‘Destiny’ Beta: Why Success And Innovation Should Be Expected From Bungie

The Destiny beta has been gaining a lot of praise all over the internet, although some people do not like the idea of a beta at all. But considering the history of Bungie, it should almost be expected they would innovate and find success in their efforts.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, you probably know this already by now, but the Destiny beta became open to everyone with a PS4, Xbox One, PS3, or Xbox 360.

Now let us delve back into Bungie history. Back in the day, I used to be both a PC and Mac gamer. This is where the PC master race shudders in disgust, but in the early days the only way to enjoy Bungie’s games was on a Mac, although some of their games were ported years later to the PC and even to the consoles. Alexander Seropian and Jason Jones once explained this decision:

“Yeah, I grew up on the Apple II and then the Mac. I wrote all this C code for PCs though, before I even went to school. This was the heyday of PCs, with ‘Wing Commander’ and stuff. The PC market was really cutthroat, but the Mac market was all friendly and lame. So it was easier to compete.”

Although I personally never played Operation: Desert Storm or Minotaur, it was later games where I say they innovated the First Person Shooter (FPS) market way before everyone else. Pathways Into Darkness was released in the Wolfenstein 3D time frame and, while the graphics rendering tech was similar, the gameplay was definitely more advanced. The plot involved special forces investigating a pyramid only to discover a sleeping god and aliens. The goal was to plant a nuclear bomb to prevent the creature’s awakening. Sounds odd, but it worked, and there were many RPG elements incorporated that other FPS games would use until years later. Never mind the fact there were multiple endings which depended on your success in setting off the nuke before the god awakens while also escaping on foot with the radio beacon necessary to call in an extraction.

The next major success from Bungie was the Marathon series, which is still supported with an updated game engine called the Aleph One open source project. In many way, Marathon was a precursor to Halo, yet it came out in the time frame of Doom and Descent. Besides having another great story, the FPS innovations included secondary fire for most weapons, dual-wielding for pistols and shotguns, looking up and down, swimming in water, friendly AI soldiers, and various other crazy good ideas. While we take all of that for granted nowadays, back when Doom was big those concepts were amazing. In addition, like the Destiny beta, the Marathon networking options set the bar higher by introducing game modes like Tag, King of the Hill, and Kill the Man With the Ball. Marathon even allowed the single player scenario to be played cooperatively.

Bungie then went on to innovate the Real Time Strategy market with the Myth series. While games like Starcraft continue to dominate that market, Myth was a Real Time Tactical game that focused on positioning of units instead of the overall picture. To give you an idea of how different this gameplay really is from other RTS games, it’s actually possible to defeat an entire army in network play using a single character if you know the tactics. The Myth time frame is also when they hired musician Marty O’Donnell (it’s too bad what happened), which brings us to their first major success.

Everyone knows Halo at this point, but not many remember how it began life as a SciFi version of Myth. You could almost say that Halo Wars took the series back to its roots. Halo was a first in many ways. It was the first FPS since GoldenEye that really worked on a console, although the then-new dual analog sticks made this possible. The major gameplay innovation that change the FPS genre was the recharging shields, which to this day is copied by practically every single FPS game on the market even if it does not make any sense plot-wise (we’re looking at you, Call of Duty).

I’m only a couple hours into the Destiny beta so I can’t comment too much on gameplay although it’s obviously derivative of Halo. To a certain extent, the networked gameplay of the Destiny beta could be compared to Halo 4: Spartan Ops. But 343 Industries had taken over the Halo brand name by that point, so I’m not sure how much input Bungie had into that particular design feature. Still, the idea of combining dynamic MMO style cooperative play with a FPS is a major innovation and the concept will probably be mimicked for years to come.

What do you think about the Destiny beta so far? Do you think Bungie is being as innovative as in years past?