On September 11, 2014, I began a journey that would take me to the farthest reaches of space, would give me the greatest joys and frustrations, and create a bond with people I would have never met otherwise. On that day, I began playing Destiny, Bungie’s shared world first-person shooter. But, before I begin there, I need to go back to an earlier point in time.
I need to go back to when I first discovered the Beta.
Where I was when I heard about this has now been lost to the annals of time, but I remember one of my friends telling me about this crazy good first-person shooter I just had to try. I was skeptical because I really didn’t care for FPS games at the time, but I trusted his judgement. So, on or about July 24, 2014, I downloaded the beta for Destiny. When it finished installing, I fired it up on my Xbox One and was sucked in almost immediately. From the opening strains of Marty O’Donnell’s music to seeing those three astronauts step foot on the surface of Mars, I knew I was in for a ride. Then, after playing through the first few missions, I knew I was hooked. I’d come home from work, kiss my wife, play with my daughter before she went to sleep, then I’d turn on The One and play Destiny. I was so hooked that I even downloaded the Beta for my PS3 just so I could squeeze more playtime in. Alas, all good things had to come to an end, and by the time I got home from work that Sunday, the Beta was no more. It didn’t matter, though; I was ready.
On September 11, I purchased and downloaded Destiny on my Xbox and immediately felt at home. I had been itching to get back into this world since the Beta, and I was ready to see what the game had to offer. It turns out it had more of the same, because what we saw in the Beta was actually a significant chunk of the game. We had the chance to explore all of the Cosmodrome on earth and patrol the entire moon map during that time, so it was old hat. Getting to explore Mars and Venus was more intriguing, but after about three months, I began to phase Destiny out of my life until November 22, 2014 where I stopped playing altogether. As much as I loved the game, I was a solo player and got burned out on the story and patrol missions.
It would be almost nine months before I picked up Destiny again.
On August 20, 2015, I hopped back on to see what had changed since the last time I played. Things felt a bit different when I hopped back on, but in a good way. I felt like I was back in the saddle again and it was a good thing. I also was on patrol and found myself getting sniped by these maniacal Fallen enemies. This would pattern my next big decision: what expansion would I spend my hard-earned money on? Looking through the Xbox Store, I had two choices: I could either spend it on the first expansion The Dark Below, or I could go with the second expansion, House of Wolves. After weighing my options and seeing how many times I died while on patrol, I chose House of Wolves. I played through it for a few days, but was happily back in the game. Then, on September 15, 2015, Destiny underwent what would be its biggest narrative change: The Taken King.
The Taken King took everything good about vanilla Destiny and made it better. The story, which was much maligned in Year One, was given a greater focus. The ability to make your already good weapons better by infusion – something introduced in HoW – was expanded in TTK. The level cap was increased from 30 back in the early days of Year One to 40, and the light level would end up increasing to 335. With the advent of these changes, Bungie had done the impossible: it made me love Destiny again.
Year Two would bring more changes to my playthrough; I found a clan to join, I started playing with more people, I did more strikes, and I even played in Destiny’s PvP arena: the Crucible. The Crucible is no place for the faint of heart, and it rewards skill while punishing weakness. I fell into the weakness portion, but that’s because I knew early on I wasn’t cut out for the Crucible. I did it anyway because the people I played with wanted to, but – with the exception of the monthly Iron Banner challenge and the annual Sparrow Racing League – I generally stayed away. My home was PvE, and running strikes and missions were where was more comfortable.
Year Two also gave me my first raid. Along with the crew of NWFO – who would eventually be renamed to Space Wakanda – we tackled King’s Fall and defeated a god. Up to this point, I had never seen Oryx, the titular Taken King, so to see him in the raid was astonishing. Defeating him was fantastic; doing so doing the Oryx Challenge – taking him down from full health to zero in one round – was phenomenal. I would get a few more raids in here and there, and I’d discover a newfound love for the Mayhem level of Crucible matches with Clash and Rumble, but my solo days were a distant memory. I also ended up playing the first expansion – The Dark Below – and finding a newfound hatred for Stirok, Banner of Oryx – one of the first bosses we faced. Man, was he a terror.
Year Three brought the Rise of Iron expansion, and Destiny began its slow descent into the history books. The light level was increased to 400, the Iron Lords were expounded on more, we got a new raid in Wrath of the Machine, and the Gjallarhorn rocket launcher, quite possibly the greatest weapon in Destiny’s history, was brought back. Year Three was a walk down memory lane for those of us who had been there since the beginning. Outside of forging the aforementioned Gjallarhorn, it also brought back the Khvostov auto rifle and the Thorn hand cannon. New maps were added to Crucible as well as the new game mode Supremacy – killing your enemies gave you the opportunity to collect their crest and their honor.
In April, Bungie launched the Age of Triumph, a celebration of everything our Guardians had achieved up to that point. We got new weapons and armor, the old weapons and armor were brought forward for purchase, and all four raids – Vault of Glass (vanilla), Crota’s End (The Dark Below), King’s Fall (The Taken King), and Wrath of the Machine (Rise of Iron) – were brought to maximum light level with new challenges modes and the return of classic weapons. This is a fitting end to Destiny, but it’s not my end.
My plans for the end of Destiny are to run through every strike in the game on all available difficulty levels So, that’s the Earth (The Devil’s Lair, Sepiks Perfected, The Will of Crota, Fallen S.A.B.E.R., The Wretched Eye), the Moon (The Summoning Pits, The Abomination Heist, The Shadow Thief, Blighted Chalice), Venus (The Nexus, The Nexus Revisited, Winter’s Run), Mars (Dust Palace, The Undying Mind, Cerberus Vae III), and the Dreadnaught (The Sunless Cell and Shield Brothers), and the mission “A Khvostov Rising”. That’s twenty-five strikes and one mission, and I streamed them all on my Twitch channel. If you missed it live, replays are available.
So, with all sincerity, thank you Bungie and thank you Destiny. See you in the stars for Destiny 2.