The player is in charge of bringing a small group of prehistoric people through the changing world, from the first crude working with stone tools to space travel, developing them from a simple tribe into a successful modern society. Along the way the player races against up to seven other tribes, all reaching for the same goal. As the player progresses through the game, he must lead his tribe to victory using diplomacy and conquest. Options include real-time or turn-based play, traditional 2D or new 3D views, full campaigns or mini-scenarios, and military or scientific victory conditions.
Unlike previous "god" games where players are only able to focus on one invention and building project at a time, Destiny allows players to divide their resources among multiple activities in a real-time environment. Each city can be constructing multiple facilities at any time, and production of new materials must be balanced with the resources available. Research can be focused on a few key areas, or the player can elect to spread efforts into several fields. Once opposing races are encountered, the player can choose how to approach them. Destiny allows the player to send emissaries to opponents proposing any type of agreement, from trade arrangements to declarations of war. The computer-controlled players respond realistically to these offers.