2,340 hours. That is how long I played Destiny since the Alpha was released in 2014. So it is safe to say that I am fairly qualified to have an opinion on a game franchise that I hold dear to my heart. And despite all the hours I have put in (1,172 on D1 and 1,167 on D2), I know that Destiny will never be what I had hoped it would be and I don’t see myself returning much in the future.
To be clear, I am not saying that I am gone for good. I have clearly put in far too much time in the franchise over the last 5-6 years and it would be hard to say goodbye. Instead, I wanted to use this as a time to discuss the highlights and lowlights I have personally come to experience, and bring up the questions that I strongly feel many of us share. And to ask into the void- why won’t Bungie allow Destiny to be the game it could easily be?
Before I get into what will likely be an incredibly long op-ed, I want to make sure that anyone who reads this understands that Bungie does not need your white-knightery and your support to protect them. It isn’t like they are going away or even going to care about what someone the likes of me has to say. And even if they did, it wouldn’t matter anyway because they are going to do whatever they want and that is because they can. Which is a big point I want to make here- Bungie is not a tiny little studio. These are the guys that made and developed Halo (1-4, Reach, and ODST) while under the watchful eye of Microsoft before moving over to Activistion. Bungie can do anything. They have the resources. They just choose not to and it is infuria- let’s get into this more later.
I was always an avid Halo player as a kid. I grew up with Halo: Combat Evolved and participated in weekly LAN parties with friends during high school. We literally did this every week. It was a time before internet updates and digital DLC downloads and lots of CAT connections going across livingrooms. There was Taco Bell, Doritos, Mountain Dew, yelling, fighting, celebrating, and the constant echo of the Halo PVP narrator screaming RUNNING RIOT at the top of his lungs. Okay, that last one was probably me. Point is, Bungie was a common household name for me and the people I spent time with. I loved them and what they did with the multiplayer fps experience. It was unlike anything else out there at the time and it literally shaped what we have today for shooting games.
Eventually, I got more involved in RPGs and that brought me to Elder Scrolls. I spent countless hours playing Morrowind and I, to my embarrassment, never completed the main campaign of it. This was because there was SO much to do, so much loot to earn, and endless secrets to uncover. But it was also because I lost the key item that I needed to deliver to Caius Cosades and there was no way to recover it but I just decided to keep playing anyway. In my defense, there were still countless quests to do without doing the main campaign and I am still not sure that I did them all.
It was not until Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion that I was truly taken aback by what it felt like to play in a game that was almost literally a living, breathing world. Oblivion still stands to me as one of the greatest games ever made and it, like Halo, set the foundation for what we would hope to see in other games within its same genre.
By now, you are probably thinking that this is going to turn into a post about how much I wish Destiny was like an Elder Scrolls title and let me tell you now- it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be making a point here and there about how badly I wish it were.
To the Stars
When I heard that Bungie was breaking away from Microsoft, rumors began to flutter around regarding why and what their plan was. Allegedly, the Bungie guys and Microsoft were butting heads for some reason. Whether this was because Bungie wanted more freedom or they felt like selling Halo off to Microsoft and doing their own thing or both is anyone’s guess. But the fact remains that Bungie departed to start what many were calling “a Halo MMORPG in space” while Halo became a property under development by 343, which was comprised of a lot of original Bungie/Halo developers that didn’t leave when Bungie broke off to do their own thing.
Just imagine the time before the reveal of Destiny that Halo, the greatest fps franchise to ever been created (don’t argue, you know it is), was getting a complete reimagining by the original development team as an MMORPG. The butterflies go nuts in my stomach every time I think back to way back when. And then it was revealed. Become Legend. That is all I could think about.
Revealed at E3 in 2013, Bungie posted the Official Destiny Gameplay Reveal Video on Jul 3, 2013, and it looked glorious. Other players would be dropping in from a ship flying overhead, the incredibly wide-open world before us that would leave endless opportunities for discovery and exploration. It was a journey that I could not wait to embark and I thought about it every time I picked up a controller in anticipation for the Alpha that would be coming later.
Eventually, I think it was a part of pre-order bonus, I managed to get into the early Alpha. I was so excited to jump into Old Russia for the first time. I was so naive. In fact, I was literally so naive that from the spawn point off to the right, was a large beaten down shed that had a chest on the roof filled with glimmer and some foil planetary materials. When I opened that chest, I got so excited that part of me thought I was lucky to find a chest that countless other players would never discover. It was almost as if my brain thought that this chest was meant just for me and I was lucky to find it. Little did I know that they spawn in the same places every 15m or so and that it was the same for everyone. Yeesh.
