People had high hopes for “Destiny,” the $US500 million franchise from the same studio that produced “Halo,” which is easily considered one of the best and most important games of all time.
But when “Destiny” launched last September, it was immediately met with criticism. And for good reason: The game lacked a coherent storyline, missions felt extremely repetitive, there was no real character development, and systems for rewarding players felt completely arbitrary and did not match one’s own efforts in the game.
Fans were, in a word, frustrated.
But Bungie, the company behind “Destiny,” refuses to give up on its next big franchise. In the 11 months since launch, it has released over 30 different updates and patches to address issues like bugs, balance, playability, and the game’s economy that’s used for upgrading your character. And with each new update, the game feels like it’s actually evolving and improving.
Now, on the eve of its one-year anniversary, “Destiny” is a completely different game than it was last September. And it’s about to undergo one more major transformation next month, with the release of “The Taken King.”
“The Taken King” isn’t a normal game expansion — sure, it has a boatload of new story missions, strikes, gear, and weapons. But it’s so much more than that: The update, internally referred to at Bungie as “Destiny 2.0.0,” will also completely redefine and reorganise the existing game, overhauling the game’s current economy and gameplay so all content from the original game and “The Taken King” feels consistent and fluid.
Here’s just a brief taste of some of the major changes coming to “Destiny” next month:
- The voice of your character’s in-game guide, originally played by Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones” fame, is being replaced. Dinklage hadn’t recorded any new lines for any of the recent expansions, so Bungie hired Nolan North, the voice of Drake in the popular “Uncharted” series, to record all new dialogue in “The Taken King,” and even re-record all dialogue from the original game so players have a consistent experience from start to finish.
- There are entirely new story missions, new strikes, new multiplayer maps, and new enemies called “Taken” that have all sorts of new abilities you’ll need to analyse and adapt to.
- It’s much more clear on how to level up your character: Instead of waiting for a special piece of armour to randomly drop as loot, levelling up is now completely dependent on gaining experience as you play. And now, the new level cap is 40.
- A new six-person “raid” activity, which offers the best rewards in the game but requires lots of teamwork to complete. It’s the biggest raid, mission or activity Bungie has ever created.
- A whole range of new guns and offensive abilities — in fact, Bungie is making all current “legendary” weapons in “Destiny” obsolete in “The Taken King” to force players to focus on this new weaponry.
- All of the economies for upgrading one’s armour and weapons have been revamped and streamlined, and gaining reputation with factions that can reward special gear is now more simplified.
- There’s new music, new voiceovers, and new cinematics and cut-scenes, which will further emphasise the game’s story and overall look and feel.
In all, these changes will give “Destiny” twice the amount of content as the original release. But that’s not why “Destiny” is such a game-changer.
The reason “Destiny” is so important for gaming is that all of these changes have been inspired by fans and players, who have been vocal about their feelings on Bungie’s forums and the “Destiny” subreddit.
It’s no secret that Bungie pays close attention to these congregations of fans, who clearly love “Destiny” but also want to see it improve. But what’s magical is that people’s requested changes are often implemented in just a few months’ time — some sooner, some later than that. Coming from a generation of gamers that simply lived with the bugs and flaws baked into a game — “Super Mario 64,” et al. — seeing a big company like Bungie implement so many important changes on a regular basis is encouraging.
“Destiny” marks a new age for gaming: Nothing is ever set in stone. Any issue, be it a bug or a design choice, can be tweaked or totally revamped. Just because the game is released doesn’t mean it’s finished; far from it. And Bungie, whether it likes it or not, is not solely responsible for guiding the course in “Destiny” — it’s much more of a collaboration between the game makers and the actual players.
And it never stops, either. After “The Taken King,” Bungie will watch the forums to see how people like the new changes, and there will be another round of careful tweaks and updates in the near-future. After all, “Destiny” is a 10-year project, so there are many more expansions and full-release games to come.
By then, who knows what “Destiny” will look like?
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