Sparrow racing. How Bungie didn’t think we’d want to race vehicles as cool as sparrows competitively is truly a wonder. While the concept is simple enough, proper execution requires quite a bit of work.
Let’s start with the sparrows themselves. In their most simple form, racing games require vehicles that differ in a variety of performance factors. Speed, handling, acceleration, etc. Sparrows have only one variable and beyond that, they all perform exactly alike. For a competitive race to occur, sparrows would need the ability to overtake each other based on driver style and ability. Sparrows in their current form just don’t work.
For sparrow racing to ever happen, sparrows would have to be completely rebuilt from the ground up. Different models could have different stats, but I think it would be much better to have upgradeable and customizable models. A guardian would have a base model which would have slots to plug in stat-altering items, not unlike the guardian itself. This would have the added bonuses of introducing new items and new currency-sinks. Next, while sparrows have two (or in the case of Timebreaker, three) speeds, they’ll need to a different kind of “boost” function in racing, which I think should be a standard depleteable boost meter that charges through tricks and the like.
Let’s talk courses. I’m sure Bungie would love for racing courses to be made out of existing maps, but that’s just not possible for a variety of reasons. Courses should be modeled after existing locales like the Crucible maps are, but like the Crucible maps they’ll need to be dedicated creations.
This also adds a bonus of what I’ll call “speed limiters”. Sparrows won’t have the option of performing all that different on open maps for a variety of technical reasons, but if they’re given two sets of stats, one for open world and one for competition, modifying existing maps and really tweaking their performance for racing becomes possible. This also keeps their open-world boosting and race-boosting separate. In lore, sparrows could be outfitted with “limiters”. Simple. Bungie has already done this with friendly fire differences between PvE and PvP.
A question I’ve seen a few times is whether racing would have a combat aspect. For a game like Destiny it’s a fair question. Players sometimes envision their guardian handling their sparrow with one hand and firing a Gjallarhorn with the other. Epic, but no. If combat were to ever be an element, it would most-likely be modeled after the pickup system one would find in Mario Kart.
In the end, I don’t think combat should be involved. Have ramps, tricks, and boost pads and maybe an option to kick to the side, but no pew-pew. My biggest problem with it is that is would detract from the racing, which should be focused on alternative routes and tricks. That doesn’t mean taking out rival vehicles isn’t possible.
Finally, pacing. Different driving games have pacing. Simulators like Gran Turismo is long and slow while arcade-y games like Bunrout Revenge are manic and explosive. I see sparrow racing as a fast, furious and violent affair not unlike a Burnout.
Will we get any of this? Probably not. Destiny has a lot of problems to solve and a lot of avenues to grow into. I don’t see this being a priority unless some major headway is made. If at all, it won’t be until the third incarnation of Destiny. In my opinion, it will take that long for Bungie to catch up with themselves and their dreams… if ever.