As I rode around on my Sparrow in Old Russia looking around at the environment before me, I thought about all the possibilities that I had yet to discover. The places I would see, the caves I would loot, the enemies I would conqueror, and the reputation I would earn. I truly felt deep in my heart that I would never touch another game again because Destiny combined the two greatest experiences I could imagine in a game- first-person shooters and an RPG. If this was, in fact, a shooter title in a world that lived and breathed like Oblivion, I would never get anything done (looking back, I don’t know why I felt as if this were something to be proud of or excited about).
Preparing to set down Destiny Alpha with no intention of playing until the Beta, all I could think about was how off Peter Dinklage’s voice sounded as Ghost. Not only did it just sound like him just sort of talking (I expected some audio change since it was coming from a little flying robot), but it was also so unenthusiastic and monotone that I laughed out loud at hearing this sparkling gem of a line “That Wizard… It came from the moon!” Yeesh.
After a few hours of looking around in the Alpha, one thing dawned on me- this can’t be it. Well, maybe this is just a taste of what is to come since this was an Alpha. I mean, this is a version to be worked out and tested by… you know, testers. So that is what I was doing. I was testing out an early build that was devoid of what I had hoped but I figured I was being foolish and immature towards the developers that made my Halo and helped me build some of the strongest bonds and friendships through gaming that I would ever know.
I was bored with the Alpha, there was not much to see or do and there was not really a lot of space to explore anything so I focused on the feel of guns and movement and I thought ‘okay, this is pretty good. Can’t wait for the Beta’.
As time went on and I waited around for the Beta, I sort of forgot about Destiny. It was not on purpose, it’s just that there were a lot of other games coming out and I was busy with life and since the Alpha didn’t do anything to pique my curiosity, I sort of just let it slip out of my mind. Eventually, though, the Beta arrived and I was ready to jump back into Old Russia and see what had changed.
It was nothing. Nothing changed.
Nothing an armchair developer like me noticed, anyway.
I booted up into the game and played around a bit hoping to notice anything different and I saw nothing. I didn’t quite know what I was hoping to see change nor was I aware of any UI adjustments or any alterations in gameplay from what I experienced in the Alpha, so I was once again left unsatisfied. I thought that maybe I was being a little unreasonable since this was the first time I ever experienced an Alpha and Beta for a video game. I didn’t know what I was expecting but I felt I was betraying the developers I owed so many great moments of my life to by being rude towards whatever my expectations were with the version of the game I was trying out so I took a deep breath, set my PS4 controller down, and went about my business.
Still, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that the world felt so shallow and empty. Sure, this was a Beta, but it wasn’t different, at least not in any way I could tell, from the Alpha. Maybe it was just some under-the-hood changes that made these two game builds different? Or maybe I missed some big detail that would have lead me towards the answers to some of my questions regarding the absence of direction.
I do remember that yellow bar knight to the left of the spawn point in that underground area that stomped me to pieces so maybe I was just not strong enough to get passed him and see another huge unexplored area? Who knows? I certainly didn’t. But whatever. Bungie knows what they are doing. Halo was a masterpiece, so I just need to chill and let them do their thing. No way is this game going to be anything less than spectacular.
September 9, 2014. Launch day. I couldn’t wait. I grabbed my pre-order, ran home and popped this game into my PS4. Downloading… Ugh, I hate having to wait for a disc-based game having to install on a console. Maybe I am just patient, but I do not recall obnoxious load times pre-PS4 on consoles where you could put the game in and just play it off the disc. Then, some hours later…
Okay, let’s do this. Let’s become legend. I told this to myself out loud, again into a void for only to be heard by my own ears. Even then, I was not listening to myself since I was so focused on the game loading up. And then, it happened.
Guitar – Weasel – See Support for Details
What the f*ck, Bungie? This is launch day. How are you not prepared for launch? You are the gold standard for developers in the shooter genre and you weren’t prepared for a server overload? The f*cking f*ck?! I called out sick for this. Ugh… Maybe I am not as patient as I thought…
I can’t recall when the game finally worked for me, but all I remember is hopping in and waking up my Guardian (Hunter main), and loving that I could hear Tyrion Lannister himself as my personal guide. Oh, and his voice had a bit of a robotic twinge to it! Okay, not perfect but much, much better, Bungie! All right, let’s head through Old Russia…
Grabbing my trusty Khavostov, the auto rifle that accompanied us as the first major tool of our journey, I took to wiping out every Fallen that stood in our way before heading off into the great unknown. I didn’t see an Exotic drop during this first mission, which was a disappointment but whatever. No big deal…
From here, this is where things got… odd.
