In Defence of Destiny: Goodbye Year 1

I feel I should start this blog with two disclaimers, just to get them out of the way.

1. I completely agree the price of The Taken King is unfair. $40 for Americans should not equal £40 for us Brits. Each person that does stump up and pay the £40 can justify it to themselves. However, those who have concerns it may affect DLC pricing in all games, I understand, and any rants below are not aimed at you.
2. I have awesome friends. Sadly, I don’t have a treasure room at home where I can run through gold and open loot chests, so all of the Destiny DLC has been bought for me by a very generous pal. My kids are grateful that I haven’t starved them for a week so I could pay for blasting Crota in his stupid face.

I see a fair amount of hate crop up against Destiny and it’s fans on Twitter, Facebook, in comment sections, etc. I avoid getting into online battles with them but they don’t get it. They don’t get us Destiny players. They don’t get why we still play or why we’ll submit to the ransom of £40 for DLC.

“Why are people still playing Destiny?!”, they cry. “You’re an idiot if you’re going to pay £40 for some DLC!”, they proclaim, while buying the same Call of Duty game each year, or the annual FIFA, or Assassin’s Creed. I’ve never gotten into Assassin’s Creed but it wouldn’t even cross my mind to question fans looking forward to each release. It’s not my thing, but they enjoy it. Live and let live. Instead of releasing a yearly Destiny, this September – a year after initial release, Bungie are giving the game a complete overhaul with The Taken King. It’s not just a tacked on level, they’re rejigging the entire game. Instead of announcing Destiny 2, they’re changing numerous things via an update. Plus tacking on a few levels.

The non-believers have other things to say.

“The story is complete nonsense!” Yes. You’re completely right. I can’t speak for everyone here but… I don’t care! In fact, I like that we have no idea what we’re doing and it’s a source of amusement for me and my fireteam. I can’t remember who this boss is and why we have to kill him. If I had my way, I’d have Bungie release increasingly ludicrous storylines to just roll with the fact that many of us don’t really care. However, seeing as some do care then hopefully the story makes sense for them in the end.

“You’re doing the same thing over and over again!” Ehhhh. In the sense that Destiny is a shooter, then sure, we’re shooting stuff a lot with a variety of different weapons. That’s the game. You’re doing the same thing over and over again in most games. There’s a lot of replaying missions in Destiny but a typical evening could start with the Nightfall, then the Weekly. Perhaps we’ll blast through some bounties but get distracted by a public event or kill some Wolves. We’ll drop by the Prison of Elders which changes weekly. Maybe it’s a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon and we’ll gather enough friends to do a Raid. Then there’s the whole PvP side of Destiny, a place I don’t venture as I’ll have my butt kicked.

The game is unpredictable. The game is tense. What was easy last week may have different modifiers which makes it a challenge the next. You’re working together as a team, you’re so close to defeating the boss but someone dies. There’s two of you left and there’s a clusterfuck of Vex heading towards you. The second (wo)man is also now down on their way to revive the first. You are now the Last Guardian Standing. You bob and weave past enemy fire, revive one teammate and then the next. Weapons are now combined and, like a Care Bear Stare, the boss goes down. That is satisfying. That feeling of coming back from encroaching doom makes you feel victorious. I’ve not played many games that share the sense of camaraderie, where teamwork can be vital to success. Left 4 Dead is my closest comparison. Sure, you’re playing the same levels over and over, but the teamwork is important and the action is unpredictable.

Finally, the biggest reason I’m playing Destiny a year on and will continue to play… It’s a social game. If I didn’t have my network of gamer pals, I would have stopped playing a long time ago. Some nights we’re really into the game and focused but on others we’re just bouncing around, shooting some Fallen, ticking off Bounties and chatting about our day, other games we’re looking forward to, our love-lives or that thing that’s going on at work. Destiny can feel like a massive pub. If pubs have floating Wizards, sniping Hobgoblins and belching Ogres. Although, I have met one or two belching ogres in bars before. We’ll frequently finish for the night yet spend ages climbing trees in the Tower, punting balls around or dancing on the bar and just chat until someone realises we’ve done nothing for twenty minutes and we should probably log off.

While I’m sure there’s some ‘lone wolves’ out there enjoying the game, for me, friends make Destiny. In-jokes that never get old about that friend who always dies in Nightfall, made up names for the different enemies, mocking the storyline, everyone disappearing for a loo trip or drink during those unskippable cut-scenes, that friend who bought the game late so you all team up to give them advice and help them through Strikes even though they’re a baby 26 and you’re a mighty 34, dancing with a complete stranger on the Reef and bowing before heading off into space in your different directions.

Year 1 is almost over. It’s time to say goodbye to your Gjallarhorn that has served you well and saved your bacon more times than you can count (and also accidentally killed you more times than you can count). You can now look back and laugh with your fireteam at those infuriating weeks of trying to level up but not getting the shards you need, Master Rahool screwing you over with engrams, endless firing into loot caves, impatiently waiting for Knights to appear or Wolves to appear, those days when the Devil Walker at the Divide actually posed a bit of a challenge, and hiding under the deck like a coward while shooting the Archon Priest.

There will always be people who don’t ‘get it’. Those who played it for a month and got bored, those who’ll never understand why many of us will pay for more Destiny and enjoy playing the same missions over and over in the hope of getting that one magical drop we’re after. Us Destiny players may always be outcasts in the gaming community but go forth and keep your exotic-helmeted-head held high, Year 2 is waiting for you.

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