So as many of you know, I'm a huge "Destiny" player. I have been playing since before Day 1. I played the beta and just kept playing well into its third year. Bungie did an amazing job striking just the right balance of action, leveling, and loot progression that kept players playing even though the game had its rough edges. In fact, it was a deeply flawed game.
The game suffered from appearing to be unfinished. There was so much potential there. Any Year 1 player could testify they could see what the game wanted to be. That's not the game we got as players though. That being said, that didn't stop me from putting countless hours into that game and never stopped in the three years it has been out. I have played other games for sure. However, I have always come back for the ongoing events and expansions.
The evolution of this game is very dramatic. It's not even the same game that was released in 2014. Everything has been refined and redefined. The mechanics are more forgiving, there are plenty of activities to do, and the drop rate for loot (a decidedly important part of the game) all improved and made it the game it is today. It's incredible to think that the only way to get loot in the beginning on a consistent basis was to shoot into a cave for hours...
What I've come to talk to you about today though, is not where "Destiny" has been, but where it's going. "Destiny 2" is rumored to be on the horizon. From what has been leaked, it promises to be a whole new experience that'll expand upon the gameplay of the first, but deliver Bungie's original vision. This is an exciting proposition. In fact, I'm choosing not to get hyped about it until I've heard official word on the actual content. Well, at least keep my hype in control. It's a lofty goal to be sure. My question is "Will it capture the heart and soul of the original?"
Now, Bungie is no stranger to creating legacies. Just look at the "Halo" franchise. They basically invented the First Person Shooter on consoles. The genre had only viably existed on PC up to that point. In fact, when I had heard first about "Halo", I kind of scoffed at the idea of playing an FPS with a controller instead of a mouse and keyboard. "Halo", though, became the universal template for achieving that game type on a console. It paved the way for all of the "Call of Duties" and "Battlefields". One cannot deny the influence Bungie has left on the industry as a whole. Many couldn't fathom them doing any wrong.
So, of course, expectations were high for "Destiny" when it was release in September of 2014. The argument could be made that Bungie initially failed to meet those expectations upon the game's initial release. It took months of community engagement and patches and expansions for it to finally start looking like the game fans wanted. Still, there was something...electric about "Destiny". Maybe it was the responsiveness of the controls, or the addictive nature of loot drop rates. Maybe it was the art style and finding the absolute best loadout for your character. I could not really say for sure. It certainly wasn't the story at first. Nor was it the list of activities one could do when finishing said story. There was much to hate about it, but the game maintained an amazingly steady player base that waxed and waned very little over the course of its current life. I was one of those players. I still am.
So I come back to my question. "Can Bungie do it again?" Will starting over from the ground up serve the player base or alienate them? They would be able to usurp the technical limitations of the original with a brand new game to be sure. The argument can be made that the limitations of the original were a direct result of the game being on previous generation consoles as well as current generation consoles. Bungie had been technologically handcuffed by the hardware for which they were developing. So it will be a given that the game will advance the franchise by abandoning those limitations.
My concern is that it wont quite be the same feeling.
It felt the way it did because of what it managed to achieve despite the technical shortcomings. It made a sprawling space epic without a giant galactic map. There was exploration without it being an open world game. There was massive multiplayer without the game being an MMO. It managed to boil these experiences down into its most fundamental parts and make something truly special. It included all of those genres without actually being part of them. It made the game accessible to the adult with a job and kids who played these types of games in their youth, but now couldn't devote the time to playing them. It had this "drop in and play the game you wanted" mentality that spoke to a large player base out there.
What will happen when Bungie gets rid of the difficulties in making the game bigger and more open?
I hope that Bungie never forgets where this franchise came from. As always, I'm sure they'll include the community that has made this game an extremely vibrant player base. They always have. I haven't seen any company other than Blizzard include their players in so much of the development before. My major hope for the future is to keep "Destiny" as small game that goes to big places. I hope they keep the modular aspects of the original. This game is truly something special.
My title states this game is "Lightning in a Bottle". I want to get struck by that lightning again with the sequel.
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