Narration of Online: Anthem vs Destiny – The Ry Perspective

Narration of Online: Anthem vs Destiny


The world of possibilities; being a gamer makes me think of this all the time.  Through the evolutions in the gaming industry, one of the core elements has always been that escape.  It brings you into an unknown world that is filled with an array of interactions.  Through the decades, I have played everything from the Tetris to Moral Kombat, Resident Evil 2 to Red Dead Redemption.  In the span of countless PCs and consoles, the one thing that I have enjoyed seeing grow is the art of narration.  Having a great story has varied meanings to avid gamers, but no matter the reception, if you have something worth continuing through, people will keep on coming back.

That storytelling aspect is at the forefront of many the online multiplayer scene.  From MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) to MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), that insertion into a fantastical world is euphoric.  The evolution of online-multiplayers has created a space for other genres (fighting, racing, sports) to expand its reach, but one of the big ones to gravitate to this is First Person Shooters.  This genre is popular because of the accessibility and overall frantic atmosphere.  By having a central influence in video games, it led to the creation of a hybrid genre.  By taking the FPS aspect, Bungie created a hybrid gamed, Destiny.  By creating something new for the fans, it introduced us to a new escape.  Even with the accolades from before, the question was, can Bungie replicate their success of story into this new venture?


The Current Dilemma – Destiny

Creating a whole new IP is a risk, but it provides a placement of new opportunities for fans.  With a new world to explore, Bungie introduced players to a playground of new characters, gameplay and community features.  From the outwardly setting to the vast different powers and weapons, Destiny seemed to be more than just another FPS, but a game that would morph a genre into something different.  This was the one that would bring in more than just the fans, but people who wanted to find a new experience that would result in a new generation of gamers.  As Jason Schreier of Kotaku proclaimed, “Destiny, as they called it, was to be a cross between a traditional shooter like Halo and a massive multiplayer game like World of Warcraft. It was going to become a cultural touchstone” (Kotaku).  With a lot of wrangling behind the scenes and some forced assertions, the results of keeping that promise fell to the wayside.

When released in 2014, Destiny (at launch) was lacking one thing people expected: story.  This is a staple Bungie’s Halo games.  The fact that the community found this confusing was not without fault.  As was previously reported by Wesley Yin-Poole of Eurogamer, “Destiny eventually launched in September 2014 and enjoyed commercial success, but most agreed it had big problems, chief among them a cobbled together story that made little sense” (Eurogamer).  Providing a basis of the game (through story) is something that is essential to that escape.  If I am doing nothing more than run-shoot-recycle, any sense of accomplishment is irrelevant.  Bungie helped create new path, and eventually evolved it into better stories through expansions (The Taken King) and its eventual sequel (Destiny 2).  Even with these improvements, it still left you yearning for more.  The complications made gamers seemingly perplex.  As stated by Nick Statt of The Verge, “Destiny 2 has become a telling example of how a game maker can overestimate its ability to deliver something millions of people will enjoy without deeply engaging with those players, and without listening to or trusting the community when its members say they’re unhappy” (TheVerge).  So, with the initial outing of the first MMO/FPS hybrid, how can those looking to jump into this genre do what Bungie attempted with two games? The answer lies in a forthcoming BioWare game: Anthem.


The Potential Outlook – Anthem

With the advent of this hybrid genre, it garnered the attention of many industry elites.  One of those company’s is BioWare.  A game maker known for its story driven games (Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age), they have pushed their chips to the forefront with this new IP.  With Anthem, they are jumping into the MMO/FPS hybrid genre, creating another fantasy shooter that has caught the attention of industry critics and fans.  With what they are known for, how is it that Anthem may fare better than Destiny?  With a lot of promises to fulfill, there is one thing that will make or break this game: story.

From gameplay at E3 2018, it is the ideas of persistent progression related to characters that will initially keep a gamer engaged.  With a fantastical concept, the pursuit of a ‘goal’ over an ‘objective’ is beneficial.  With Anthem, they aim for a mixture by having two parts.  These two parts, as explained by Andrew Webster of The Verge, “There is a more traditional story side, which takes place from a first-person perspective. Here, you’ll be able to talk with characters and make the kinds of choices BioWare games are known for. The other half of the experience shifts to third-person, and plays out like a more traditional action game. You don a superpowered exo suit and team up with other players to take on missions” (TheVerge).  Like a lot of the prior games made by BioWare, choice stays at the forefront for Anthem.  How the character begins will probably not be the same at the end.  The precise detail of gameplay is a highlight of demos at E3 2018, but anyone can say it ‘looks great’ or ‘plays amazing’.  What many others (like me) were still ask was, what about the story?  Being that BioWare is behind the development, there is that potential.  As stated by Hayden Dingman of PCWorld, “They can pivot into open-worlds, pivot into shooters, but when I hear “BioWare” I expect a thrilling and complex story I can sink hours into” (PCWorld).  Having a story makes all the difference between average and excellent.  By building towards that intuitive sense, the organic blend of online communities moving along consequential actions is at the core of BioWare’s games.  With potential backed with substance, it is worth having some faith in this new IP.


Closing Thoughts

With many things that have come and gone, one thing that has always kept me going with certain titles or studios is the evolution of story.  With the advent of strong consoles and ultra-realistic graphics, creating that world where you can constantly escape and work towards something amazing will keep a gamer like me coming back for more.  With so many genres, the art of narrating is potent to my own experiences.  With games like Destiny and the up-and-coming Anthem, it provides clear examples of things to strive for in this hybrid genre.  Taking a leap into something different is always challenging, but if you have a story, there is always a possibility to keep at that journey.

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