It’s been a few weeks since Destiny: The Taken King dropped into our lives. At first, I was skeptical, Destiny had broken my heart before but would it do it again? Now I’m convinced the joke is true: Bungie actually was running a yearlong beta.
I’ll admit, I didn’t play Destiny at launch. I was working like a mad monkey at the time and had, well, no time to game at all. My time was all work, sleep, work, sleep, rinse, repeat, you get the idea. Instead, I joined a few months later and rage quit fairly quickly. The UI was clunky and unintuitive, there was no story to speak of and leveling flat out sucked. By level 4 I was stuck and the grinding began.
I had to run patrols ad nauseam to realistically do the next story mission, I had to re-run story missions to level to progress. Frankly, that was far too early in the game for me to grind. I did stick it out for a while, but not for long. Every time I logged in one thought kept crashing through my skull: if I’m going to grind in a game, I’ll just boot up Warcraft or Diablo or any other game but Destiny.
I don’t mind grinding, I really don’t. Sometimes I come home and all I want to do is park my brain in idle and randomly run through digital landscapes collecting pixels to boost my character. I’m ok with this; I’ll even admit I enjoy it when it’s the right game. You want me to enjoy grinding? Make sure there is a story along with your beautiful graphics. Give me world building and fully realized characters. Make it so I can get lost in the world and have fun doing what should be a chore.
One of my favorite things to do in a game is explore. I love to go off the rails and see what’s “over there”, even if “over there” means I get a large monster sucker punching me in the face or I fall off a cliff.
If I’m playing with a friend it normally goes something like this:
Friend: “Ok, so what we should do is.. uh… where did you go?”
Player X has died, followed closely by “oops”
Me: “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit… I found friends! Coming to you!”
Friend with exasperated sigh: “What is it this time?”
Don’t laugh; it’s happened more times than I can reasonably count. Not just in Destiny, but whatever game I’m playing at the moment. I die, a lot, but I still do it. I’m so invested in the world and the lore I want to go find all the things. To be fair, my friends tend to explore, so I’m not always dying alone. To make matters worse I never play a tank. I am always some version of a glass cannon, even if that glass cannon is a min/maxed rogue. The point is, I tend to be squishy.
Unfortunately, with Destiny’s lack of story and no characters to really speak of, I couldn’t find that immersion I so desperately wanted. I wanted Destiny to be this epic, sprawling, sci-fi story; I wanted to love the MMOFPS aspect of it. But everything felt rushed and half assed, nothing felt fully fleshed out. Nothing caught my attention enough to warrant me sticking around.
So, one day I turned off Destiny and never booted it back up.
It wasn’t until many months later my friend talked me into giving Destiny another shot. I was very resistant at first. Normally, once I decide a game isn’t for me, I don’t go back. No matter what people say, I just won’t go back. I’m fairly stubborn. It’s a thing.
But, my friend out-stubborned me, it’s a valid strategy, and I reluctantly agreed to load into Destiny once more. I decided I wanted a fresh start, so I deleted my previous character and started a new one. My first character was a Warlock and I re-rolled a Warlock, just to get a good comparison. Also, I like the class.
I picked everything back up in June, after both “expansions” dropped. I put expansions in quotes because they really were more like DLCs, not true expansions. At least that’s in my humble opinion. I quickly realized that while Destiny still had a host of problems, many of my main complaints had been smoothed out. First and foremost, I didn’t have to grind my ass off just to reach max level. I could play normally and progress, which made me happy dance on my couch. True story. Of course, the grinding started once I hit max level, which is to be expected, so it didn’t bother me one whit.
I enjoyed playing Destiny and it was good.
Fast forward a few months and The Taken King was on the horizon, I stopped playing and waited for the expansion to release. I wasn’t anywhere close to completing the Year One Moments of Triumph and I was ok with that. I didn’t have a clan, I didn’t have the time and I wasn’t as invested as some other players. Which is all fine and dandy. However, if they have a year two equivalent I will be all over that son of a bitch.
Then The Taken King launched and it was a whole new game. There was more story in the first cinematic than the previous year in its entirety. I may have actually giggled with glee, I don’t really remember. I plunged in, taking the story missions by storm (pun intended, I’m a Warlock, remember?). Suddenly there actually was a story, suddenly there were things to explore, and suddenly I was hopelessly hooked.
There were still a few things that bothered me, things that sat in the back of my mind. Things I thought I could get past but, after a few weeks, I’m here to tell you I have not moved past them.
So here are the top 5 things in Destiny that still drive me a bit batty.
