Ah, Destiny. The game series that I affectionately refer to as a complicated relationship with a selfish girlfriend. You see, on the surface you love her. She's pretty, she's fun to hang around with in short bursts, and if you go to spend time with her after some time apart there's usually fun to be had. There are new things to talk about with her, new activities to experience together and sometimes you even get the old gang back together and have a good night out on the town together. At least with the friends left who don't flat out despise her.
But on the flipside when you spend a lot of time with her you realize that while she's pretty, she's also kind of shallow. There isn't much to her, what you see is all you really get. And she's always wanting, hell even demanding that you do the same things together all the time. She's not too open to suggestion either. She also likes to consume all of your time and tries to get you to spend your money on stupid trinkets for her just because as well. And at the end of the day if you decide to distance yourself from her, she doesn't really care. She just moves on without you.
It's a silly analogy, I know. But it's kind of became a running joke in my circle regarding Destiny. There are times when the game flat out bores me or even angers me. But given some time, I always come back. Why thought? Well there are several reasons really. Let's just go back and start from the beginning.
Like some people, I've followed this game since this initial E3 teaser. It instantly locked my attention. It left me wanting more and excited me greatly. See, I enjoy multiplayer games where I get to build a character and then go and cooperate with other players to achieve goals and advance my character along with theirs.
As you can probably imagine, I'm big into MMOs. I have a broad background in that genre, having played a whole lot of them. The biggest three for me being Phantasy Star Online, Ragnarok Online and then World of Warcraft. I put a significant amount of time into all three of these games. Most especially WoW. They scratch that itch I'm referring to here.
However another genre I like a lot is the first person shooter. It makes sense, I grew up in the era that Doom became a thing. It blew my ass away as a youngster when I got to see it in action at a friend's house during his birthday party on his dad's PC. I grew up in a household who appreicated horror, heavy metal and action movies. Doom was all of these things combined together. And it was so damned cool to see a game where I was the one personally dispatching the forces of evil with my gun in hand! I, being an 80's baby started my gaming history with an NES and my dad's hand-me-down Atari 2600. So to go from those days and then discover something like Doom while the coolest thing otherwise I'd played was Altered Beast...it left me with my jaw on the floor.
Well anyway, enough with me waxing nostalgia here. You can probably understand why to me this thing, looked VERY exciting. It combined my love for MMOs and their progression and social systems with a first person shooter. And one created by Bungie no less. Whom I trusted based on their previous work with Halo. I also immediately fell in love with the game's art direction and what little I could gather of the overall story going on here.
Eventually the beta came and went and I LOVED it! I played the hell out of that beta and got plenty of my friends interested as well. We were all pretty excited for the release of this thing. So the game finally comes out and we realize something immedately. A lot of what we played during that initial beta is pretty much what we got. Now obviously there was more to it. But also some of the things we assumed would be fixed because they were just in beta form...really weren't.
Look, an old screenshot of my original character!
Ok, fuck it. We powered through the story, we started doing some of the open world stuff. We did strikes together, we ran through the Crucible together. And then...that was kinda it. Sure there was the thrill of the chase for some of those cool exotic guns and armor pieces. And there was a 6 player raid on the horizon. But other than that we'd done the majority of the content. A far cry from my first time leveling a character in a game like World of Warcraft, which took months. This was like a week at most.
It's not like I was bored and not still having fun with the game. But it felt like a little bit of a letdown all the same. Either way, most of us powered on. But some didn't. So the group dwindled a little bit. The raid came and went, it was fun, it was challenging. But week in and week out, Destiny still had us tethered, but we were kind of just doing the same things over and over again every week. That amazing promise the game's world and story had felt deflated too, because the final product felt so disjoined and loose. A let down there for sure.
But ok, the first expansion is on the horizon, The Dark Below. Cool, new stuff to do and more insight on those interesting Hive guys. So I go out and buy the expansion pass for the game. At this point I'm noticing online that the game is getting a lot of negative reactions and hate. I'm realizing that most people online don't seem to be as lenient as I am with Destiny. Oh well, never cared too much what others think of me anyway, fuck it. Well...most of the time anyway.
Enter The Dark Below.
So here it is. The first expansion. This one is gonna sweep up the loose ends of the base game, give us cool new stuff to do, everything! And well...it did some of that. The new raid that released was alright, but not quite as good as the original. The new exotics for the most part were meh. It was just OK. Later into this expansion I started to fall out. I was getting burnt out. The rampant hate for the game everywhere I turned online was started to wear me down. And I quit. Despite buying the expansion pass, I quit and I completely skipped House of Wolves...well almost.
At this point the normal group I played with had started to dwindle some more. I'd joined a clan and that was fun for a while, but the clan leader was an egotistical asshole so I left after a heated argument between him and one of my friends. All of us from that original group that played except one quit there.
I was bummed out, but also fed up with Destiny. Realistically I'd let all the negativity surrounding the game online really wear on me here. I realize this in retrospect. But I quit and I felt stupid to have invested a few hundred hours into this game. Said I was done, fuck the other exspansion.
By this time one of my best friends had moved away across the country. The only way we really got to interact with one another anymore was via playing PS4 games together. At the time of course Destiny was our go-to game. When all this went down we didn't end up playing a whole lot together anymore and it was a real bummer to us both.
