I surprised myself by enjoying Bungie’s Destiny Beta more and more as I dived deeper into it. I started to “get” MMOs for probably the first time, in fact. I’ve often looked on furrow-browed at people who apparently enjoy spending a full evening shaving individual pixels off a big dragon’s health bar. But I got sucked right into Destiny’s three-person Strike mission: at least 20 minutes of wearing down a gigantic Devil Walker tank-beast, ducking down behind masonry shuddering with the impact of the monster’s plasma cannon, and rushing into the open, teeth gritted and fingers crossed, to revive dead teammates and blast the Fallen trying to flank us.
But being me meant that in between actually pointing and firing guns at things like I was supposed to, I kept getting distracted by little details. Like the map screen, which is a thing of beauty.
Destiny’s map screens seem inspired by world maps from the 16th century onwards, with thick land outlines and intricate pencil-style drawings and geometric doodles around the edges. The intention no doubt is to make you feel that much more of an explorer, as you gaze down at these blueprints from the future. They look great moving too: the screen’s layers parallax scroll as you move your cursor around, which reinforces how captivatingly 2D these maps are in a game set in a vast 3D world.
It’s all very fitting from a developer that brought the word “cartographer” from deep in the dictionary into the consciousness of mainstream FPS gamers.