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Destiny's public beta test is wrapping up this this weekend. This extensive trial of the game has jacked up the hype for its September launch by a few notches.
But will Destiny be the biggest hit of the fall? Could it end up falling short of expectations? Here's what the Gaming Blend team had to say about Bungie's next game and its long-term potential.
1) Will Destiny be appealing to gamers that don't like shooters?Pete Haas: RPG fans might be drawn in by the talk about raids, character progression and open-world exploration. I can't imagine them actually staying if they don't like shooters, though. Destiny is a first-person shooter with RPG elements, not an RPG with shooter elements. There's not enough story or strategy here to hold the attention of someone looking for a pure RPG. You'll spend most of your time in gunfights. if you don't enjoy that, you're not going to enjoy the game.
William Usher: This is a tough one. One of the common driving factors for big AAA games is getting any and everyone talking about a game through marketing – whether that audience likes the game or not. I think if Destiny was completely reliant on word-of-mouth and actual hands-on play-time, it may not appeal entirely to gaming audiences who don't play shooter games at all. With Activision and Bungie's aggressive marketing, it appears they're going to ensure that every gamer and their mother knows about Destiny by the time release rolls around. So I think the appeal from gamers who don't like shooters might come in the form of friends or family jumping in on the hype bandwagon.
Ryan Winslett: Absolutely not. I don't want to paint Destiny into too narrow a corner, since it has all of those nifty MMO elements thrown in, but that doesn't change the fact that the game is first and foremost a shooter. Not only that, but it's a decently challenging shooter, rewarding strategic play and sharp aim, and there's no pause button to allow you to take a breather if things get too frantic. To top it all off, your options on the battlefield are a bit more varied than in your standard shooter. You don't just pull the trigger and chuck a grenade that kills everyone. And double jumps, flying, Supers and the like mean that you have a bigger tool box to pick from when mowing down the enemy. If you don't like shooters, I have a hard time believing Destiny will change your mind.
Katy Goodman: I definitely think it will. Whereas games like Halo, Titanfall, Call of Duty, or Battlefield are more limited for FPS fans, Destiny falls away from that with its RPG elements. It has a solid balance of PvP for the competitive FPS fans, but balances that out with the co-op play and narrative. I think narrative contributes to a shooter a lot… I remember talking to a friend who despises FPS games but loved Wolfenstein: the New Order simply because of its story and gameplay. And I know FPS fans who fell away from Titanfall because there is little to no narrative. It’s interesting to see how the way game plays can outweigh the influence of its overall genre. I think the same will happen with Destiny.
2) Could Destiny become bigger than Call of Duty?Pete: Destiny's going to sell really well thanks to the positive previews, large public beta and endless parade of advertising. I don't know that it's going to ever be "bigger" than Call of Duty, though, simply because Activision's committed to releasing COD sequels on an annual basis. I'm sure that Destiny's post-launch DLC and microtransactions will make a fair amount of money but it may not be as lucrative as selling a slightly improved COD each November. Plus, whatever business lessons that Activision learns from Destiny (e.g. "Gamers really love paying for XP boosts!") will probably be used in making Call of Duty more of a cash-cow.
Will: It seems like Destiny already has more hype than this year's Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Heck, you can't go a day without hearing about Destiny in some form, fashion or another within the gaming news ring. What's more is that there's a lot of strong, positive feedback from gamers participating in the alpha and beta, opposite of games like Battlefield: Hardline, meaning that Destiny is likely to sell well within its targeted demographic. I don't think this year's outing of the game will reach CoD status, but I wouldn't doubt it if Destiny's sequel rivals or surpasses Call of Duty's sales.
Ryan:Yes, there's definitely potential for a passing of the torch. For starters, I think a lot of gamers are growing weary of Call of Duty and are eager to see something new come to the shooting genre. Destiny comes from a tried and true developer, it should already claim the Halo crowd, no questions asked, and the inclusion of meaty cooperative and competitive components means that it should have plenty of legs for folks who could care less about the campaign. There's the added bonus that Bungie has stated that they plan to support this game for a decade. There's no telling how that will actually play out, but when you're used to buying a brand new game for a series every single year, plus countless map packs over the following 12 months, the idea of a single purchase and future upgrades that further flesh out the shooter I've already purchased, for years to come, sure sounds enticing to me.
Katy: That depends… like I said previously, Destiny will probably attract a broad spectrum of players. Conversely, Call of Duty attracts people who play games incessantly and those who barely play games outside of that title; it attracts hard-core gamers and even people who don’t really play them. Destiny is also obviously different than Call of Duty. It can be a bit more time consuming in terms of its RPG elements. It’s not really something you can sit down and play a quick match of and walk away, unless you just play the Crucible. But the industry audience is constantly in flux, and over the 10 year period of its reign, who knows what could happen. I think Call of Duty has had its time in the sun.
