Many wondered what would be next for Bungie after the Halo franchise and after leaving Microsoft. It wasn't long before the company signed a publishing agreement with Activision for 10 years and promised to bring a big idea not only to the Xbox, but Sony's PlayStation 3. Today Bungie has officially unveiled Destiny, not a game, but a franchise that will span those 10 years exclusively for consoles, both current and next-gen.
Last week Bungie held a preview event at their headquarters in Washington state, inviting several members of the press to get a look at their vision. While one specific game wasn't shown, several ideas of what Bungie hopes to accomplish were clearly delivered. Destiny's story is set 700 years in the future, as mankind looks to rebuild itself after being nearly wiped out of existence. Humanity spread to neighboring planets during that time, but something happened, and if it were not for something called The Traveler we'd all but have been wiped out. What remains of it is a mighty sphere that hovers over Earth's last remaining city. This is where your story begins.
Destiny will be a first person shooter in which players are always connected online with a strong focus on story, co-op and competitive elements. But Bungie wants to change how we think about these on a console, instead of having different UIs and menus to access these modes of play, Bungie wants them to occur naturally, seamlessly and with technology they've already built.
Bungie's technical director, Chris Butcher, explains this technology in Polygon's preview of Destiny.
The goal of any advanced technology is to seem effortless, we've developed [our technology] over the last ten years of working on online action games. Now when you put them all together, it turns you get something special. These technologies disappear into the background. There's no sign they're working, no progress bars, no UI spinners; you just sit back and play. The networking engine does everything behind-the-scenes [and] the player experience of Destiny just emerges.
We think this may be the first time anyone has put these technologies together at this scale, in a game or anywhere else.
While a lot of what Destiny is going to do sounds very much like an MMO, all of the previews assured us there will be no monthly fee to play Destiny. That said, even if you decide to play single player, you'll be required to have an internet connection to play. The game itself sounds like it'll span Earth and other planets and might possibly include some space combat or scenarios. Again, Bungie was pretty tight lipped on a lot of the details as this was the first official reveal of the game they've been working on for almost four years already.
The ViDoc from Bungie clearly shows some other concepts on display - including breaking Destiny out of the confines of the console and bringing it to the web and mobile. Bungie is familiar with this, as they were one of the first developers to break Halo from the confines of the console and bring stat tracking to the web.
From what we can gather, co-op is going to be a huge focus of Destiny. Bungie wants players to experience the world together and share those stories among each other. In fact, GamingNexus seems to believe that the game will support parties of up to six players at a time in the Destiny's co-op mode.
Again - Destiny isn't a game...yet. It's merely a franchise with official game names yet to come. Don't expect the game to launch this year either - Activision doesn't have it on their Fiscal 2013 schedule. What we've seen today so far from Bungie is merely a tease, but it clearly oozes the quality and wonder we've come to expect from the company that brought us Marathon and Halo. Expect more Destiny news at E3 this summer, including the possibility of it appearing on next-gen platforms.