It’s the eve of Destiny 2, and it seems like the perfect time to reflect on my time with the first iteration of this universe that has taken up a considerable amount of my time over the past 3 years.
In the beginning
The first time I played any Destiny was at the Euro Gamer Expo in London. Playing a strike on the moon with both of my brothers. We were pretty clueless, and didn’t finish it. It didn’t excite us too much, but I had a taste for it, and that ended up with myself and one of my brothers getting it, and giving it a go.
So it began. We played through the story missions, as often as we could, over the space of a few weeks. We got to grips with the mechanics, and enjoyed doing co-op in a new world.
When he was unavailable, we swore not to level up too far ahead of each other on our characters, which essentially negated doing a great deal more on my own.
We hit level 8 and deemed ourselves ready for something called a “strike” which sounded cool. It was “The Devil’s Lair” and honestly it was the toughest, longest battle that we’d ever had together. We finally downed the tank, to discover that, that wasn’t the final boss! It was soul destroying and at the same time, enticing……
We levelled up some more, and took down Sepiks Prime! Then we proceeded with the story and eventually finished it. Great, what next? Cruicible? Online competitive multiplayer is the norm for an FPS, so that made sense.
This is where my brother lost interest, and I had learned of Reddit, and more importantly r/Destinythegame.
Suddenly my eyes were opened to a game much bigger than I had realised. Massive compared to what we had done.
We had no real idea of the narrative (did anyone?), and only knew that it was fun to play and that we had “completed” it. How wrong were we?
I’d started to read of other strikes, teaming up as fireteam of three or six. There was mention of a Vault of Glass, and people were talking about grimoire.
I realised I could improve my level and get better gear. But I was solo and not particularly keen on going any further, with strangers, especially if I had to seek them out.
One word I kept seeing, and didn’t understand for the longest time was “exotic”, it was never really referred to as an engram, and I could never understand what it meant……
This is where the game was a letdown to me, a solo player. I had to research and learn from sources outside of the actual game. Legendary gear? Exotic gear? Xur? What was all this stuff? I thought I was becoming the ultimate Guardian in my almost exclusively blue gear. I thought because I’d reached level 20 I was one of the elite, and that apart from the cruicible, I was essentially finished with the game.
I had my first ever “end-game” experience, in my first ever MMO. This is actually where all the real stuff begins!
Soon I was reading anything and everything I could. I was asking folk on Reddit whether or not buying Plan-C for my first exotic (people were lukewarm, so I held off for a week, and then bought Ice Breaker!), I was joining match-made strikes and watching videos about a “Raid”. It was all so new and overwhelming, it took me a long time to find my groove.
Then, it happened, I got my first exotic quest.
I thought I’d burned out on strikes and story missions and cruicible matches. But here it was, my chance to get something exotic, a chance to earn it and prove to people that I’d done something that not everyone can even have the opportunity to do!
So I learned how to grind, to truly just work at something to earn a reward, even though it wasn’t necessarily fun. Lo and behold, I had Bad JuJu, and man, did I feel like I’d earned something and achieved something.
I played like this for months, and finally worked up the courage to try an LFG site, to see if I could do the Vault of Glass with a group of strangers. I’m not necessarily a shy person, but to say I was intimidated by the stringent requirements of people, would be an understatement.
My first ever raid, was a group of 5 people carrying me through the level 30 version of the Vault of Glass. I’d worked really really hard to hit level 27, thinking I’d be more than adequate to run through the normal mode. These guys insisted on taking me through hard mode though, saying they’ll help, and teach me the ropes, not to worry too much about being low-levelled, and even destroyed a Gorgon so I could get the grimoire score.
It was such a positive experience, it really opened up my mind to the prospect of gaming with strangers. Honestly, I had a whale of a time and really felt part of a wider-community at that point.
Alas, they couldn’t finish as a 5-man team and me. I was absolutely fine with that, we got all the way to the Atheon battle, but I wasn’t pulling my weight enough to be carried any further. I didn’t care though, and they were really polite about it and asked if I’d mind leaving so one of their friends could join. I was absolutely buzzing from the experience and left knowing I’d be back to finish Atheon off one day!