So, what now?
I had put in a decent amount of time as a solo player, managed to get all blues, and not a single legendary set. Legendary armor was impossible to come by. I couldn’t get that beautiful Ghost Angel armor that I coveted because I didn’t have enough materials and currencies and all sort of other nonsense that wasn’t quite clear to me on how to acquire, let alone enough of it to upgrade my Light Level (this was during a time in which Light and Power were two different things and infusion had not been introduced).
I completed every mission I could and I had no idea what to do it. I was not an avid Redditor, and I didn’t think that I should have to look online to just… you know, play the game. I even made the mistake of heading over to the Ishtar Sink on Venus and attempted to run the Vault of Glass Raid solo by standing on the plates outside and trying to get that whole process started. I had no idea what I was doing or what sort of difficulty, even the man-power required to overcome such an obstacle.
I fondly remember messaging another random player I saw running past me and asking him for help on lighting up all the plates and getting the spire formed so we could enter the Vault. He condescendingly replied to me that we could not complete the Vault of Glass with two people. At the time, I thought he was being rude and didn’t want to play but I realized closer to Y2 that he was being rude because I was ignorant of what I was attempting to do.
Frustrated and with no idea what to do next or where to go, I gave up on D1. It would not be until the month before The Taken King expansion that I would play again.
All I could think about, after putting in the time to complete the missions and swap out gear and talk to Tower NPCs and get stomped in a Crucible that was literally the most insufferable and difficult PVP experience I have ever played, that I was duped. This didn’t feel like Halo. What was I doing wrong?
Spending hours trying to explore, I felt as though nothing really changed between the Alpha and Launch Day. The game looked the same, played the same, and felt just as empty. There was nothing to explore, barriers around every area that seemed as though there would be something more interesting in the distance, and no secrets. Every time I thought I found a new area, it was blocked off by an invisible wall or a kill-timer telling me to turn back around. In fact, the biggest spaces often felt like just a travel path between other large areas where all a player could do was walk or ride a Sparrow around a windy path with nothing else to do.
Enemies spawned in the same spots with no diversity in their attacks or approach which meant next to no challenge unless you were under-leveled, there were no points of interest in the world that made playing feel any more or less exciting, and the story… holy god, what the hell happened to the story?
The Story, House of Wolves, and a Gamestop Return Credit
Destiny 1 was a story that never existed. The missions were apparently hacked to pieces leaving no coherence or logic towards what the player was trying to accomplish and there was no avoiding feeling lost and confused.
Apparently this all had to do with management shake-up at the last minute leading into launch. This was obvious to have taken place prior to the Alpha because the Alpha, Beta, and official launch all felt so absent and lackluster.
The official gameplay footage that Bungie showed off leading into anything playable contained footage that was never used that was supposed to help us piece it all together but it was too late. After some of the more key people within Bungie left the company, Destiny was a hot mess. And if you are reading this far, chances are you know all about that so I won’t go into it all here.
Destiny Y1 was confusing, artificially difficult by increasing enemy health and decreasing player damage output and making all gunfights with enemies feel like you had to duck, shoot, duck, shoot, duck, shoot, run to replenish your ammo from any grunt enemies you managed to kill, and repeat it all over again for half of an hour until that Fallen Walker was taken down. You know what one I am talking about.
House of Wolves came and added some new content and things to do that helped but left many players whelmed and frustrated at the cost of the DLC vs how much actual playable content they received and it just felt like a new low for Destiny almost immediately.
At this point, I had never done a single Raid or Prison run, I had no friends to play it with since they had all moved on and left nothing but scathing thoughts and comments on anyone who still played the game. Everyone I knew felt duped by a developer we once held in the highest regard and I was left broken and literally alone, holding onto a game that was not worth $10 to return to GameStop. I can’t believe that this fragmented mess of a game came from the guys who built Halo.
I returned Destiny 1 about six or seven months in because I had nothing to do, no one to play with, and I was not about to message a ton of random players in the tower through the PS4 messaging system to try and ask questions or find activities to play. Why should I have to put in so much effort to find a way to play a game that I paid a premium price for?
The story didn’t make sense, there was no in-game messaging system, no way to easily matchmake with players for activities and absolutely no direction or logic to the world of Destiny at all. I turned in the game along with a few others to boost my return credit to maybe what amounted to $14 of value. I gave up. Destiny was dead to me. And I was heartbroken.
