In the weeks leading up to its release, I was pumped for Destiny. I’m talking “midnight on launch day, Ghost Edition in hand, taking time off from work, and playing it all night while wearing an official t-shirt” level of hype.
The promise of a Bungie-crafted, persistent online shooter was too delicious to deny myself the bliss of full immersion, especially after that first taste of the alpha build. At last, the multiplayer game I had been wanting since Halo 2’s 4-player, split-screen madness had faded to memory was here. Maybe this could be the game that would make my life in Montana feel a little less isolating.
When I finally got my hands on it, expectations were mostly met. No doubt there were questionable design flaws and glaring story omissions, but it had me. Just like most things I adore, it had heart, a rock solid foundation, and character flaws that I could skillfully justify. I could see where things were going and couldn’t wait to hit level 20 when the "real" game starts.
Level 20 came and went. I got a sweet rifle from this exo-lady and the thought of earning some of that light-laden loot made me giddy. I even wanted to try one of those 6-8 hour raids (sure, my wife would TOTALLY understand that pursuit while chores continued to stack up).
However, my post-20 progress went south quickly. The strangers in my strikes stopped being helpful, the randomness of loot drops became frustrating, getting together with friends to tackle the bigger missions was tricky, and I just could not understand Bungie’s insistence that we play Control in PVP. Man, FUCK Control. This coupled with every bounty, daily, and weekly mission being another excuse to replay old missions with difficulty tweaks made Destiny feel like a forced march fashioned by sadistic data miners. We were all just beta testing the next game and I felt cheated.
While listening to the Giant Bombcast, I'd pump my fists in solidarity as Jeff Gerstmann grumped about all of the same things I did. Review scores across the internet were averaging around 7.5 out of 10. Even Bungie diehards like Rooster Teeth weren’t getting behind it in a big way. Joining in on the sad trombone choir was too easy.
So, I decided to shelve it and break it back out in December when the first expansion dropped. Maybe that would be the salve that sealed the wound.
When the Dark Below came out, the media dog pile started all over again. I read gripes about the lack of new content, only one more raid, and that there was no real reason for former players to hop back in. Despite their belly-aching, I tried it for myself. I hopped into a retread mission that was too difficult for me, got slaughtered, and quickly dismissed the second chance. I had let the negativity revert me into a man baby. So, I kinda gave up.
Then one day, Bungie tweeted this. That gift happened to be a "legendary" sniper rifle, the LDR 5001. Having never earned a legendary anything, I was stoked to have one to mess with. My initial test fire proved to be all I needed to spark the fire. Next up, find some guidance on what to do next.
Around the same time, Polygon posted a helpful article that showed me how to grind the "right way". The tips I gleaned from that have made the "gear grind" much more enjoyable. The path became a bit clearer.
The biggest boost to my enjoyment has come from good old fashioned human interaction. Having finally connected with some fellow community members, we got to hit some tough missions, start a raid, swap tips on preferred load outs, and brag about our newly acquired gear. I can't remember the last time I played a game where I got to swap tips and insights with my friends, not just internet forums.
All of a sudden, any chance I get to play something, it's gonna be Destiny. I'm skimming the Bungie store for another shirt (maybe a hat, too), seriously considering leveling up an alt character, and finding myself getting excited about patch notes. I'm even enjoying Control. Funny how things turn around once it finally clicks.
Destiny has become my comfy couch: familiar, inviting, and the smell doesn't bother you or your buddies anymore. A lot of people shake their heads at big games with a massive, dedicated fan base...especially if it's a game that's considered passe, broken, or traditional. I was one of them. I guess I just needed to find mine to understand the appeal.
Side note: If you'd like to grind for gear with the Too Old For This... community, be sure to join the TOFT Destiny Clan. FYI, the bulk of the action happens on PS4.