The whole game had opened-up to me after some research and taking a chance on strangers. Honestly, I’d say the Vault of Glass is one of, if not the best co-op experience of any game in history.
My mind was blown. I was raiding a little, and finished the Vault of Glass a couple of times. I’d been through Crota’s end start-to-finish with another group, I’d played through all of the DLC missions, on 2 characters, and got them to high-level. Finally understanding the point of the vault (you get awesome stuff, a lot, and you can’t just carry it around all the time! Plus, you can share stuff with your other characters!!).
I’d never played a game like this though, and never experienced online gaming in this way.
Sadly, though. I’d grown a little weary after a while. I’d had a great time, but it was still a little hollow without people that I knew.
I’d tried to get friends to play, but the lukewarm reviews of “vanilla” Destiny had really given it a bad reputation to those on the outside…….
I moved on.
Year two and beyond
Playing on the Xbox 360 was tough, with super-slow loading times, even just accessing my inventory seemed like a chore. Then, I was fortunate enough to be gifted an Xbox One for my birthday! Along with this, a friend got me the Xbox One version of Destiny because he knew how much I’d enjoyed it.
So, I jumped back in to see how it was. It looked better, it felt better. It was just better. But it was more of the same……
The good thing, though, was that the base game had dropped significantly in price, and the hype for “The Taken King” had people starting to take notice of Destiny again.
Suddenly I was getting questions about whether or not it was worth it for £20, whether or not the Taken King looked good etc. I was able to not only share my knowledge, but enthusiastically recommend to people that they should try it, I’d be more than happy to take them through stuff.
And, gradually, they did!
Quite quickly, there were 4 of us playing frequently. Levelling up, playing all of the content together, and even starting to raid. Thus, the VasDown clan was born.
It was great, I was sharing a universe that I’d grown to love, with people from my real life. Old school friends, friends abroad, and friends who have since become even closer friends.
Vault of Glass with 4 people is no mean feat, when you’re trying to remember how it works and 3 people are relying on you to guide them through, and we got so close, so many times!
We knew we would need at least one more, and we got one more. It made all the difference, we nailed it!
By this time, of course there was King’s Fall, and we still had Crota’s End to do as a clan. But we were also playing in the Iron Banner and exploring the worlds for new quests, and loot. It was a really great time, and I’d learned that Destiny was even better with friends.
Shortly after, we got our sixth clan member, and we tackled everything together. Supporting each other to level up, complete quests, go on strikes, hammer the Prison of Elders and everything we could find.
Since that point on, we tried most things between us and collectively spent well over 1000 hours on a game that nobody was interested in, and I had thought was no longer worth my time.
The end is nigh…
So, we’ve built a clan, we’ve tackled all kinds of challenges together. Unlocking exotics, racing sparrows, trick or treating, failing at the Trials of Osiris.
What a great time it’s been. I’ve always enjoyed multiplayer games, playing splitscreen co-op and competitive games, for as long as I can remember, but this was different. Not necessarily better, but different. It connected us, in different homes, whilst some of us had children, some of us got married (everyone even flew out to Italy for my wedding!).
We’ve spent the best part of the past 2 years talking daily, either in-game, in other games or on our discord server and Facebook chat group.
Not only has it been a great time online, but it’s drawn us all closer as a group of friends.
My expectations of Destiny were high, and when I started to play it, I suppose I was a little let-down? Sure, I invested a lot of my own time to learn the intricacies of the game and understand what it was about, but it was worth it. I enjoyed my solo experience, especially when I got brave.
The best part though, was playing with my friends. It became so much more than a game, or an FPS.
Destiny is many things, and it has plenty of shortcomings, but I’ll always remember it as my first MMO, it gave me so many “firsts” I’ll not forget, and it led to being able to jump into Destiny 2 with the only people I’d want to share it with, from day one!
Thanks Bungie, and thank you Destiny. It’s been great. I became Legend, in-game and out.
Let’s do some more in Destiny 2, eh?