I have a complicated relationship with Destiny. When it launched in 2014, I completely missed the boat for a few different reasons, and never bothered with it seriously until I got Destiny: The Collection about four months ago.
Since then I’ve sincerely fallen in love with the game and am eagerly awaiting the second one, which is out in a matter of days. Part of me is kicking myself for letting a few biases get in the way of what’s a genuinely great experience. But the other part thinks it’s actually good I spent months with Destiny instead of years. Let me explain.
In the Beginning…
When Destiny first launched three years ago to insurmountable hype (remember that great live-action commercial?) I was skeptical, to say the least. Early reviews were less than glowing with IGN giving it a 7.8 out of 10, saying “Destiny looks and plays wonderfully, but too many of the other promises it makes get left unfulfilled.”
After getting my hands on it I couldn’t have agreed more. There was no matchmaking, the story was obtuse sci-fi nonsense, and everyone dancing around the Tower was a tad too ridiculous for me at the time. Not to mention the rinse-and-repeat feel of visiting the same locations over and over. But there were other factors at work, too.
This was Bungie’s first step away from the Halo franchise, which had been over-saturating the games world for years. I was worn out with the adventures of Master Chief (who really could’ve just gone by the name “generic man”) and was looking for a change of pace.
I’d also started a new job and had a hellish four hours of commuting in and out of New York City each day, so the idea of starting a new game sold on the premise of how long it takes to play was less than ideal.
Combine that with the opinions of gaming friends I trusted and my mind was made up; it just wasn’t the game for me.
A Feeling of Deja Vu
The game I would become obsessed with was Tom Clancy’s The Division. There are far too many parallels between these two games to talk about here but suffice to say I was smitten by the core aspect: sharp-looking digital avatars and an addictive loot-based gameplay loop.
Destiny veterans tell me about their ups and downs with the game going back years. According to them the game had significant balance issues and a wonky system of rewards until the release of the Taken King expansion; a vast improvement.
Upon hearing these stories a Venn diagram appeared in my mind. The Division has gone through more significant updates than any game I’ve ever played and showered upon me frustrations I never imagined possible. Here was a game with outstanding potential and true magic in some of its moments, but was hamstrung by balance issues, a broken loot system, and ever-shifting gear and weapon metas.
I could understand what these veteran guardians had gone through, at least in part.
Let There Be Light
I finally came around to giving Destiny a fair chance. The reason it stuck this time was most of the problems were fixed and there was no ugly history of having endured them to temper my enjoyment. The story was still completely incoherent but Destiny is one of the tightest shooters of this generation. And it has one of the best communities in gaming.
It didn’t matter that I didn’t know a Gjallarhorn from a shoe-horn, the guardians I met on random streams took me under their wings and taught me how to play. I may not have every piece of exotic gear, or even fully leveled characters, or been to the Lighthouse but I have the experiences that make Destiny worth playing.
Nothing restores your faith in humanity more than overcoming an obstacle with complete strangers. It’s like people stopping their cars to help you push yours out of a ditch. It’s a simple thing but actually really brilliant, and part of why I love this game: regular people who don’t know each other can work together in harmony.
I mean, how cool is that?
Destiny 2 comes out on Sept. 6.