" sub-class that includes the super "Stormtrance", which produces lightning bolts that chains between enemies.[11]
  • Titans are designed to be "tanks", with a focus on withstanding large amounts of damage to allow close quarters combat. The Titan's super in the Arc-based "Striker" sub-class, "Fist of Havoc", is a ground slamming attack that destroys all enemies in its radius. Its Void-based "Defender" sub-class offers the ability to generate a shield with its "Ward of Dawn" super. The shield can also provide temporary stat bonuses to other players that step within it.[9][10] The Taken King added the "Sunbreaker" sub-class, which features a Solar-based super, the "Hammer of Sol", creating a flaming hammer that can be thrown at enemies, or used for close-quarters combat.[11]

Upon reaching the character level cap, character progression shifts to improving their "Light" level by acquiring new and better equipment. This equipment can be gained through a variety of sources, including "strikes", raids, and in-game events. Prior to The Taken King DLC, all legendary and exotic armor, and some rare, contained an attribute called Light. Once players reached level 20, they no longer earned experience to level up; EXP earned after level 20 went towards upgrading weapons and armor, and creating Motes of Light, an in-game currency. Players could only go beyond level 20 by obtaining armor with Light, and these levels were referred to as Light levels. The initial Light level cap was 30, which increased to 32 with The Dark Below DLC and 34 with the House of Wolves DLC. Update patch 2.0, released in preparation for The Taken King DLC, made the character's experience level and Light level separate: level 20 is no longer the experience level cap, meaning players continue to earn experience to level up to the new level cap: level 34 for all players, level 40 for players who own The Taken King. A higher character level allows for better equipment to be equipped. A character's Light level is now an average of the attack and defense of all equipped gear. For example, if all equipped gear has 170 Light each, the character's Light level will be 170. A higher Light level improves damage output and defense. The highest obtainable Light level is 320 for players who own The Taken King.[12][13]

Players equipment includes weapons and armor. Legendary and exotic items are the best items for players' characters, and only one exotic weapon and one exotic armor can be equipped at one time. There are several different classes of weapons that are categorized as either a primary, special (secondary), or heavy weapon. Several weapons have an elemental damage type. There is Arc (blue), Solar (orange), and Void (purple). All damage types will deplete enemy shields of that type faster (an Arc weapon will deplete an Arc shield faster). The weapon will also do extra damage to enemies if the gameplay modifiers 'Arc Burn', 'Solar Burn' or 'Void Burn' are active. The original maximum attack damage for legendary and exotic weapons was 300. This increased to 331 with The Dark Below DLC and 365 with the House of Wolves DLC. The Taken King DLC numerically changed weapons of 365 damage to 170, but with no loss in damage output (365 damage of Year 1 equals 170 damage of Year 2). Newer weapons have higher numbers and can be upgraded by infusing other weapons into them to increase that number.[9][10][13]

There are six armor slots: helmet, gauntlets, chest, legs, class item, and artifact (artifacts were added with The Taken King). Each class has armor specific to them with exotic armor that compliment a character's sub-class. Each piece of armor increases overall defense. Before The Taken King, class items were only cosmetic (such as the Hunter's cloak) and did not have any stat or defense boosts. Class items now have defense that contributes to players' Light level. Players' Ghost companion now also have defense that contributes to their Light level. In addition to earning gear from loot drops by playing missions, players can purchase gear from faction vendors. Players can pledge their allegiance to one of three factions—Dead Orbit, Future War Cult, or New Monarchy—and earning enough reputation with a faction allows players to earn and purchase that faction's legendary items. Players also earn reputation with other vendors, such as the Vanguard and Crucible, by doing playlists or bounties for that vendor that also have their own set of legendary items.[9][10][12]

Player versus environment (PvE)[edit]

Player versus environment game types makes up the majority of the game. PvE story missions can be played either solo or as part of a "fireteam" of up to three players. Though there is an order to the story missions, they can be played in any order as more missions become available. For example, after completing Earth's second story mission, three more become available, and those do not have to be played in story order. Every day, a random story mission is featured as the Daily Heroic Story Mission, featuring bonus rewards. Each playable area offers an open world "Patrol" mode, where players can travel freely around the area and perform small tasks gathered from beacons, and they can collect materials that are used for upgrading weapons and armor. Players travel around the areas on foot or with their vehicles called sparrows (very similar to the speeder bikes of Star Wars). Public events happen periodically and any player in the same location can participate. These location-specific events include eliminating a target, defeating incoming waves of enemies, and defending a Warsat (a crashed satellite).[14][15][16]

