It really is an exciting time to be a console gamer. Not only has the Xbox seen a recent run of incredible games, the platform recently proved that gaming experiences that are slightly outside most people’s regular comfort zones such as the turn-based squad tactics in X-COM can actually succeed. Now, Bungie has revealed its next project – Destiny, a huge-in-scale MMOFPS that will bring the MMO experience to console in a far more accessible way than, say, Final Fantasy XI.
In a similar approach to developers designing titles for iOS that are actually tuned to a touch-screen gaming experience, Bungie are aiming to bring a full-bodied MMO experience to your Xbox console, whichever one you may be using by the time the game is released. While it’s likely that Destiny will blow the minds of many gamers, it may also open the floodgates to massively-multiplayer gaming as a regular part of the future Xbox line-up.
They may not all be MMOFPS titles, either – while the MMORPG tends to involve a considerable amount of buttons, it’s not entirely necessary – combinations of button-presses and the triggers potentially allowing you access to up to twelve face buttons for commands at once (and that’s before you count the bumpers), gamers need not reach for a USB keyboard any more. It’s a shame Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning never made it to MMORPG status, as its huge world and Fable-esque approachable control scheme made it the perfect basis for a console MMORPG.
The MMO genre is branching out on the PC currently, titles appearing that opt for massively-multiplayer real-time strategy, shooters, even purely social games. It’s also worth noting that Destiny isn’t alone in appearing as a console MMO in the near future – Defiance is also a shooter making tracks towards the Xbox and PS3. However, it’s also coming to PC, and given it’s a shooter, those without a mouse and keyboard may find themselves frustrated should they go up against those who are in possession of these superior FPS peripherals.
This is the problem with the approach of some developers who are bringing the MMO gamer back to consoles – that they’re targeting PC alongside the Xbox and Playstation platforms. The issues this causes are numerous: That either the controller isn’t enough, or the keyboard is underused. That the graphics won’t match between platforms. There are endless issues with facing off the PC and console crowds over a single game, and MMOs tuned for a specific platform will always outperform because neither side is lacking in their experience.
Destiny also needs to prove its ability to operate subscription free, and to keep consoles clear of the free-to-play elements that have plagued people’s PC and iPhone game libraries as of late. Subscription fees tend to elicit much hissing and spitting when it comes to new MMOs, big releases like Star Wars: The Old Republic soon to include a free-to-play model to stop the game from failing completely, but unfortunately sabotaging itself by locking off many of its crucial features behind pay-walls.
None of these approaches will fly with console users. They’re used to a down payment at the start and that’s that. Now, DLC prices make them feel like they’re being milked for content that would’ve come as an expansion, or on the disc at release, ten years ago. Console MMOs will be no different – while expansions will keep the game financially solvent, any hint towards sucking extra money out of players in a “pay to win” environment may push a lot of gamers away from an otherwise fantastic game. Destiny has thrown the doors open to console-only MMO titles, but unless the other games walking through it are willing to adapt to a console environment, nothing may change.
David Thompson is a fresh and upcoming technology and entertainment blogger who enjoys the challenges of creativity and attention to detail. His specific areas of interest include film, gaming and the mobile industry, encompassing everything from manufacturer-specific news from Apple to industry announcements from the likes of O2.