Destiny has three classes, and your choice may have long-lasting consequences.
Destiny launches tonight, and if you haven't already made up your mind about which class to play, it's time to do so.
We've got a detailed guide explaining the differences between the classes and how they play, including details of the second subclass, which unlocks at level 15. But what we haven't explained is why it matters. After all, as long as you're having fun, right?
Wrong - or at least, wrong for those of you planning to stick around to level 20 to have a go at the game's Raids, which Bungie promises will be lengthy and very difficult affairs. It's going to matter there.
In discussing Raids, Bungie has let slip some interesting details, confirming that there's more to Raids than finding five friends with decent skills and a couple of hours to spare.
Speaking to Eurogamer, production director Jonty Barnes said that six players is the sweet spot for raids, with two complete fire teams of players prepared for different "roles".
"With raids, you don't just jump into them. You've got to prepare before you go in, and decide, what are you doing? What am I doing? Let's all talk about it in orbit. Okay, what role are you going to play?" he said.
"Well, I'm an x Titan, whatever type of Titan I am, and I'm going to be defensive and hold positions. And, have you played this before? Yeah, I found success when I did it this way."
"We've all got roles to play. So it requires a commitment of six people," he added.
Since we know that Destiny doesn't have a traditional healer class, what those roles are is a bit mysterious; you won't be relying on the "holy trinity" of tank, healer and damage dealer.
We know that Bungie imagines players taking on foes in a triangular formation - Barnes describes this as "flank wingmen", but Raids promise more elaborate problems than "be sure to flank the enemies".
Bungie has made repeated references to figuring out what you'll have to do to beat Raids, and I'm betting it's going to have something to do with elements, and coming prepared with the right one for the job ahead.
Elemental damage went under the radar during the alpha and beta test as there were no challenges beyond the capacity of regular weapons (apart from gatekeeper enemies, of course; you weren't supposed to be able to kill those at all).
There are three elements in Destiny - Solar, Arc and Void Light. They have a rock-paper-scissors like arrangement, with each type both weak and strong against one other. This video by DattoDoesDestiny explains it quite well.
Now, weapons are all very well, but you can only carry a limited amount of Special and Heavy ammo, so if raids require elemental damage, you're going to need some way to deal it out when you've run out of ammo.
As it happens, each subclass has an elemental affinity. Hunter Gunslingers and Warlock Sunsingers are Solar Light aligned. Hunter Bladedancers and Titan Strikers are Arc Light aligned. Finally, Warlock Voidwalker and Titan Defenders are Void Light aligned.
If you form a fireteam of six, with one of each subclass, you'll have two players equipped to handle each elemental affinity. This is probably the best configuration for your first run on a raid, before you've figured out the specific requirements.
After that, things are going to get complex. Is it better to bring two (or perhaps even more) Gunslingers, capable of sniping enemies with the Golden Gun? Do we need two Defenders to tank and stay strong against Voice Light attacks, or should we have a Striker to hit hard with Arc Light?
Figuring out the best combinations for each Raid - and perhaps each checkpoint of a Raid - is going to be a lot of fun for early players. Once you know what you need to do, forming a Raid group with players of the right subclass and equipped with the right gear - maybe not so much, if everyone you know is playing a Warlock. Of course, you can always have alts, but since you have to get to level 25 in order to participate in raids, that's quite the commitment.
Bungie is very supportive of players using third-party sites and tools to help set up groups for Raids, because only committed, educated players are likely to do so - not the casual sorts who might just drop into matchmaking unawares. So you'll always be able to find someone online to play with if you try hard enough. That said, if you know you're going to be tackling Raids with a dedicated group of mates, it wouldn't hurt to have a chat and work out who's going to be the Titans, who's going to be the Hunters, and who's going to be the Warlocks, can it?
Destiny launches September 9 on PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Raids open on September 16 for characters of level 25 and above.