The wait is nearly over. Next week, on September 9th, Activision finally unleashes Bungie's Destiny. All across New Zealand video game stores will be opening at midnight to allow fans to get into the game the moment it's made available.
It may be the most anticipated video game title in recent years but I'll freely admit, apart from digesting the launch announcement, I’d not really been following the development of Destiny. After all, it was from the same guys that brought us Halo; so it was hardly likely to be rubbish. I thought I’d just wait and see.
When I finally got to play Destiny at E3 in Los Angeles it was a rather hurried multiplayer session, late in the day, at the PlayStation booth.
After lots of talking and scene setting which, to be honest, went in one tired ear and out the other, I was confronted with a multiplayer experience that felt a lot like Titanfall without the Titans.
Lots of jumping, some vertical game-play- but nothing I’d not experienced, and enjoyed more, elsewhere. I sent a few disappointed tweets and got on with the rest of the E3 show.
When I got back home a Destiny alpha key was waiting for me.
The alpha thrust me into a single player environment that was a far cry from my multiplayer experience in LA. It had that grand epic Halo feel about and, finally, Destiny piqued my interest. Sadly my post E3 backlog didn’t afford me the time to play much of the alpha.
A few weeks later and another Destiny key arrived in my inbox, this time for the game’s more open beta test.
Determined not to miss out this time I set aside some time to play the beta. This time I was introduced to a epic tale of a mysterious orb called the Traveller, of terraformed and colonised planets, of civilisation's downfall and of me, a Guardian, part of a legendary group of gifted beings charged with protecting humanity’s last remaining city.
Instead of the single-player/multiplayer separation typical in the likes of Halo and Call of Duty, Destiny melds the two together. Using the city as a hub, Destiny has a distinct massively multiplayer online game feel about it.
Among the vendors and quest givers other players on their own adventures go about their business. It is here you can meet up with friends and disembark to an old Russian cosmodrome or just go it alone. But you are never really alone.
Like a mash up of Halo’s Cortana and 343 Guilty Spark, Destiny’s Guardians have a constant companion in a football-sized AI construct derived from the Traveller itself called a ghost. Your ghost is a chatty fellow, offering advice and help. It’s voiced by Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinkage.
The Cosmodrome map of the beta was vast, open and meticulously detailed. It felt more like an MMO zone than a first-person shooter map- populated by bad guys obstructing my path to the mission way-point marker.
There were side-quests as well. I gained some extra XP by collecting specific items from fallen enemies. It wasn’t long before I was in possession of my own, rather beat-up, starship for transporting me back to the city and a land vehicle, a Sparrow, making it easier to traverse the vast Russian map.
As I approached the mission tasks, the sniper-friendly open-world switched to an enemy-filled corridor environment. After defeating the bad guys and completing my objective it was back to the safety of the city for upgrades.
The similarities between Destiny and the Halo games are immediately apparent. It’s as if this was the direction, at least at a gameplay level, that Bungie wanted to take their Halo games. I may be wrong, but perhaps it was this idea that drove Bungie and Microsoft apart- the developer’s vision for the Halo series not being in line with that of its publisher.
The Destiny beta was over too soon. But I was now sold on the game. A game that I initially only had a mild interest in, that I’d been totally turned off after playing at E3, was now at the top of my “most wanted” list.
With Destiny’s release less than a week away. Activision have announced Destiny Planet View. Based on Google's Streetview technology, Planet View allows Destiny fans to explore the game's in-game locations on Mars, Venus and the Moon.
Whilst the experience only reveals a small slice of Destiny's massive worlds, fans will be able wander through each area and discover useful lore, gameplay tips and even a few hidden real-world and in-game incentives along the way.
Destiny is out in New Zealand for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 on 9th September.