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  • Daniel James

Thank You, Bungie

Destiny Art | 2014 IGN Article

On Thursday, we see the future of Destiny. It will be the beginning of a brand new age for players, the game and Bungie Studios. But for me, it’s also the end of the original Destiny. On May 18th, it becomes “old Destiny.” So here, I give my final thoughts on what has cumulatively been one of the greatest games I’ve ever experienced.

I was a freshman in college when Destiny came out. It was 2014, and being fresh out of high school, hadn’t gotten around to getting an Xbox One. My roommate did, though, and that was what we played on all year.

We were in Arizona, and of the four of us, all but one were out of state. There’s not a whole lot to do in Arizona. It’s exactly the desolate, albeit beautiful, desert we thought it was. We spent a few nights trying to wander the town, but there wasn’t much town to wander. Hiking was a promising venture, but between the newfound burden of college level work and self-transportation, there proved little entertainment to be had.

So, videogames. I hunkered down, dedicating myself to the same games I’d played in high school and the previous summer. Grand Theft Auto V, Far Cry 3 and COD: MW3 were familiar environments I was immersed in. It would be a while before I opened to something new. I loved Halo, and at some point during the extensive hype train, I’d figured I’d love Destiny as well.

Despite my personal hype, the introduction to college had proved so overwhelming, it had nearly escaped my memory. After a particularly dry afternoon—under the arid heat of Arizona, and devoid of entertainment—my roommate set out to GameStop, determined to find a new game.

He returned with slick, new, plastic wrapped box and pronounced that he had purchased Destiny. My ears perked. As did the entire dorm. We sat, watching him create his Guardian. The etheric music haunted our dorm, as he settled into the role of an Awoken Warlock: to us, bascially, a space wizard. A fascinating intro cutscene later, we were engrossed.

Destiny Art | 2014 IGN Article

Then, we all created our characters. I created my Hunter, and to my eventual embarrassment, decked out my Awoken avatar in the edgiest looking appearance possible. I was drunk on the space fantasy we were about to enter. My roommates and I passive aggressively touted our characters’ strengths. We each preferred different jumps and abilities. My throwing knife was just nowhere near as cool as the Warlock’s energy drain, my roommate asserted, although he later admitted triple jump was pretty neat.

Then, we played. A lot. For weeks. It wasn’t until we got to the moon that my roommate began to withdraw from the game. He’d slowly lost interest. Mission after mission was completed, doorway after doorway was defended, engram after engram was decrypted…and it just lost its flavor. The space fantasy had been sucked away, like flavor from chewing gum that’d been chewed too long. Your jaw begins to ache and the repetition drives you to other forms of entertainment.

I eventually quit as well. I was burned out and Grand Theft Auto V had been remastered for next gen consoles. The fantasy had died, and I returned to the familiar streets of Los Santos. But I periodically persisted in my appreciation Destiny. Upon returning home for the summer, I bought it for my Xbox 360. Every week, I sat down to grind strikes and weekly story missions with my high school friends. But then, they too began to burn out. The DLC had begun to lose its flavor, and I quit once and for all. I’d wasted too much money, and too much time.

When the Taken King’s trailer released, I rolled my eyes. I’d saved up and bought an Xbox One with money I’d earned cashiering at Target. But there was no way I was wasting my money on Destiny. I’d spent $100 on Year 1, motivated—I suspect—by the sunk cost fallacy.

Fast-forward to October 2015: My coworkers and I are in that same breakroom planning to embark on the Kingsfall Raid. Over the course of three months, they’ve coerced me into buying The Taken King—and I’m loving it. I’ve just blown half my lunch break buying a 12-pack of Monsters and a new Xbox controller. In fact, I dish out the extra $15 and get the Master Chief controller. It’s a glorious piece of hardware.

The Master Chief was the defining fantasy for many gamers my age. He was the suit of armor we put on to war our fantastical war on The Covenant. The controller I wielded was made from his armor, but it wasn’t him masterfully chiefing around the Dreadnaught.

Destiny Art | 2014 IGN Article

The mythic warrior on my monitor gunning down hordes of Taken…was me. I looked into the face of my enemies and they looked into mine. This fantasy was one made in my own image. My guardian was no longer an amalgamation of my disappointment. My guardian had become me, and I, my guardian. That night, we killed a god. The Kingsfall Raid remains the most cherished memory I have in gaming. I remember the camaraderie of a fireteam in the face of unflinching evil. It rivals the most cinematic moments in Halo.

The story of Destiny was one of disaster: Its launch disappointed millions, and the end product was a failure for the vision that Bungie had spent so much effort, time and love attempting to communicate. But I imagine we’ll remember that vision, not by that launch day, but by the effort, time and love Bungie continued to expend in delivering that vision, even after many declared it failed. The game very well could have ended the day the reviews came in. That could have been the legacy of Destiny. But now the story of Destiny has been rewritten: Now, it’s one of victory in the face of apparent failure, for the player character and for Bungie.

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