When Destiny launched in 2014, the promise of an FPS MMO was particularly exciting. Five years later, Destiny is better than ever and on the verge of releasing their most anticipated expansion yet. There have been various high and low points over the years, but Destiny has consistently maintained the promise of being the go-to AAA MMO shooter for friends to play together. There is always something new and exciting to do in Destiny, and Bungie has established itself as the authority on live service shooters.
Many have tried and failed to replicate the Destiny magic (sorry Bioware), but none have even come close to matching the scale or quality. The fact remains, though: no game can be at the top forever. Eventually, Fortnite always comes along to squash PUBG. Bungie created a winning formula, and it's only a matter of time until something comes along to take things to the next level. Perhaps all that's missing is the right IP.
At PAX West this weekend, TheGamer was invited to a closed-door meeting with Crystal Dynamics Head of Studio Scot Amos to play Marvel's Avengers and take a deeper look at the systems and mechanics of the game. Avengers won't be out for another nine months and there is still a lot we don't know about the game. From what we've seen, however, Destiny fans should be taking notice. Avengers is aiming to be THE live service game of 2020 and beyond.
The Looter... Puncher?
Looter shooter definitely rolls off the tongue a lot better, but unless you're playing Iron Man, you won't be doing much shooting. Avengers is undeniably an action RPG with a deep and complex gear system. From what we've seen, there are almost as many gear slots as Destiny (though, I believe they are all armor based). Gear comes in a variety of rarity levels - think common, uncommon, rare, epic, legendary, and set pieces (though those won't be what they're called) - and the most powerful gear is rewarded from the most difficult missions.
Crystal Dynamics is clearly studying Destiny, as it was made crystal (sorry) clear that cosmetics would be completely separate from gear. Costumes will be available as rewards and through microtransactions in Avengers, but the gear your character has on will not change the way they look. This has been a long asked for feature in Destiny and is only now getting addressed in Shadowkeep with Gear 2.0.
Building your character isn't only about gear, though; each character will have an expansive skill tree for players to customize how they play. While guardians in Destiny can choose their subclass, grenades, class ability, and super, Avengers offers at least 4 upgrade categories (think offense, defense, mobility, etc.) with branching paths to unique abilities within each one. Amos described, for example, a tanky combo-focused Thor vs. an AOE ability focused Thor, each with very different play-styles.
An Unbelievable Variety Of Content
We described the multi-player/end game content for Avengers in our previous story but to sums things up: Warzone missions can be played for 1-4 players with any characters that have been unlocked through the main story/Hero missions. These Warzone missions expand on the story and new missions continue to unlock as you complete both Warzone and Hero missions. These missions have a variety of objectives, so many that when asked about the number of mission types Amos was unable to offer even a ballpark number.
This is the content that will keep players coming back to Avengers. This is where the real gear hunting happens, and where friends can come together on a nightly basis to progress their item level and take on new challenges. Destiny has built itself into a hobby game that can be played every day without ever exhausting the content, and Avengers is clearly thinking along the same lines.
Five Years Of Updates
Amos told us that it has five years of content planned for Avengers. This includes new characters, new story content, new Warzone missions, and more. Until the Activision split earlier this year, Destiny released yearly content expansions with smaller, semi-annual updates included in a season pass. Unlike Destiny, however, all Avengers content for the next five years will be completely free.
Whether this means players should expect less quality of quantity than Destiny's expansions isn't known, but if Avengers intends to keep players in the game for the next five years, rather than periodically revisiting, the content will need to be substantial, and more importantly, fun. PVP, daily/weekly challenges, seasonal events, and raids were not discussed in the meeting, but these are the kinds of things Avengers will need if they intend to compete in the live-service space.
At the same time, the recent "Director's Cut" from Destiny director Luke Smith explained that, now that it isn't under content obligations from Activision, the team is re-evaluating how and when new Destiny content is released. Smith explained that the production schedule has been overly stressful on the team, creating an unhealthy work/life balance for the developers.
We don't yet know what this will mean for the future of Destiny. However, if there is less content to sustain the player base, people may go looking elsewhere. Marvel's Avengers might be just what we need next.