Year 2, Reddit, and Luke Smith
Destiny had become a distant memory that I wanted to forget. My excitement and anticipation to play and ‘become legend’ were quickly shattered to pieces. I was so angry that Bungie left Microsoft for Activision and gave up Halo for this. What a terrible decision. And so many employees were unhappy, not even allegedly, they were upset and many departed the company to do something else or return back to Microsoft and join 343 Studios. Bungie was a shell of its former self. I was betrayed and I thought I would never be able to get go of that feeling. All I wanted was an actual RPG with no barriers or boundaries with endless possibilities. Elder Scrolls had been doing this for years, why couldn’t Bungie? Just replace the Dwarven armor with Dead Orbit armor, replace a bow with a Pulse Rifle, and make the environment aesthetic resemble more of what we saw in Halo. How hard could that be? Bungie is a massive studio with massive success. No argument from anyone is going to ever make me believe they weren’t/aren’t capable.
Then Luke Smith happened. I don’t know how but it did. Writer turned game design lead/director, Luke Smith stepped in to make some massive changes to Destiny’s second year with the incredible Taken King Expansion.
Leading up to The Taken King, I had not touched Destiny much. At least not until about a month before launch. The changes announced, the gameplay featured, and the loot shown off all looked so good that I decided to give it a chance once more. And it was at this time that I worked for a major tech giant that was obsessed with Reddit and I stumbled onto the Destiny subreddit. I lurked, I subbed, I submitted, I became very involved and decided that Reddit would be my place for answers, Luke Smith would a major saving grace for Destiny’s future, and The Taken King was going to be more of what I wanted Destiny to be.
Most Destiny players remember fondly of all the changes of The Taken King. The alterations to Light, Power, and the infusion system. Armor materials were fine-tuned, acquiring Vendor gear was more convenient, and a lot of new stuff was on the horizon. The only drawback was that more than 50% of the game was left behind in favor of what was new.
The Taken King was a makeover that Destiny needed, but anything else that came before it (armor, weapons, any activities) were all abandoned without an update to meet the changes of the new system. This was significant due to not only having to abandon all of your old gear for new stuff if you actually wanted to keep playing, but that also meant that anything you liked from Y1 served no purpose to play unless you wanted to just have fun. Which no one plays Destiny for /s.
Nolan North also replaced Dinklage as Ghost, and Dinklage was wiped from the game completely without a trace in favor of a voice actor who seemingly cared about doing a good job.
The Taken King was a hit, Luke Smith was hailed a hero, and all of the awesome people I met on Reddit would become my Raid and Trials teammates, and more importantly, my friends.
However, nothing lasts forever and the honeymoon phase of anything will always fade at some point. And 4, 5, 6 months into Y2, there was nothing left to do. We were in the middle of a content drought. Everything that could be earned, explored, achieved, and done in The Taken King had been by everyone that cared. And there was nothing left. The playerbase dwindled once more and Bungie was silent. They gave us no updates, no direct contact with players beyond the classic Bungie catchphrase “We’re listening”.
Players wanted to know what was coming next as the amount of content supplied felt far less than the content abandoned from Y1. It pained the community to look back at Y1 with rose-tinted glasses, despite each player having endless complaints about it. We wanted what was bad from Y1 to become good in Y2 by adopting all of the quality of life changes that The Taken King brought with it. Instead, the players sat around looking at all of the Raids and earlier activities that were practically unplayable due to offering no rewards for your time that met the Y2 standards. Nothing more to do in The Taken King, nothing left to go back and complete unless you wanted the self-gratification of knowing you completed it. For some, this was important, for most others, it was not. Destiny was dead once more.
Bungie became synonymous with the phrase that they demonstrated time and time again and many times after that, that they simply were not listening at all. They heard the players’ criticisms and pleas for answers but they did not care to address them. Everyone once in a while we would get a response on the subreddit that regurgitated this catchphrase and nothing more. Then there were the official Bungie Forums. Don’t even get me started on that dumpster fire.
Deej and Cozmo were blasted constantly with many questioning what their job responsibilities were since they were clearly doing nothing with the community. They were nowhere to be seen and many wondered if they just sat on their hands with mouths closed as Bungie made some more behind the scenes changes.
The only thing keeping the game alive was the live streamers on Twitch and the YouTube video makers that created click-bait articles and headlines for views but failed to offer up anything more than conjecture and biased opinions that did nothing but irritate the bulk of the community that actually cared about the future of the franchise.
It was more clear than ever that Bungie was not only choosing not to listen, they really didn’t care to save face in front of the community that desperately tried to support them in the darkest time this franchise had ever seen.
Months and months went by with no new content drops or changes unless it was an exploit that cheesed something Bungie intended to be artificially difficult for the sake of keeping the player base busy until they made their next move. It was the carrot on the string, so to speak. Only no one was going after it and eventually, the carrot became rotten.
