Like many others today, I watched with bated breath the countdown to the unveiling of Bungie’s upcoming successor to the most talked-about game of the current generation. With every tick I grew hesitant, conversely with every tock I overwhelmed that timidity with swelling excitement.
I’m not the biggest fan of Destiny. I believe an amazing, life-changing game, lies buried beneath the battlefield of the contentious title’s development. A game — I’d wager — that had a design proposal that overwhelmed all who read it, and likely got shaved down to what both the development and publishing teams considered an indicative facsimile of the grander vision. The hype leading up to the reveal of Destiny was bustling. Terms like ‘MMO shooter by the Halo people,’ and ‘Diablo-esque loot rpg,’ were being thrown around, and for better or worse, those descriptions brought with them a great number of expectations, mostly down to the existing formulas already being proven by games like World of Warcraft and Diablo. Nearly two decades of success and failure stories throughout the games industry around those genres were front and centre for everyone to read and learn from, and surely Bungie, the Bungie, could interpret that data through a blender to produce a perfect baby?
That’s the hype-level I’m referring to here. In our minds, Bungie had everything they needed to create the game we all imagined Destiny could be, but as it turned out, they didn’t have the time or money.
Over the two years following Destiny‘s release, we were bombarded by comments and stories coming out of Bungie, suggesting that they didn’t have the resources to make the game they wanted to make, and what they had made, they were now stuck with. But — the rumour mill suggested — they were already correcting the course with the next retail product. The Destiny DLC, and following two expansions, would hold the player base over until the real game, the game they’d wanted to make, the game that we all imagined they were capable of, could be completed.
Here’s the problem for me: I still have that template in my head, the template of the game I wanted Destiny to be. I expected a solar system of planets to explore, not a few ‘zones.’ I expected dynamic world state fluctuations based on player activity and meta power struggles, not one of three public events held every twenty minutes. I expected a suite of end-game content, including raids — with an ‘s’ — not a raid that was released weeks after the core game, and was never surpassed in quality by the measly three that followed. I expected a lot, given how many other games had already nailed these components, albeit not as a single product, and to what should not have been my surprise, I was disappointed. But wait! They wanted to make a game closer to what I envisioned, but they couldn’t at the time, so the next game would fix everything!
It took me several silent, motionless minutes post-event for me to coherently gather my thoughts on what Destiny 2 was being positioned as, and ultimately I realised I was disappointed. Not because it looks bad, and not because it won’t keep me occupied and having fun with friends for a hundred or more hours, but because it still doesn’t live up to where my expectations were in 2014. Nothing I saw today convinced me that Destiny 2 will be anything more than more content in the same frame, with the same gameplay, the same interacting systems, and some very welcome — but ultimately minor — quality of life changes.
I was expecting more. The fact that they’ve been talking about the raid, implying yet again that a singular end-game content piece is being released, is almost sickening. And don’t even get me started on the excuses they were making regarding the somehow still absent end-game activity matchmaking. I mean, I genuinely love the idea of the mentoring system through Clans that they’re putting in, but that shouldn’t be a replacement for matchmaking.
So yeah, I’m somewhat deflated over this whole announcement. And honestly? I fully expect there to be a lot more revealed to us leading up to the game’s release, enough perhaps that I may invert to absolute inflation. At the end of the day, I enjoyed Destiny for the periods when it didn’t feel like it was wasting my time, and the thought of getting to go through new environments, and fight with new tools, and experience a story I can actually piece together in some way, these things are enough to get me to buy in. I just wanted more, and maybe that’s my own fault, but I’m damn sure Bungie are capable of it, and that’s what really makes me sore.
Unfortunately, nothing short of a complete overhaul to everything Destiny is would have lived up to my hopes today, and what we’re getting, for better or worse, is a refinement. I wouldn’t be against that with almost any other franchise, but Destiny has such great potential, more so than virtually any other game being played today, and to see it constantly trail behind, chasing that potential, is utterly disheartening. Even if the final release is a max-score-damn-near-perfect video game on its own merits, I fear it will never reach the pinnacle of what it could be.