Bungie’s Destiny – The Persistent Sandbox Shooter We’ve All Been Waiting For

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Destiny is set to be a game unlike any other before it.  Bungie claims promises that this is a game that only their studio can pull off.  Destiny is going to be a first-person shooter set in a persistent open-world sandbox;  Bungie calls it a “shared-world shooter” and it sounds amazing.

Destiny takes place in the distant future after humanity has long since colonized the far reaches of space.  Humankind is all but extinct at this point due to an attack by an unknown source.  The only reason there were any survivors at all was due to an entity called the Traveler, an enormous sphere (think small moon) that now hangs directly above the Earth where it sacrificed itself to save humanity.  The humans rebuild under its protection and eventually venture out to reclaim their homes only to discover they are not alone.  Many different species of aliens now reside where the humans once called home and they want to eliminate humans for good.

Bungie has stated that there has been a huge emphasis on social and cooperative play since day one.  Destiny is set up to be constantly matchmaking you with other players in the background so you’ll consistently run into other people during play.  A good comparison was made by Destructoid in their preview write-up.  They mentioned that the cooperative play seems to be a lot like Journey in that you’ll constantly come across players during your travels that can potentially aid you in ways you’ll be eternally thankful for.  The design director for the game recalled a mission he experienced with another player where the two of them were getting their collective behinds handed to them; out of nowhere, another random player came along on a hoverbike and saved them from utter destruction.  That’s pretty awesome!

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Six-player co-op play will be in at the very least, but Bungie won’t state how many more players you can group with or how many can be seen on-screen at once.  Also, like it was previously stated, social online play is a big factor.  Bungie will also be releasing an iOS App for Destiny that will allow you to see stats, connect with other players, and receive notifications of things to do within the game.

Bungie/Activision flat-out said that Destiny is not an MMO, but the one draw back for some people is going to be the fact that it will be an always-online game.  That means that even if you choose to play by yourself, you will be required to have an internet connection, and possibly XBL Gold for the 360, just to play.  For most people, that won’t be an issue since a lot of players are online anyways; I do imagine that it will still alienate a good amount of potential players though.

Destiny has apparently been in development since 2009 and one thing Bungie has focused on is “creating a connected and cooperative world that players want to be in” according to Destructoid.  They have designed the game to be appealing to all sorts of player types and skill levels.

In terms of development technology, Bungie has worked tirelessly to redesign and improve upon their networking tech.  With matchmaking happening behind the scenes at all times, it’s pertinent that it be fluid and seamless to give the best experience possible.  One thing that will be interesting to see though will be how Bungie handles servers.  Will players have to choose from multiple servers upon game startup or will players all be based on a single server a la EVE Online?  Hopefully they’ll have an option to turn off the matchmaking to appease players with an “other-players-screw-up-my-game-by-being-stupid” mindset.

They were initially hoping for a 2013 release and now it looks like it won’t come out until 2014.  I believe that if anyone can pull off a game like Destiny it’ll definitely be the fine folks at Bungie.  They made huge innovations with Halo and I think they’re fully capable of redefining the genre once more.  This is definitely a game to keep an eye on!

Source and pictures: Destructoid

The author of this article was Justin Champion.

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Neverwinter to Receive Beta Weekends

Neverwinter, the MMO by Cryptic and Perfect World Entertainment, will start beta testing with three weekend stress tests.  The first test will be February 8-10, followed by a test March 8-10, with the final test taking place March 22-24.

There will be multiple ways to gain access to these beta weekends.  You will be able to get promotional codes through outlets such as PC Gamer, events like PAX East, and also community giveaways.  If you don’t want to chance it, you can ensure your access by purchasing a “Founder’s Pack”.

Before I go into detail about the Founder Packs, let me first make a personal statement.  I know there’s a lot of debate about whether or not these types of promotions are fair/ethical/what-have-you, but I see both the positive and negative of such a business platform.  It’s just that though; it’s a business move.  They aren’t forcing you to pay money to play the game, only to play an early version of the game that won’t carry over into the retail release.  If you’re patient enough, you really won’t have to pay a cent!  It’s good for the game developer in that they get an early revenue stream from dedicated fans that will help with the development process.  TLDR:  You don’t have to “pay-to-play”, it’s just an option if you want to see content early and get goodies.

With that being said, there are three Founder’s Packs with only two granting guaranteed beta access.  The three Pack tiers according to Kotaku are as follows:

Starter Kit ($19.99 USD) including:

  • ‘Adventurer’s Helper Pack’ containing six different types of in-game items
  • ‘Small Bag of Holding’ for twelve extra inventory slot
  • ‘Amulet of Protection’ item

Guardian of Neverwinter Pack ($59.99):

  • Three day head start in the Neverwinter open beta
  • Unique Gold Moonstone Mask Regalia head piece
  • Unique Armored Horse mount
  • Unique Direwolf Companion
  • In-game and forum “Founder” title

Hero of the North Founder’s Pack ($199.99):

  • Five day heard start in the Neverwinter open beta
  • Beta Weekend friend invitation code
  • Exclusive access to the “Menzoberranzan Renegade” race, a Drow race like the (in)famous Drizzt Do’Urden
  • Unique Amored Spider mount
  • Unique Panther companion
  • In-game and forum “Founder” title
  • VIP game access to get priority game log-in

If interested, you can purchase the Founder packs at the official Neverwinter site.  As stated previously, you don’t have to buy a Founder pack for beta access, but if you’re worried about not getting in then it would definitely help.

Announcement source on Polygon.