Competitors in the industry were trying to find a way to beat Destiny at its own game (pun intended) and The Division was coming out soon. Players were posting more about The Division than Destiny on its own subreddit. Ubisoft promised that they were learning a lot from its competitors all the while taking thinly veiled jabs at Bungie, Destiny, and their community managers. It seemed like Destiny was done for and the silence was damning.
Somewhere, during this time, word broke out about the next DLC. The Rise of Iron. This new expansion was designed to give us info on the Iron Lords of legend and give us backstory on Lord Saladin himself, among other new heroes. Even more so, Y1 content was coming back.
The community was in a frenzy. Thorn. Mythoclast. Icebreaker. Vault of Glass. Crota’s End. Prison of Elders. They were all returning with upgrades, updates, and all the beautiful armor and weapons would once again rise with the expansion that shared the same name.
The release window of The Division and Rise of Iron were close, and it was clear that many players had already jumped ship, as they were tired of Bungie’s bullshit and game design direction, despite Luke Smith’s best efforts to lead with faith and a passion to support the community.
The Division came and went, with many poking fun at how poorly the game delivered on promises and the repetitive gameplay. The absence of space magic kept me from joining in on the bandwagon for that game, but it was clear that The Division was not going to kill Destiny. Only Bungie could do that, and they were close many times. However, Rise of Iron was a hit, despite being short.
Year 3 and a Fond Farewell
Rise of Iron was light on new content. There were less than 10 campaign missions and not much to do in relation to what was actually new. The Wrath of the Machine Raid that came with it was a blast, not too difficult, highly rewarding, and it didn’t take much time. You just need a well-adjusted team and communication and you were good.
Despite the lightness of new stuff, all the old stuff that came back was a blast. It was great to replay old activities with all the quality of life changes. Doing old raids was a blast with my friends and fireteam companions. We joked, we laughed, we yelled, we insulted, and we grew closer. There was a lot to do, a lot to earn, and it seemed like there would be no end in sight for Y3 delivering good times to the community.
Once again, all good things come to an end. Only this time, it was not because there was nothing to do. Despite the drought of Y2, which I played through begrudgingly, Y3 had enough to do across the board that I played every week happily. Although, many of my friends and fireteam did not. They fell off one by one, some to The Division after Ubisoft delivered its own quality updates, and others left for entirely new gaming experiences.
I was never alone during Y3, but I still felt abandoned. Destiny had become fun again, but it relied far too heavily on making friends and fireteams outside its game which is not really something that Destiny should have had its activities based around. Many left, leaving me or others in a state of constant desperation by posting on ‘Looking for Player’ websites. It was sad and disappointing. And this was something we would never forgive Bungie for.
Destiny Y3 was light on players, which meant the majority of content could not be played. Destiny was never a solo player game, always favoring teams of people that had to meet outside of the game to get anything done. And as we were coming into 2017, more and more games were stepping in and pulling the community apart. No amount of content would save Destiny from poor management, timing, direction, design, and leadership. It was time to say goodbye to D1, and all three of my diverse 400LL Guardians for good.
Eyes Up Guardian
Destiny 2 was coming. We all knew it, and it was announced and shown off by Bungie at the many conventions of 2017. September of that year could not get here soon enough.
Many of the community assumed that the reason for content droughts and silence was due largely in part to the bulk of the developers working on the sequel. This lead many of us to forgive the follies of the past for the support and success of the future. If Destiny 2 was going to use D1 Y3 as the basis for its future direction, there was no way it could fail.
During one of the 2017 conventions, E3 I believe it was, I managed to play an early build of Destiny 2. And it scared me.
Again, I found myself so underwhelmed and surprised that this build wreaked of the failures of the past and reflected so many poor decisions that made the first game smell like a rose and not the steaming pile it was at key points during its three years. Just what the in the hell was going on? No way that this was the final game.
Then a sigh of relief came over me. I remembered that this was not an official build, but rather just a build intended for events that were meant to show off the bare-minimum so as to avoid spoilers. Okay, sure. That makes sense. Fine, fine. This is good. No worries here.
Worry immediately grabbed me by the throat, punched me in the stomach, and chillingly stroked my spine. This is how I felt during the Alpha, Beta, and the official release of Destiny 1. I hoped for the best but expected the worst. However, the worst would be realized as D2 Y1 would become the disappointing release of the entire franchise up until now, and I was furious for being so foolish to suspect anything different. I bought the collector edition and I really wish I hadn’t.
