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Interview: How Halo follow-up Destiny could “transform” gaming

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Halo follow-up, Destiny (Credit: Bungie)

How do you follow up a game series that earned more than $3 billion -- a multi-billion entertainment machine in the same league as Star Wars and Harry Potter? That's the challenge facing Halo creators Bungie, now working on a new sci-fi epic, Destiny.

The team are now testing the game's sci-fi world daily -- and the result could “transform” shoot ‘em up games with a new take on multiplayer gaming, according to design director Joe Staten.

The "shared world" game will see players battle together online against alien forces in a dark sci-fi world set in the ruins of a human civilization that once spread through the Solar System. No release date has been announced for the game, which will appear on consoles including Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4.

“We’ve got a much bigger team of writers to do it - the structure of our story is very different,” says Staten. “Destiny is designed to give players something new to do every week. And that means we’ve moved away from the more traditional linear film-like structure we used for Halo."

“Destiny is a serial narrative - a story that expands and evolves - and we’re structuring it much more like we would a television series. In fact, many of our new writers come from a TV background.”

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The world of Destiny (Credit: Bungie)

The game has been built from the ground up to allow players a huge variety of ways to play together -- co-operating, growing characters and customizing their equipment and skills. Many of the ideas have grown naturally from Bungie's ongoing tests on the game.

“You can still have a solitary experience if you want, but you’ll be carving your path through a world that’s far more alive than anything we’ve ever built,” says Staten. “We’re playing the game at our desks every day, colliding unexpectedly with other players, fighting alongside them in a sandbox filled with all-new enemies and weapons, being recognized and rewarded by investment systems we aren’t quite ready to talk about…yet."

“Destiny’s turning out to be something really special - maybe even a transformative experience for the shooter genre. “

As with some of Halo's classic levels, the world of Destiny is steeped in ancient cosmic history. Bungie has approached the task with its typical attention to detail.

“In Destiny you’re exploring the ruins of a lost human civilization - reclaiming the worlds of our solar system, hundreds of years from now,” says Staten.

“Many of these worlds are meant to feel abandoned until you start exploring, but we’ve worked hard to fill every place with mystery and adventure. For example, landing on Mars to find a city buried in sand, where skyscrapers have become like crumbled turrets of an old castle, their lower floors turned into dark and dangerous dungeons...”

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Hellmouth (Credit: Bungie)

Bungie is also focused on repeating one of Halo’s key strengths - creating interesting, unique tribes of alien enemies to fight.

“Filling the big, new world of Destiny with memorable enemies that are, most importantly, super fun to fight has been a serious challenge for our entire team right from the start,” says Staten.“We wanted all our enemy races to feel as real and robust as the entire Covenant was in Halo. That’s a high bar, but it’s one we believe we’re going to exceed in a lot of ways.”

“Overall Destiny is a beautiful place, filled with wonder. It’s inviting and hopeful and draws you deeper every time you visit,” says Staten. “Of course the real test will come when we get it into players’ hands - we can’t wait for that to happen.”

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