"Strikes" are cooperative missions played with a party of three players that culminate with a boss. Players can play much harder versions of the strikes in what are called the Vanguard Heroic Playlist (formerly Weekly Heroic Strike) and the Weekly Nightfall Strike, which grant bonus rewards. While the Vanguard Heroic is a playlist of strikes, the Weekly Nightfall Strike, which is harder than heroic, is only one strike that changes every week with a chance for greater rewards. The Daily Heroic Story Mission, Vanguard Heroic Playlist, and Weekly Nightfall Strike each feature game modifiers that increase difficulty. Game modifiers can be positive or negative for the player. For example, a positive modifier would be "Small Arms", where damage for the player's primary weapons are doubled, but a negative modifier would be "Chaff", where the player's radar is disabled. Raids are advanced cooperative missions designed to be played by a team of six players—the only PvE game type that allows more than three players in a fireteam. Raids culminate with the elimination of a major boss that relates to the story.[14][15][16]

From social spaces (the Tower on Earth, and the Vestian Outpost added by the House of Wolves DLC), players can redeem "engrams" into items, buy items, and collect challenges known as bounties to complete during activities to earn experience, build their reputation among factions, and sometimes earn items. Beyond armor and weapons, items that players can obtain include ships that represent themselves during travel cutscenes, shaders for customizing the color scheme of their armor, emblems which are banners for players' names, emotes such as a dance or gesture, and shells for their Ghost, the player's AI companion.[14][17][15][16]

Player versus player (PvP)[edit]

In addition to these player versus environment challenges, player versus player combat exists in what is called the Crucible. The Crucible, which can have a maximum of twelve players depending on game type, contains playlists of PvP modes, including "Control", "Clash", "Rumble", and "Skirmish". Control is six-versus-six where teams try to capture and maintain control of zones. Clash is a classic six-versus-six team deathmatch. Rumble is a six-player free-for-all deathmatch. Skirmish is a three-versus-three deathmatch where players can revive allies. New modes have been added via expansions, including "Elimination" (House of Wolves), a similar mode to Skirmish except divided into nine rounds in which the team must kill all three of their opponents at once,[18] and "Rift" (The Taken King), a six-versus-six capture the flag-like mode where players must deliver a "Spark" to the opposing team's base, killing enemies in its radius.[19]

Other modes are available occasionally during time-limited periods, such as "Salvage", a three-versus-three king of the hill game type, "Inferno" (The Dark Below), a modifier on multiple game modes where points are solely scored on kills and the player's radar is disabled, "Doubles" (The Dark Below), a two-versus-two version of Skirmish, "Mayhem" (The Taken King), a modifier on Clash and Rumble where cooldown times for all abilities are greatly reduced, and "Zone Control" (The Taken King), a modified version of Control where points are only scored for maintaining control of zones, and not by kills or point captures. "Combined Arms" was another time-limited mode; it featured maps with vehicles and turrets and used the Control and Clash game modes. With the release of The Taken King, this mode was retired and these maps now appear in the normal Control playlist.[7][20][21][22][23] A random mode is featured as the Daily and Weekly Crucible mode with bonus rewards. As of September 2015, players who do not own The Taken King expansion only have access to three-versus-three and six-versus-six Crucible playlists on previous maps with assorted modes, and no longer have access to playlists for individual modes.[24]

In Crucible modes, player statistics (such as weapon power and defense) are balanced between players. Periodic events such as Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris are offered, which disable balancing. These events have their own set of bounties and allows players the chance to earn exclusive items. Iron Banner became available shortly after the launch of Destiny and generally uses the Control game mode (Rumble and Rift have also been featured). It is generally available during the last week of each month.[8][18][25][26][27] Trials of Osiris was added with the House of Wolves expansion and uses the Elimination mode. It is available every weekend from Friday until the weekly reset on Tuesday.[18]



Bungie described the setting of Destiny as a "mythic science-fiction" world.[28] The setting follows a prosperous period of exploration, peace, and technological advancement known as the Golden Age.[29] 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.[30] The Collapse was caused by a mysterious force called the Darkness, an ancient enemy of the Traveler that plagues the galaxy. The Traveler now hovers above the last safe city on Earth, simply called The Last City that is surrounded by a massive wall, and its presence allows the Guardians—the defenders of the City—the ability to wield an unknown power, only referred to as "Light". The player takes on the role of a Guardian, and is tasked with reviving the Traveler while investigating and destroying 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.