Destiny 2 singlehandedly taught me this most valuable lesson. Never before did I feel so let down and angry at myself for pre-ordering. In fact, I feel pretty good that I never really had a bad experience with pre-ordering a game. Destiny 2 was the first, the last, and it only got worse throughout 2017 for many gamers who realized that companies would start with saying anything to get you to pre-order, then leave you in the rain saying you had to pay extra for DLC to get the game you were promised.
D2 launched with a boring campaign, but a story that could be followed. It removed the chase of Random Rolled weapons by replacing them with Static Rolls, which were rumored to be because of design lead Josh Hamrick. There’s a ViDoc out there somewhere where Luke Smith points this out to Hamrick while they shared the screen talking about D2. Luke Smith says that Hamrick’s decision for this would leave him on a hill alone to die on (metaphorically speaking).
Once players got through the campaign, which Bungie and Destiny were praised for by early reviewers, it was discovered that there was no ‘Endgame’. No activities to pursue and nothing to keep players busy. The campaign could not even be replayed, and therefore the only thing to do was wait for a Raid. This came eventually, but the armor looked hideous, as did most of the armor from any other source in D2, and many of the community abandoned the game within a month or two of release.
Bungie was quick to point out that the real endgame was making friends, which pushed the community into an angry mob that became furious. Their fury made major news outlets and Bungie was a laughingstock. No Random Rolls, no endgame activities, and countless steps back. There was no Vendor stock refresh like we got weekly in D1, there were countless NPCs and even an entire social space that served no purpose but a single visit to help the campaign move forward.
Factions were absent, despite having a spot in the new Tower for each of them to set up shop. They stood there, speaking lines of dialogue as background ambiance with intent to enhance the environment that was as empty as the game itself.
With nothing to grind for, nothing to earn, nothing to chase, many media outlets followed-up on their reviews and started poking at all the things wrong with Destiny 2 that they had missed, thinking that the campaign was the highlight and other activities would be discovered.
Bungie had let down a community again, and almost immediately after they managed to hold them in high regard again. It was short-lived and we were furious.
The Curse and the Warmind
Two DLCs followed the initial release of the game. This made many wonder why a game would release and then offer up a DLC/expansion so quickly as this wasn’t really the norm. Why release a DLC less than 4 months after the game came out? To make money, duh. Why include it in the core game when Bungie can scrimp on content, deliver as little as possible, and make you pay for it all over again?
Curse of Osiris came out in December of 2017 and was universally panned as being boring, light on content, and ruining Brother Vance by altering his personality so drastically from D1. In addition to this, the legendary Osiris was nothing more than a useless voiceover giving player minor direction and exposition in a campaign that was so short-lived, players couldn’t help but scratch their heads while wondering “is that it?” to themselves after beating the campaign in about an hour.
I was shocked at how short the campaign was. The final boss was so easy, I thought I was just scraping the surface of what was to be delivered in this DLC. Instead, I had done all of it. I, along with many others, was furious.
Warmind, the second DLC, came out even later at around five months after Curse of Osiris. May was hopefully going to be the saving period for Destiny 2. Surprise! It wasn’t.
While Warmind had a lot more to offer in terms of a grind and content, this is what should have been the bare minimum from the start. Curse of Osiris is not the baseline.
Vicarious Visions, a dev team that lent a hand in the development of Warmind saw to making some major quality of life improvements and good times for Destiny 2 players, but it didn’t last long. It would not be a few more months until a lot of the much more-needed changes would come with Forsaken, but VV did a great job where Bungie had continuously failed.
Escalation Protocol, a new community activity on Mars saw up to 9 or so players that could fight waves of enemies all at once. Granted, there was no matchmaking and you could only have 3 Guardians per fireteam, which meant you had to constantly reload the map to find a group playing together if you wanted more than 3 people to join in on this activity, but I digress. The heart was in the right place for VV, while Bungie’s was mysteriously and frustratingly absent.
So Long, Ace
D2 Y1 was a failure with the only saving grace coming from Vicarious Visions and their Warmind expansion. It was not until Y2 that we got the best from D2, and even then it was many, many steps behind D1 Y3.
Forsaken was a story that offered a lot, at first glance. Two new planetary locations to explore and the return of Random Rolls along with an emotional story that saw the death of our beloved Cayde-6. Unfortunately, this meant no more Nathan Fillion, the actor behind Cayde, who had apparently left the role prior to Forsaken began development. This saw Nolan North, the now voice of Ghost, stepping up to wear another voice hat and take over Cayde. He did great in the role and was possibly the best choice for a replacement. However said it was to see Cayde killed off, it was just as sad knowing Fillion was no longer tied to Destiny either.
