psx 2015

Learn More About Destiny's Sparrow Racing League

by Brian Shea on Dec 05, 2015 at 03:48 PM

From the first time I played Destiny during its alpha test, I loved how the Sparrows felt. Though they serve as a fun way to traverse the various planets, I always pined for a mode centered on them. With the introduction of Sparrow Racing League, I'm finally getting that wish. Ahead of the event's start, I went hands-on with the new racing mode to see if it lives up to the potential.

In this limited mode, you compete against five other players over the course of three laps. Navigating through the gates spread throughout the course gives you speed boosts; a crucial thing if you hope to even come close to the top spot. Even if you don't grab first place, simply completing races provides random drops to all players. Bungie hopes this can be a good alternative to raiding for those who want to raise their light levels through other avenues, as some of the drops can possess high levels of light. Though there aren't any end-of-match rewards for placing first in these races, you'll come across bounties that reward you for certain accomplishments in the Sparrow Racing League.

Crucible designer Derek Carroll says that Bungie's tenure as the developers of the Halo series helped the studio decide on a direction for Sparrow Racing League's maps. "We decided to focus on real racetracks rather than [what we did in] Halo: Reach where there was racing and in older Bungie games we had other racing modes that were kind of informal and kind of just placed in Forge – and that's cool, but we really wanted to have kind of an obvious, overt racetrack," he says. "We have a lot of people on our team that have a lot of experience with racing games, so they just went to town and started making tracks."

Sparrow Racing League features two maps. Infinite Descent is a gorgeous run along the cliffs and over the trickling creeks of Venus, and Campus Martius an obstacle-filled course in the war zone of Mars. While Campus Martius seems like it could be trickier with its higher volume of enemies and obstacles designed to impede your progress, the sharp curves and various jumps of Infinite Descent actually gave me more problems. 

Speeding through these maps as Vex and Cabal battle it out can prove intense, as they can actually cause damage to you. Though I was never taken out by an NPC enemy, I did get hit a few times during the two races I competed in. It's also important to note that even though the Sparrows control as smooth as ever, the races are far from easy. During my two races, I placed sixth and fourth out of six – not numbers I'm proud of. 

Even so, as someone who generally stays away from the Crucible due to its grueling competition and my less-than-stellar ability in competitive online shooters, I'm optimistic about what this could mean for players like me. "Racing is definitely a different skill set from the run-and-gun Crucible action," Carroll says. "Some people get kind of turned off by that intense action. The competition can be just as intense in a six-player race, but there's something about it because it's not just shooting people... some people who aren't into [the Crucible] can really get into it. We have a lots of people at the studio who are good at Sparrow racing, but they never got into the Crucible."

While this mode is a limited event, Carroll says that if the SRL is popular with the community, it could stick around. "The event format kind of lets us try new things and go in a different direction, hear the feedback, and look at the data," he says. "If people love it, it'll come back. If people hate it, which I don't think is the case based on everything I'm seeing and hearing, then we can re-tune it or do whatever. That's the cool thing about Destiny; we're constantly tweaking it."

The limited Sparrow Racing League winter event starts on December 8 and runs for three weeks. Anyone who owns Destiny: The Taken King will automatically see it pop up as a limited event this coming Tuesday.