It may be hard to believe, but Bungie’s Destiny has been in the works ever since the time of Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST. ‘Destiny Awaits’ read the poster plastered to the street-side wall in ODST, a Destiny teaser that preceded the games announcement by almost three years. Following that, Bungie’s suspect trademark of the ‘Bungie Aerospace’ domain kept us all wondering even more, before an official announcement set in stone Destiny’s origin back in late 2011.
This may be Bungie’s first ever foray into creating a game that is more parts RPG than it is FPS, but if their stewardship of the Halo franchise is anything to go by, then the story of Destiny will be as enthralling as it is well-told. For one thing, Destiny is a fresh IP, and this means that certain things are a given. A new story in a completely new location will sate our desires for a fresh world to call our own, whilst a combination of both the game and its accompanying novels will add further substance to a universe being steadily built from the ground up. This isn’t likely to be a one-off game. Once you’re engrossed in the world of Destiny, it’s Bungie’s belief that you’ll stay a while.
With so little of the game outright confirmed as fact though, it’s easy to draw our own conclusions when it comes to the story of Destiny. The Traveller, the Guardians, the Awoken and the Collapse…so many questions unanswered, so much truth to unravel.
And so, as we prepare to immerse ourselves in the rich, mysterious world of Bungie’s next endeavour, let’s take a look at what possible avenues we’ll have for unwinding the expansive tapestry that makes up Destiny’s lore.
I, the librarian.
I tend to have a love-hate relationship with in-game collectibles. Their gratuitousness tends to depend on one of two things. Firstly, how they’re implemented and secondly, why I should attempt to collect all of them in the first place.
It’s perhaps a good thing then that Bungie have a fairly solid track-record when it comes to handling them. In Halo 3: ODST, a series of audio logs were scattered around New Mombasa in the wake of the Covenant invasion. After touching down as the ODST rookie, you could then set about finding them as you meandered through the scorched ruins of the city in search of your squad. With each individual recording detailing another part in the story of ‘Sadie’, one of the many people trying to flee a New Mombasa under siege, the audio logs offered a previously unfamiliar insight into the invasion, whilst the story itself made the relatively small ODST universe seem that much bigger.
Most notable though was Bungie’s implementation of collectibles in Halo 3, with the quest to locate each and every terminal in the main campaign feeling like a task more suited to an RPG than an FPS. Across each level in the Halo 3 campaign were a number of terminals that divulged a series of messages sent between two figures that called themselves the ‘Didact’ and the ‘Librarian’. Assumed to be of mythical Forerunner origin, this was the Halo series first ever acknowledgment of those aforementioned race of creators outside of the Halo novels. And little did we know, but this conversation would prove the inspiration for the direction of the 343 Halo trilogy, with the Halo 4 plot centring around the now resurrected Didact and his relationship with both the Librarian and humanity as a whole.
The audio logs and terminals were a superb and completely justified reason to include a meta-game fetch quest in amidst the relentless shooting sections of both Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST, but will such an approach still be so well received in Destiny? Will it be as simple as looking for a guide online and then traversing to each and every collectible location across the stars, or will a different approach govern Bungie’s attempts at sowing seeds of lore across the Destiny universe?
Well, by Bungie’s own admission, at least some of its more intrinsic stories will be told exclusively through its weaponry. According to art designer Tom Doyle, Destiny’s weapons represent “Some of the most persistent forms of artwork in the game, so therefore, it’s one of the loudest channels to tell the story of Destiny”. He continued “There is a lot of what I refer to as ‘implied fiction’ in the weapons. The design and detail of weapons like The Duke or Thunderlord are meant to convey the sort of creator who made it, the place it came from, and the sort of user who’d wield it. The idea is to give the world – and the guns and manufacturers in it – a feeling that they existed before you found a weapon, and will continue to long after you’re done.”
Although “implied fiction” would suggest something much more indirect than an almanac of earth’s history bundled in with each and every weapon you find, the prospect of unique weapon descriptions revealing more of both their heritage and the heritage of the planet sounds like a great way to convey some of the smaller events of the Destiny universe.
I, the fateful.
A concept that allows for multiple conclusions based on your choices throughout a game, branching storylines have curried favour with gamers over the past decade as the desire to carve out our own unique path as risen greatly.
Before, we may have been happy with a solitary ending that rounded off our story neatly, but as player-choice became more of a necessity, so has the need to conclude our journey with an ending that’s perfectly confluent with all our decisions.
Games like Fable 2 and Mass Effect 2 gave us a rather meagre introduction to this sort of system during the seventh generation of consoles, as you simply chose between a good and evil path to guide you from the stories start to its end. Your character then physically altered as you made decisions based on your morality, before the game ultimately concluded with either an ending based on your previous choices, or a choice that needed to be made right at the last.
Unlike those aforementioned titles, Destiny is a completely cooperative game, which may throw the use of the branching path mechanic into disrepute. Despite this though, there may still be enough room for one cooperative party to see a different conclusion to the game than the next. Some of the more notable titles in the past to have used this feature like the inimitable duo of Fallout 3 and the Elder Scrolls V: SKYRIM are strictly single-player only affairs, however should Bungie incorporate a vote feature allowing trios of players to decide on the next course of action, then this may be a possibility. A World of Warcraft ‘phasing’ approach could also be viable in making Destiny the first multiplayer game to include branching storylines, which would add yet another innovative weapon to Destiny’s already stellar arsenal.
I, the unknowing.
At this point it may be a little too premature to already be thinking about the inevitable sequel to Destiny, but with such a big world being complimented by additional novels and the prospect of DLC, it’ll be interesting to see where the series heads in the future.
Will the mystery of The Traveller be solved by the time that Destiny concludes? Will our foes that instigated The Collapse be defeated? Will we be completely left in the lurch until a sequel arises many years later?
If the game is anything like the Bungie Halo trilogy, then Destiny will be a tale that cautiously unwinds over the course of several game releases that may even see us have to wait a decade for any sort of closure. But you know what? That’s perfectly fine. My eagerness to learn more about the world is offset by the nagging feeling in the back of my head reminding me to enjoy the journey that the game has to offer. Destiny isn’t a game to blitz in one sitting; rather it’s a game that deserves a careful approach with players affording equal amounts of time to everything that it has to offer. Remember, this is a game that Bungie truly believe will advance both the FPS, action-adventure and RPG genres into a new era, and with so much integral story to tell over the course of multiple games, novels and DLC, there’s little need for the series to rush right out of the gate only to meet a hurried conclusion.
No aspects of Destiny have been made in haste. Destiny is a slow-burner, and a cosmic opera that’s set to unfurl before our very eyes over the course of many years to come. Here’s to the ride ahead.
If you enjoyed this article, make sure to catch up on the two that preceded it, the Personalization of Destiny and the Armaments of Destiny. Stay tuned as the final two articles in this series, the Inhabitants of Destiny and the Universe of Destiny, are due out in the not too distant future, exclusively here on Destiny News.