Destiny is a game that wants to be in control of its own.

Activision have pumped $500 million into it, and developers Bungie have talked of a 10 year plan to sustain and grow the series beyond this initial release. The game's destiny seems assured, it will be one of gaming's biggest series for years to come.

That is the hope, and it may yet be proven otherwise – it is of course the players who ultimately decide these things – but all the signs point toward enormous success for Bungie's follow-up to the Halo series.

The Martian surface of Destiny. Bungie

Released worldwide today, thousands, if not millions of players will tonight embark on a galaxy-spanning space adventure – and here's everything you need to know to get started.

What is it?

Destiny is a first person massively online shooter played across various locales scattered throughout our own solar system.

On the immediate surface it doesn't appear much different to Bungie's Halo games, but Destiny is a different kind of sci-fi shooter – one more about the expression and customisation of its players, and playing together with others around the world.

Who is behind it?

Bungie made their name creating the incredibly popular Halo series, which in the noughties helped establish Microsoft's Xbox brand. Bungie developed its final Halo game – Halo: Reach – in 2010, the year in which they also announced that they would be entering a 10-year publishing agreement with gaming giant Activision.

The Traveler. Bungie

Halo remains the property of Microsoft, not Bungie, and is now being worked on by 343 Industries – who made 2012's Halo 4. The first product of Bungie's deal with Activision is Destiny.

What's the story?

Destiny is set 700 years into the future shortly after a "golden age" of human endeavour. Humans had branched out, colonising planets in the Solar System before "the Collapse" saw all their work torn apart and millions of lives throughout the galaxy wiped out.

Only those on Earth, under the protection of a mysterious, enormous sphere called "The Traveler" survived and it's in this aftermath that the game begins, with humanity on the back foot.

How does it play?

This is a first person shooter, but one heavily imbued with many elements more commonly found in role playing games. Players will be able to choose a class at the start of the game before customising and upgrading their armour, weapons, ship and powers.

This can be done on the fly but the purchase of new items will take place at the Guardians' base of operations – The Tower - Earth's last standing city, which The Traveler still lingers over. In this are players will happen across other players – both friends they've invited and random players from around the world – and view it from a third person perspective.

There will also be ample opportunity to shoot fellow players. Bungie

When embarking on a mission players will be required to select a destination – starting on Earth, then the moon and unlocking more as they progress. Each locale contains a number of missions that can be tackled alone or with a Fireteam of two or three players – again, either friends or random players you happen across and can invite.

Strikes cap off these mission strands, posing a big threat and sending players into enemy strongholds.

Within missions gameplay comprises of your typical gun-toting madness, but also a sort of magic (stemming from what the game calls The Void) which for the most part is utilised in special Super moves which are charged up with successful kills.

What are these classes you mentioned?

There are three Destiny classes to choose from: Hunter, Titan and Warlock. Each has two sub-classes to choose from as well.

Hunters are most closely linked to the classic Rogue or Thief classes more common in RPGs, stealth specialists with a focus on long range combat and close quarters melee kills. Its subclasses are Gunslinger and Bladedancer.

Destiny will boast many impressive vistas. Bungie

Titans are Destiny's version of the tank class – a big, tough warrior with heavy weaponry who soaks up as much damage as it deals out. You can choose between Striker and Defender sub-classes.

Finally there are Warlocks, the mages of Destiny, which utilise magical attacks. They have lighter armour than Titans but heal faster than any class. The Warlock subclasses are Voidwalker and Sunslinger.

What if I want to shoot other online players?

That's where The Crucible comes in. This multiplayer component is part of the whole game rather than separated off. After a few missions of the campaign you'll be able to test your skills against other players, with the benefits feeding through into the rest of the game.

The Crucible will involve traditional multiplayer modes but will focus on Control, which sees players (12 in total, 6 v 6) fighting over three points on the match you must hold to gain points which kills also add to. First team to a set target wins.

Any big names involved?

Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage will accompany you throughout as your small robot companion Ghost while fellow cult favourites Peter Stormare, Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres and Claudia Black provide support.

Meanwhile behind the curtain Halo alumni Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori have been at work on the game's epic soundtrack with ample support from.... what's his name... oh yes, Paul McCartney.

Oblivion and Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski has also directed a live action trailer which you can watch below...

Destiny is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation3 and Xbox 360.