Destiny 2, the sequel to Bungie’s stellar shared-world shooter, goes live in just a few hours. As a fan and long-time player of the first game, I am, of course, excited. I am also curious, nervous, and a little bit scared.
I’ve been excited enough for a midnight release plenty of times in the past. Dark Souls 3 was the most recent culprit, compelling me to be there for the beginning, like I was going to bear witness to an event. And it did not disappoint.
But this one feels different, and I don’t think it’s about the game. I’m not nervous about whether or not Bungie can deliver. I never want a game to be disappointing, but I won’t lose any sleep over it one way or the other. Well, maybe I’ll lose a little sleep. That’s part of the problem. This release makes me nervous for me. I’m compulsive by nature. It’s because of this I’ve always politely said no thank you to MMOs in general. My brother isn’t a gamer at all, and I watched as WoW sunk its teeth into him for a while. I know the power of the endless grind.
The original Destiny got to me slowly. It was a Bungie shooter, there was no way I wasn’t going to check it out. It wasn’t an MMO. It’s a shared-world. Ok, maybe an MMO-lite. I’ll just play at my own pace. That was how it started, as I built my lonely hunter, came to love the mechanics of the game, the amazing, tactile feeling of the gunplay itself. Story? Meh, this is too much fun to be worried about a lack of story, I thought. And then I became one of those people who actually read the Grimoire, deciphering incomplete bits of lore, piecing together the vague stories linking Thorn and The Last Word, trying figure out if the Vex were from the past or the future. (Spoiler: I think they found a way to escape time entirely.)
Short flash-forward to some time after the release of The Dark Below: I find myself running a Hunter, a Warlock, and a Titan, feeling real pressure to run the table each week, both Raids, Nightfall, as many daily missions as I can manage. Mind you, I am, as this site celebrates, an older gamer. I don’t have a ton of gaming friends. Even if all of them were end-game level Destiny players, we couldn’t have synched up a 6 man raid team once in a year much less once in a week. So I was doing all my raiding by trolling DestinyLFG and keeping my fingers crossed. It was like gambling. I might get a team that was capable of completing the mission, or I might get a bunch of screaming egos, running up against the Death Singer over and over and over until we all rage quit. Spending hours in a game, only to ultimately fail, magnified the time-sink that gaming actually is. It felt dirty. I started to hate it, but I didn’t stop. I missed playing other games, but spending time playing other games made me worry I was missing my opportunity to finally score those Titan Boots from Crota’s End. Then I’d be at max light level. Then I’d be free?
I know, I know… good thing I never tried heroin, right? But seriously, for a few months there, Destiny destroyed my love for video games. I ultimately burned out on it and walked away. No regrets. Actually, that’s a lie. I dabbled with the Prison of Elders. I played the campaign for The Taken King, but I’ve never set foot in the Oryx raid, (what was it called? Kingfall?) I came back to check out Rise of Iron, which was a great final chapter, but again, I didn’t ever attempt the raid. I was cured, all right. I stuck with my Hunter only, no longer worried about max-light, forget about a full stable of Guardians. I was able to enjoy the game again. A few weeks ago I looked in on The Age of Triumph quest book. It gave me the warm fuzzies without making me feel like I needed to complete it.
I am now able to remember all of the great things this burgeoning franchise accomplishes. First and foremost, the moment-to-moment gameplay. There’s nothing quite like snapping off a trio of headshots with a scout rifle then flipping a throwing knife to polish off the last charging Fallen. At their best, the Raids were something I have never experienced before. I can only speak to the first two, but there are so many brilliant moments packed into them. From sneaking past the Gorgons in the Vault, to frantically charging through the Thrall at the outset of Crota’s End; those were team based exercises so far beyond the usual ‘everybody shoot that thing now.’ As a Hunter, I got to get up close and personal with Crota on many occasions. And we haven’t even mentioned The Crucible…
And that’s why the sequel is pre-downloaded on my hard drive. I will go live with the servers at midnight, (fingers crossed that the launch goes well.) I hope I can recapture that magic. I hope I can retain my sanity. I’ll see you tomorrow with my initial impressions.