Bungie's 'Destiny" Needs Just One Thing From 'Halo' To Top The Next 'Call of Duty'
We love to shoot. Bungie knows this. Bungie made Halo, and now the developer is expanding its horizons, both literally and within a new game-world, with Destiny. The mythic sci-fi setting, as Destiny story lead Joe Staten put it at GDC, is a massive "shared world" spanning our solar system and multiple alien races. Halo is very clearly a springboard for many ideas in Destiny, and though fertile with innovation, Destiny needs to remember one very important thing from Halo. We loved to shoot in Halo, please don't change how it worked, and please don't try to compete with Call of Duty on Call of Duty's terms.
What do I mean by that? It's simple. Don't crumble and do the whole "aiming down the sights" (ADS) thing. Halo never needed it, and maybe millions of gamers think they need it now, but Bungie will hopefully know better. The lack of ADS in the Halo franchise will always set it apart from Call of Duty and the wave of rip-offs in the best way possible. It lets us know we aren't trying to replicate real-life, we're trying to do something much better. We're trying to escape it. Destiny, a game about legendary soldiers protecting the last safe city on earth, itself guarded by a quiet, massive alien structure called the Traveler floating precipitously over the planet, doesn't call for immersion in realism. It calls for immersion through fantastical wonder.
But let's back up a bit here. A simple change like the inclusion of ADS over pulled-back, reticle-exclusive first-person shooting might not seem like much, but before stretching this whole article out into broad generalizations (too late), it's worth noting that the gameplay implications are significant. First-person shooter fans should already ready be piling up a list in their heads.
One of the key differences between Halo and Call of Duty is player movement. Master Chief and his multiplayer clones spring over multi-tiered levels through highly vertical arenas, all the while requiring pinpoint accuracy with your DMR, BR or whatever makes shooting easy for you. Call of Duty players, on the other hand, are stuck firmly to the ground, finding choke points and solid cover from which to aim down their sites and predict enemy movement. Both games are obviously built around how you use your weapons. Aiming down the sites in Halo simply wouldn't work (not to be confused with using a scope), it would rip away what empowers a player in that game. That's the same kind of empowerment we want to see in Destiny. We want to feel superhuman, legendary and deserving of a space-faring adventure, but even more, we want to engage in a kind of combat that rewards skill, not cowardly tactics.
Oh no he didn't...
Oh yes I did. Call of Duty is a farce built to make players feel skilled when in fact they're simply cowards counting kill streaks. Sit in a corner, aim down the site. Find a vantage point, aim down the site. Camp a door, aim down the site. The low health and stunted movement accompanying ADS in Call of Duty has birthed a new generation of successful underachievers, and it's Bungie's responsibility to perpetrate the wonderful opposite they popularized with Halo.
Now this is the part where you might argue that Bungie could develop Destiny with ADS and an advanced movement system, and I say: go ahead and look at the history of "arena" shooters. Quake, Tribes and even the recently released Shootmania Storm, which deliberately meshes new tech with old ideas, and you'll see anyone who wants to make a game that requires skill through movement and aiming eschews even the remotest sense of ADS. It's a near-requirement when you're asking players to launch themselves around a battlefield like lily pads over a lake of fire.
Yet even Countserstrike, a modern day gun-glorifying bout of intense competition, chooses reticles over sights. Reticles allow you to portray accuracy while sights eliminate any actual spray a well-balanced gun should have. Players snipe each other with submachine guns in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, all but rendering assault rifles pointless in meaningful play. On the other hand, in Halo and the like, developers can utilize controlled weapon spread portrayed through required reticle use. It keeps guns feeling distinct, which is an important thing when the available arsenal is supposedly collected different planets and species across outer-freaking-space.
And Destiny, like the Borderlands series, is emphasizing the discovery of new and exotic weapons as much or more than anything else. It wouldn't hurt that the lack of an ADS system means we get to see those beautiful guns whenever we're firing them.
While the limited footage of Destiny shown so far hasn't really let the cat out of the bag on combat, I'm assuming out of a naïve hope for the perfect game that Bungie knows what it's doing. Thankfully, despite my naivety, Bungie actually does know what it's doing, and it's going to look nothing like Call of Duty. All praiseth thee, Bungie, it which writes Destiny. Praiseth indeed.