If there’s one thing that’s hung over Destiny’s imminent release like a distant moon orbiting its stellar neighbour, it’s the game’s record-breaking budget. In the build-up to launch, there has been conjecture that Destiny’s financial allowance has ballooned past $500 million, and while that purported number may be an overestimation, you can absolutely see every cent of Activision’s investment on screen.
From the robust online servers to the near-perfect shooting mechanics, the detailed environments to the rich, awe-inspiring score, Destiny’s production values are absolutely off the chain. Even from this brief vertical slice, it’s immediately clear that there exists a real sense of depth to this universe, and Bungie’s ability to instil a true sense of inspiration here hints that Destiny could very well be the first MMO to truly work in the console space.
Gameplay is smooth and refreshingly seamless. Considering the depth of the character progression system and the variety in the game’s Borderlands-esque arsenal, Bungie has done a fantastic job of streamlining the selection process so that finding your preferred set-up is quick and simple.
Nevertheless, as Jacob mentioned, this pre-emptive bout of testing was frustrating not only in its lack of true open-world exploration, but also because of the meagre number of environments available to jump into. In fact, after the beta shut its doors yesterday evening, Bungie responded to fan concerns over this very problem and has stated that, although the beta was restricted to one location within the single-player component — in this case, the arid wasteland of Old Russia — Destiny remains the “biggest title the studio has ever created.”
Additionally, one early concern for me personally is the narrative at the heart of this most ambitious universe. Of course, the early portion of the game only offers a sliver of what we can expect come September, but already it echoes many of the conventions found in numerous other sci-fi media — post-apocalyptic setting with a messiah-like figure tasked with saving the universe against “The Darkness.” That said, Bungie wouldn’t have enlisted the likes of Peter Dinklage if it wasn’t committed to delivering a solid and engaging story, but these early indicators of unmemorable characters and generic exposition are still cause for concern.
With a dash of Mass Effect’s world building, a pinch of Borderlands’ RPG mechanics and more than a few spoonfuls of Halo’s renown shooter pedigree, Destiny is undoubtedly borrowing a lot of established principles from other titles. We’ll just have to wait patiently to find out if Bungie’s latest venture is truly more than the sum of its parts.