3) How long do you think players will stick with the game?Pete: Most players will end up playing through the missions once and then moving onto something else. There's going to be a dedicated core that sticks with it for months or years after launch, though. The size of that core is going to depend on Bungie's plans for the endgame. Destiny faces the challenge that a lot of MMOs face: how does it keep you playing after you hit max level? If the developers are releasing interesting, new content on a regular basis then Destiny could have serious staying power.
Will: Titanfall gassed early because it didn't have a strong enough single-player component. Online-only games need strong replay factors to stay relevant, especially in today's climate where everything is battling for everyone's attention. Destiny offers players a single-player but the tail-end replaybility is anyone's guess since the alpha and beta have hard caps on the leveling. I would wager that Destiny could be a game with at least a six month or higher tail-end for user engagement. Since we don't know much about the end-game that's really going to be the deciding factor on whether gamers come back for more or abandon it for the latest flavor of the week.
Ryan: I believe there is a large crowd that will make Destiny their go-to title for years to come. Like I said earlier, there already appears to be a lot of content included for all three of the major shooter fans within the game proper (solo, co-op, competitive). With DLC packs that cost like 20 bucks, you know Bungie will have to offer enough content to make that kind of added investment seem appealing. And then there are those MMO features that offer limitless room for expansion. It's pretty light right now, but future updates could offer more classes to level up, more worlds and missions to tackle, new online modes and additional time sinks like player housing, clan quarters and training areas, crafting and who knows what else. I think the initial audience will be massive and, assuming Bungie keeps packing on the features, it's an audience that will linger and continue to grow.
Katy: As long as Bungie keeps tossing out unique innovative content at a solid rate, a few years. Though that may be idealistic, as the next generation has barely surfaced and when more games come out I fear people may be pulled away. We all remember the hype with Titanfall. That game is crazy fast-paced and exciting… but only small doses. It can start to get boring, and that’s something map packs and skins can’t fix. Like writing a story, you need a constant hook to bring players in and keep them in. If the narrative of Destiny blossoms and unfolds I can see players sticking with it for a few years, especially if it is content they can enjoy with friends. Social gaming holds far more value in this realm.
4) What's your biggest concern with Destiny?Pete: My main worry is repetition. The alpha and beta missions were all really similar and I'm hoping for more variety at higher levels. If each mission's just a series of corridors with a miniboss at the end, that's going to get old really quick. Also, like I said earlier, the endgame is still a mystery. I'm worried that it's going to be too much of a grind. I picture players having to replay the same missions over and over to get enough cash to buy this or that upgrade. That's what max-level content for many MMOs is like, after all. Destiny has the look and feel of a great shooter but that's all for nothing if the missions are boring.
Will: My biggest concern is gameplay depth. One of the things that seems to be a major problem with the game is not doing anything much more than shooting the same gun and fighting many of the same enemies using very similar tactics. Hopefully just the lower level gameplay footage is indicative of this concern and the higher-level segments and areas allow for something a bit more dynamic in the gameplay area, otherwise it just kind of looks like a very tame version of Halo in a vast, post-apocalyptic looking desert. While destructible environments are out of the question, hopefully the A.I., can pick up the slack for what looks like very samey gameplay.
Ryan: After playing the beta for the past week, I'm already sold on the mission design, cooperative and competitive modes. I've enjoyed the hell out of everything I've played, but I'm not yet convinced that we'll be getting the living, breathing world we've been hearing so much about. The social aspects were minimal in the beta. The Tower felt a little too bare bones for a hub world. While there were certainly hints of MMO flavoring peppered throughout, it felt like there were a lot of key features that could have been included to make the world more engrossing; several of which I mentioned earlier. I try not to knock a game for not being what I had hoped it would be, because maybe that isn't the game that the developer wanted to make, but I think my expectations were pretty reasonable considering what Destiny has been billed as up until this point. To be fair, there's no telling what all the game proper will actually include, and a lot of that MMO goodness could easily be bolted on in the coming months. That's how it goes with straight-up MMO's, too. There's no real player housing in A Realm Reborn just yet, for example, but it's on the way. So my concern is that Destiny won't feel quite as revolutionary as I had hoped going in, but there's definitely room for that growth to occur.
Katy: That people won’t stick with it. That content won’t be released quickly enough. That it will be another one of the absurdly expensive AAA titles that simply trails off. But it’s still too early to say if that will happen or not. Bungie is decent at listening to their fan’s feedback and the beta really shows a small fraction of what 10 years of content will produce. Right now, my fear is that the narrative will leave you as an apathetic blank persona set out to save the world, which is a story canonical to the industry. I want richness and background. I also want a fire team of over three people.