I am fully aware Destiny is not a traditional MMO and it is, in fact, played on consoles which makes the standard method of communication in MMOs difficult. And by standard, I mean typing.
Without text how does one politely ask to join a fireteam? Or do you just jump in? You can text your friends with phones but that normally causes some sort of lag time. Sometimes they are so into the game they don’t pay attention to their phones and you just end up standing around or dancing or whatever waiting for them to respond. To avoid the delay it seems to mean jumping in with no warning is the thing. Which can be awkward. Especially if the fireteam you invade doesn’t want to be bothered. Oops.
As of now there is no good way to communicate unless you start a Xbox party, or join a fireteam, or point, or bow, or dance… uh, I think that’s about it. Or it was, Destiny recently added microtransactions in the form of the Eververse Trading Company. Apparently these microtransactions will be only for cosmetic items, like emotes, I guess that is good thing, extending the range of emotes. But you only have room for four active emotes, unless I’m missing something, which is entirely possible. Four active emotes still does nothing to solve the communication barrier.
Well, necessity is the mother of invention, or ingenuity. It seems the players have found the most effective way of communicating with strangers: shoot the thing you want to show them, shoot in the air to get their attention or just shoot them. It works, even if it is a bit like playing charades. With a gun. And very little context.
Damn, I would love to be able to trade stuff with my friends. Again, I know it’s not always allowed in other MMOs but I get frustrated when I decode an exotic engram and it’s for a Titan. You can also flip that around, Titan gets a sweet Warlock drop, frak, hand that baby over to me! Nope, it is either dismantled or put in the vault to wait for someone to level an alt. It’s enough to make someone pull out their hair. Which may or may not have happened a couple times. Ahem.
3. MORE CHARACTER INVOLVEMENT
In the beginning my character had a voice, an actual voice, which would respond. She talked to the speaker. She responded to her ghost. It wasn’t all the time, but it did happen. Now she is mute with only her ghost to speak for her. Where did her voice go? Will I be sent on a quest to find it? Did my ghost steal it? Did the light decide I didn’t need vocal chords? Will it be one of the big bads at the end of an expansion?
No, really. Don’t get me wrong, the progress Bungie has made in the storytelling aspect is nothing short of a miracle but I want my actual character to be more involved. I go on the quest, I do the things, Nathan Fillion speaks to me but I never respond. Not once. I passively listen and do what is said. I liked her voice! I want to hear more! I would like to be something other than a golem with a gun and fun powers.
Dear gods, I just want some maps! I just want to be able to push a button and have a nice, shiny map pop up on my TV so I know where the frak I am and where I need to go. I had such high hopes maps would be added in the expansion. Bah. Instead, I run around in circles trying to find the Y thing in X quest and, eventually, turn to the internet for help. Then I find maps such as these:
Which are amazing, I salute you Reddit user KingofCarrotFlowers, these maps have helped me greatly. But I just want something in game that I can use. I don’t want to put the controller down to look up where I need to go. It just takes away from my enjoyment.
Even something like the map below, which I found in Bungie concept art, would be fantastic.
This is gorgeous and with a little bit of creativity, it could easily be repurposed into an in game map. I honestly do not understand the lack of an in game map. Not even a little bit.
1. SPLIT SCREEN
No, really. This is the one that bothers me more than anything else. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at my friend’s house and we get the itch to play Destiny. In order to do that, I have to go home. Seriously, my brother’s wife went out of town one weekend and this is what we did:
I know I’m not the only person that has done this. However, what about the couples that live together? Do they each go into a separate room when they want to play? Or, do they line up the TVs and consoles in the living room like we did? Can they even afford two consoles? Most people can’t.
I’m sure somewhere on the interwebs is an explanation as to why they don’t do split screen but, frankly, I’m not interested. Most multiplayer games allow split screen, which is one of the joys of consoles, being in the same place with your friends playing games.
It seems horribly silly. I would much rather make my random comments in person while sipping a tasty beverage with an actual live human in the room than make the same random comments, sipping the same tasty beverage on a headset. Alone. In my apartment. In my PJs. Ok, can’t knock the PJs, love playing in my PJs.
I don’t think these are unreasonable requests; I can even knock out 4 and 5 if I get the other three. In all honesty, Taken King improved so very much that these are more like little itches I just can’t quite scratch. Although, to be fair, I do spend a fair amount of time ranting and raging over the lack of split screens and maps. It’s almost a tradition.
At this point Destiny officially has me hooked and I look forward to new content releases as much as I look forward to patch days for my other favorite games. I mean, they gave me a giant sword to play with. Bungie clearly knows how to win back my heart.
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