Destiny released to widely varying criticism with many complaints of a lackluster story and plot since its release in 2013. The title has recently gotten it’s biggest add-on yet — The Taken King. The DLC has not steadied the game’s place at all though with a barrage of complaints accompanying the massive sales numbers.
Up until now, Bungie has suggested that this trend of big DLC updates would continue as the game was expected to last as long as ten years. Bungie’s contract with Activision promised a ten-year span of dedicated work on the game and in multiple interviews Bungie suggested that they were prepared to continue working on the game for those years.
In an interview with the Guardian in 2014 the CO of Destiny, Pete Parsons said “We love to invest in universes. We did Halo for ten years we just didn’t have the benefit of knowing it would happen.”
Well, that plan isn’t quite what Bungie is thinking now according to Erik Osborne, Bungie’s community and marketing relations manager.
“It just became the narrative. I mean, I drive a Honda Civic. I don’t know shit about $500 million. A ten-year plan? It’s a ten-year partnership agreement. It has nothing to do with the development of the game proper. To think that somehow, before Destiny had shipped, we had some ten-year plan written down somewhere? It’s comical. We allowed the narrative to get constructed that Bungie is just a corporate entity and not a bunch of humans, a collection of people who are just trying to make a really great game.”
Though these comments directly contradict the expectations of Activision’s CEO, Eric Hirshberg when he spoke with Wired magazine in September, 2014.
“I think a lot of franchises get built game-to-game, or month-to-month — the moment really determines the momentum of the franchise… Bungie aren’t just thinking about the content that goes on the first disc; they’re thinking about a ten-year story.”
When Bungie released Halo back in 2001 one of the biggest features that made the game so shareable, fun to play, and a pop-culture hit was its incredible multiplayer. Now, 14 years later 343 Industries is looking to capture that same level of fun in a multiplayer but matching it to more contemporary gameplay with online co-op play.
343i’s latest blog by Josh Holmes — the head of the studio — explains that the past love that many gamers had for the co-op campaign was the inspiration to fully integrate that experience into Halo 5. No more seeing three or four Master Chiefs roaming around together for a completely unexplained reason. Now the introduction of fire teams gives Chief true reason to have the back-up he has when playing the multiplayer.
“…we have committed to co-operative campaign at a fundamental level. This creative pillar has influenced many decisions throughout the game’s technology and design. While you can still expect the same great single-player experience that Halo campaigns have been known for, engaging in co-operative play gives the campaign a new level of depth and richness.” – Josh Holmes
The biggest change in the multiplayer is the new “drop-in, drop-out” feature allowing new players to join another’s campaign without waiting to restart a level. The fireteam that both Master Chief and Spartan Locke fight besides are with you through the entire game and when real teammates aren’t there to help you the A.I. will pick up right where you left off. Chief and Locke are both capable of directing their A.I. squads wherever they see fit.
Another key aspect of the fireteams is their importance to the story. The accompaniment of additional spartans helps the personalities within the Halo universe expand significantly with some new and returning characters. (And even some vastly different characters since the last time we met them in a Halo game — like Sergeant Buck.)
Blue Team’s accompaniment of Master Chief will help players gain a greater perspective of the Spartan II’s past.
The formation of Fireteam Oriris, Spartan Locke’s team, includes Buck as well as two never before seen characters in the Halo games — Holly Tanaka and Olympia Vale.
“We’ve deliberately designed these two teams to provide visual contrast with one another. Blue Team have a heavier, more weathered feel. Their technology is proven, reliable, and practical in nature. Fireteam Osiris represent a new generation of Spartans. Their armor is sleek and modern, technologically advanced and displaying less wear.”
Check out Halo Waypoint for more details regarding the Halo 5 co-op campaign.
343 Industries has brought some Halo excitement again just over a month from the Master Chief Collection’s struggling release.
The Halo 5 beta is out and will continue for another three weeks as it showcases the progress the developer has made so far with the title, and lets fans aid in working out the kinks of a game as important to the Xbox platform as any other.
With the promise of a more refined experience along with the shoe-in improved visuals everyone can expect with the first Halo game designed for the new generation of consoles, Halo 5’s new gameplay elements stray a bit from what some may expect from Halo games.