Cayde and Nathan Fillion were not the only ones to leave the Destiny franchise as we also saw Josh Hamrick, the guy who killed Random Rolls in the first place, depart from Bungie along with fellow Crucible lead John Wisniewski. Many celebrated Hamrick leaving (or getting pushed out) but celebrated Wisniewski departing from the company (or getting pushed out) even more. The Crucible has been in a terrible state since D2 launched and there has been little progress to see it return. Trials of the Nine, which replaced the D1 PVP competitive mode Trials of Osiris (not to be confused with Curse of Osiris, which was a DLC), was removed from the game completely after community backlash at horrible execution of the game mode. And it was never heard from again.
Together, Hamrick and Wisniewski, the two blockheads that were very much to blame for a lot of the blunders of D2 Y1, left Bungie for better
or worse. And you could probably ask anyone, that while every aspect of development is very much a team effort, everyone would agree that these two left it in a terrible state and their leaving the company was good for us all.
Forsaken had some great additions with the Quality of Life, but it still felt like we were desperately trying to catch up to the state of the franchise at its peak with The Taken King or Rise of Iron.
Shadowkeep & Eververse
The most recent version of Destiny brought us back to the moon of earth, a place we have not seen since Destiny 1. Bungie was somewhat decent on communicating the size of this expansion with the introduction to it being described as ‘Rise of Iron’ sized. Okay, fair enough. They also brought into the game a Battlepass-like loot system that rewards players for leveling up. This replaced the Eververse engrams that players would earn after each and every level, which removed yet another key aspect of how to earn cosmetic items that you would have to pay for otherwise.
Shadowkeep introduced upgraded and new areas of the moon, a new Raid within the Black Garden, and finally an introduction to ‘The Darkness’, and those Pyramid ships. And not much else.
I want to point out that amidst all this, the Black Garden Raid actually had armor rewards that were reskins of previous Eververse armor, which was a major sign of Bungie’s priorities with it. Instead of a fresh new set of armor, it was something we had already paid for or possibly earned through experience points and level growth, all while Eververse got a totally fresh new set of armor in the same season. Again, the community was furious at the laziness on one of the most important aspects of the game. And how is it that they would provide armor in an endgame activity that we may already own, albeit as a reskin, in an incredibly tiny loot pool with this new DLC?
There is very little loot to earn, and the cosmetics in-game are atrocious. I touched on this briefly earlier but the style of D1 compared to D2 is jarring. I would include myself in the portion of the community that hates the design choices for armor in D2. It just doesn’t have the same appeal as D1. The only armor that has any neat style, are the exotics and Iron Banner. The Escalation Protocol Armor and the Season Pass armor are cool, too, but let’s not forget that the Season Pass costs extra if you want it.
The Raid Armor is a big issue for me in D2, with much of it looking super boring and uninspired. Some of it looks okay, but that is not how Raid Armor should be. Raid Armor should be the best-looking design in the game for armor, and there should never be a mediocre or reskinned design among these rewards.
Destiny 1 Raid Armor
Destiny 2 Raid Armor
Cosmetics and the Eververse are a massive problem with Destiny 2, with a lot of the more recent items like Ghosts, Ships, and Sparrows being the most incredibly detailed and inspired designs the game has seen in a long time. And they are all Exotic, which should make them rewards for activities. Unfortunately, many of the Eververse rewards resemble the style and theme of present activities, which give off the impression that they may have been planned to be that way before the decision was made to make them a microtransaction purchase exclusive. Eververse has become increasingly predatory and at present, it is in the worst state it has ever been. Makes you wonder if Activision was really the one with the greedy problem…
Season of the Undying, or Season 8 is about to wrap up with Season 9 the ‘Season of Dawn’ kicking off in less than a week. Bungie just had a live stream on it that lasted around 40 minutes and all it did was highlight a return to Mercury and a new Escalation Protocol-like pseudo-horde mode. It looks light on content and I am tempering my expectations. Sure, we can’t judge it until it arrives but let us be real. Bungie has made the same mistakes over and over again. And just when they fix one, they break five others. They care more about trying to take our money than they are about having a respectable reputation among the industry and the community that they are trying to rob blind.
Recently, I wrote a piece about the comparison I had with D1 and D2 and all the things D1 had that D2 is still currently missing. Even after all this time, we get endless excuses from Bungie about how hard it is to develop and make content when most of the time the community is just asking for D1 Armor, Raids, and Weapons to make a return. We are so desperate for something fun and meaningful, fueled with a desire to look cool, that we are begging for content that is almost six years old because the current style and content are just boring or dreadful to look at.