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. Just like the Light for the Guardians, the Darkness lends powers to these alien threats. 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. The Cabal are a military-industrial empire of massive amphibians who have established massive fortifications on Mars. The Taken, a new race introduced in The Taken King DLC, are corrupted versions of regular enemies, who infest areas on every planet. 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. The Taken, in addition to all the other races specialties, use high mobility and plenty of long-range attacks to out-maneuver the player. All of these races are hostile towards each other (with the exception of the Hive and the Taken), as they can often be observed attacking one another in-game for territorial dominance. The majority of the game's lore, detailing backstory on characters, weapons, the alien races, planets, etc., is found in Grimoire cards collected throughout the game and accessed through Bungie's website and the Destiny app.


The AI Ghost with the default "Generalist" Ghost shell.

In addition to the playable Guardians, Destiny has many non-playable characters (NPCs) that aide the Guardians either in story missions, or by selling gear, weapons, or materials. The main NPCs in Destiny are Ghost (Nolan North[31]), a robot AI that accompanies the Guardians;[32] The Speaker (Bill Nighy), the representative of The Traveler; the Exo Stranger (Lauren Cohan), a mysterious female Exo who is interested in the Guardian's activities (but is not a Guardian herself); Mara Sov (Kirsten Potter), the Queen of the Reef and the Awoken who has some Fallen under her rule; Prince Uldren Sov (Brandon O'Neill), the Queen's brother; Ikora Rey (Gina Torres), the Warlock Vanguard; Commander Zavala (Lance Reddick), the Titan Vanguard; Cayde-6 (Nathan Fillion), the Hunter Vanguard; and Master Rahool (Erick Avari), the Tower's Cryptarch who decodes engrams and buys curiosities from Guardians.[33] A player's Guardian is voiced by one of six people, depending on which species and gender the player selects when creating their character: Matthew Mercer and Susan Eisenberg as the male and female Human Guardians, Crispin Freeman and Grey Griffin as the male and female Awoken Guardians, and Peter Jessop and Cree Summer as the male and female Exo Guardians.[33]

Other NPCs include Lord Shaxx (Lennie James), the Crucible Handler and vendor; Lakshmi-2 (Shohreh Aghdashloo), the Future War Cult vendor; Arach Jalaal (Peter Stormare), the Dead Orbit vendor; Executor Hideo (James Remar), the New Monarchy vendor, Tess Everis (Claudia Black), Eververse Trading Company (microtransaction vendor that sells emotes); Banshee-44 (John DiMaggio), the Gunsmith; Amanda Holliday (Courtenay Taylor), ship and sparrow vendor; Lord Saladin (Keith Ferguson), Iron Banner vendor; Xûr (Fred Tatasciore), an Agent of the Nine and exotic items vendor; Eva Levante, the Guardian Outfitter (vendor that sells emblems and armor shaders), Roni 55-30, the Vanguard Quartermaster, and Kadi 55-30, the Tower's Postmaster (all three voiced by Nika Futterman); and Xander 99-40, the Tower's Bounty Tracker, and Arcite 99-40, the Crucible Quartermaster (both voiced by Dominic Keating).[33]

Several characters have been introduced in the expansions and events of Destiny. These include Petra Venj (April Stewart), the Queen's Emissary who was introduced as the main NPC of the Queen's Wrath event and returned as a main NPC in the House of Wolves DLC; Eris Morn (Morla Gorrondona), Crota's Bane vendor that was introduced as the main NPC of The Dark Below DLC and is a main NPC of The Taken King DLC; Variks the Loyal (Dee Bradley Baker), House of Judgment vendor who was introduced as a main NPC of the House of Wolves DLC and is a Fallen Vandal loyal to the Queen; Master Ives (Gideon Emery), the Vestian Outpost's Cryptarch; and Brother Vance (Bob O'Donnell), a Disciple of Osiris and the Trials of Osiris vendor—Osiris is a character in the lore of Destiny.[33]


When the game begins, Ghost resurrects the player's Guardian, who has been dead for a long time, from an unknown fate in amongst the detritus of Old Russia. Ghost then guides the Guardian to a jump ship and they take it to the Tower. There, they meet the Speaker, who briefs them about the Darkness. The Guardian is then tasked to probe the nearby Cosmodrome, where humanity used to launch its forays into outer space, fending off Fallen enemies and eventually the Hive, who were thought to have been confined to the Moon. The Guardian discovers that an old Russian Warmind called Rasputin, an AI built to defend Earth, is still alive and acting with unknown intent. The Guardian also tracks down codes to raise an ancient Array to connect it to long-lost colonies throughout the solar system, and finds that Rasputin is controlling the Array. They then set off to the Moon in search of a lost Guardian who was looking for a way into the Hive fortress. After locating his corpse and dead Ghost, the player's Guardian's Ghost discovers that the Hive are raising an army and plan to invade Earth. The Guardian quickly sets about disrupting their efforts, including shutting down a ritual that the Hive were using to drain power from the Traveler, destroying a powerful weapon called the Sword of Crota, and severing their long-distance communications. Around this time, the Guardian is contacted by the Exo Stranger, a mysterious woman who summons them to Venus to face a new enemy, the Vex.

