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Destiny: Bungie’s ‘little-big’ reveal leaves a sour taste

Monday, 18th February 2013 10:34 GMT By Dave Cook

Destiny, Bungie’s next ‘ten-year’ franchise was revealed last night, sparking enthusiasm and not a small amount of chagrin. Dave Cook calls for a reality check.

‘Shock and awe’ is king and transparency be damned, thanks to a methodically strategised, heavily-funded campaign of mystery and half-truths.

We’ve been seeing Bungie drop little hints about the next ten years of its new franchise for about a year. The Halo studio teased, so we were supposed to listen and get increasingly excited until the day Activision allowed open conversation on Destiny.

This is how the console industry works.

‘Shock and awe’ is king and transparency be damned, thanks to a methodically strategised, heavily-funded campaign of mystery and half-truths. The carrot and stick mentality is the norm. After yesterday’s Destiny reveal, the carrot seems slightly rotten.

Yesterday, a group of gaming press was corralled to Bungie’s studio in Seattle on Activision’s dollar to see the fruit of the developer’s labour – the grand plan for its next decade.

The atmosphere was thick with excitement on social networks and forums as gamers sat anxious, waiting to see what they’d been asked to anticipate for so long. First, a vidoc released, showing off some animated concept art followed by a few seconds of gameplay.

Bungie employees popped up every so often to wax lyrical about how incredible Destiny will be, and I have no reason to disbelieve them. What we know of the concept sounds brilliant, but here’s the problem: the concept itself hasn’t fully been established.

This was not a reveal.

Shock-tease

It was more teasing, more half-truths to add to the rumour pile. I was reminded of Nintendo’s half-reveal of the Wii U at E3 2011. Afterwards, the confused press spoke outside in sweltering LA sun, confused about what they’d just seen. What was it? How did it work? What can it do?

Without answering these questions, you can’t realistically claim you have revealed a product. The fundamentals are still muddied, the core pitch unclear. We know that Destiny requires an always-on internet connection, and that it takes place in an always-connected world.

So what is it? Is it an online RPG like Guild Wars 2, or is it a straight-up MMOFPS? Does it feature microtransactions? All of these key questions should have been answered, but they weren’t.

What did lend greater insight into Destiny’s world were the string of previews that came out after the initial video dropped. Talk of the last human city on Earth being bombarded by aliens, a sprawling world that can see squads of human-controlled players blasting off into orbit before travelling to mars and venus gave greater cause for excitement.

But given the general lack of detail, it’s little wonder gamers on forums and comment threads blasted the reveal as little more than show-boating. Some went further, blasting Bungie and Activision for creating a ‘shit’ game, for making online mandatory, and for creating something that just ‘looks like Halo.’

There’s little doubt in my mind that Destiny will be epic in scope, and will go on to be another solid franchise from Bungie, but by that token I think some gamers need to give themselves a shake.

It doesn’t just look like Halo. It’s an MMOFPS of sorts (seemingly), so of course it requires a net connection. Finally, no one’s seen enough of it to make a solid verdict on quality.

Activision and Bungie should have addressed this. We didn’t see enough of Destiny yesterday. There was no clear message. The event was merely the first drip in a year-long drip campaign being tacked on to a previous year of dripping. It’s true that it’s just a vocal minority of gamers which lashes out negatively in these instances, but surely, considering this was the first proper announcement event, we should at least know for certain what genre we’re looking at here?

We’re in the realms of cynicism, and that saddens me as a genuine fan of this intelligent, thought-provoking, entertaining and valid hobby. It’s true that both sides – Bungie’s weak reveal and the trash talking hate-mongers – should be wearing red faces this morning, but it’s time to admit that a “reveal” should be just that. Close-handedness treats everyone like suckers, and that’s never a solid policy.

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21 Comments

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  1. Fin

    Yar this is how I felt.

    It was basically “these are our over-arcing design goals, we’re not telling you anything else”. I was surprised the previews were able to pad it out as much as they did.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. mojo

    its wow in shooter form

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Mike W

    yea it sure does.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. bitsnark

    What we got yesterday is EXACTLY what I imagine Bungie used to sell Activision on publishing the thing; which is to say, it sounded like bulleted Powerpoint presentation with loads of buzzery thrown in for added effect.

    As far as getting gameplay footage goes, Bungie are in an awkward spot as they can’t really show the game at its best until the next-gen consoles get their time in the sun.

    I do agree with the majority of sensible-headed folks though; this was a hugely undercooked reveal which left us with many more unanswered questions than what we started with.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. mistermogul

    “Afterwards, the confused press spoke outside in sweltering LA sun”

    Very confusing considering they were in Seattle!

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @5 Re-read that line again please :)

    #6 1 year ago
  7. mistermogul

    @6 – Oops! I hate Mondays!

    Apologies…

    #7 1 year ago
  8. ArcticMonkey

    I like Bungie, always enjoyed the Halo games, but this “reveal” left me completely underwhelmed. I thought, like most of you, we’d get a story trailer and gameplay videos. What we got was what felt like a bigger, sanctioned run of screenshot leaks.

    I like to see Bungie trying something new and I’m still looking forward to an actual reveal but here are my potential red flags for Destiny.

