With the arrival of Destiny, a new chapter begins for Bungie, a developer known for its Halo franchise. Over the years, the team delivered hit after hit for Microsoft, before packing up shop and leaving the series to 343 Industries – which churned out the entertaining Halo 4 and the forthcoming Master Chief Collection.
However, with the release of Destiny, players want to know if it’s better than Halo. It delivers an unprecedented first-person shooting experience that few games can match, but is it enough to overcome Master Chief’s legacy?
We decided to explore this in a special versus column, looking at the aspects of each series to see which one weighs heavier. By all means, we aren’t discounting one for the other, but it’s interesting to see how Bungie’s past work compares to the present.
[WARNING: HALO SPOILER]
Most of Destiny’s story has been kept under wraps, but it’s built around an intriguing premise where players act as Guardians trying to restore galactic peace while a weird sphere-like being hangs over Earth’s surface, sitting in mysterious silence for many years. As the player progresses, he or she will become stronger, and more bits and pieces of the story will get revealed.
Meanwhile, Master Chief’s legacy is second to none. The loyal warrior has been fighting the Covenant for years, and many twists and turns have taken place since his inception, including the eventual demise of his loyal cyber companion, Cortana. Granted, 343 Industries wrote that particular chapter, but the events leading up to it had Bungie’s stamp of approval.
In the end, we’re choosing Halo over Destiny in this department, but only because we haven’t seen all the facts.
In terms of single player content, Halo had a lot of strength to lean on, between hours of gameplay and interesting story tie-ins to keep players enthralled. If you weren’t fighting your way through a luscious tropical jungle seeking Covenant to destroy, then you were probably discovering the Flood for the first time. There’s no question that each of the Halo games that Bungie worked on had a terrific single player arc that remains intriguing today.
Meanwhile, in Destiny, the single player story is just as compelling, if only because your character of choice gets to explore different planets. Sure, the main storyline is there to follow, but it’s the secondary missions that open up a number of possibilities, such as visiting a strange planet to take on a difficult raid, or working your way through catacombs while your cybernetic ally Ghost eggs you on.
Both have intriguing single player content, but Destiny has the edge because of the ability to explore secondary worlds at your free will. Again, not selling Halo short, because there’s a ton to do and plenty of dangerous enemies to encounter, but free will to explore at your leisure is a tough feature to ignore.
When it comes to multiplayer accessibility, both games deliver. In the Halo universe, hopping online and taking part in a number of co-op and team based battles is second to none, and no doubt this accessibility will be a key feature in Halo: The Master Chief Collection when it launches this November.
Halo also benefits from a plethora of options, between the activation and accessibility of Skulls for extra maneuverability, the variety of maps available (as well as the option to build them in The Forge) and the sheer addiction of bringing down red teams, blue teams or other adversaries foolish enough to get in your way.
However, Destiny has a lot to offer in its own right. Its multiplayer is practically seamless, as buddies can join up with you at any given time without even a slight interruption to gameplay. Furthermore, teaming up for Raids is a thing of beauty, as you can collectively bring down the toughest foes the universe has to offer, and still come back for more.
Not to mention that Destiny comes with a terrific multiplayer hub. Between meeting up with fellow Hunters in the Tower and taking them on in friendly combat in Crucible-based arenas across the galaxy, the game offers plenty of a competition, letting you blow off some steam.
In short, both games have fundamental multiplayer options as only Bungie can deliver. However, with an innovative new hub and plenty of in-game events that seamlessly blend in, Destiny gets the slight nod.
Here’s where we get down to the nitty gritty, as most players seem to think that Destiny is nothing more than a sped-up Halo. However, that isn’t the case.
Yes, both games have typical controls that make it easy to run and gun. Yes, both games provide you the ability to melee a warrior who gets a little too close to you. And, yes, both games have the kind of vehicular selection when it comes to having an array of firepower.
However, Destiny is a little friendlier in that regard. While we do enjoy scooting around in a Covenant vehicle and blasting enemies to kingdom come, the jet bike introduced in Activision’s new game is not only accessible, but practical when it comes to rocketing your way into an enemy group and making your presence felt. Furthermore, the option of unlocking new abilities for your Hunter is spectacular, giving you an array of new tools to play around with.
Regardless, you can’t ignore Halo. After all, this is the series where Bungie began its legacy of flawless gameplay, and even all these years later, it remains very, very playable. The controls continue to be some of the best you’d find in a shooter, and the weapon selection, from the Covenant Blade to the Needler, are still very welcome, especially in multiplayer match-ups
So, again, we’ll have to turn to a Tie here, as both games really have something to offer in terms of gameplay and controls. That’s Bungie for you.
Halo has a legacy that will obviously live on in the video game industry for generations to come, especially with Master Chief Collection and the forthcoming Guardians next year. Its multiplayer is simply unprecedented, and the single player campaign has a great story to tell in itself, especially concerning the main character.
That said, Destiny is truly something special thus far. Its seamless multiplayer/single player activity, combined with various worlds to explore and exciting gameplay, show that Bungie has truly grown over the years, and has the potential to grow even further as it sticks by Activision’s new franchise.
This was a tough decision, but in the end, Bungie has really shown just how far it’s come with Destiny. So we’ll give it the slight nod, even though obviously players win no matter which franchise they go with. Still, Destiny is a wonderful thing, and you’d be crazy to miss it.
Destiny is available now for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.