When the Guardian arrives on Venus, the Exo Stranger describes the Vex as an evil so dark it despises other evil. She tells them about the Black Garden, a city where the Vex are born, and implores the Guardian to find it and rip out its heart, as it is the only way the Traveler will begin to heal. Ghost says that they need to speak to the Awoken, who lurk out in the Reef and refuse to take sides in the galaxy's wars. The Exo Stranger then leaves as she did not have time to explain things further. Once the Guardian arrives at the Reef, they meet the Queen of the Reef, Mara Sov, and her brother, Prince Uldren Sov, who tells the Guardian that they will help them locate the Black Garden if they bring them the head of a Vex Gate Lord. The Guardian travels back to Venus, where they uncover the Archive, which reveals secrets about the Vex, including the location of a place called the Vault of Glass, and pathways across the galaxy. After defeating Draksis, a Fallen Kell of the House of Winter, the Guardian confronts the Vex Gate Lord, claims its head, and returns to the Queen, who tells them to take its eye to the Meridian Bay on Mars, where it can be used to enter the Black Garden.

After arriving on Mars, Ghost informs the Guardian of its inhabitants. The Cabal have been trying to break the encryption on the Vex Gate with only limited success, but they do control many of the places that the Guardian needs to visit on Mars thanks to their Exclusion Zone, which nobody had ever penetrated. The player's Guardian becomes the first to penetrate the Exclusion Zone and heads to the Garden's Spire, which charges the Gate Lord's eye. They also travel to the Buried City, the birthplace of many technological wonders where they discover an AI that used to be linked to the Warmind of Mars, but is now controlled by Rasputin. With the Vex now present on Mars, the Guardian finds out what they are doing; they are returning to their home, the Black Garden.

The Guardian then sets off to the Black Garden. There, they finds themselves in a place that is not on any map of known space and time. After several battles, the Guardian reaches the heart of the Black Garden, which the Vex appear to be worshiping. The heart summons three Sol Progeny—a group of Vex units called Eschaton Mind, Imminent Mind, and Primeval Mind. After defeating the three Sol Progeny, the heart is destroyed, returning the Guardian to Mars and lifting the shroud of Darkness from the Traveler back on Earth. Back at the Tower, the Speaker addresses gathered Guardians in a celebratory speech. Over in the nearby hanger, though, the player's Guardian converses with the Exo Stranger, who says that the fight is far from over.


Development for Destiny began at Bungie in 2010 under the code name "Paper Tiger", shortly after the release of Halo: Reach.[34][35] This coincided with the announcement of a 10-year publishing agreement with Activision Blizzard.[36][37] Under Bungie's agreement with Activision, new intellectual property developed by Bungie will be owned by Bungie, not Activision, in a deal similar to the EA Partners Program.[37][38] Details of this contract were revealed during the course of Activision's lawsuit against Jason West and Vincent Zampella, founders and former employees of Infinity Ward, including provisions for four Destiny games over the course of the ten-year deal.[39][40][41] Initially, Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick suggested that the total investment in Destiny would be around $500 million. Bungie's COO Pete Parsons clarified 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."[42] Activision subsequently confirmed the $500 million figure, stating that marketing, up-front infrastructure costs, and investment in the game's engine were included, and could be amortized over the life of the IP.[43] Bungie would earn an additional $2.5 million bonus payout if the first game achieved a Metacritic score of 90 or above.[34][44]

By mid-2013, most of the ground work for Destiny had been completed including lore, game engine, and many environments and missions, tracking for a September 2013 release.[34][45] However, a "supercut" of the game's story and mission structure presented by Joseph Staten's writing team did not test well with Bungie upper management, led by Jason Jones.[34] Jones felt that the story was too dense and linear—a design philosophy he felt was important to Destiny was the ability for the player to choose where to go at any time.[34] As a result, the entire mission progression of the game was rebuilt between mid-2013 and the game's launch in September 2014, shifting away from a structure that quickly introduced the four major environments—Earth, the Moon, Venus, and Mars—to a hub-based structure in which each planet would be visited sequentially with an expanding variety of missions on each.[34] Existing missions were spliced and rearranged to fit this new paradigm, including dialogue and cinematics. Staten decided to leave the company amidst this reboot, though this would not be announced until September 2013.[46]

