Despite Bungie’s rather coy attitude towards conforming Destiny to a particular genre or subset, for me, Destiny will always be an RPG more than it is any other type of game. It may have the skin of a first-person shooter or the musculature of an adventure game, but Destiny, down to its very bones, is a social, adventurous, colourful role-playing game with a dash of MMO and a pinch of ‘shared world shooter’ thrown in for good measure.
My namesake Ashley Kalym recently posted a superb article on this very site detailing how, regardless of what label people ply to game, Destiny’s transcendent nature and multi-faceted repertoire mean that it’s hard to simply shoe-horn it into a single genre. But although this may be the case, our aspirations for the game still depend on everything we’ve come to expect from the multitude of predecessors that Destiny has taken inspiration from.
Destiny is an FPS, so we’ll be expecting solid gunplay, it’s a ‘shared world shooter’, so we expect a great amount of social interactivity with our fellow Guardians, and in the case of it also being part RPG, we of course expect a glut of ways to make our character feel as unique and personal as possible, tailoring them to our every whim and expectation.
From SKYRIM to Fallout 3 and everything in between, the choices we make, be they aesthetic or organic, define our time with each game. And in Destiny, it’s my hope that the amount of personalization options available to us are more than we have ever seen before and are completely befitting of the gargantuan title that the game is.
As a concept, personalization is the way in which you define yourself in a game. In Call of Duty, you may add a garish camouflage to your weapon, in SKYRIM you may name one of your swords after an ex-girlfriend and in DC Universe Online, you might even clad yourself in a glimmering golden cape. Personalization makes you more than just another animated figure in a world of pixels and polygons, rather it makes you stand out amongst the crowd, a diamond in the rough.
For Destiny though, the concept of personalization and the subsequent customization of our characters and gear needs to reach further than it ever has done before. This is due to Destiny being in the fairly awkward position of being recognized as the first true next-gen console experience, and if it’s lacking depth in areas that games from the previous generation have delivered on, then that might be enough to see Destiny only heralded as a good game, rather than a great one.
But what should Destiny strive for, and what personalization choices will be available to us right from the get-go? Well, let’s take a look, shall we?
I, the hero.
Firstly, we already know that Destiny will afford us the chance to choose our own race and creed before we begin our journey. Our options, although limited, allow us to begin our adventure either as a mechanical EXO, a mysterious Awoken or a resilient human in the fight for our survival, but it’s the choice of player class that is of particular interest.
With multiple skills and attributes to invest in within a single bracket, it would seem that right off the bat we’re going to be given numerous ways to approach the game, and with Destiny being as big as it is, the depth in our characters skillsets is something that will allow us to fine tune our combative experience to our every requirement. But with traditional ‘skill-trees’ forcing us to stick to a single path during our character development, will Destiny allow us to have free reign over which attributes we enhance within a single bracket, or will we be stuck along a narrow path as is the norm? Whatever the case, the depth in character presets will at the very least will allow us to sample the Destiny story line several times over, each with a fresh approach to the war ahead.
I, the icon.
But when we’re not fighting, we want to be looking equal parts death-dealer and fashion icon, and for this, Destiny looks to provide us with the breadth in apparel we need to endure the day-to-day goings on both in and around The City. Through a variety of pictures taken from some of the early Destiny ViDoc’s, each piece of clothing will come complete with its own statistics such as armour level and rarity, and although we all strive for the best set of equipment possible, there’s still a case to be made for the additional touch. A dash of orange to my boots, a flick of blue to my helmet…for clothing customization in Destiny to be truly ‘next-gen’, not only does it need to adhere to the rating system that Bungie have put in place, but it also needs to give us enough leeway to define ourselves without forcing us to become slaves to high armour ratings and the constant switching of gear. Application and aesthetics don’t necessarily have to be contradictory to each other, and if Bungie hits this particular nail on its head, then we may be able to sample to best of both worlds.
I, the killer.
And in the case of weaponry, the system used in the Borderlands series is perhaps the closest replication of the one we’ll find in Destiny. Each weapon has its own colour-based rarity as well as a numerical level which denotes its maximum power and usefulness, but if there was a problem with the Borderlands system, it was that it was almost too rigid. Borderlands prided itself on offering millions of weapon combinations, each crazier than the last, but even if you found a perfect weapon that suited your every need, it would still have an expiry date.
In Destiny, Bungie hope to combat this by giving each weapon a skill-tree similar to that of your character and thus adding yet another cog to the Destiny machine, but the question of whether or not you’ll be able to actually customize your weapons still remains unanswered. In many RPG’s, you get what you’re given and have to live with it. In SKYRIM, I settled with plying a name to each of my swords and enchanting them, but I had little say in the type of hilt or blade. Being able to find a superb revolver in Destiny and progress through its own tailored skill-tree, all the while making changes to it like colour, grip and type of iron sights would add a level of personalization that, although is the norm in many an FPS, would give Destiny that extra edge and appeal.
But be it through steadfast Bungie confidentiality or a simple lack of information, much about Destiny, not least its depth in personalization, remains completely shrouded in mystery. As we gear up for September’s release, there’s still E3 in the Summer to look forward to as much of Destiny’s secrecy will slowly peter out into the open, but until then, I live in hope that this will be the game that encompasses everything I’ve come to love from a plethora of games past with the added panache of some deliciously next-gen advancements.