DES­TINY

EDGE - - MULTIFORMAT AND PC -

Pub­lisher Ac­tivi­sion De­vel­oper Bungie For­mat 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One Re­lease Septem­ber 9

The servers were run­ning long be­fore Bungie made

Des­tiny’s al­pha pub­lic. Some time in mid-May, friends and fam­ily were play­ing in a small slice of Des­tiny’s world, and by early June the test had been ex­panded to spe­cial guests and press. For a time, you could trace the PSN han­dles of any­one you met to the Twit­ter ac­counts of de­vel­op­ers up and down the West Coast, and the fre­quent in­ter­ac­tions Des­tiny thrusts upon play­ers were con­sis­tently cor­dial, ap­par­ently thanks to a cer­tain class of player hunt­ing on these early test servers.

The se­cret ended on June 13, when ev­ery PS4 owner could join in the sur­prise al­pha, but some­thing to­tally un­ex­pected hap­pened: the at­mos­phere re­mained cor­dial, the in­ter­ac­tions stayed friendly and the play­ers – sud­denly num­ber­ing in the mil­lions – were still de­light­ful. In part, it’s thanks to Des­tiny’s limited set of in­ter­ac­tions, just a wave and a dance and a pointy fin­ger, and it’s also due to the sheer de­light of the play­ers to be sam­pling the game so early. Mostly, how­ever, it’s be­cause Bungie has man­aged to build some­thing that only gets bet­ter when people are around.

Alone, Des­tiny is good, but when other play­ers stum­ble into your world on their way to their next quest or when they join you on yours, it be­comes great. It has long been true that co-op with friends adds a lot to gam­ing, but that’s rarely true of co-op­er­a­tive in­ter­ac­tions with strangers, as any Gears Of War player will at­test. Only a rare few do it well, such as Dark Souls, with its count­less lay­ers of ab­strac­tion.

Des­tiny also takes an ab­stract ap­proach, al­low­ing play­ers to meet one an­other as you cross into oth­ers’ games while mak­ing a jour­ney of your own. Around ev­ery cor­ner you find play­ers fight­ing their own per­sonal bat­tles – some­times they need help and some­times they’re hap­pier alone, but com­ing across them is never bor­ing. Their sto­ries be­come tiny pieces of your own, and on oc­ca­sion a fu­ri­ous fire­fight will lead to a bond of sorts, and an in­vite to form a fireteam will ce­ment two strangers to­gether for a few hours of ad­ven­ture. For the first time in a long while, an on­line shooter has be­come a place to make friends, not en­e­mies.

We played Des­tiny last year, long be­fore there were enough play­ers to pro­vide the kind of ex­pe­ri­ence Bungie is af­ter, but one year on to the day we saw that prom­ise ful­filled. The tech­nol­ogy works, the world­build­ing of­fers room to ex­plore, the guns crack, and the play­ers play nice. Call it re­spect, per­haps; Des­tiny de­mands it.

Bungie would dis­pute the de­scrip­tion of Des­tiny as an al­ways-on­line Halo in an open world, but that’s how it feels in play, and that’s what makes it one of this year’s most ex­cit­ing new games

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