To cement the new framework, Jones developed the director interface that exists in the shipping version of the game, from which planets and missions can be selected.[34] He also established the "Iron Bar", a series of executive meetings which would oversee the massive project restructuring. This also involved rescoping the project to be more focused—areas such as the Hive fortress Dreadnaught, an Earth location called the European Dead Zone, and Osiris' temple on Mercury were cut—all were later featured in expansion packs. The restructuring also required an internal delay of the release date first from September 2013 to March 2014, and again to its actual release of September 9, 2014.[34][45] With Staten's departure, the writing team he had built at Bungie for the Halo series was left leaderless and isolated. As a result, much of this extra time was spent perfecting the gameplay and feel of the shooting while the narrative was only polished to a perfunctory level and "the story was written without writers".[34]

On April 11, 2014, Bungie fired its long-time composer and audio director, Martin O'Donnell.[47] For Destiny, O'Donnell collaborated with Paul McCartney on an eight-movement symphonic suite called Music of the Spheres which was completed in 2013.[48] The dispute which led to his termination originated from O'Donnell's belief that the Activision deal had begun to erode the collegial culture at Bungie. Activision was reluctant to release the symphony as a standalone work and went over O'Donnell's head to replace it with their own music in a prominent E3 2013 trailer.[48] In the ensuing disagreement, O'Donnell came into conflict with both Activision and Bungie leadership and was accused of "unacceptable conduct" in his performance review, leading to his termination.[48] Fans were concerned that the absence of Martin O'Donnell would affect the in-game music of Destiny; however, Pete Parsons of Bungie confirmed that Destiny's music was already complete by this point.[49] O'Donnell prevailed in a civil suit against Bungie over the improper dismissal in September 2015, winning unpaid wages, profit sharing, and lost stock.[48] As a side-effect of this ruling, forty minutes out of the forty-eight-minute-long Music of the Spheres currently exist in the public domain.[50]


Destiny incorporates a new game engine that allows global illumination and real-time dynamic lighting to occur together in cohesion.[51] In addition, Bungie's goal is that Destiny will natively render graphics at 1080p on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.[52] 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.[53] Developers at Bungie have criticized the new engine as ill-suited to the online nature of the game. Its resource-intensive nature makes even small changes to maps require an overnight rendering and compiling process.[34] Internal sources called the development of new maps and missions "grueling" on account of the game engine.[34]


For Destiny, lead writer Joseph Staten hoped to build a universe that would "take on a life of its own".[54] The designers worked around "seven pillars", seven core principles which ensure that the game is accessible to both casual, novice players and experienced veterans of first-person shooters and MMOs.[28][29][55] This includes integration with social media, allowing players to gain information about new quests and their friends' activities.[28] 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.[56]

Peter Dinklage originally voiced the character Ghost in the base game. His performance was poorly received,[citation needed] and the character did not have any lines in the two expansions of Year One. Nolan North replaced Dinklage for The Taken King and also re-recorded all of Ghost's lines from the original game, as Bungie wanted "to create a consistent storytelling experience from beginning to end". North was excited to put his mark on the role and hopes to evolve the character in future Destiny releases. He said that he did not listen to any of Dinklage's recordings, as he did not want any preconceived notions to influence his performance.[31] According to Bungie, the actor change was made due to Dinklage's availability.[57] David Cross was hired to write jokes for the character Ghost but none of his work was used in the final game.[58]


Destiny concept art and plot elements first leaked in November 2012.[59] Bungie supplemented the leak with more details, expressing regret that another upcoming video game had been revealed ahead of schedule.[60] Destiny's official unveiling occurred at the PlayStation 4 announcement event on February 20, 2013.[61][62] An alpha test took place from June 12 to 16.[63] A public beta test began on PlayStation consoles on July 17 and Xbox consoles on July 23, available to players who pre-ordered the game.[64] Before the beta closed on July 27, it attracted around 4.6 million players.[65][66] The game went gold on August 23, 2014.[67] Players who pre-ordered Destiny received early access to the Vanguard Armory.[68] Additionally, pre-orders from GameStop received an exclusive "red" sparrow vehicle.[69] Players who pre-ordered Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare received a Blacksmith armor shader in Destiny.[70] Those who purchased the digital PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions of the game were allowed to download the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One clients respectively at no additional cost, until January 15, 2015.[71][72]

