Destiny is the Halo MMO You've Always Wanted [OPINION]

By Michael Epstein email: , Updated Feb 18, 2013 01:14 PM EST

Yesterday, Bungie unveiled Destiny, the epic quadrilogy of games they plan to bring to current and next-gen platforms for the next decade. Bungie's explanation revealed a lot about what Destiny would be and could be. It also made one unequivocal statement about what it is not: Whatever you do, don't let Bungie catch you calling Destiny an "MMO."

Destiny is a "shared-world shooter," according to Bungie. With a constant internet connection, players will travel accross the galaxy, running into other players wherever they go: They can choose to team up, trade weapons and gear, chat, or simply go it alone. Destiny is, in the strictest sense, a massively multiplayer online game.

The similarities run deeper than that. For all its boasting, Destiny is clearly evolving out of a few games that have dared to bridge the gap between first-person shooters and other genres. As IGN points out, the game's customization elements are reminisicent of Borderlands 2, which in turn takes cues from loot-centric multiplayer series like Diablo and WoW. More to the point, the Planetside series has been simulating a war with massive, persisting FPS battles online for years now. It's easy to forget sometimes that "MMO" is not short for MMORPG.

Destiny looks a lot like Halo too. New story and artwork aside, short clips of players running in Bungie's recent documentary video immeadiately conjure memories of players' movement in Halo multiplayer. It shouldn't be surprising: Before they committed to making Destiny, Bungie was in the Halo-making business for almost a decade too. Moreover, Bungie officials say the game plays to the developer's strengths: Bungie may not be trying to "Out-Halo" the second Halo trilogy, but neither people or video games are often dethroned by someone who beats them at their own game.

You can't blame Bungie for wanting to avoid using the word "MMO" to describe their game.The developer's reluctance to use the term, one that used to be synonymous with printing money but seems almost antiquated now, is marketing-driven. In order to have a chance at making good on their promise of a new world, Bungie can't let players know what to expect. Though MMO realistically covers an incredibly broad range of games, players have learned to a paint themselves a picture based on the terminology given to them.

Just because Destiny comes out of a tradition you've heard of before doesn't be the game won't be groundbreaking and change the way you play "console shooters" and do everything that Bungie says it will. Once upon a time, Halo Wars developer Ensemble Studios was supposedly building a Halo MMO. Fans of World of Warcraft would know exactly what to expect from that game based on the leaked images: Hotkeys, cooldowns, raiding, etc. Whether or not it had the Halo branding, that wasn't a giant online Halo game. It wasn't what fans were imagining. Destiny, with it's interstellar travel and missions to defend humanity from a coalition of alien species, is far closer to achieving that vision.

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