Editorial: Done with Destiny? My thoughts on the state of Destiny 1 and Destiny 2.

Boy howdy. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about video games, hasn’t it? It’s not because I haven’t been playing them. I just bought the massive Humble Freedom Bundle and I’ve been trying my hand at every single one of those games. I’ve also been playing some Overwatch on the side with my buddies and I (although I’m still quite rubbish playing it and I still hate the mircotransactions). But the game I’ve been playing the most is… Destiny.
Yes, I called the latest expansion Rise of Iron a disappointment but no other multiplayer game this console generation has my attention quite like Destiny. Over the past three years, I’ve spent countless hours shooting in Destiny’s virtual sandbox. I’ve interacted with players all over the world to solve elaborate in game puzzles for sweet precious loot. Hell, I’ve even donated real money to streamers supporting charities like the Make A Wish Foundation to help children. I’m consistently amazed at the game and the community surrounding it but the end is nigh for Destiny…1. With the final event for Destiny 1 already launched and the official reveal of Destiny 2, I think it’s time for me to weigh my thoughts on the state of Bungie’s massive shooter
 and whether or not you should jump on the Destiny 2 hype train.

TIME TO EXPLAIN

The drama behind the development of Bungie’s most ambitious game is the stuff of legends. The insane amount of money Bungie managed to score from Activision lead to way too many bizarre creative choices like casting Peter Dinklage as the Ghost and hiring Paul McCartney to compose some track for the game. But the realities of developing a game on the scale of Destiny seemed to have crushed the very people making the game. Writer and design director Joseph Staten left Bungie mid development which Bungie seemed to have cut out of the game. Marty O’Donnell, Bungie’s once veteran composer who came up with the Halo theme, was fired towards the end of Destiny 1’s development prompting O’Donnell to sue and settle with his former employers. And while many people enjoyed the Beta, the creative schism behind the scenes at Bungie resulted in Destiny 1’s lackluster launch. The story was poorly told due to cutting out all of Staten’s writing, the voice acting was stiff because Dinklage is too expensive, and the whole game was riddled with all kinds of poor game design choices like having blue rare engrams decode into green uncommon loot.

So I can get why Bungie wants to make Destiny 2 instead of releasing another Destiny 1 expansion. Destiny 1’s legacy as gaming’s hottest 7 out of 10 still looms large as every time I read comments on any Destiny news article, I see the usual barrage of comments like “Destiny will make you pay $20 for the story” and “Do people still play this dead game?” because the original Destiny couldn’t live up to its insane hype. I mean, any video game that uses Led Fucking Zeppelin in their launch trailer is destined for disappointment.

SOLDIERING ON

Still, Bungie seems keen on honoring their ten year contract with Activision so they’re making Destiny 2 as accessible as possible. The upcoming game will be released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC (with Sony continuing their PS4 exclusivity with Activision) and you won’t need to have played Destiny 1 to play it. That’s because Destiny 2 is pulling a page from the Metroid Prime playbook by stripping the player of all their gear and abilities. I’ll dive more into the narrative reasons for this but gameplay wise, I can appreciate Bungie going all Tabula Rasa by stripping every Destiny 1 player of all their advantages and making everyone start on equal ground.

Too bad none of the cosmetic microtransactions from Destiny 1 are coming which is a real shame considering things like shaders and emblems have no major impact on gameplay. And it’s especially sad since Age of Triumph, the last major Destiny 1 event, is all about rewarding the player for their patronage by giving them emblems and a t-shirt. No, for real. The last major reward for Destiny 1 is a discount code for a fucking T-shirt…yeah. So while I’ve been having fun replaying the old Destiny 1 raids remastered for the games twilight year, I can’t help but feel like a fool for playing countless hours of Destiny 1.

EYES UP, GUARDIAN

And now we get to the reveal trailer for Destiny 2. Now despite the game’s very existence undermined through internet leaks, Activision shareholder releases, and Bungie themselves when talking about the Age of Triumph, the official reveal of Destiny 2 spread like wildfire. Fans were elated, haters kept on hating, and everyone in-between seemed to have positive reactions to a sequel to what the internet has been calling a “dead game”.

The reveal trailer and the teaser to that trailer are damn funny thanks to Nathan Fillion’s performance as the robotic Cayde-6. I mentioned in my review of the Taken King how Fillion’s charisma and sardonic humor carried that expansion’s story to great heights. In the world of Destiny, Cayde pretty much acts like a typical Destiny player who’s not really interested in what’s going on in the world and more interested in getting sweet precious loot. So it’s fitting that the Destiny 2 reveal trailer puts the focus on Cayde-6 in spite of the seriousness of the situation. The last city on Earth is attacked, the Tower is destroyed along with the vault housing all your gear, and the remaining guardians are scattered. The Titan Zavala (played by the incredibly understated Lance Reddick) rallies a group of Guardians together with a passionate war speech while Cayde tries to do the same and fails. But at the end, Cayde promises of “a ton of loot” being the only motivation his Guardians (and in turn, the player) needs to fight a new threat. It’s kind of brilliant marketing since no matter what story and gameplay Bungie decides to craft to craft for Destiny 2 whole will feel like foregone conclusions. But Cayde’s whole “not taking this seriously” shtick adds a sense of levity to the overly dramatic proceedings.

So it’s too bad that Bungie looks to be falling for the same traps that sealed Destiny 1’s fate. You can buy the base $60 game, but there’s also an expansion pass and a bunch of collectors editions with plenty of digital cosmetic crap and physical nick knacks. There’s a Destiny 2 beta this summer that’ll be available early to anyone pre-ordering the game but there won’t be any gameplay footage of Destiny 2 until May 18. So yeah. Destiny 2 is being sold without anything representative of what it or it’s downloadable content will be when the game launches on September 8th.

So it seems like Destiny 2 is the kind of game players would want to avoid. Why would anyone want to “ride the hype train” to the sequel to one of gaming’s biggest heartbreaks, right?

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

Despite all the negativity surrounding Destiny 1, I’ve never stopped playing the game and playing the Age of Triumph event has been a cathartic experience for me. The game’s synergy between competitive and cooperative play is slick, it’s built in social features like being able to access your gear via online apps is brilliant, and the six player raids have some of the best online game mechanics I’ve ever experienced. So it’s sad for me to see Destiny 1 end with all of its narrative promises unfulfilled. So if Destiny 2 embodies all of the positive attributes of its predecessor while filling in the gaps with new content and story elements, then I’m on board. So if you’ve never played Destiny 1 until this point, don’t bother. Some of the game has already been consolidated to make way for Destiny 2 and it’s only going to get worse as time goes on. But for now, keep your eyes open.

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