Contrary to every installment over the past decade+, the continuation of the Master Chief saga adds some very different elements such as the ability to aim-down-the-sights on every weapon, and a tweaked sprinting mechanic that inhibits shield recovery.
Along with some minor default control scheme alterations, the combat changes certainly change how players naturally approach different scenarios.
While the game is still in beta and subject to improvements and other various adjustments down the line, 343i has displayed a desire to create a “new” Halo experience to match the trends that other first person shooters are following, while also adding their own minor twists on things.
Other than the new gameplay, the additions multiplayer wise are what we can typically expect from any Halo game with new maps, weapons, and abilities to add a bit more variety to the classic formula.
The Halo 5 public beta will run from December 29th until January 18th, while the full game will release late 2015.
“Last month, I promised the Halo and Xbox community that addressing the matchmaking issues and other bugs impacting players’ experience with Halo: The Master Chief Collection was our #1 priority…This has been a humbling experience and highlighted how we as a studio can – and need – to do better for Xboxfans around the world. We are so grateful to our fans who have stood by our side and we appreciate all of your patience as we worked through these issues. As a token of our appreciation and to thank fans for the continued support and understanding, we will be offering the following items.”
In addition to the Halo ODST campaign, which will be upgraded to 1080p and 60 FPS, MCC owners will receive a remastered Halo 2 “Relic” map, one month of Xbox Live Gold and an unique nameplate and avatar, which will be available in the next content update.
All of the additions–except for the exclusive in-game nameplate and avatar–for early adopters will not be available until next year. The campaign and the “Relic” map are expected to hit consoles in Spring 2015, while the free month of Live will either be credited directly to your account or sent as a redeemable token through the Xbox One early next year.
Halo is objectively the greatest exclusive franchise on the Xbox platform, and with how dedicated the fans are seeing such a troublesome launch of the Master Chief Collection has resulted in a barrage of complaints and grievances with the developer.
Today, the studio head responded with a personal apology for the multiplayer issues of the first-person shooter.
“With the initial release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, however, we have not delivered the experience you deserve. I personally apologize for this on behalf of us all at 343 Industries. Our team is committed to working around the clock until these issues are resolved.” — Bonnie Ross
343 Industries has done the best they can to try and resolve the situation with almost daily updates, and patches to try and fix their server issues. Up to this point, no significant improvements have been made. While some report slightly more efficient matchmaking, the multiplayer issues are far too major for most players to notice a difference at all.
Bonnie Ross went on to speak of their plans to keep fans informed on their progressions with addressing the server-side fixes and game-content updates.
“Know that we’re trying to be as nimble as possible to put fixes in place. We are planning multiple server-side tweaks and game content updates over the coming weeks. Looking forward, I want to give you a high-level cadence of the latest updates we’re currently working on.”
While it is a positive to see 343i showing such dedication to bring the “experience “fans” deserve,” these problems at release are so impactful, it may have been better for Microsoft if the game was delayed by a few weeks to give fans an immediately enjoyable game.
Pre-order and pre-download is now available on the Xbox One. The Master Chief Collection will take up a whopping 65 GBs of space on your hard-drive — but it definitely looks worth it.
In his “going gold” post on Halo waypoint, Dan Ayoub (Executive Producer of 343i)states that “this is literally going to be the biggest Halo experience so far,” but even that statement doesn’t do the true magnitude of the game justice.
The Master Chief collection goes above and beyond any other comparable value collection. Every map, every gun, every mission — all included on one disc that allows players to seamlessly transfer from one game to the next.
The disc contains a total of 45 GB of the initial content, but a day one update adds an additional 20 GB.
343i’s Franchise Development Director, Frank O’Connor, explains the update.
“That’s not a patch. It’s content. The game is designed to run as a single, unified product, digital is seamless obviously, but we also wanted disc users to have the same experience, without swapping discs. Since the bulk of it is MP or MP related, the logic is sound.”
“If fixes were required for Campaign, they would be very small, but that’s not the case. All four campaigns will run directly from the disc without the content update. As will some custom game features. Again, the bulk of the CU is MP and MP related.”