Some of the game's initial content, including certain items and missions, were timed exclusives for PlayStation platforms.[73] These included the "Dust Palace" strike, the "Exodus Blue" Crucible map, two exotic weapons (the auto rifle "Monte Carlo" and hand cannon "Hawkmoon"), a rare gear set for each class (Manifold Seeker for Warlock, Vanir for Titan, and Argus for Hunter), and three ships ("Aurora Awake", "Crypt Hammer", and "Outrageous Fortune").[74] Each expansion has followed suit and has had timed exclusives for PlayStation platforms.[75][76][73] The initial exclusive content and the exclusive content of the first two expansions became available for Xbox platforms with the release of The Taken King expansion; this expansion's exclusive content will become available for Xbox platforms in fall 2016.[77]

Three collector's editions of Destiny were released: the Limited Edition, the Ghost Edition, and the Digital Limited Edition. The Limited Edition included a Steelbook game case, the Arms & Armament Field Guide, postcards from the Golden Age, Antique Star Chart, and in-game content: an exclusive Ghost shell, ship, character emblem, and the Destiny Expansion Pass. The Ghost Edition included everything in the Limited Edition, as well as a motion-activated replica Ghost with lights and the voice of Peter Dinklage and a set of photos and stickers. The Digital Limited Edition included Destiny and the in-game content included in the physical collector's editions.[78] A PS4 bundle was also available, which included a 500GB glacier white PS4 and a copy of Destiny.[79]

With the release of The Taken King, two new retail versions of Destiny, the "Legendary Edition" and "Collector's Edition", were released alongside The Taken King: both include a copy of the game, all "Year One" DLC, and The Taken King. A Digital Collector's Edition is also available. Year One players received commemorative items when purchasing The Taken King.[23][80] A new PS4 bundle is also available, which includes a limited edition white 500GB PS4 with Destiny artwork on the face of the console, the Legendary Edition of Destiny: The Taken King, and all bonus content from the Legendary and Digital Collector's Editions.[81] Players who purchase The Taken King receive an item called Spark of Light, which boosts one new character to level 25, the minimum level needed to play The Taken King content.[82]

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. 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."[83] By the time of Destiny's launch, two planned packs of downloadable content (DLC) had been officially announced: The Dark Below and House of Wolves.[84][85] From the launch of Destiny, players could purchase the Destiny Expansion Pass, which included the first two expansions at a discounted price versus buying them separately.[86] Players also received an exclusive sparrow (EV-30 Tumbler) if they purchased the Expansion Pass or The Dark Below by January 15, 2015.[87] At E3 2015, Bungie officially announced a new expansion called The Taken King.[88]

Bungie released the game's first raid, the "Vault of Glass", as part of the September 16, 2014 update and at the time, it was described as "Destiny's most difficult mission". The Vault of Glass centers on the Vex race on Venus and requires players to defeat Atheon, Time's Conflux; a central figure of the Vex Conflux network who has powerful control over time, being able to send Guardians into the distant past or future at will.[89] In the weeks proceeding from the release of Destiny, players were reporting areas that could be accessed by various glitches or secret accesses.[90] These areas have been described as appearing “half-baked”, and were noted to often be devoid of items or NPCs.[91] In an interview with Eurogamer, on the claims that these were on-disc DLC, Bungie president Harold Ryan replied that the content were incomplete resources intended to reduce download requirements for future DLC.[92]

The October 13, 2015 update brought the new vending shop "Eververse Trading Company", featuring NPC Tess Everis who now sells emotes in exchange for a new in-game currency, Silver—some complimentary Silver was given to all players when logging in after the update. Players can obtain more Silver via microtransactions.[93] One of the first emotes was the Enthusiastic Dance, inspired by the Carlton Dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Bungie stressed that these emotes are completely optional and the microtransactions are an effort to "bolster the service provided by our live team for another full year".[94] On December 15, 2015, boosting packs became available as micro-transactions. The pack automatically boosts one character to level 25, and also features a temporary stat boost and "Telemetry" items to assist in further leveling.[95]

According to reports, Bungie does not plan to release additional paid expansions for Destiny as a follow-up to The Taken King. Senior designer Derek Carroll explained that the studio wanted to shift towards an "event-based model" with "surprises" for players, available to all owners of The Taken King at no additional charge, as opposed to a timed roadmap, as had previously been speculated. Kotaku had reported in October 2015 that two planned paid expansions had been shelved in favor of the development of a full sequel to Destiny for release in 2016—reports that have not yet been confirmed by Bungie.[96][97] Marketing director Eric Osborne further clarified its plans for "Year Two", stating that it would not consist solely of time-limited events as had been implied by others, but new "events, activities, content, and features", as well as an event planned for early 2016 that will be "far larger than anything you’ve seen since the release of The Taken King".[98]

Expansions and events[edit]

