Joshua Rivera
September 05, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Hype is sky-high for Destiny (out Sept. 9), the first entirely new franchise from game developer Bungie after 13 years of its chart-topping Halo games. Publisher Activision Blizzard will spend $500 million to make and market the game: They don’t just want it to be as big as Halo — they need it to be. Lucky for them, industry estimates suggest that Destiny, in which players must battle aliens to preserve the human race, could generate $600–900 million in sales this year. What makes it so special? In a genre that often takes a cynical approach to its subject matter by exploiting real-life strife (e.g., drone warfare or terrorist attacks) as fodder for digital carnage, rare is the first-person shooter that concerns itself with making players feel anything other than homicidal. But Destiny is aiming for something else entirely. ”We wanted to create an inviting universe, one that’s filled with hope,” says Pete Parsons, COO of Bungie. And they did: The game’s science fiction harks back to the space race, with players urged to rise up and explore a beautiful universe in the aftermath of a crushing apocalypse. It’s such a satisfying creation, it’s almost a shame you’ll spend most of the game shooting things.

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