Preview: Destiny is braving a new world filled with co-op adventure

Over the weekend, Bungie's new game Destiny made its much-awaited debut. However, if you were hoping for gameplay footage rife with detail, you'll be somewhat disappointed. Instead, we were treated to an overarching concept for the grand philosophy that is known as Destiny.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly the type of game Destiny is. It has elements of a first-person shooter, open-world sandbox and persistent world all wrapped into one, but it's not an MMO. Even Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg admits it "belonged to a genre we couldn't quite pin down."

So what do we know about Destiny? At its core, Destiny is a first-person shooter for consoles — although you get the sense from Bungie that there's much more to the game than just that. Bungie has barely peeled back the layers of the game, giving us an idea of the tremendous depth of Destiny. They were careful, though, not to tell us too much. They told us just enough to keep us wanting more.

Destiny takes place in a persistent world complete with a dynamic day/night cycle and weather effects. Your character has persistent progression across single-player, co-op and competitive multiplayer as you level up, gaining new equipment and weapons. Bungie hasn't revealed the exact details about gameplay systems, weapons, classes, leveling, crafting, and things of that nature. Though we do know, Destiny will ditch the traditional menu system, allowing for a truly immersive universe.

Destiny Traveler Sphere concept art

A brief ViDoc was released today, telling us the story behind Destiny. Like any good sci-fi story, it starts with mankind's thirst for exploration. Long ago, humans spanned the Solar System, but it didn't last. At some point, a mysterious force stopped us. We don't know what it was exactly, but we do know that very few of us (humanity) survived.

We owe our lives to something known as the Traveler. All that remains of this mysterious being is its large sphere floating above Earth's last great city, watching, protecting. Safely under the guidance of the Traveler's sphere, humanity is beginning to rebuild and step back out into the wild. Though danger lurks; strange and deadly creatures occupy our old worlds and are looking for a way to finally destroy mankind for good.

In Destiny, you play as a Guardian of the city — a soldier able to wield some of the Traveler's power. As such, it's up to you to defend and save the city, reclaiming all that humanity has lost. If you fail, humanity is doomed. No pressure, right? Bungie certainly is setting Destiny up to be an epic adventure that will see you grow as as the Guardian over time.

As I mentioned, the game is a persistent world, which means an always-connected internet will be required to play the game — even if you are just playing solo. The reason for this is that even though the game can be played entirely solo from start to finish, it's meant to be a shared experience. One of Destiny's big draws is its co-op gameplay, which Bungie has made a "whole new kind of investment" with. The logic behind Bungie's decision for co-op gameplay is that everything you do in life is more fun if you do it with your friends.

Void of traditional menus, players will pair up with other Guardians in the Overwatch District. From this place, you can pair up with others and visit distant worlds. The experience has been likened to that of Journey, in which the line between a solitary experience and a shared one is blurred.

Destiny concept art

An example shared to us was of an adventure that Bungie writer and design director Joe Staten experienced. While adventuring with Destiny project director Jason Jones, the two traveled to Mars and ventured into the Dust Palace (a public meeting place). Eventually, the two entered the Cabal exclusion zone, a place guarded by heavily armored foes known as Sandeaters. At this point, the duo met up with another player, a Hunter, who was on his own mission on Mars. Unable to defeat the Sandeaters alone, the three joined forces.

"Every time this happens," Staten explained, "when you run into another player, a real person, it's amazing … it just doesn't happen in other shooters."

As the story goes, the three survived the battle against the Sandeaters and claimed their prize of exotic weapons looted from Charlemagne's chamber. Prizes recovered included an onyx, spiked "hand cannon" named Thorn, and a sleek, angular shotgun named Invictive. More important than the actual items are the unique stories they hold. Each item tells its own story, tied to your own unique experience.

This experience is the foundation of Destiny, and we couldn't be more excited.