The first thing you see once you remove the sleeve is the stunning exterior box with an embossed destiny logo and a star map presented in a way that van Gogh could have painted. There's a slight give to the texture of the box, it's finish is matte but it feels glazed. It's this artistic almost fantastical taste that really sets this game apart from its contemporaries like Titanfall or the upcoming Call of Duty. This isn't just a shooter, it's an experience.
The journal had a faux leather finish and felt like many a worn old book from my book case. The book even seemed to smell like a leather tome and the feeling was almost pleasant in its familiarity. These were objects with a feeling of age and the weight usually only seen in objects that have experienced the wear of time.
Opening the journal it is divided in to two portions a left sleeve containing a map, postcards from former Human colony worlds and a letter of introduction. The letter itself is simple but elegant, a letter of welcome to the returned Guardian you will be playing as your in game avatar. The letter is watermarked and given a faux patina of age but the embossed stamp in the lower right corner is an impressive level of detail. The postcards are a delightful piece of whimsy, much like those provided with the Bioshock games they are pieces of mundane fantasy giving a realism and a sense of humanity to this fantasy world. These were worlds where not just monsters dwell but one day long ago men and women walked with their children pointing at the sights.
Finally there is the map, the map is another work of beauty. Geeks of a certain age will remember a worn beaten leather map a group of rogue adventurers and a young boy lugged folding and unfolding through time and space. This map, like the book, had a slight finish that this time instead of leather gave it the feel of vellum. The upper corner has with the seal of the Tower and the back has scribbled notes and the look of wear but once open the black and gold writing and embellishments had me looking around for a wall to fall away and a group of little people to come running out.
The right side contains a simple field guide to arms and armament that looked like the kind of pocket book a scout might carry on his first jamboree with a list of the local wildlife that he can keep an eye open for to earn his bird watching or nature badge. On the inside there are scribbled notes from fallen Guardians who have come before you leaving you words of wisdom to help you in the field. The art is very detailed but also functional, which is again a nice touch. This will lend you an idea of what the weapons can do without ever breaking the illusion of being a part of the world.
Finally there is the leatherette sleeve itself, both halves are covered in glyphs and art and the motto POST PROELIA PRAEMIA (latin for rewards after battle).