There are few people around here you’re going to find that are obsessed with Destiny like I am. Yet, towards the end of the first title’s life-cycle, I was kind of curious where Bungie could take their story next. The announcement had my hype up but the actual game, released just last week, overwhelmed even my levels of excitement. It’s worthy and here is why.
I remember when new Destiny content began to slow, which we assumed had to do with developing Destiny 2, and it made me wonder what could possibly happen next. By the time I had reached my max level in the first game, I had done and re-done missions, strikes, raids and pretty much every story and sub-story mission that existed. Even the DLC had started to stale and events were now the only thing I could get excited for, such as the Sparrow Racing League. I started to think hard about what would have to change in order for that to not become the case for other die-hards like myself. You daydream a bit, when you love a game like I loved Destiny, and with that much wistful thought you start to inagine just what a sequel would look like.
Nothing I could’ve imagined was even close to what Destiny 2 actually turned out to be.
One of the things I felt before, was that if you were new to Destiny’s first game after everyone dove in, it was really hard to understand the excitement. Bungie developed a game that started quick and kept the pace going for the first year of its existence. It made it more complicated when friends came in later, to learn at the same speed when we were already talking Raids, Nightfalls and intricate details in lore and map design. Destiny 2, however, took something like that and spun it on its head. The game opens for those past players with some highlights of their achievements in the first game set against beautiful black on white imagery. Seeing my name and the names of the two other loved ones that I finished the first game’s story with, coupled with that gorgeous music, reminded me of the wonder and mystery I felt on that night. We stayed up for hours, we finished the campaign, and we went to bed with dreams of being the very best Guardian. To those newly initiated into Destiny, like my sixteen year old daughter, she didn’t have those memories but she quickly picked up on the story being told.
Once in awhile, she’d ask who someone was and I could quickly point out their place in Destiny. Bungie is methodical in their simplicity with Destiny and it opened their story with a handful of characters who you interacted with every single time you logged in. You could list on both hands the amount of people you spoke to, what they were to you as a Guardian, and you went about your life. You knew little about them in the first game, spending most of your time picking up bits and pieces from lore or what they would say through your comms during missions, and that was okay at the time.
When Destiny 2‘s story came through in pieces, through trailers and the beta that had mass participation, you felt a sense of loss. Tower (the social hub and main base of operations) was destroyed and the Light from our source of power was demolished. Shattered. I had no idea how attached I was to those recurring characters, with so very little backstory known by myself, until I thought they were gone. As their voices came through, one by one, speaking to fighting for what was left of humanity — my arms erupted in shivers and my jaw fell slack. One thought I had was – “This is it. This is us. We’ll save everyone.” The other was that Bungie had taken something that felt almost basic level first-person shooter with a dash of MMO and had made it a fully realized story. Bungie planned for this moment all along. It readied me with feelings of terror within the first hour that I could’ve never imagined. I mourned over the idea of losing those voices and those faces that I had taken for granted so desperately in the first game.
And here we were two hours deep, standing alone, possibly near death… limping away from danger because there’s a chance that there’s absolutely no coming back from it. In my head, wasting the last shred of life as perhaps the only Guardian left, was too terrible a thought. The game gave me that feeling within its first two hours. I suddenly realized that this was not just the same lather-rinse-repeat that I felt from the first game. Survival was impressively important on my list of things to take care of within Destiny 2. Like some sort of Space Goonies, I (and the others gathering late at night to start in on Destiny‘s sequel) refused to say die.
It was an even more impressive feat, personally, that my daughter could sit in wonder of a game’s sequel when she had never experienced the first of its name. She’s quite a gamer in her own right, but Destiny was always my thing. When I explained to her how important the new game would be, she became immediately interested and jumped into the beta with me to try it out. As she fell in love with this game and its characters, I fell in love with it even further. Watching her almost seamlessly work through complicated concepts like infusing weapons, learning about her Hunter’s subclasses and actually being the one to pick me up when I would die — was enlightening to me. If anything, seeing that a new player could come in, with absolutely no understanding of the first game — and fall in love as quickly as I had?
That says something.
Since that late night we spent, gasping and crying and attempting to gather the pieces of our Guardians so we could rebuild our world, we’ve finished the Campaign. A few late nights and definitely a lot of coffee, and we found ourselves glancing around to see the changes that were in store for our new Destiny experience. Gone is the simple design of just a handful of bounties that we could easily finish up within an hour or so. Nah, this time? They want you to work for it. They want to know you’re spending your time wisely and you’re getting that loot and you’re preparing yourself for the road ahead. The Raid comes soon enough and we’ve got maps upon maps to search. There are treasures to find for Cayde 6, do Ikora’s Meditations and to grind through Nightfalls for Zavara. The varied strikes and Adventure bounties when not reaching Milestones (which are quests in and of themselves) keep things busy as well. The worlds are vast and we’ve got so much to do that we could, quite honestly, not tire for a long time to come. When the Campaign’s story ended, when the credits rolled, we were introduced to a teaser for the next ‘Big Bad’ coming in the expansions further down the road. Our eyes widened and we whispered… “There’s something worse than Ghaul!?“