I never thought that I would find myself, facing you good people of Giant Bomb dot com, admitting to the fact that I’ve played more Destiny in the last week than I’ve played any other game, including Dragon Age: Inquisition (which I actually spent all of yesterday playing, so this isn’t quite accurate anymore, but still). The thing is, when I get home from work at night and work out, I generally have time for one or two games, and that’s about it. This is also assuming that I don’t want to spend time watching television—or more accurately, watching Quick Looks or whatever. So for me to say that every work night last week (a three-day work week for me, but still) was spent sitting in a strike playlist or running the daily heroic story, is saying a lot (and over this long holiday weekend, I’ve spent at least two out of the three nights still playing Destiny, and there’s a nonzero chance that tonight I’ll play some more). There were a few moments during last week where I found myself openly wondering how it all came to this.
Me, several weeks ago
The answer, as I've come to understand, is twofold: socialization on one hand, and on the other (and perhaps more importantly), stability.
I live a solid fifty miles outside of Chicago city proper, something I did by choice because I like the city but I also like seeing stars at night—and more importantly I am not huge on going out often. My brother, with whom I am close (we’re twins! ISN’T THAT INTERESTING?), lives just outside of New York City. We like to hang out, but geography being what it is we tend to hang out online. We also grew up playing Halo co-op, so our predisposition toward another sci-fi co-op shooter from Bungie was basically a done deal. Like so many others, however, Destiny fell flat for me—we got through the main story quickly, scrabbling in the dust for something resembling a narrative (if ever a game needed more cutscenes, it’s this one), for something that would motivate us to keep playing. We failed to find it, of course. There’s really not much of a narrative, and once the strike playlist started to send us to the Summoning Pits multiple times in a row—the record is three, by the way—we both decided we’d had enough and pinned our hopes on the upcoming Master Chief Collection for our co-op needs. Until then, we’d pop in and out of Titanfall, which isn’t quite the co-op we wanted but at least wasn’t as awful as Destiny’s Crucible mode (which has never clicked for me, although it might now since Bungie have been patching the hell out of their game to fix balancing issues on basically everything since day one).
Until the release of the Master Chief Collection, my brother and I either just talked over Live while playing single player games—which isn’t as fun as playing co-op, obviously—or fired up the ol’ 360 to run around in Halo 4 or Lord of the Rings: War in the North, or Diablo III even though we’ve been through Diablo III a lot. Then, finally, the Master Chief collection dropped and it looked like our wait was over—except it wasn’t, because the Master Chief collection is a broken pile of garbage right now (we’ve gotten it to work a few times, and it’s been wonderful, but I’m comfortable saying that three out of every four times we’ve made an attempt, it’s ended in swearing and giving up after a solid 20-30 minutes). Suddenly I couldn’t bring myself to go back to Titanfall, both because there’s no co-op in Titanfall and, more importantly, because I’d played some single player Halo and there’s no shooter like a Bungie shooter…except, of course, Destiny. So one night, after another frustrating attempt to get back to our Halo 2 campaign (we’re literally stuck on the first Arbiter level—we haven’t been able to get the fucking thing to work since then), I grudgingly suggested we just play Destiny instead, because at least Destiny would fucking work.
I should add that in the interim, a few of my friends picked up Destiny (but not on the Xbox One, because that would have been convenient for me—no, they’re all on PS4s) and have gotten into it in a massive way. Like, running Vault of Glass weekly massive. It’s madness. I confess that part of me saw that and wondered if perhaps I’d not been willing to meet Destiny on its own terms (I wasn’t, and I still don’t quite know if I am), but I found myself thinking about whether or not I could get at least one other person to regularly run strikes with—being able to pick up a third player is easy, and most strikes don’t require much in the way of coordination or talking, but it does boil down to a crap shoot now and again (plus there’s no matchmaking on the weekly heroic strikes, where the real good shit is). So of course I tried to convince the one other person I knew to come back, but he only wants to run the Vault of Glass, so there’s no chance there (I was not anywhere near the right level, and the thought of running strike after strike to gear up was not, at the time, appealing).
It was my brother’s idea to give a copy of the game to our friend as a wedding present when he got married a few weeks ago. We started running as a proper fireteam of three, and the difference has been night and day. Nothing against running with strangers—if our third is not around, my brother and I will let matchmaking do its thing—but having a regular crew to run with means you learn about the way everyone plays and things run like a well-oiled machine. So that additional social aspect is now the thing that’s sunk its hooks into me—in essence, I started treating Destiny like the MMO it always has been, and my enjoyment has skyrocketed. It helps that the adjusted engram rates have meant I got several legendary items (purples are legendary, right? Shit, I don’t know. LEET PURPS, as we’d say in the old days of WoW); I got enough rep with the Vanguards to actually buy a nice-ass piece of chest armor and some gloves, which means I actually could in theory run Vault of Glass now…I think. It’s pretty great.
Last night I even discovered I had enough motes of light to buy an exotic engram off of the creepy dude who shows up on weekends (I’ve already forgotten his name).
It wound up being Titan armor. I play a Warlock.
Fuck this game.
AN: Yeah I know, there wasn’t anything up last week—somehow, talking about games just didn’t seem as important compared to some of the other shit that went down, so I funneled my efforts into other activities. Playing games last week was downright necessary for my mental health—a way to forget about everything for a few hours here and there before wading back into the messy work of trying to figure out a way to make the world less-shitty. Writing letters rather than blog posts, you dig? Yeah, you dig.