According to the Destiny app on my droid, between two characters I’ve now spent 3 days, 7 hours, and 40 minutes playing this video game. Even more startling is the fact that I have a droid app for this fucking game to begin with. Destiny is a science fantasy game by Bungie, the people who brought us Halo. This would be more relevant to me as a gamer, had I actually played Halo or any of the following games. But I haven’t, because I really, really, really hate first person shooters. Mostly because I suck at them terribly. I get twitchy and sort of randomly fire in all directions and then die, over and over again.
And yet. Over three days of game time. Rachael, what the hell are you even doing with your life?
Simple answer: I have friends who play it. Friends who don’t live in the same state as me. Friends who will consistently poke me when they want a warm body to fire a simulated handgun with a self-consciously badass name like Thorn in random directions while they reassure me on Skype that I am totally doing fine shhhh, shhhh have another beer, it’s cool. I’m weak to that kind of shit. It’s an amazing way to hang out with friends I would otherwise never get to talk to, because fuck phone calls, I can’t handle that holding a little slab of metal to my ear and trying to think of something other than the weather to talk about thing, but if you want to have an in depth discussion of just how many dicks are in the big bag that Bungie has given a blue face and named Rahool I am so there.
I wasn’t even going to get sucked into the friend game vortex, but then I had a back spasm and basically couldn’t do anything for three days except sit on the couch in a drugged stupor while a heating pad slowly cooked my back. I played a lot of Destiny those days. I think. I was on a lot of medication, but I came out of it with a character at level 32, so I’m guessing that’s what happened.
And it’s all so hilarious because there is so much about this game that just gets on my tits. It’s a pretty game, but the back story is so goddamn thin that it would make a Michael Bay film look densely characterized in comparison. If you want to even know who the fuck half the NPCs are and why you should care, you can look up “grimoire cards” on the Bungie site or via the app, but even that just gets you enough to feel really fucking annoyed about the whole thing. There are characters (notably Lord Shaxx and Lord Saladin) where we don’t even know what species they are. You do know they’re mentee and mentor respectively, you know they fought together at some battle in a war that’s described in the vaguest terms and because of some unnamed thing that happened they don’t really talk any more, and that’s it. Maybe not even enough to squeeze fanfic out of. It’s like some kind of asshole psychologist worked with Bungie to come up with the bare minimum amount of detail guaranteed to drive people absolutely batshit with curiosity if you then refuse to ever tell them more.
Story missions constantly end on such vague terms (“They were beaming an unknown signal to something at the edge of space I guess, and this sounds super important but oh well, we’re never going to talk about it again!”) that my not-so-inner writer no longer screams with outrage, just beats its head against the TV and whimpers.
Cut scenes you can’t skip. Ever. No matter how many times you’ve seen them.
Let me say that again.
There’s technically one area that has a map: the Tower, the home base you go to so that Rahool can be a massive bag of dicks to you and shit on all your engrams before he hands them back as useless weapons you’re just going to dismantle for a pittance of money. It’s basically the one area straightforward enough that you don’t even need a goddamn map. But everywhere else, including the oh-fuck-you-forever-Bungie enormous Shrine of Crota have. No. Maps. Just ask my friends about the number of times they’ve had to answer a pathetic little “guys? I’m lost, please come find me” whimper on Skype. On second thought, don’t ask, the answer isn’t one I need to know. But I have spent more time lost in this game than I did in Descent, with its unbelievably awful and enormous 3D wire frame maps, and that’s a massive achievement on my part. (Descent is, incidentally, another game I sucked at but played anyway because friends did. Or more accurately, a high school crush did.)
Everyone is DPS. Everyone. There’s a sort of vaguely tanky class (Defender Titan) and a sort of vaguely buff-y class (Sunsinger Warlock) but you still spend 99.9% of your time going pew-pew-pew (or in my case pew-pew-urk-help-guys-I-need-another-res). My kingdom for a healing class, that’s where I’m not actually dead weight that needs to be stowed in someone’s Baby Bjorn and carried through a strike.
Though there is one thing about this game I really love, other than its prettiness. It’s the fact that all of the characters wear body-covering armor, regardless of gender. No boob windows. No armor bikinis. I like the fact that the alien species (Fallen, Hive, Vex, Cabal) are truly alien and lack any kind of ridiculous sexual dimorphism that we see constantly in other video games.
Just don’t get me started on why the fuck Exos, which apparently were non-sentient robotic war machines to start, were created with gendered bodies. I’m talking roboobs. WHY.
If all my friends stopped playing Destiny tomorrow, I could walk away from the game and never feel a pang of regret. And no doubt get sucked into whatever new thing they’re playing, no matter how much I suck at it. I’ll just hope forever that next time it’ll be a real MMO, with maps, like World of Warcraft or FFXIV. (Both of which I already play, so the chances are slim to none.) And on the day that happens, when the no-neck mook cat starts throwing a tantrum because he wants me to sit on the couch with the footrest up so he can cuddle my feet, maybe I’ll put my newfound sucking-ever-so-slightly-less-at-first-person-shooter game skills to good use and finally start playing the Halo games. I’ve got a friend who wants me to do that too. I hear there’s actual lore.