A lone wanderer dwarfed by the foreign land before him, your Guardian is a vessel for the exploration of this vastly broken world.
In Destiny, it’s up to you to find the answers we seek. These are answers about humanities bloody past and its daunting future. These are answers about the fate of earth and its colonies beyond the starts. These are answers about how we’ve arrived at such a perilous juncture, our species now closer to extinction than it has ever been before. In Destiny, you are the light that will lift the Darkness, the conduit for the truth and the protector of Earth’s last stronghold. In Destiny, you are the adventurer personified.
For as much as Bungie has been lauded for Destiny’s ‘shared world shooter’ features or its stellar multiplayer mode, one particular aspect of the game that was conveyed perfectly throughout the Alpha and Beta was the emphasis placed on exploration. And in a game as big as Destiny, where would we be without the unshackled freedom to roam?
Here, as I delve back into both pre-release builds for one final time, I’ll be taking a look at just how important Destiny’s adventurous focus is, and just how much exploring every darkened recess of Destiny’s world is both worthwhile and perfectly consistent with the games philosophy. So, here are five ways in which exploration remains an important tenet of the Destiny experience.
The Hunter Gatherer
After being penned within the confines of Old Russia for the majority of both the Destiny Alpha and Beta, you will likely enter the full game knowing that area like the back of your hand.
And if you’ve spent as much time as I have exploring these rusted iron wastelands in search of the perfect loot drop of your next encounter with a Devil Walker, then you will have likely ran into ‘Spinmetal’ a few times.
Spinmetal is a man-made remnant of the Golden Age that bears the appearance of a plant out in the wild. Glowing with a soft metallic shimmer and jaggedly protruding from the cracked ground, Spinmetal is a collectible that’s largely useful for selling back in The Tower. There, you can trade it in for a mixture of Glimmer, Crucible Marks and Vanguard Marks, making the collecting of Spinmetal, and other possible similar materials, a profitable endeavour.
And what’s more, salvaging unneeded loot that you’ve earned in the frontier will earn you materials similar to that of Spinmetal. One such material is ‘Sapphire Wire’, which Hunters can obtain by breaking down uncommon or higher Hunter gear. This can then be used as a component to upgrade superior armour you come across later in the game, meaning that there really is a use for everything that you scavenge.
Many games as expansive as Destiny litter their worlds with collectibles to gather, but few make them as useful to your continued survival.
In Destiny, your collectible pursuits will be limited largely to two things; golden loot chests and dead Ghosts.
The former is as simple as they come, with quintets of golden chests inhabiting every different area of the game, bar The Tower. Notable by their glossy golden sheen and ambient humming, golden loot chests contain a helpful lump sum of Glimmer as well as the chance of a weapon drop. Collect all five chests within a single area, and you’ll even be adorned with a reward for all your hard work. An example of this would be an upgraded Sparrow, which I was given for collecting all golden chests in Old Russia.
Next to golden chests, dead Ghosts are scattered throughout the land, each hidden away out of sight of both Guardians and the many enemies that now roam the land. More plentiful than golden chests but a little harder to find due to their size, dead Ghosts increase the players Grimoire score and provide bonuses such as better loot drops and quicker EXP gain.
The Explorer Extraordinaire
Perfectly tailored to both the seasoned adventurer and greenhorn alike, ‘Explore’ missions offer a series of smaller objectives that are playable entirely at your own pace.
Allowing Guardians to justify their aimless ambling by earning Glimmer and Vanguard Marks as they go, Explore missions are activated by interacting with flashing beacons out in the wild, and range from bounty hunting to requisition orders.
These are Bungie’s way of providing a little bit of method to your madness. After all, if you’re willing to spend an hour or two cutting down the same pack of Fallen for loot drops, you may as well be earning a little bit of extra Glimmer as well as some Vanguard Marks on the side.
And not only that, Explore missions remain completely true to their name, helping an otherwise lost Guardian open up more parts of the map by taking them from corner to corner and back again.
Part of what makes exploration such a tantalizing prospect is the potential danger that it commands.
In Destiny, just as in many similar games, exploration takes you across large swathes of land, and in each new locale exists a danger behind the unexpected. In the case of Destiny, it’s the job of ‘Public Events’ to keep you on your toes as you wander the wild.
Public Events come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from objective pursuits to simple ‘kill this target’ challenges. Harnessing the power of Bungie’s ‘shared world’ mechanic, Public Events will bring together a group of Guardians to help you deal with the task ahead, whilst allowing you to interact with your fellow Guardians outside of The Tower for a change.
Public Events, as well as being an affirmation that you are one of many Guardians seeking to belay the rise of the darkness, also serve as spectacular reminders as to what your role within the universe is.
You may have been content simply harvesting Spinmetal or spelunking, but as soon as you see a portal rip through the sky and bring a gargantuan ship with it, it’s time to put your game face on and defend the land you’re trying desperately to reclaim.
It’s dangerous out in the wild, and if you’re not careful, it may be the Hive in the skies that take you out, rather than the Hive on the ground.
Perhaps though there is no greater benefit to the exploration of Destiny than to see the level of destruction caused by The Collapse first-hand.
Although we may have only sampled two distinct locations of the game heading into the full release, the mangled metal ruins of Old Russia and the desecrated, broken mantle of the Moon have at least given us some immediate perspective of just how damning The Collapse actually was.
Thus far, we’ve wandered into the home of the Hive, delved into the murky depths of the Moon, we’ve explored downed spacecraft and a satellite array operated by a mysterious AI long thought dead, and we’ve even fought a giant floating sphere that held dominion as a religious zealot over an enclave of Fallen soldiers.
And with Destiny now mere days away from its release, I simply can’t wait to resume my duties as a Guardian by heading back out into vast uncharted lands beyond The City, combing the cosmos in search of a way to push back the ever-encroaching darkness. There’s so much more out there to see, and it won’t be long before we have a chance to see it.
See you star-side, Guardian.