For most it does not seem like the addition will be too much of a burden, but some gamers may have to wait a bit longer than they would have liked if they want to get in on the full multiplayer action right away at its 12:01 a.m. (EST) release on November 11th.
Those who pre-download the title on the Xbox store you’ll have to endure even less time and get straight to the exploration of any chapter in the expansive Halo universe.
At just $60 the Master Chief Collection is an absolute must have game for every Xbox One owner — whether your experienced with the Halo franchise or not.
Those without Xbox’s that are familiar with Halo (especially fans of the beloved Halo 2 multiplayer) may see this as a potential console-selling addition to the console’s rapidly growing library of quality games.
We’re just weeks away from re-exploring the likes of Blood Gulch, Sidewinder, Ascension, Midship, and over 90 other multiplayer maps — not including the plethora of maps that will be inevitably created from forge on Halo 2, 3, and 4.
It sounds amazing on-paper and it’s not too bad as a finished product either, but Destiny lack of a core identity prevents the game from ever fully reaching the expectations so many people had for it.
It should be clear — Bungie and Activision did not totally drop the ball with Destiny. It is not a flop or a bust of a game, but with over $500 million invested in the title it’s reasonable to expect more.
A lot of what Bungie has attempted doesn’t fall off to dramatically at any point — in fact almost every aspect of the game is so close to being amazing. But that’s just it — so much of the game is close to greatness, but not quite there.
Here’s what went right and what went wrong, and the ultimate verdict on Destiny:
What went right?
Aesthetics The game looks beautiful. From the amazing expansive vistas, to the awesome lighting effects and small art details within each environment, everything about Destiny is begging to be explored and experienced. Right as your ghost first awakens you to the desolate Russian lands, the world is shown to be greater than any typical FPS.
What went wrong?
The linear world.
Despite these expansive landscapes that seemingly beg to be explored, Destiny’s free-roam gameplay is unfortunately hindered by invisible walls and repetitive pathways. While the game was broadcasted as an open and shared-world shooter, the progression of each mission is very clear and nothing comes as a surprise or a change of pace.
The other players that you encounter throughout each mission are far and infrequently occurring that make the world much less enjoyable for a solo player than it would be for a person who personally invites friends to play.
What went right?
The plot. The premise of the entire universe that Destiny occurs in and the lore of the world is certainly not what holds back the story in this game. The concepts are relatively basic, but it doesn’t need to be all too original or unique for a great story to be told. The Traveler is a great idea and the history of the human race is succinctly explained to build the base for an in-depth story. The races are varied enough to each have their own history and they all have the potential for their own great individual story lines –outside of humanity’s.
What went wrong?
The progression. The lack of exploration within the core ideas of the story and the lack of development into explaining what exactly got humanity up to the point of the game’s start creates a break in the potential immersion that could occur throughout Destiny. It initially seems as though they game’s writers wanted to have the game as mystery unraveling before you, but the mystery hardly unravels at all. Far too many characters are left undeveloped and too many branches of the story are left hidden.
While their is a clear foundation for something great, there is little progression into the intricacies that the world seems to set from the beginning. The game struggles to get players emotionally invested in the story.
What went right?
Great action-driven engine
The gameplay of Destiny may be the game’s strongest trait. There are clear ties to Halo, Bungie’s last franchise, right away. The experience is very clean and is hardly ever impeded by any substantial glitches or bugs. The combat is well balanced and the weapon variety is decent. A quick-transportation method in the Sparrow offers a great ability to keep the game moving and prevents too many dull points where nothing is quite happening. Players are consistently involved and never lulled while traversing each mission.
What went wrong?
No identity Destiny seems to try and take on as many game qualities as it can. Bungie incorporates many key aspects of a typical MMO in the FPS experience. An attempt is made to combining a well-made story FPS with a highly explorable MMO, but Bungie doesn’t quite succeed at reaching either of those aspirations. The MMO qualities of Destiny — loot drops, a home-base marketplace, class systems, and multiplayer missions are all excellent, but some key features of MMOs change what you would expect from any typical pace of action.
