Bungie is set to finally release the first official information on Destiny in the next couple of days, but while the game has been mostly shrouded in secrecy, we already know a surprising amount about the Halo creator's next epic.
The Activision-published shooter looks set to merge the worlds of MMO and shooter, cross current and next-generation consoles and spread a huge series of four games (plus DLC).
You'll find more details on Bungie's latest right here at the end of the week, but until then here's everything we know about Destiny up to this point...
1. It's about defending Earth from aliens 700 years from now
Last November an IGN reader leaked story details and concept art originally prepared by an advertising agency. The leaked document revealed that Destiny is set "seven hundred years from now in the Last City on Earth, in a Solar System littered with the ruins of man's Golden Age". It also described a huge alien ship that hangs over the Earth "like a second Moon". This ship acts as the Earth's protector, and while the citizens of the Last City don't really know where it came from or what it wants, as long as things stay quiet they're happy.
Naturally, things don't stay peaceful for too long and "strange, alien monsters [...] from the edge of the universe" appear, trying to take over Earth and the Last City. The players are "young 'knights' tasked with defending the remains of humanity, discovering the source of these monsters and - eventually - overcoming it". Of course, this is all according to the leaked document.
While Bungie later confirmed the document was indeed genuine, it made clear that the details were put together by an advertising agency and represented 'an outside view' of the game's storyline. However, Bungie obviously had to give the agency something to work with, so it's fair to treat this story as a fairly accurate summary of what's going on.
2. It's likely an MMO shooter that still plays like Halo
Last August employees from Demonware visited the Bungie offices to check out Destiny. Since Activision is publishing the game and Demonware is the company that handles the online infrastructure for games like Call Of Duty, it's only natural to assume it will also handle the network side of things for Bungie's game.
One Demonware employee posted a blog about the day on the company's 'internal' network, except it turned out it was actually publicly available for anyone who searched for it on Google.
"This is not a dedicated server game," the Demonware employee wrote, "but there is some simulation and coordination running in their server infrastructure. The game was up and down a lot, playing in a team of three we did manage to experience entering a zone to find other players already taking on the bad guys. It's co-operative so we helped out [...] before both groups went their separate ways. Which is a pretty cool experience, making you feel you are part of a much larger populated world."
This, along with Bungie's claims that Destiny will be much more social-oriented, suggests we're looking at an MMO shooter where every player takes the role of a unique Last City citizen. Don't instantly think Warcraft, though - according to the Demonware employee "it's still quite like Halo".
3. There will be four games in the series
The Destiny contract between Bungie and Acitvision was signed in April 2010, and was later revealed during a court battle between Activision and Infinity Ward. The contract detailed plans to launch the first Destiny game in the autumn of 2013, with further games to be released in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
There's a termination clause in the contract that says Activision has the option to cancel the deal if Destiny sells less than 5 million copies in the first six months. Assuming it meets this goal, we've got four main games in the Destiny series to look forward to.
4. It might be set in the Philippines
In August 2011 Bungie posted an article on its site thanking its fans for making its 20th anniversary special. It also promised that it was working on "a brand new universe", ending the article with: "See you starside". At the top of the article was an image that, with the brightness adjusted, looked like a star map.
Shortly afterwards, Bungie sold 20th anniversary "bags 'o swag" on its site for $35, with proceeds going to charity. The bags contained random Halo goodies, but seven of them contained a lucky gold ticket promising something special. On the back of the ticket was the map again.
It turns out the map is absolutely identical to that of Puerto Princesa, a city in the Philippines that's nicknamed "the greenest city in the Philippines" and has plenty of lush Halo-like landscapes. Bungie doesn't often 'do' coincidences, so chances are Puerto Princesa is the Last City on Earth discussed in the game's plot. Here's the star map, the golden ticket and the Puerto Princesa map for comparison:
5. Each game will receive a massive DLC expansion
As well as four Destiny games, the Activision-Bungie contract also lists four downloadable expansion packs currently codenamed 'Comet'. These are due to be released a year after each game release - in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020.
Presumably these will expand the Destiny universe without interfering with the main storyline. This remains to be confirmed, of course, as does the question of whether they'll be strictly DLC-only or also available as standalone titles.