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8 Things to Know About Destiny

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When details about Destiny first leaked back in 2011, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the final version. It looked like Halo on steroids. Developed by Bungie and published by Activision, there’s a reason it became the best-selling new game franchise of all time within five days of its September release — it’s pure awesomesauce for your thumbs. If you’re one of the three people on Earth who haven’t played it yet, here are eight things to know before diving in.

1. It’s creating new genres
Bungie describes Destiny as a ‘shared-world shooter,’ fusing massively multiplayer online (MMO) and first person shooter (FPS) elements into an always-online “mythic science fiction” experience. Players are matched up on-the-fly via a Halo-like matchmaking system instead of interacting only with others on the same server.

Destiny was designed with cooperative multiplayer in mind, but gamers can experience the game solo if they choose. Competitive multiplayer mode (PvP) is also available, but only after a player clocks in a few hours of co-op mode. Bungie’s Tyson Green told Eurogamer that this system allows players to earn enough abilities and equipment to stand a chance in battle. If they were to dive right in without some basic training, they would be unfairly annihilated and disappointed with the experience.

2. The graphics are unbelievable
Bungie started developing Destiny’s engine in 2009, and the amount of time spent on it paid off. The awe-inspiring graphics, natively rendered at 1080p for Xbox One and PS4, make us want to just kick back with a bowl of popcorn and watch. This new engine allows global illumination and real-time dynamic lighting to occur simultaneously, smacking you with a near-photorealistic polish.

In an interview with OXM, engineering director Chris Butcher explained that the engine is “…fully multithreaded for performance on all platforms, both for today and the next ten years. We have an entirely new graphics engine and a fully featured world builder that gives our artists more expressive power than they’ve ever had before.” Butcher worked alongside graphics engineering lead Hao Chen, engineering director Ben Wallace, and a slew of talented Bungie team members to bring Destiny’s stellar visuals to life.

3. Mankind is on the brink of extinction
Set 700 years in the future, Destiny’s action unfolds on Earth, our moon, the green jungles of Venus, and the barren red landscape of Mars. In the Golden Age, the human race broadened its horizons and began colonizing new celestial bodies. This prosperous era of discovery came to a grinding halt with the arrival of a devastating enemy, The Darkness.

Now the last remaining humans have taken refuge in The City, Earth’s only safe haven. Humankind is protected by The Traveler, a mysterious, otherworldly being, and a specialized army of Guardians. Art director Christopher Barrett, technical art director Ryan Ellis, and head of art Dave Dunn crafted the look and feel of the solar system, with Richard Lico and Bill O’Brien leading the animation team. Audio design leads Jay Weinland and C. Paul Johnson crafted the rich sounds of the Destiny universe.

4. The soundtrack is Martin O’Donnell’s last with Bungie
O’Donnell, the musical brains behind the Halo soundtrack, parted ways with Bungie in April. Luckily his work on Destiny will remain intact. Collaborating with composer and audio designer Michael Salvatori and the world-renowned Paul McCartney, he created another fantastic soundtrack to embody the game’s ominous atmosphere.

An official statement from Bungie:  “For more than a decade, Marty O’Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans. Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future. We wish him luck in all his future endeavors.”

5. Cool character customization
Guardians are the game’s playable characters, and much like the Mass Effect series, nearly everything about a character’s appearance is customizable. At the start, players choose between three classes: Titan, Warlock, or Hunter. Next is race selection: Humans, Exos, or Awokens. This is topped off with a gender choice and a massively customizable range of appearance characteristics. Want to play as a blue-haired, dreadlocked human female with pink skin? Not a problem. No word if they’ll add the “popular” face scanning option from NBA 2K15.

6. There are more weapons than players
Destiny features 70+ weapons, each varying in power and rarity. Players can hold up to three weapons (primary, sidearm, and heavy), each with its own skill tree. Weapon statistics are divided into rate of fire, range, stability, impact, reload speed, and magazine size. Weapons are not specific to a player’s class or race – anyone can wield anything.

7. The vehicles are badass
If you’re a fan of Halo, you know how much Bungie loves its vehicles. Destiny keeps this tradition alive, offering a wide range of interplanetary transit options. Vehicles are futuristic, sleek, and fast.

Players explore the universe in their own personal spaceships, which can be cosmetically upgraded to achieve maximum awesomeness. These ships are designed for transport, not combat, and are used for storing the equipment and loot you pick up along the way.

8. Apparently the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions won’t suck
Remember when the PS3 debuted and developers were still releasing versions of new games for the PS2, as well? Many of those games seemed terrible in comparison to their next-gen counterparts. Will this be the case with PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Destiny? Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, told fans to “not overlook” the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions. We’ve only played it on next-gen consoles, but we hope Phil’s right about this.

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