I’ve made numerous mentions, most often on our podcast, that Destiny isn’t a game that interests me. Throughout the game’s initial development period, I was somewhat attracted to the game, because the appeal of being a space wizard is hard to not be instantly enthralled by. However, the multiplayer, MMO-hybrid style of gameplay touted by Destiny wasn’t something I felt would resonate with me. Still, when I had the chance to check out Destiny’s beta, I did, eager to see if Bungie’s universe spanning epic would draw me in.
The short answer, quite frankly, is that I didn’t like Destiny after its beta. The repetitive nature of the game was clear even before it was officially released to consumers, and that was enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth. With this notion firmly in my mind, I largely ignored anything Destiny related for the following months.
Until this past Sunday, that is.
Bored on a day with nothing to do, I hopped at the opportunity to catch up with a friend. He has been with Destiny since shortly after the game’s launch, and genuinely enjoys playing it. We share a lot of the same interests, so when I arrived and sat down on his couch, I didn’t mind checking out what was going on in Destiny after such a long period of self-inflicted silence.
I won’t say that I was captured by the allure of hopping from planet to planet when I watched my friend blast his way through myriad enemies, and I can’t say that our mutual satisfaction from each headshot was a game seller, but shortly into his play session, I decided I would head to the store and pick the game up. I had nothing better to do, after all.
After I returned home, Destiny firmly in my hand, I booted the game up and let it update, ready to see if the second time would be the charm.
What followed feels more like a fever dream. A mad dash of cloaked Hunters, hulking Titans, and elusive Warlocks, that went by at an insane pace. Over the following five days, I leveled my first character, an Awoken Hunter from level 1 to 28. With notions of the game’s notorious reputation for forcing players to grind for gear and improvements, I was hesitant at first, but looking back on the past week I can’t say I didn’t sort of enjoy it.
My thoughts on Destiny, a game I am genuinely unsure I really know anything about are below. It’s been a long, strange trip, but one that I think is worth sharing.
I created my character. I picked Awoken simply because I thought the race’s signature blue skin looked the silliest. I chose a Hunter because, frankly, the guy on Destiny’s boxart looks like a badass with a cloak and a hand cannon. I started the game and was told that apparently I had been dead for a really long time. I shrugged and pondered why then, would Peter Dinklage’s robotic other-self, bother to wake me up. Rest in peace has an entirely different connotation once planetary exploration comes into the equation, I presume.
We went onward and I got a ship, shot some things and then I went back to where I got my ship again. Apparently, I was in Russia, but Peter Dinklage’s robotic other-self doesn’t entirely seem trustworthy to me, so I am taking anything he says with a grain of salt.
As I progressed through Russia, I leveled up and got some cool guns and abilities. I found that as a recently reanimated corpse, I was much more interested in seeing what I could double jump on than I was with the existence threatening whatever I was supposed to stop. Was there a threat? Am I supposed to stop it? Do I need to fight all these guys, or can I just keep jumping around? I still don’t know the answers to these questions because Destiny’s storytelling is clearly a weak point. That, and I have become convinced that Peter Dinklage’s robotic other-self is actually trying to kill me. Trust no one in space becomes my motto.
It also strikes me that, during my first hour or two of playing, I rarely have seen anyone else. Occasionally, the game tells me that a player is near, but it is all too infrequent that I actually see someone go by me. Russia is a desolate place and the loneliness begins to set it. I play for another hour and get so sick of Peter Dinklage’s robotic other-self’s lies that I log off. I am level seven now. It’s been an isolated experience and I have no idea what the hell you are actually supposed to do in Destiny.
Of course, the next day is a whole new one and I am ready to give Destiny another chance. Maybe it’s one of those slow burner-type games, where it has to suck and be boring for a while before it actually gets fun, I think to myself, before immediately realizing how strange that concept is. A slow burner MMO could never be the best-selling launch title of all time, right? Bungie wouldn’t be that foolish. The massively multiplayer nomenclature then makes me laugh some more, because even at the Tower, I see a few scant characters scurrying about, and none of them seem to want to dance with me. Do I still smell like a space corpse? Is it my strange colored face? Perhaps it’s time to phone a friend.
At this point, I already feel burned out on Destiny. The game is exactly the same product that I experienced during the beta period and I find myself looking over to my receipt, pondering if I should return it. My friend, a dashing Warlock at this point, randomly jumps into my vicinity and we begin to steamroll through Destiny’s early content.
