Author's note: As I research into more topics preceding Destiny's launch, I will update this list. Rumours and heavy speculation without facts to back them up will not be included.
It’s common knowledge that Destiny saw a lot of trimming before its release late last year. We know that Bungie’s eyes were “bigger than (their) stomachs” during Destiny‘s development period, but what we don’t know is just how much was held back from the final game. This article serves to list some of the things that were originally planned for Destiny‘s launch, even shown during announcements and documentaries, but never made it in.
There are a lot of reasons that Bungie decided to omit content from the final game – be it to make up for lost time, deadlines looming, key staff leaving, changes in vision and story direction, and so on. The reason players have such a problem with it in this case is because Bungie showed off a lot of this content prior to launch, in the form of trailers and interviews.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look into the world of Destiny before it launched, and what it has become today.
Saturn and Mercury were both in the game
When Bungie first announced Destiny and followed up with some details, fans thought that the game would be a Solar System-roaming epic in which they could travel to a host of planets – while this is somewhat true after launch, there were more locations during development, including Saturn and Mercury.
During Destiny‘s “Out Here in the Wild” ViDoc, at 00:40, Bungie’s Technical Art Director Ryan Ellis says of its exploration: “You can go from Earth, to Venus, to Mars, to the Moon, to Saturn.” This confirms that, at that point in the development cycle, Saturn was indeed a location within the game.
At 4:12, there is also footage of a Guardian flying along the surface of Mercury, towards a Vex structure. While there is a Crucible map starring Mercury in the final game, there is no point where a cutscene shows a ship flying over the surface. This suggests that Mercury was also a story location.
In the Official Destiny E3 Gameplay trailer, at 1:53, there is similar cutscene footage of Saturn, showing a Guardian navigating their way through space and towards the planet’s rings.
Given how gorgeous both of these locations look in the video, it’s interesting to wonder what their role would have played in the final game, or how players would have traversed each planet.
The Reef was playable
We recently published an article that revealed the Reef, the focal point of Destiny‘s upcoming House of Wolves expansion, was playable in an early version of the game.
As seen in the screenshot above, the announcement video in 2013 showed a location within the Reef similar to Earth’s Tower, where players can roam freely in third person. This may be the new social space in the Reef that will accompany the House of Wolves expansion.
The Cosmodrome was a lot larger
Speaking of articles we recently published, Bungie revealed during a Ride Along that Earth’s Cosmodrome was originally supposed to be “5 to 10 times bigger”.
While players have come out and said they would have preferred a space that size, Bungie went on to say that the space was cut down due to social reasons – they wanted to ensure that players would encounter each other more often, encouraging a more social Destiny experience.
The Queen’s brother appeared on Earth
It’s no secret that a lot of Destiny‘s story changed between development and launch – the evidence is in NPC dialogue, unexplained character motivations, unexplored plot-threads, and so on. One of the more notable exclusions is the Awoken Queen’s brother, allegedly known as ‘Crow’, appearing on Earth’s Cosmodrome.
There’s a theory that suggests the Traveller actually brought the Darkness with it to usher in the Collapse, and the Speaker covered up the events prior to the game’s current timeline. Allegedly, Crow was supposed to kidnap the player and take them on a journey to overthrow the Speaker and uncover the truth behind his true allegiance.
Crow appeared in Destiny‘s E3 gameplay trailer at 2:00, as seen in the screenshot above, holding the player at gunpoint. This also shows that there were more cutscenes in the original game that were removed before launch.
Players’ ships flew overhead when they spawned
When Bungie set out to make Destiny, the team had a social experience at the forefront of their development goals. One tiny feature, that sounds insignificant in theory, was when players spawned in on their friends in-game, their ship would fly over the area and drop them off.
While it limited itself to a fancy spawning screen for others to watch, it’s a very cool touch that adds to the overall vision that you’re in a world full of Guardians flying around with their fire teams and defeating the Darkness. Now these ships are limited to loading screens between destinations, as seen above.
Such spawning sequences feature in the Out Here in the Wild ViDoc, at 2:23 and 2:40.
“It’s all playable terrain”
Very early on in development, Bungie released a video in which they stated that everything within Destiny is in-engine terrain, and said while looking around the Cosmodrome: “All that stuff, if you ran out there, it’s all playable terrain.”
This spawned many criticisms when the game launched, much like the video above – people did expect the game’s locations to have barriers of sorts, but not for them to be as ‘small’ as they are (although they’re still quite large).
Class and Race were supposed to affect gameplay
When starting up a new character in Destiny, players have the option to choose between three classes – Hunter, Warlock, or Titan – and then choose a race: Human, Awoken, or Exo. While class affects how you play the game, based on your Super and abilities available, race has absolutely no importance – but it wasn’t always that way.
At 1:10 of the Out Here in the Wild ViDoc, Bungie Executive Producer Patrick O’Kelley stated that “Your choice of the character class and the character race will condition the way that character’s going to evolve over time.” This isn’t true of the character race.
However, there were allegedly three separate story lines to Destiny – each one fuelled by a different race. According to a Reddit AMA with an alleged former Bungie employee, there were different introductions to the game based on which race you chose, and they were all condensed down to the Exo’s introduction closer to launch.
While you should take this last piece of information with a grant of salt, it fits with Destiny‘s overall theme of cut content, and it also supports O’Kelley’s statement that race had a role to play. If this source is to be believed, they also state that Mercury and Saturn were in development, and that more locations were planned.
‘Talent Points’ were used to upgrade weapons and armour
Destiny players are used to grinding for Ascendant and Radiant materials to upgrade Legendary weapons and armour – but it wasn’t always this way. Prior to launch, Bungie showed off ‘Talent Points’, which were points that players had to earn in order to upgrade weapons and armour
There isn’t much solid information about what Talent Points entailed, but it’s possible that they would have completely negated the need for Ascendant and Radiant materials, offering a more streamlined form of upgrading gear – one that wouldn’t alienate players who don’t have access to DLC.
Talent Points were shown at Destiny‘s E3 demonstration.
Weapons had ‘levels’, but no character level requirement
Bungie’s original method of handling Destiny‘s weapons and loot, aside from Talent Points, was to include ‘Weapon Levels’.
Weapon levels ensured that players could use any gun at any point in the game and level it up with their character, meaning that they can choose a gun they like the look of and stick with it, rather than being forced to dump it for better gear they don’t like.
This is a smart way to handle loot because it offers players such a wide selection, rather than having every weapon function as a stepping stone until they acquire Legendary and Exotic weapons – at which point most players are using the same guns.
There are still many things we don’t know about Destiny‘s past, or even its future. We may never get the game that it was originally intended to be, but we can only hope Bungie makes it the best game they can moving forward.