I can’t list everything here that Destiny 2 is missing. I have had that conversation a great many times with fellow Destiny players and I wrote a piece about it that covers not all, but the things that stand out most to me as a player. The fact is, Bungie cares more about nickel and diming us than they do about creating a truly lively world. The NPCs from launch day are mostly still standing in the same spot, not doing anything nor are they offering anything fresh and exciting to buy or do, and it doesn’t look like that is changing anytime soon, or possibly before a sequel in D3 (which may or may not happen at all).
Bungie has had countless opportunities to right the wrongs they have made and they refuse to learn from their mistakes and act on the lessons they picked up to move the game in a meaningful direction. And if you are reading here saying that Bungie doesn’t owe us anything, then you are wrong. They owe us everything. We pay their bills, we play their game, we keep their studio doors open.
If they are going to make a game that finds clever ways to try and make you pay extra for items that should be rewarded for your time, effort, dedication, and even loyalty, then they are literally stabbing you in the back just so they can take an extra $8 or $10 out of your wallet. Why are you okay with that? Why do you defend such behavior? Even if you have the money, doesn’t that make you feel shitty?
Bungie is a business, and with that comes the facts surrounding that a business only cares about your money. There is literally nothing else. So if you are going to pay, if you are going to dedicate your time to something like this, why would you settle for anything less than fair? Why settle for anything less than what you want? Destiny is not a game that will ever please everyone but just look at the numbers. It’s pleasing fewer and fewer people and Reddit and the Bungie Forums are screaming loud and clear why. If Bungie can’t see that, then they don’t deserve your loyalty.
Hope for The Future…?
I have no idea what Bungie is doing in the long term. In the short term, they are delivering minimal content at a premium price and hiding everything cool in the game behind a microtransaction paywall.
Will there be a Destiny 3? No idea. Will they stop adding content to give the appearance of content that looks miles wide but is only an inch deep? My bets are on no, they won’t.
What I really want, and what I have wanted since the inception of Destiny, is to be able to delve deep into the game that actually has lore, and people to interact without on missions and run into amazing moments that surprise me and keep me guessing. Enemies that are different and not just a version that is different only in that it makes an ice-shatter noise when you kill it or a version with red on it. I want the world around me to feel truly alive with NPCs having an agenda and I want to feel like I can go out solo and accomplish a great deal and bond with my character. Maybe some multiplayer activities that make sense to have matchmaking so we don’t have to go outside the game to find players on an unofficial fansite.
I want to pick up the game and see something new and experience something I have never experienced before each and every time. I do not want to have to go to the same spot every day and shoot the same enemies that attack in the same way and spawn in the same location. I want variety and I want to feel like I am working towards something. I want to feel like my decisions matter and I want to see the game flourish and become the MMORPG that blows everything else out of the water because it is truly better and not because everything else that tries just sucks right now.
Or, maybe I just pick up Skyrim again and mod it to have guns. Because maybe that is what I want. But what is wrong with that? Why can’t we have that? It fits on the Nintendo Switch so how hard is it for Bungie to put that together on current and next-generation consoles and PC?
I want to feel like the experiences I have are my own and not identical to every single other player that picks up the game.
But alas, I doubt that will ever happen. Maybe someday, maybe never. The dream and the hope for these things to come to fruition keep me going but I will forever feel sad that Bungie has become a shell of its former self without realizing what they truly have in their hands is legend.
Looking back on all those hours, all the memories and experiences, I can’t say I did not have a good time. However, among a lot of those hours were a lot of issues and problems that kept me from having as much fun as I would expect when playing a video game with friends. It was not like the early days of Halo LAN parties, but rather that Destiny delivered a more frustrating and often times head-scratching experience that made think out loud to myself that Bungie had lost their way. And I believe they have, truly. Their desire to reinvent the wheel so frequently while breaking the user experience and putting a significant amount of focus and resources on in-game microtransactions is heart-breaking. They care more about money than shaping the way online FPS games could become. Sure, they have had an impact on that already, but it has been a small one, rather than the incredibly large one they could deliver if their hearts and minds were in the right place.
Unfortunately, after looking back on all those hours and
writing typing this all down, I realize that Bungie is not my friend. They are a business designed to make money. They just happen to make video games. And they will refuse to live up to their potential because they would rather make quick cash and fix issues later.
I get that development is hard. But this is not a 5-man team in a garage somewhere. Bungie is massive with hundreds, if not upwards to a thousand or more employees or contractors that amass their massive studio. There is no excuse and there never was.
The future remains uncertain but I will never give up hope. However, maybe I should. Because as of now, it is very clear to me that I, and other players like myself, am just not a good fit for what Destiny is right now.