In 2010, Bungie went through a number of radical changes. It left behind its parent company, Microsoft, to become an independent game developer, struck up a 10-year deal with Activision, moved into a new studio space, and left Master Chief and the ring-shaped world of Halo behind to begin work on a new universe.

Bungie has always been a secretive company, keeping its projects tightly locked behind key card protected doors. Its first new project as an independent developer, codenamed Destiny, has been no exception, but the studio that established some of the most important innovations in online multiplayer gaming and console first-person shooters has finally opened its doors to reveal its bold new universe. The first big disclosure is that Destiny is no longer a code name, but the official title of Bungie’s next expansive universe.

Comparable studios often break up their workforce to simultaneously tackle multiple projects, but Bungie has more than 300 employees entirely devoted to the creation of Destiny. This singular focus serves the studio’s huge aspirations for Destiny, as it hopes the world will become a bigger part of popular culture than the Halo series. A leak last year, that prematurely revealed some of Destiny’s details, cited aspirational hopes of Destiny having the same impact that Star Wars had on modern culture. We can’t tell at this juncture if Destiny will have the same legacy, but you can see the film’s influence on Destiny’s story and design in many positive ways. Bungie describes Destiny as “mythic science-fiction.”

Destiny takes place on the planet Earth, but well into the future when a mysterious weapon destroyed most of the planet and its inhabitants at the end of humanity’s Golden Age. One city remains, however, surviving thanks to the intervention of The Traveler. The Traveler is a gigantic moon shaped ship that looms over the Earth’s last surviving city. No one knows what The Traveler is, or where it came from, but it saved humanity by making sure a small population survived.

Players take on the roles of The Guardians, the protectors of the city who receive power from the Traveler. Each player creates his or her own guardian and can customize everything about them, including their appearance, class, weapons, and ship. Bungie didn’t divulge the differentiations between each class, but it spoke of hunters, titans, and warlocks. As a protector of the city, you live in a persistent and changing world, venturing into the Earth’s ruins on missions to explore and collect loot. You can even venture outside of Earth to visit the other planets of our solar system like Venus and Mars. Ambiguous powers emanate from The Traveler, empowering Earth’s Guardians with a magical force. It sounds similar to Star Wars’ Force powers, but even at this very early preliminary stage, Bungie’s new world feels distinct.

Head to page two to learn how Bungie is building Destiny's shared world shooter.