In a matter of hours, we traverse across Russia, the Moon, and Venus. It goes by fast, and it feels fun, and I nod to myself and understand why people might be into this game. Suddenly, I am level 18, nearing 19 and I decide to call it quits for the day. I do an approximation of my time spent playing Destiny and am wowed that all this has happened under ten hours. I laugh at the notion of being excited that I haven’t had to spend a lot of time in a game and how that somehow equates to me enjoying it more and call it a night. My Hunter is more powerful now, but he still wishes he were dead, laying under his car coffin in Russia.
My dreams are littered with existential, philosophical meanderings. How did I die? What the hell was I, an Awoken Hunter (apparently), doing dead under a car in Russia? Why doesn’t my cloak look as cool as the guy on the game’s box? What even is my destiny in Destiny?
My third day in Destiny is a bit more exciting than the last two. Again, I join a fireteam with my friend, however this time, we are accompanied by another player. It is in these moments that Destiny’s appeal shines through. Partied up with two other players, both of whom are very talented, the game goes by at an even more dizzying pace. We fall into a grove quickly, chatting while killing big space creatures that I have no understanding of and suddenly I am level 20. We attempt to go further and do another higher level strike mission until we realize I can’t due to my lack of owning Destiny’s expansion, The Dark Below.
With a resigned sigh, I look at my bank account and consider the purchase. Twenty dollars and three minutes later, I am back with a vengeance, ready to behead any alien scum I find in my scope.
We play on for another couple of hours, laughing at whatever stupid topic comes up in conversation. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure becomes a constant topic of conversation simply for the fact that it is much more interesting than whatever ‘lore’ is unfolding in the game before my eyes. I ask about what the hell is going on in the plot and am informed that apparently I need to use an app or something to get the whole story. Thanks Bungie, but I think I’ll make up my own story. The Adventures of Three Dead Aliens on a Quest to Understand their Plight of Reanimation.
Similar to the puzzling nature of Destiny’s story, it takes some explaining for me to grasp the concept of leveling up past 20. The concept of light gear still makes no sense to me, but I see my level increasing so I guess a don’t ask, don’t tell policy is in order.
We continue on for a little bit and I am level 25. It’s only been about 15 hours. I’m okay with this.
I play by myself for an hour or two the next day. Peter Dinklage’s robotic other-self still nags me. I still don’t trust him and I am instantly bored with the game in those solitary moments. Because Destiny so wants to be a MMO, playing alone past a certain point simply feels useless. I log out and meet up with my friend and his friends later on. I’ve grown to level 27 now and still understand nothing more than shooting is the answer to everything.
My friend decides that with my newfound level it is time to tackle Crota’s End. It’s a raid, apparently, but one that is very broken. In my time with Destiny, I have found that being broken is a common theme. From the broken husk of an Awoken I was when Peter Dinklage’s robotic other-self decide to wake me, to the remarkably easy to optimize layout of the game’s strikes, it has become clear that just about everything in Destiny can be described as broken on some level. With this in mind, I don’t even raise an eyebrow when my space travelling partner informs me that instead of the required six players for Crota’s End, it will be just the two of us attending.
He then proceeds to break the raid on its most fundamental level. I kill myself quickly after falling through the abyss. The allusion to Dark Souls is not lost on me as we plummet and for the first time, I genuinely like a part of the game. Once I am dead, I set my camera to follow my friend and watch how simple it is to skip all of the raid’s first area. Apparently, this is a common ‘problem’ that Bungie has tried to fix, but players keep finding new ways around it. Suddenly, we’re at the end of the raid and we call in another player to help skip the last portion of Crota’s End. The methods are exciting to watch and before I know it, we are done. There was something about flying over an area where a bridge is supposed to be, but I’d be lying if I said I was paying too much attention. Much like everything else in Destiny, I didn’t know what was actually going on and it was over too fast to genuinely care.
I got some raid-level boots out of the excursion, so that was cool.
After a bit more playing, some heroic strikes and a Nightfall, I find myself geared up. Some guy named Xur is around today and my new space associates tell me he has some great gear for Hunters. Something about a badass sniper rifle they call the Icebreaker. There’s also some great helmet too. I logged out before bothering to look at them, because if there is one thing Destiny has taught me, it’s that the only real mystery of the game is in the game’s design itself.
I’ve gone from completely uninterested in Destiny to geared and near the current level cap in less than twenty-four hours. I am a reanimated blue corpse who cannot escape the incessant drone of Peter Dinklage’s robotic other-self. I am sort of powerful. I think. I can’t be sure, though, because everything has gone by too fast.
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