We love surprises, so that's why we're thrilled to report the first details on Activision's collaboration with Bungie, the long-time developers behind the Halo franchise who departed after the release of 2010’s Halo Reach. Weirdly enough, this wasn't exactly the way Activision would have liked to announce their first project, codenamed Destiny, but public documents surfaced indicating that Bungie is currently planning four “sci-fantasy, action shooter games” with themes similar to the Halo games.
“Destiny” is set to arrive in the fall of 2013 with new releases every two years, starting in 2015 and going through 2019. In addition, four downloadable expansions known as “Comet” are also being planned for subsequent years, starting in 2014 and leading into 2020. That adds up to Bungie’s current ten year deal with Activision, which officially started in 2010.
The first chapter of “Destiny” is slated for release on Xbox 360 and “next successor console platform release by Microsoft” referred to at the moment as Xbox 720. The game is also slated to arrive on PlayStation 3 in the fall of 2014, following a “joint technical feasibility analysis” determining whether it can “be developed for the PS3 at quality and feature parity to the Xbox 360 version.” The PlayStation 4 and PC are mentioned as platforms of choice, with no word on Wii U.
The public documents also outline a $2.5 million bonus if “Destiny” receives high marks upon its release (a Bungie standard), as well as sales projections leading well into five million units – a pretty high number, but this is the publisher behind the ever-popular Call of Duty franchise, and Bungie is the developer of the best-selling Halo series. It adds up.
What’s interesting about this documentation reveal is that Bungie didn’t actually deny that project “Destiny” was in development. A post on the company’s website reveals the following…
“So, yeah. While we’re not ready to show you what we’ve been working on, we can reconfirm that we are hard at work on our universe. We can’t wait for you to see it.” They concluded the post with “See you starside (with the word crossed out) in 2013.”
While we knew that Bungie and Activision were in cahoots for something major to unfold, we didn’t think we'd hear about it like this and, more importantly, that it would spread out across four released games and four downloadable packs through 2020. It sounds like Activision is really putting all their chips down for this series, relying on the Bungie team to work the same kind of magic that made Halo shine all those years.
Honestly, that reliance is well placed. Bungie has proven time and again that they know how to produce solid sci-fi fare, even though it was based around familiar characters like Master Chief and Cortana. The original Halo became a landmark title for the Xbox, re-released under the guidance of 343 Industries for Xbox 360 last year. Halo 2 sold even better, breaking records on the first day of release and addicting millions of players with its newly included multiplayer. When Halo 3 debuted for the Xbox 360, it too set records, while also integrating new tools into the multiplayer to make it even more addictive.
We’ll skip ODST (sorry), but Halo Reach deserves mention as fans felt the series ended on a high note with thanks to great multiplayer features and a solid single player campaign. Then, out of nowhere last year, Microsoft confirmed that the story would continue with the 343-developed Halo 4, slated for a November 6, 2012 release.
With Halo 4, it looks like Bungie doesn’t have any connection to its previous series, so why not devote all its time and energy into this “Destiny” project? Clearly the team knows its way around future-based territory, even though it’ll now have to introduce a new hero – or a team of heroes – to tackle whatever is threatening the galaxy. The fact that they’re going to produce enough content to fill four next-gen games along with four downloadable content packs and who knows how many map packs is an interesting challenge, but the team is collaborating very closely with Activision to make sure it’s of the highest quality.
Now the only question is: when will we see the official reveal? We wouldn’t be surprised if Activision at least showed off more of the official game story at this year’s E3, but something tells us that next year’s show, E3 2013, will be the key time to highlight “Destiny." While that seems like a long way off, it’ll give Bungie the time it needs to really make a "Halo-killer," maybe even taking some notes from Halo 4 or, better yet, producing something mind-blowingly original.
Either way, we can’t wait. “Destiny” is waiting.