This one is for all you internet conspiracy theorists out there. As more Details started to emerge back in 2013 about Bungie’s new game Destiny I couldn’t help but feel a sense of Deja vu creeping up on me. Lets see; ” Shared World” multiplayer game…Sci Fi setting with an Eternal Darkness style enemy…(3) primary Character classes exploring a planetary system comprised of 3-4 explorable planets…. WAIT!!! I have played this game before!
Welcome to Phantasy Star Universe
Phantasy Star Universe was a PC/XBOX 360 title that endured for many years and debuted shortly after the 360’s launch in October 2006. It was one of two games to try its hand at an MMO style game on a console and while some may feel that the game failed in so much as nailing what we all wanted from a game with the Phantasy Star name on it, the community rallied behind it and supported it right up to the final day its servers got unplugged ( 2014).
I could ( and probably should) write an entire article just centering around the Phantasy Star Franchise itself but for purposes of this article I want to focus on why I think Bungie blatantly copied pretty much all of Sega’s ideas when they created Destiny. If you want to read all about this amazing game click HERE .Strap in and cue the twilight zone music because your in for one hell of a comparison piece that will probably make you rethink just how creative Bungie really is ( This is not to say that Destiny is a bad game) and also wonder how you could have missed out on PSU.
Characters: ” Three is the magic number”
This is the first of many coincidences you will see between the two games.Some may say that having (3) character classes to choose from is a common occurrence within the MMO genre, I would challenge that and ask them to look closer. Not only do the two games share the same variety from a numerical standpoint but the actual classes themselves are nearly identical having a ” Hunter/Ranger” ” Warlock/Force” and “Titan/Ranger”.
Not only that but the races themselves are splt between ” Human/Human”, “EXO/Cast” and ” Awoken/Newman”. PSU has an extra race called ” Beast” however. Both games even refer to your player controlled hero as ” Guardians” .
A shared Space
I am ashamed to admit it but the most fascinating part of Destiny for me is the Tower. I have always enjoyed the social aspects of the MMO genre above all else and while my friends where always busy grinding and blasting through content, I found myself emoting and chatting away in the town or whatever social hub the game gave the player. PSU had an amazing amount of social interaction in its shared spaces and it accomplished it without even having a dedicated chat channel for the general public. Instead it created a system of emotes and ” expressions” that allowed you to connect with other gamer’s in addition to the standard text chatting of course.
Destiny does not even have half the depth when it comes to interacting with other players but its very clear that both games share an almost identical starting hub. PSU expanded this concept to having a social hub on each of its explorable planets but Im just getting ahead of myself…
Both games allow players to conduct a variety of tasks in the hub centre ranging from crafting, obtaining mail, getting quests,buying and selling equipment and weapons. PSU trumps Destiny in several ways however.
Not only is the social interactions light years ahead as I previously mentioned but Phantasy Star allows players to have a personal space in the form of player housing. This is a small apartment sized dwelling that contains a personnel closet/chest and a computer terminal where the players “MAG” resides ( a small spherical robot assistant that follows you around the game….That ISNT voiced by Peter Dinklage). The coolest thing about your apartment/House is that you can decorate it with objects and trophies gained on your adventures so that each player has a unique looking pad. You can even invite other players over to it and have a house party!
A Solar System to Explore
Destiny gives us an amazing story that fast forwards our own solar system’s history into a time where an Eternal Darkness has attacked humanity and been defeated all prior to your characters story. Bungie has done an amazing job creating familiar yet still foreign landscapes for players to explore. Sega went the other route and created a solar system called the Agol system which dates as far back as the late 80’s when the original Phantasy Star video game launched. Both game worlds are by far different so much as the individual landscapes and looks go but the concept of an explorable solar system revolving around a few planets accessible from a central menu, not to mention the ability to fly to each planet is more than a little coincidental.
A Grinding We Go
Perhaps the most controversial part of Destiny since its launch is its apparent lack of content. The marketing folks over at Bungie/Activision had us think that Destiny would be a never ending plentiful flow fresh content delivered on our doorstep whenever we needed. What we got instead was a game that created a very in depth framework on which it could start to hang the content. Destiny wasn’t launched as a complete package nor was it ever meant to. The game was touted to have a 10 year life cycle and over that 10 years you would be taken on an epic journey unlike any other. What gamers didn’t realize is that if they spent every waking hour playing Destiny they would be sitting at the finish line of the race wondering where the rest of the track was! Phantasy Star Universe delivered the EXACT SAME EXPERIENCE. They gave us a smattering of zones in which we could discover and play through. Each area culminated in an epic boss battle ( for the time) and rewarded players with valuable loot and rare items.
The game then tasked players to go back and re equip themselves and retry any one of the previous visited areas on a harder difficulty to gain better loot. Wash, Rinse and Repeat. THIS IS EXACTLY what Bungie created with Destiny. In fact this part more so than any other has me convinced that Bungie took a VERY hard look at what Sega did with PSU and did there very best to emulate it knowing full well that players who loved this style of play would be hooked. Phantasy Star universe kept players engaged for years with recycled areas and a sprinkle of content as far as story and PVE ( Phantasy Star Universe lacked a PVP mode). I remember playing PSU and saying the same thing as I did when I beat Destiny; ” So I just replay these areas on a harder difficulty and thats it for new stuff?”
Yup that’s it basically. The good news for Destiny players is that we are going to get a flood of very exciting things to do beyond just grinding and while that may take awhile to materialize, it will come
There are plenty more subtle similarities between Destiny and Phantasy Star Universe but the above few are the ones that really stand out. It makes me smile to think that a AAA studio still where humble enough to look at the history of the genre and apply those learning’s. It also makes me wonder if anyone on Bungies Dev team did in fact play Phantasy Star Universe back when the servers where running.
when all is said and done I now have a better perspective of Destiny’s content as it shipped. I loved Phantasy Star Universe despite its ” Zoned world” approach to adventuring and Destiny did the exact same thing just with better graphics and hellava lot bigger areas.
Stop complaining all your “ANTI-Destiny” gamer’s out there. Destiny’s grind fest doesn’t aint got nuthin compared to Phantasy Star’s and that’s a VERY good thing!
Dwayne “EVO Knight” Morash