    1. Always online. A seemingly foreign concept for many console owners. Until we think about the millions of gamers, and there are millions, who buy COD or Battlefield for JUST multiplayer. They’ve already spent years with a mandatory connection… But like me, I bet most of you are more into games for the single player experience? Then the pitfalls would be the stability of Destiny’s servers, and just how many in the larger US market aren’t connected to broadband? Limiting Destiny’s market penetration.

    2. There seems to a focus on the casual. I’m paraphrasing, but someone at Bungie said “The easy part will be making it accessible to beginners and veterans alike, the hard part will be keeping the more experienced playes engaged” In other words the “core gamer”, us. With less focus on a deep story and challenging gameplay, will it still be attractive to us? Maybe, but if it leans too causal maybe not for long. This is supposed to be a generational franchise, lasting ten years.

    3. Next gen consoles will undoubtedly continue us down the path of the monetization/F2P/microtransactions New world order of gaming. How much content will they lock us out of? If any. Sans a monthly sub fee Activision WILL take advantage of this business model. Will it be too invasive?

    I’m looking forward to learning more about destiny, it has the potential to be one of the next gen’s true monoliths of gaming, and a groundbreaking franchise, the concerns are valid tho.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. Butcher8

    The amount of info was underwhelming but considering Halo revolutionised shooters forever, it’s hard not to get excited at the type of game they are making, I for one am very excited, albeit I want to see alot more (which is the idea I’m sure!).

    #9 1 year ago
  10. The_Red

    I am kinda surprised. I’ve always felt bad about these “reveals” but I don’t Destiny was any worse than the rest. They are always about showboating and they are always annoyingly vague.

    According to the previews, the game has SINGLE PLAYER and CO-OP! So when you reveal that your SINGEPLAYER-enabledgame requires constant online connection while everything else is shrouded in mystery, of crouse there are going to be negative reactions. Heck, I’ve already lost interest in the game (Thanks to the said always online) and I still don’t know what the hell is this going on inside the game.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. Erthazus

    So you saw a game or not, Dave?

    A lot of journalists say that they were told that this game was amazing and that’s it, but Geoff Keighley said in the interview on GT that he saw the game in trailers without shooting and stuff.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. mojo

    there are ingame shots erth

    http://i.imgur.com/tjK9BKu.png
    http://i.imgur.com/D8CdqVZ.png

    nothing special.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. karma

    Its bound to feature microtransactions or some equivalent to unlock parts of the game. That certainty along with the ‘I don’t see how this is any different to any other MMO’ and the fact it requires an always connected internet, even to play single player put me right off. Also its from Activision and has a ten year plan. I can easily see this becoming Acti’s new main ‘milk it until it keels over and dies’ franchise. I shudder to think how much i’ll hate this game in 5-6 years, just like I do CoD right now. Saying your gonna be around for that length of time is exactly what I dont want to hear. I want new experiences, not the same one for ten years running.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. salarta

    I haven’t really been paying attention to Destiny, but I don’t think we can call it a “shit” game. It’s a brand new IP, just starting out, with little information to go on. It might be different if it was dealing with an already established IP and some portion of what was revealed went completely against the nature of that IP, but this is something completely new. There’s none of that to judge on.

    I haven’t read many of the accusations, but the one I see is complaints about always being online. If it’s always online because it’s an MMO environment, that’s fine. It’s a different matter if there’s a distinct story mode primarily focused on single player. If that’s the case, then much like with Assassin’s Creed II, requiring a constant internet connection is stupid beyond belief.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. manamana

    Could be like in Dark Souls, where other players invade your world, which also requires you to be online when playing.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. salarta

    @15: The difference is that with Dark Souls, you’re not REQUIRED to be online. The game isn’t set up in such a way where you can’t play it if you have no internet connection. You would miss out on all the fun and useful features, but you can play the whole game offline.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. The_Red

    @15
    Except Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls require an always online connection and are unique action RPGs instead of a shooter.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. salarta

    @17: … No they don’t. I played and beat both games, I know you can play them offline. The default is online, but if you are not connected to the internet with the device, then before you start the game, you will get a prompt both informing you that you are offline and asking if you wish to play in Offline Mode.

    At least, that’s what both games do on PS3. I haven’t played Dark Souls on 360 or PC, so those might force you to play online. Dark Souls on PS3 and Demon’s Souls can be played offline.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. manamana

    Of course the Souls series can be played offline. I wasn’t answering to#14. I was just guessing what kind of approach Bungiie will take, when its not titled as an MMO. Don’t get upset salarta, be brave ;-)

    #19 1 year ago
  20. salarta

    @19: Ah, sorry for the misunderstanding. :)

    #20 1 year ago
  21. DevilsAdvocate

    The “reveal” was definitely more of a tease. There was a total of maybe 5-15 seconds of in game footage that revealed very little except sprint animation. It’s rather disappointing to see a company we as a community expect so much of reveal so little to the gaming world. It appeared to be more of a “hype nudge” than anything else.

    On the other hand, I have a very large amount of respect for Bungie as a developer. They seem to be more like gamers than corporate employees which is good, and always come off as enthusiastic about what they do and ambitious about what they’re doing. The “behind the scenes” stuff that was shown in their reveal looked excellent, and I am fully prepared for Destiny to revolutionize gaming just as Halo did before it.

    #21 1 year ago