The Dark Below was released on December 9, 2014. The expansion added new content centering on the Hive race and their deity Crota, Son of Oryx. In addition to a new raid, "Crota's End", maximum attack damage was increased to 331 and the light level increased to 32.[99][100][101] House of Wolves was released on May 19, 2015; the expansion added new content centering on the Fallen race as players attempt to thwart a campaign by Skolas, Kell of Kells, to unite the Fallen race under his rule. Maximum attack damage was increased to 365 and the light level increased to 34. Two multiplayer modes were added: the Prison of Elders (a PvE arena) and Trials of Osiris (PvP game type).[25][73][102][103] The Taken King was released on September 15, 2015, marking the end of "Year One" of Destiny.[88] The expansion focuses on Oryx, The Taken King and father of Crota, as he leads a new race of enemy, the Taken, to avenge his son's death. A new raid, "King's Fall", was added, new sub-classes were added, as well as many changes to the core gameplay of Destiny, including maximum light level of 320.[88][104][23][105][106][11]

Shortly after the launch of Destiny, a two-week long event began on September 23, 2014 called "Queen's Wrath" with Petra Venj as its main NPC. This event featured bounties and multiple challenges on existing missions for players to complete to obtain exclusive items.[107] A two-week long Halloween-themed event began on October 26, 2015 called "Festival of the Lost" where players could complete quest lines to earn decorative masks for their Guardians. Eva Levante was the main NPC for this event.[108] On December 8, 2015, a new three-week long event became available called the "Sparrow Racing League" (SRL) with Amanda Holliday as its main NPC. In this event, players raced against each other on their sparrows, which Bungie described as a "six-player, free-for-all death race through enemy territory."[109][110] It was only available to players who owned The Taken King.[111] A Valentine's Day-themed event called "Crimson Days" commenced on February 9, 2016 and will last for one week. Lord Shaxx is the main NPC of the event, featuring a new Crucible mode called Crimson Doubles, a two-versus-two elimination-style game with a special buff.[112][113]

Gameplay changes[edit]

Alongside the new story content of The Taken King, other major changes were made to the core gameplay of Destiny as part of the version 2.0 patch released on September 8, 2015, which coincided with a week-long free preview of the PvP multiplayer modes and maps of The Taken King; some of these changes apply to all users, regardless of whether they purchase The Taken King.[114][115] The voice of the player's Ghost, Peter Dinklage, was replaced by Nolan North; all of Dinklage's existing Ghost dialogue was retroactively replaced with new versions recorded by North.[116]

Experience points are used to level past 20, as opposed to the previous "Light level" system. Characters' previously existing Light levels were converted to character levels when transitioning to the 2.0 patch, while a new separate Light level was determined by averaging the strength and power of the character's equipped gear.[117][118] Class items, newly-introduced Ghost shells for all players, and a new equippable item, a relic, provide additional boosts to a player's abilities.[119] The process of earning faction reputation changed; players "pledge" to a faction for a week, during which they earn reputation for the chosen faction in addition to standard reputation.[120] The Gunsmith NPC now offers reputation for the completion of weapon field testing bounties, which allow the ability to purchase a weekly Legendary weapon from his "Foundry Orders".[119] A mercy rule and matchmaking improvements were added to the Crucible.[119] Players' vaults can now hold up to 72 armor pieces and 72 weapons.[121]

A new "Progress" tab was added to the user menu, which displays character progression through the game's quest storylines, as well as currently active bounties and faction reputation. Up to four active bounties and quests can be pinned to be displayed on the bottom-right of the screen when Nav Mode is used.[122] Players can turn in quests and bounties at any time, and up to 32 quests and 16 bounties can be stored in their inventory.[119][120] All existing storylines were adapted to work under this new system.[114] A new interface known as "Collections" allows players to track their exotic items, emblems, armor shaders, sparrows, ships, and emotes that they have found, as well as clues for how to obtain those they do not possess.[119][120]

The new "Legendary Mark" currency replaces Vanguard and Crucible marks (which were completely removed), and are shared across all of a user's characters.[119] Legendary Marks can be used to re-purchase exotic items that had already been found by a user, along with upgraded versions of some pre-existing exotics through the new "Exotic Blueprints" system (although this also requires Exotic Shards),[121] and engrams that are guaranteed to contain a legendary weapon. Gear can be "infused" with more powerful items to increase their strength, provided they are "of the same Year and gear slot, a similar quality and a higher level than the current gear". This allows players the choice of what weapons and gear they want to make the strongest.[119][121]

