Bungie: Ending ‘Halo’ Was ‘Liberating,’ But Can ‘Destiny’ Stand Tall Like The Master Chief?

The Destiny game developer Bungie is already talking about how it felt good to be free of developing Halo after spending so many years on the series. Although Bungie says they planned Destiny with a 10-year vision in mind, some critics seem to think gamers are already bored of the game after only a few days.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, some Destiny reviews decry the game world as being “sterile,” and Bungie claims that gamers merely need to put at least 20 hours of gameplay in before they really start to see the long-term vision for the series.

As a video game developer, Bungie has a long history of being an innovator. 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 game incorporated many RPG elements that other FPS games would not use until many years later. When Bungie was first talking about Destiny, they even made a reference to Pathways Into Darkness by giving Destiny the subtitle “Pathways Out of Darkness.” Although that subtitle was dropped for the final release, it reflected how the story was about a fight between Light and Dark.

The next major success from Bungie was the Marathon series, which was ported to the Xbox at one point. In many ways, 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 (which makes us wonder why Destiny’s split screen CoOp mode wasn’t possible).

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 created a deep fantasy world with characters which made you care whether or not each man in your army lived or died. Gameplay wise, Myth still stands alone even to this day, and there really hasn’t been a similar game since.

Everyone knows Halo, so that’s where the majority of comparisons will be made to Destiny. But Bungie themselves felt “liberated” once they had a chance to work on a new project. Speaking with USA Today, community manager David Dague said the studio felt a new franchise was necessary for the company to move on.

“We’ll never turn a blind eye to the accomplishments that come from the ‘Halo’ era at Bungie,” Dague said. “But as creators, as artists, as people with imaginations for how games can be new and different, and exciting, it was pretty liberating, actually, to start with a blank canvas and say, ‘What sort of story do we want to tell now?’ We had a lot of fun stretching our legs and challenging ourselves to explore some new territory [with ‘Destiny’]. And it’s been a welcome change for a lot of people on the team who had kept their imaginations rooted in that United Nations Space Command for so many years.””

Dague says Bungie had originally envisioned Halo as a standalone product, not a series that continues to this day underneath 343 Industries’ guiding hand, and as such, “there wasn’t a lot of planning done well in advance to support that sort of thing.” But with Destiny, they planned the game to be a world that’s supposed to last 10 years. The question mains: Will gamers stick around for that long?

The complaints started with the beta. At first there was a lot of talk about MMO elements, but perhaps what gamers envisioned was beyond the scope of even Bungie. In the months prior to the launch, developers started to say that calling Destiny a MMO was not accurate. There was also talk about the map size not being large enough for the Destiny beta, although Bungie asserts the final game is still bigger than any Halo game ever made.

The issue at hand is the expectations set ahead of time. Most people seemed to envision something a little more dynamic. Essentially, everyone was expecting more of an open world like Skyrim and Borderlands, where the servers dynamically hooked up gamers into dynamically generated storytelling missions that provided the single player experience. While that can happen in Destiny, typically it’s for relatively short scenarios, and the Destiny Strike missions are preset dungeon crawls. The world was supposed to be more open and free, where exploration rewarded the intrepid adventurer. The areas that held high level enemies were expected to be a jump into the looking glass where a new story section was unlocked, but in many cases, they were just dirty holes filled with enemies, or tunnels that simply connected sections of the patrol map.

The good news is that Bungie can, in fact, extend Destiny in many ways to address the critics through DLC and free updates. The hard part is finding a soul, and doing so quickly, since Peter Dinklage’s Ghost character is pretty much the only interesting character in the cast, and he’s certainly no Guilty Spark, never mind a Master Chief or Cortana. If Bungie doesn’t move quickly, then they face the real possibility of Destiny being remembered like this.

Destiny Borderlands