Fast forward a few months later though and The Taken King gets announced. I recall looking at this and thinking most of the stuff the game was bringing in with it all sounded pretty positive. And I suppose secretly I think I took this as a chance to come back to the game without seeming like a jackass in having previously sworn it off. The friend I mentioned before agreed that it looked pretty good and....then we were back in the hype train again. We were coming back to Destiny! It took some convincing, but we even rounded up some of the old crew again to give it another chance.
We return. The Taken King.
Not only is everything new and fresh again, but Bungie really did address a lot of our complaints with The Taken King. The expansion lived up to our lofty expectations and we played the SHIT out of Destiny from this point forward. Destiny really, truly came into it's own here. Not only that, but in coming back we also realized upon revisiting the game, that the previous expansion, House of Wolves had actually been pretty cool too.
This should have honestly been how the game was at launch, but whatever, it eventually got there, right? Later down the line Rise of Iron came as well. And we loved that one too. Destiny had turned from a shallow shell into something we ended up spending thousands of hours on. Lots of great times were had. We made some new friends even!
Of course, as expected Destiny 2 was announced following Rise of Iron. By this point we figured that Bungie had learned their lesson. They had a rough start but really came into their own with the release of The Taken King. They took an established platform and further enhanced it with Rise of Iron too. So we figured Destiny 2 was gonna be HOT. So again, we got hyped. We played the beta and enjoyed it, and we were ready. It could only continue to improve from here, right?
At launch it was a bit of an adjustment coming from Rise of Iron into Destiny 2. The weapon system changed and the Crucible became...kind of lousy. But the story was a lot less disjointed! Although it was actually not as good as story...but at least it was told better, right? Ok, cool. The first few weeks of Destiny 2 were pretty positive. There felt to be a lot to do, most of it was pretty interesting. It was quite clear they'd taken feedback about the game being too much of a grind from the mainstream and tried to tone things down and streamline it. That all seemed just fine at first.
The sequel. Things are starting to fall apart.
Those are key words there. At first. Soon we began to see the other side of this double-edged sword. All that streamlining actually ended up feeling kind of detrimental to the overall experience if you played the game regularly. Getting the same goddamn weapons over and over again. Armor no longer having real abilities on the pieces. PVP felt shitty and unbalanced, but most importantly it just felt a lot less fun.
Well, at least we have the first expansion coming, Curse of Osiris! That'll bring new stuff to do, tie up some loose ends from the base game, right? Starting to see a pattern here yet? Curse of Osiris was trash. I'll be blunt and honest about it. It felt like it should have been a free update, rather than a paid expansion. It barely added anything to the game. It was starting to feel like those old D1 blues again. Only this time the initial magic of the base game wasn't even there to really hold me up. Now, I'd bought the collector's edition of Destiny 2, so I'd already paid for the expansion pass...again. And I felt like an idiot in doing so. So I got angry with the game and...didn't quit, but took a long break.
I'd already paid for the next expansion, Warmind. And I'd give it one final shot when that released. And if I still felt let down, then fuck it. Guess I was done with the series. It seemed like Bungie hadn't learned a goddamn thing from The Taken King or Rise of Iron afterall.
But this time something happened. This time D2 had amassed a much bigger and broader playerbase. Whereas D1 was a bit more niche, and diehard. D2 had brought in a lot of folks who had never even played the original in any iteration. And they, like me, were not very happy with how the game had turned out. Large chunks of this playerbase walked away. To the point where Bungie HAD to take notice. Warmind was delayed a bit, because Bungie had to retool things in order to hope to stem the tide.
So a while later, Warmind drops. As I said I would, I came back. And to my surprise...it was actually not too bad! When pressed against the wall, Bungie got off their asses and started to actually listen to the community. Things were improving, albeit slowly at first. I was having fun with the game again. Not perfect, but a big improvement.
I'd given it another chance and it delivered this time. And now, a week before the next BIG expansion, Forsaken launches, I'm actually glad I came back. I've enjoyed Warmind a lot, and really look forward to Forsaken. But I'd be lying if I said a part of me isn't hoping that this is THE expansion, the big one that fixes almost all the major issues, like The Taken King did.
Once more into the breach!
So here we are again. On the brink of the next big Destiny thing. Having followed a pretty similar cycle from Destiny 1. So what keeps me coming back? What keeps me excited? Why have I continued to enjoy this series, despite it's obvious shortcomings and faults?
Well for one, like I said before, I love that art direction. That and the world this all takes place in. For all it's faults, I still really love this world and it's lore. I still really enjoy the base gameplay here too, and I still usually have a lot of fun with my friends while playing this as well.
Warmind taught me a lesson. I can expect better from this series, but I can't expect perfection. There are times when Bungie has really dropped the ball with Destiny. Likewise there are also times when I honestly just flat out expected too much of it. It's clear that when they try, Bungie can still keep us coming back and enjoying our time here. I also learned that I need to just not care what others think about the things I like and just enjoy them anyway.
Things are at least moving in the right direction, they really have been since the patch leading into Warmind. But starting tomorrow (after this gets published) the Forsaken pre-patch goes live. This is introducing a lot of things back into the game that us D1 veterans have sorely missed. And really, to be completely honest, I'm just happy to be getting a lot of new content again. I hope it's good, I espeically hope it's as good as The Taken King was in comarison to base D1. We'll find out next week I suppose. Here's to hoping!
It's been a rocky road, but I'm taking this gal out on the town again. At her best she really can be quite lovely.