Despite not playing the game in over two years, Destiny has always been an oddity of a game to me. As I had written in a previous blog post, I left the game understanding that it wasn’t for me. As a solo player Destiny wasn’t too friendly and had plenty of walls placed up to stop progression, not on purpose of course, of myself and other players like me continuing to enjoy whatever the experience had to offer. The reveal of Destiny 2 had me rolling my eyes in knowing that I wouldn’t be fooled a third time, the second trailer revealing to me I could expect much more of the same with the character Cayde shouting “... and more loot!”. However, a friend of mine had posted on Twitter that he would be returning to Destiny 2 so it convinced me to see what changes had been brought about. Right at the opening of the presentation I was promised that, “...if you’re a solo player we’re going to talk about how exploring the world works… the raids in Destiny one couldn’t be experienced by everyone. 50% of people who reached the level cap organized a raid… we’re going to talk about how it will finally be available to ALL players.” A grand promise, and one I was skeptical to see them fulfill as I sipped my morning coffee. Once the presentation began I attentively listened, skeptical sure, but again hoping that there was something for me to find that desire that so many others have found in Destiny.
Story, I started my previous blog post about it and I’ll start it here as well. Within Destiny there is plenty of story, questions left unanswered, a vast world left undiscovered. Quite possibly left for speculation and to never truly be discovered. Destiny 2 opened with a fantastic cinematic as the Titan (whom again I’m looking up because the rapport I have with him is next to nothing) Zavala is reborn and goes through death after death to become a stronger Guardian and discovering the settlement of the Tower we know today. Soon after the presentation shows the mission Homecoming, introduced with a cinematic. By this point we’ve heard plenty, Destiny 2 will have far more cinematics than it’s predecessor. Something to be excited about sure, but by this point as a veteran player I don’t have any ties to the characters they’ve shown. A new player will definitely gain some sort of hook or interest I’m sure.
The presentation goes on to describe how you lose all your powers and must fight to regain them seeking out the Vanguard to rebuild what was lost. The promise of new beginnings, it was a recurring theme from the presentation, it was actually pretty reassuring. This time around the development team expressed that they’ve learned from the past and look to create this new installment as a clean slate. I’ve had to experience that clean slate before and often times it can be exactly what a game needs. However, this wasn’t anything new for Destiny, they tried this with The Taken King and Rise of Iron, the former I have never desired to get into. Even then the story was pretty lacking, the recurring problem of the world being filled with so much yet so little, until now.
Later in the presentation they talked about how you’d explore the world. No longer would you need to go to orbit to change destinations, you’d simply go there. The world wouldn’t be filled with unknown random event encounters, you’d know when they’d show up. Additionally adventures and Lost Sectors, characters to be introduced to and to encourage you to explore the open areas of the world. Finally a reason to ride your Sparrow across the planetscapes to the various destinations to be found. An improvement for sure but also something that needs to be seen put into practice. Time will tell if this will help bring life into the world that Bungie has created, but it certainly is a proper direction. Story for me has always been important and so far the presentation hadn’t won me over. I had once been told that the world of Destiny would be something grand to explore in a very similar presentation. Honestly from that alone to be won over I’d have to wait until they finally decide to release the game. But story isn’t the only thing that Destiny has to offer, and there is plenty more I wanted to know.
Another gripe I had with Destiny was how it barred me from properly playing endgame content without the use of a third party website. It never really made sense to me that the game wouldn’t allow for a pickup group to play ALL of it’s content. The direct excuse was that they were concerned, “... just how toxic gaming communities can get…” it was this part of the presentation I was interested in the most. Yet it also felt like I was being told that it’s my fault for being a solo player and that they hadn’t made any mistake at all. It was a nice crap sandwich, open with all the pictures of the community getting together looking great, a moment of “you’re being difficult because you play by yourself”, then finally “even though playing by yourself isn’t the best way here’s a system so you can play with others.” First introducing an integrated clans management system. Then introducing the Guided Games, a system in which a clan can open up a request for someone to join their short handed group to either play through a raid or finish one out.
Now I don’t want to come off as someone who cannot be pleased when it comes to Bungie’s solutions to matchmaking. It is a slow step toward allowing me to experience all that Destiny has to offer as a solo player, in fact it really does let me have the in-game ability to play everything within the game. But the way the system works has me relying on a group to be running the content at all. It really seems that Bungie wants to force upon me a camaraderie that I didn’t want to find in the first place. They hope that I’ll join a clan with this system or find new friends and relationships to continue playing in a static group with. I don’t have to and can always play the game solo utilizing this system, which is absolutely fine. This isn’t entirely a negative as I commend Bungie for taking approaches to forcing players to ‘play nice’. Perhaps I should lower my guard that I seem to present and cooperate with others regularly. But I think it’s too naive or idealistic to think that they can avoid the toxicity of an online community. The systems in place now certainly make it much harder, but there will always be the players that make things less fun for others in some shape or form. They certainly don’t worry about that within the crucible, but then again they also were reluctant to allow players to vocally communicate with one another in PvP early on.