Newer weapons and some Year One exotics are capable of higher damage than existing Year One weapons; damage values on all existing weapons were scaled down numerically from 365 to 170 (though damage output is the same), with higher values representing weapons that are more powerful than those from Year One.[121]


Destiny Original Soundtrack
Destiny Soundtrack cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori, C Paul Johnson, Paul McCartney
Released September 26, 2014 (2014-09-26)
Genre Classical
Video game soundtrack
Length 2:18:48
Label Bungie Music Publishing

Destiny Original Soundtrack is the official soundtrack for the video game, composed by Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori, C Paul Johnson, 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 compositions from the game.[123][124] The soundtrack marked 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.[123][125][126]

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.[127] 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.[128] O'Donnell gave the early pieces of music to Bungie in hopes that they would foster inspiration within the development team.[129]

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."[128] 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.[130] On April 11, 2014, Martin O'Donnell was dismissed without cause by the board of directors at Bungie.[131] 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.[132]


Critical reception[edit]

Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (XONE) 78.55%[133]
(PS4) 76.83%[134]
Metacritic (PS4) 76/100[135]
(XONE) 75/100[136]
Review scores
Publication Score
CVG 8/10[137]
Eurogamer 8/10[138]
Game Informer 8.75/10[139]
GameSpot 6/10[141]
GamesRadar 4.5/5 stars[140]
GameTrailers 8/10[142]
Giant Bomb 3/5 stars[143]
IGN 7.8/10[144]
Joystiq 4/5 stars[145]
OXM 8/10[146]
Polygon 6/10[147]
Hardcore Gamer 4/5[148]

Destiny received mixed to positive critical reception upon release. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox One version 78.55% based on 10 reviews and 75/100 based on 11 reviews[133][136] and the PlayStation 4 version 76.83% based on 64 reviews and 76/100 based on 95 reviews.[134][135] 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.[149]

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.[141] Danny O'Dwyer stated Destiny's development surfaces some troubling ethical questions about the role of game design in keeping players addicted, and compared it to slot machines and lab-pigeons in variable reward experiments. "I'm not saying it's a bad game... I'm saying it's a manipulative one. I mean it's 'farm-ville' for shooter fans; instead of farming for land, you're farming for XP, loot, and whatever fake new currency the game creates to keep you inside another masterfully crafted ratio-scheduling system."[150]

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.[142] A general lack of cohesive communication between players was also criticized, with Game Informer calling it "downplayed and difficult".[151] Eurogamer felt that the game's environments were "meticulously built, with plenty of enticing nooks and thoughtfully placed cover to support that thrilling combat", but that Patrol mode exposed the worlds as being more like "giant shooter levels connected by narrow passageways than a truly expansive open world".[138]

Destiny was criticized for its lack of story content, with many pointing to the disjointed narrative and shallow plot implementation. 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.[152] 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).[153] The discovery of "loot caves"—locations with quickly re-spawning enemies that could previously be used to farm for items, along with initial issues surrounding the Vault of Glass raid mission, became associated with these lingering issues.[154][155][156][157] Despite the criticism, the game received the title of Game of the Year from GamesRadar[158] and the BAFTA Award for Best Game at the British Academy Video Games Awards.[159]


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.[160] As of September 17, 2014, there have been over 11 million gameplay sessions within North America.[161] It was also the biggest software launch for the PlayStation 4 since holiday 2013.[162] On November 4, 2014, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg revealed that the game has 9.5 million registered players.[163] On December 23, 2014, Bungie revealed that 13 million people have played the game since its launch.[164] As of January 5, 2015, the game has 16 million registered players.[165] As of September 17, 2015, the game has 20 million players.[166]

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.[167] Destiny was the third best-selling retail game in the United States in 2014.[168] On May 6, 2015, Activision Blizzard announced that Destiny, along with another title from its subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft have generated nearly one-billion dollars for the company.[169]

57% of Taken King's UK sales were on PlayStation 4.[170]

As of November 2015, Destiny has 25 million registered users, a 5 million increase in 3 months.[171]


In November 2014, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said "Work has also begun on future expansion packs as well as on our next full game release"—though unconfirmed, Hirshberg may have been referring to The Taken King when he said "next full game release" as Bungie treated it as a full game.[172] Players' characters and progression will carry over into future releases.[173] Despite the statement by Hirshberg, a sequel has not been officially confirmed and reports claim that it has been delayed. Based on documents of the original release schedule for Destiny, a full sequel would have launched in September 2016; this schedule, however, is based on when Destiny was to originally launch in September 2013—Bungie and Activision intended to release new, disc-based sequels every other year until 2019, with large downloadable expansions in between.[174]


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External links[edit]