My Destiny with Destiny 2

There are games, that you just find interesting and follow along because of their art style, their world or story premise, weapon or armor design, the game play loop or simply because you have a friend who is a huge fan of this game. My story with Destiny is long and intertwined with passive and active times of play, so please bear with me on this one.

When Destiny was released for consoles in 2014, there were several aspects that teased and interested me. The world looked fantastic, the avatars looked fantastic, and the story’s told surrounding this game were fantastic to follow (e.g. loot cave). Nevertheless, playing a first-person shooter with a controller was not my cup of tea at all back then, but still I tried to play on my Playstation 4, but very quickly became hopelessly frustrated, stalled, and just forget about it. Still, I followed the later released expansions and stories told on Kotaku and by talking with my friend.

When Destiny 2 was released in October 2017, I played the demo on PC and got instantly sold on the game. I started on day one, but rather quickly stalled (again!), as I felt quite lonely within the game and had no clue what to do and what to work for. Around eight months later, some friends picked up the game in a Humble Bundle and we started to play together, and then suddendly all of Destiny’s magic came together and I played a lot(!) of Destiny 2, especially when the expansion Forsaken dropped; the game and the expansion were just awesome. The gunplay was awesome, the pacing of events and exploration was awesome, the loot, jumping puzzles, and exotic quests were also awesome. A really awesome state for a game.

Everything is awesome!

Of course, looter shooters are fun and work as long as the next „big thing“ feels like just around the corner, but Destiny’s year 2 with the expansion and additional seasonal release rhythm transformed all of it into a bloody chore. Not, that it has not been like that before, but these seasons placed a sort of limitedness & pressure to everything, which consequently turned out to become rather nasty in effect, especially for me and my service-game-completionist-issues.

So, it became more and more difficult to complete the content within each consecutive season and I felt increasingly dismotivated to log in and do dailies and weeklies and grind the Armory or whatever needed doing. Until I ultimately stalled somewhere in May 2019 with a good amount of aversion and frustration.

But another expansion was coming up – Shadowkeep, returning to the moon with new seasons and new armor 2.0 stuff attached, new challenges and a refresh in how those seasons should play out. And I was hyped again to return and play together with my friends and grind the hell out of everything.

The beauty and greatness of Final Fantasy XIV’s Shadowbringers expansion, together with a lot of work on my job, did delay my start from October to November, but when I started in November with full speed, I quickly accumulated 94 hours until December and at least enjoyed the first weeks tremendously. But soon the new mechanics started to show and I quit the game after completing the season path around December 9th.

So what did turn me off so badly? (in no particular order)

  • A hell of a grind.
    The grind in Destiny 2 is real. And I mean really real. There is so much you would have to do every day, and every week. Fill this bar, and that bar. Increase your level to continue the season path, your triumphs to get the season title, your power level and artifact to play more difficult challenges, and so on and so forth.
    Don’t get me wrong! – I am a big fan of making grind worth it; meaning if I put in an exotic, a title, or whatever, people should go and grind for that. It should not be given away to easy! But flooding my questlog with quantity and not quality is maybe not good design. Abundance is not always a good decision to motivate people. I just enjoyed the balance of Forsaken way better than Shadowkeep set it up.
  • Too many drops – less satisfaction.
    Later in the season I more and more lost interest in all the items and stats and what not. I just dismantled everything. Every item I got. I did not care anymore. Of course I did upgrade my power level on items and checked for a good build, mods, and weapon perks, but all these item stats / points on each items: I did not feel that caring for them would change or impact anything. Actually, the longer I played I felt it did not matter at all anymore to tweak around. A bit like in Diablo 3 with their rain of legendaries – you just start destroying everything for mats sooner or later …
  • Too many progress bars.
    I want to touch on this again. Logging in required me to make decisions on where to continue to grind my bars. I would have to strategically plan ahead for every evening and go to NPCs and pick up these bounties, quests, upgrades, and missions. Go to the tower first – decide; then decide a planet…. etc. Overall, there was just too much stuff to do. And me having completionist tendecies I want to complete my bars, I really do! But looking at so many each and every day… I felt like I will achieve nothing any more. It became so depressing, especially after logging out: What did I achieve in these hours? What’s the value of all this? Was it worth to play this game? What is my goal in all these activities?
    This was one of the major reasons that made me stop playing.
  • Obfuscated mobile game mechanics at work.
    I paid for the season pass and paid for the additional loot and got a season time limit to complete everything. And yes, I know the game is in its basic version free-2-play, so such mechanics should be in order… well.. or not.
    But, the combination of all those progress bars, time limits and a season path feels like you have to log in every day and do at least something. If you do not, you got a crawling bad feeling about your absence, as your progress towards the deadline will be less. A strong sense of Fear-of-missing-out. At the beginning I felt fine, but the longer I played, the worse it started to nag that I should not not play Destiny 2.
  • The story is just a collection of epic bullshit bingo words.
    The story tells me it is epic, but I don’t experience any epicness. The story tells me that it’s cool, but I do not know how and where to find this coolness. Maybe in these Triumph story reports? But they make no sense. They are collected in a random non-sensical order and when you finally read them in their order, they still make no sense. I have never seen so much lost potential on a very interesting world premise. Then, when I go to an NPC and hand in a story quest, I have a short text to read for my quest and listen to the babbling of the NPC at the same time. I cannot focus on either. I tried so hard, but still cannot concentrate on reading anything of Destiny’s story. Because I do not understand – what the hell – they talk about! I watched video summaries for more than an hour, and they were really well done and narrate a very good storyline, but I cannot find anything of that in the game. Nothing is explained. No expansion story arc or even thread has been followed up later. Nothing is concluded. Why Bungie, why?
  • Little information from Bungie on everything.
    Interestingly, with all these time limits in place, it was until the end of the season not clear, which quests will end and which will still be achieveable. Anyway, Bungie’s information policy is a topic for itself, so i won’t touch too much on this.

Ultimately I feel quite sad.
I played a lot with a friend of mine and he is an awesome player. One of those guys who knows the game inside out, because he played since the release of Destiny. He helped me so much and ran together with me through everything, that he had done hundreds of times already. So now, I feel like I left him behind and have a really bad conscience about it.

Again: the game is cool! Destiny is a great game at its core. But the way Bungie did re-imagine what players have to do, what is relevant and what optional, the mess of everything is so difficult to unravel and often just not rewarding. All you do feels like a trivial check on a very – very – long list of things to do.

Destiny 2 is a monster.

It will stun you with its awesome gunplay and loop systems. It will entangle you with its many tentacles and progress bars. It will slash its teeth into you and its dailies will suck you dry. And even when facing eye-to-maw with the monster, you will find your devouring experience … very enjoyable!

I had to incomplete for the sake of my mental stability and preserving my will to continue to play other games. With tears in my eyes.

A very … very difficult decision.

The Incompletionist

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