It is very strange to think that so much of my life has been defined by a single franchise, Destiny. “Your life?” you say. Yeah, my life. It’s not just thousands of hours of playtime, but years and years of daily Destiny columns examining every asset of the game. Destiny has paid my mortgage, part of med school tuition for my wife, it now helps support my son. And it all started ten years ago.
Destiny players are reminiscing about the first gameplay footage that was ever shown, way back in E3 2013 ahead of the game’s release in the fall of 2014.
This was a live demo showing a fireteam taking on the very beginning of the game in the Cosmodrome. I’m pretty stunned just how well this footage holds up in time. This was ten years ago and it looks still…quite good?
Probably half the footage is mostly a graphics showcase, as we see the bright exterior give way to a ghost-lit interior, pretty closely mirroring the final opening to the game. Of course this is also back when Peter Dinklage was still doing the voice of Ghost. Honestly, I still miss him (sorry Nolan North). But they weren’t gonna pay him for ten years, I suppose.
There is a lot of…pulse rifle hipfiring, but eventually the gameplay shows that unlike most Halo weapons, you can indeed aim down the sights like Call of Duty. The first enemies shown are the Fallen, more or less behaving exactly the way we see most of them ten years later. The crowd cheers after one is killed with an ADS hand cannon headshot.
Midway through, the Knucklehead Radar-wielding Hunter controlled by Jason Jones casts his Golden Gun super to eliminate and handful of red bars. The Warlock casts his Nova Bomb to kill a guy. But it’s important to remember this is the first time the concept of “space magic” was being introduced in full, and I don’t think people were expecting the guy who was just shooting aliens with a revolve a seconds ago to be throwing out a giant purple spirt bomb.
The first ever boss shown is Rixis, Archon Slayer, later becoming Riksis, Devil Archon, who did indeed appear in the first mission. During the fight, Jones’ Hunter dies and we’re introduced to the concept of Ghost resurrection, even if we didn’t quite know what we were seeing at the time.
The death of Rixis also leads to the concept of the game’s loot drops, which in this case is the Thunderlord, the first ever exotic shown with a wildly different weapon screen than the final product we saw a year later.
Eventually, a Titan appears wearing Crest of Alpha Lupi, once they emerge from the tunnels. He has a Gjallarhorn, looking essentially identical to the final version that Xur would sell in week two, and which would define the damage meta of the game for a solid year. Then, we are introduced the concept of a public event with what else, a spider tank dropping.
In the end, a compilation has a Speaker voiceover (remember him?) and a look at the Vex and Hive. We also got the infamous first shot of “Crow” in a scene that would never appear in the actual game, with him originally supposed to be taking on the role of the Exo Stranger. Famously, Destiny’s story was ripped out and redone very close to launch, hence its relative incoherence and deleted moments like this.
In the end, it was impressive footage, but Destiny launched confusing most players and reviewers just trying to figure out what the game was, resulting in a lot of 6s and 7s at release. Then Vault of Glass arrived and things really started to take shape. The rest is history.