When I was playing I wanted to play at my own pace, I do that in any game I play to just simply enjoy my time within the world. I didn’t get to try Vault of Glass until I had later on picked up The Taken King, by which point people didn’t want to run as it was dated content. If that situation were to arise again wouldn’t it be the same thing that I had to deal with previously? Admittedly even if there were matchmaking for dated content I might not find a matchup at all and would be waiting in an endless queue. However, I would argue that there are definitely lasting relationships to be found within random groups. It is how I’ve recruited members into guilds with the various MMO experiences I’ve had. Destiny has this available as well, but it isn’t within the content that really matters for this scenario. If I were to meet someone in a raid that I work well with or enjoy cooperating with them I’d be more inclined to invite them to a group in the future. Which with Guided Games I could do, but it’d be with an already pre established clan in which I might not like every person within the clan. What if I had say started a clan because I solo queued with a group of solo people and we all thought, “Hey, we work really well together let's do this again!” it’s something the setup wouldn’t allow for. Now I am being very picky in my scenario, but I also think it is something that is overlooked because of a concern of being ‘Toxic’. Who is to say that the people you group with aren’t toxic as you come to know them more and more? I think that this system is a way to dodge the question, “Why isn’t there matchmaking for raids?” as there is now an in game solution to the problem of only 50% of the community completing the content. They didn’t completely solve the issue, as it seems in their eyes there is no issue. But they certainly made the game more accessible for everyone.
The messaging was clear, “Destiny is a game best enjoyed with friends.” and I certainly wouldn’t argue that. At the end of the day the gameplay itself is practically flawless. The addition of PC to the game will definitely allow even more players to come into the fray. No flying your ship, but that’s really only semantics here as there is a promise of much more to do within Destiny 2. The presentation didn’t sway me to come back to the experience. I’d much rather wait for the game’s release and await the reception, even then I’m not sure I’ll return as I decided some time ago that the shoot and loot genre isn’t for me. However, reflecting upon the past and where perhaps I could’ve become hooked on the experience I personally would have to change my approach to the game. Destiny 2 represents an opportunity to return to a clean slate for new players and even veteran players. Maybe this represents an opportunity to try again and perhaps an opportunity to build new relationships within the game’s thriving community.
For a 10 year deal on this grand adventure I was surprised to see that old locations wouldn't be making a return. They boasted four new worlds to explore, despite the fact that one world was old but another location to be explored apart from what we're used to. We've been traveling through these places for three years now and it would be interesting to see new locations of the old explored sectors we've been to aside from the one on Earth. It's a missed opportunity I feel at making the game feel vast and larger as time goes on. One might argue that it'd be too big of a game to do this, but Final Fantasy XIV does this without any issues at all. I need to constantly remind myself that this game isn't that large MMO adventure and that it is very much a shoot and loot adventure like Borderlands. But even Borderlands 2 was humongous in comparison and that grew over time with DLC content. Places to explore in the original Destiny grew overtime as well, but I think it'd be interesting to revist these places as they haven't really answered our questions as to the stories that are happening on each planet or location we've been. While the game hasn't released and there is still much yet to be seen, the presentation left me feeling like this is just more of the same Destiny. Shoot and loot with very limited story development, sure plenty of more cinematic cutscenes but that doesn't mean the cinematics will fill in those story voids as they hardly did in The Taken King. Time will only tell if Bungie truly learned from the past, and while many of it's player base sees it as nothing is wrong with the game, and it is critically well received now after the rocky start it had at launch, but at some point the product needs to be sold as what it is instead of making it out to be this grandeur experience that it clearly is not.
Some of the best tales of Destiny come from groups of friends, it is definitely a cooperative experience and that's fine. But Destiny is pitched as a game for everyone, or at least they want it to be a game for everyone. They still seem to alienate solo players, and have very little content to actually keep people coming back. There are plenty of mundane things to do in various other experiences of a similar style such as The Division, Final Fantasy XIV and so on. But these games also have hooks that make it addicting and unique to each experience, Destiny had an issue where each encounter was a giant bullet sponge and nothing unique needed to be done. The promise of Destiny 2 as of right now is that they've taken these lessons from the past and will apply them to the future of it's content. A clean slate for veterans and new players alike, and yet the world still seems very much the same with simply a different back drop. Again time will tell if Destiny 2 has grown over these last few years, but the attitudes seem to present that they feel they've been doing something right this whole time. But that something right as they admitted themselves was for half of their player base, and the other half was left in the dark.
Are you returning to Destiny 2 as a veteran player? Or perhaps you’re new to the game, and if so what’s got you most interested?