Throughout the game the placement of enemies and where players engage in combat are incredibly off-setting. Re-encountering enemies in the same scripted areas is par-for-the-course in almost any MMO, but experiencing the same in a world that attempts to be so story driven is one of the biggest aspects of the game that breaks any immersion.
Because each level is re-explored with multiple missions there is little the game does to shake things up. While the story of the game tries to alter the gameplay as you face a greater variety of enemies later in the game, it still doesn’t change the predictable cadance that the combat follows.
What went right?
The Soundtrack While it isn’t quite as iconic as Halo: Combat Evolved, the soundtrack of Destiny does a valiant job in setting the mood and intended tone of the game. Anyone who has played the game should be able to recognize the soundtrack. Marty O’Donnell’s work is clearly heard though, and it’s similarities to Halo are very prominent.
What went wrong?
The voice acting It may just be a carry over from the writing and creative direction the game attempts, but the voice acting is another immersion-breaking aspect of Destiny. The speaker, ghost, and the Queen of the Reef all speak in such a bland and PG style. It may be the Activision was looking to ensure a T-rating, but their is a noticeable lack of expressive or believable emotion in almost anything that is said.
The PvP multiplayer of Destiny is another bright spot. The maps are well-balanced and offer a great mix of close-range and long-range combat. All players being given their own custom loadouts and classes allow for players to play the way they see fit. The weapon-armed vehicles along with your personal Sparrow offer great outside options besides standard on-foot firefights.
The only grievance that could really be filed against the multiplayer is the lack of gamemodes. While the core modes like deathmatch, control, and free-for-all are included, the unique and fun-focused modes from Halo’s franchise (like Infection, SWAT, and juggernaut) seem like they could fit well within the Destiny multiplayer as well.
Destiny has the aura of something absolutely amazing, but with every positive comes some type of negative that holds the game back. It presses to be so much and shows incredible aspirations of greatness, but a conservative approach and an overly-cautious avoidance of being too heavily any one genre prevents it from reaching the potential it had.
It certainly isn’t a neccesarily bad game. It is definitely a lot of fun — especially when played with friends, but with so much initially presented Destiny leaves much more to be desired. An excellent marketing team and a highly regarded developer like Bungie created a lot of hype to live up to, and though Destiny didn’t quite live up to it the quality of the game is still respectable.
After the last record-breaking run was completed under 24 hours ago by twitch streamer, Goatrope, the record (1:34:57) has fallen to another streamer, Sub_Whistle, who has edged out Goatrope by nearly two minutes.
There were some close calls and near deaths, but Sub_whistle posted absurd times on both the Library and Two Betrayals to help him secure his final time (1:33:07). Utilizing nearly every exploit he could think of the Halo connoisseur grabbed the record just after Goatrope had broke his own record 12 hours before.
Certainly a disappointment for Goatrope, his excitement for the record was very clear after he was able to finally jump into the Longsword at the game’s conclusion. A stark contrast to Sub_Whistle, who’s only distinct commentary came just as he ended the video mid sentence — “We fucking did it.”
The story of Noble Six and “the rookie” is now available for free on the Xbox 360 for Xbox Live Gold members.
It’s been four years since the release of Halo: Reach and Bungie’s last take on the Halo universe, and Microsoft is giving all Xbox 360 owners who have elected to forgo picking up the title a very good reason to try it out now with their September Games with Gold promotion.
Reach was the first of the Halo series to truly open up character customization where your own stylized player takes center-stage in both the single player campaign and the multiplayer.
For those not familiar with the Halo franchise, this will be a good time to pick up the FPS as Halo: Reach is one of the only Halo’s (besides Halo 3: ODST and Halo Wars) that diverts from the core story of Master Chief, a super solider “Spartan”, and Cortana, his artificial-intelligence assistant. For those interested in following the story of Spartan 117, The Master Chief Collection will be releasing in two months (November 11th) and will be covering all of Masterchief and Cortana’s story.
Check out Halo: Reach on the Xbox Live marketplace on the Xbox 360 or head on over to marketplace.xbox.com to download the game instantly to your console.