You have to admit that the timing is suspicious. The new Star Wars movie will be out in just about two weeks, and here Bungie is releasing a new quest for Destiny that looks suspiciously like a cross between Endor's speeder bike chase and Episode I's podrace. Pretty convenient, don't you think?
Naturally, Bungie is denying the connection. They've got their own sci-fi legacy - one that goes beyond Halo and back to the days of Marathon. And with Destiny still enjoying a large and extremely loyal fanbase a year after release, they don't have any need to hitch their wagon to Disney's upcoming holiday juggernaut. But still, it's a funny coincidence.
Sparrows, of course, have been a part of Destiny since the beginning, continuing Bungie's tradition of inserting cool vehicles into their shooters. They've proven popular enough that fans have been pining for a racing mode for quite a while now, and Bungie has responded with the Sparrow Racing League - a new event launching on December 8th that turns Destiny into Wipeout. Okay, it's not as good as Sony's seminal high-speed racing game, but it's just about as fast and smooth.
Set on Venus and Mars, the Sparrow Racing League supports six players in a three lap race. The courses are as you would expect, featuring lots of ramps and elevated areas as well as the odd pack of enemies who will shoot at the leader. There's no real cornering or drifting; instead, speed boosts are accomplished by hitting the gates scattered throughout each course.
The races are as fast and exhilirating as you might expect, and it's rare that one player will get a significant advantage over the other. It's easy to drift wider on a corner than you'd like, but it's possible to correct your course by hitting R1 for a quick bump to the side. Obviously, it has nothing on dedicated racers, but it's a fun distraction that helps to broaden the world of Destiny beyond the usual shoot 'em up questing.
The initial release of the Sparrow Racing League will serve as a testbed of sorts for future content. The event will run for three weeks, and if the community responds positively, there will be more. Thus far, the concensus is that the racing looks pretty neat, but it would be nice to have weapons on Sparrows. Don't worry, Destiny fans, Bungie hears you loud and clear.
In the grand scheme of things, Sparrow Racing League is a fun if relatively minor addition to Destiny. I expect a lot of players will try it out, collect some of the vanity gear that comes with it, and move on. But it's good to see Bungie experimenting a bit and introducing content that goes beyond the norm.
In the meantime, having righted the ship to some extent after a rough launch, Bungie can now look ahead to the future and continue building out their world. With luck, they'll continue stretching their boundaries and trying new things into 2016 and beyond.