Destiny is less “Become Legend” and more “Make Myths”
With Destiny 2 on the way, FreezeRay Poetry Editor Mikkel Snyder thinks back on his time with Destiny 1. Starting off as a hobby, the game’s allowed him to make his own myths, along with some of his closest friends.
Destiny is a social game. It’s a game you make drinking games to play with your buddies online. It’s a game you play when you need to sober up a friend who had one too many drinks after receiving bad news after bad news, so you load up into a private rumble match and chase him around and talk with him. It’s a game you play even after you’ve beaten all of the content because you like shooting aliens with your friends. You like singing “Paris” by The Chainsmokers before your team wipes out (if we go down, then we go down together) because your fireteam likes singing (surprisingly not offkey) any song that comes to mind. And for some reason, you all still feel panic when you hear the tink of a hammer or buzzing electricity of a Stormcaller or the draw of a Black Hole bow even though you know how to deal with all of them.
In 2014, I moved from Madison, WI back to St. Louis, MO. I moved into my new apartment in August and most of my friends had moved on from the city or were busy being students. I had purchased a Playstation 4 back in winter of 2013, when I was living in the frozen depths with a job that was slowly killing me. Now, with a new job that I hoped wouldn’t drain my life, I preordered a game that had been getting a lot of press. And, after scrambling to find a new power cord two weeks after launch, I began Destiny. I created my Exo Titan, whom I have lovingly christened Chimeric-44 in all of my various Instagram shots (the name is a riff of my PlayStation Network ID, ChimericNotion).
I will not try to defend the “story” of Destiny. I will not try and defend the repetitiveness of it. I will praise the lore and gameplay until the end of the days though. Hell, there is probably no other game that lets you play a space zombie robot knight whose weapon of choice is a burst-fire alien shotgun that was later enhanced by the introduction of a nanotechnological virus, gifted to them after subduing an alien prison riot in an asteroid belt.
That wasn’t a sentence I ever expected to write. It’s a sentence I love.
For someone who never played any first-person shooters before Destiny, the “feel” of the game consumed me: the smoothness of the gunplay, the fluidity of each action my character was making on the screen, the satisfaction of seeing yellow numbers pop up on a critical hit.. The Khvostov 7G-0X auto rifle felt like the bicycle I never learned to ride in real life. Grenades and melee attacks felt visceral. The super ability of each class made me really feel like I wielded “the light of the Traveller,” power from a mysterious alien entity that bestowed Guardians with preternatural, almost magical, abilities.
Becoming legends together
I dove deeper into the world of Destiny with each passing expansion. I found myself in the ranks of Echo Company 67 during the House of Wolves expansion. After a couple weeks running the Prison of Elders horde/arena mode and special Nightfall missions, I slowly became friends with a couple of the more active members. Then I became really close friends with them. Then they became my fireteam: a three-person squad relying on each other for survival and companionship.
Echo Company gave way to Traveller’s Vindicators, which became our current ragtag bunch of misfits: the Jacks of All ‘Nades. Only three of us from the EC67 days survived the transitions, though we still see some friends online. One friend still lurks in the shadows; they helped me fell Skolas, a leader of the Fallen army, while his wife was nearly going into labor. Kadwoci, the calmest IT specialist who never died during any encounter, I think got caught up in real life and has since rejoined our ranks around the same time we met P_Nonprasit and justbenn_. But the Jack of All Nades’s original fireteam will always be Sondaicus, JMOBUTBAGS, and myself. I even met Sondaicus in person, and we celebrated our status as “Exotic Weapons Buddies,” a term of endearment since we spent hours together doing quests unlocking some of the most coveted weapons in the game.
Through The Taken King expansion, people came and went. We lost folks to Fallout 4. We tried The Division for about two weeks, a game that was supposed to be a “Destiny-killer,” but immediately jumped back to Destiny during “The Taken Spring” update in 2016. And by the start of Rise of Iron, the three of us were the only ones who still logged in every day and played with each other everyday. We got to know each other really well.
I met Will Evans, Editor-in-Chief of Black Nerd Problems, sometime in Destiny’s second year. After getting put on a trial period and proving my capabilities as a raider, I was accepted into their clan as a “pseudo contractor” as I would joking call myself. While I couldn’t join the clan without leaving mine, they added me to their group chat thread. It was a mix of folks I had met in person and some other BNP folks. Soon enough, we gathered to raid every week, taking on special challenges that required six-person teams. Those weekly gatherings reignited when the Age of Triumph event came around, leading to some great moments. Sometimes it was discussing the societal implications of the Hive biology…sometimes it was just getting killed in fantastical way.
Destiny’s tagline of “Become Legend” holds true. My Titan’s history lies in the weapons in his vault, the armor he wears. My Instagram is basically an evolution of the character over the years. After playing for nearly three years though, I feel like a more accurate tagline would be “Make Myths.”
Myths are complex histories of peoples. Our myths are that one time Sond and I got Stockholm Syndrome during a rough quest, calling enemies we needed to keep alive our “Arc/Solar/Void Buddies.” They’re making sure we wear the hot pink Midnight Lumos shader for special events, because this one time we held a “bachelor’s party” and we’re playing not for loot, but community. Our group developed a lexicon with terms like “popping bubbles” and “tethering” and “slamming” and “hammer” and “sharding.” We push each other off ledges during jumping puzzles when they step away from the game for laughs. We say, “Fuck the warlock jump…sorry. Fuck warlocks,” except when we actually have one in the party, because that character class holds an important role in the Destiny canon even if I can’t make them work for shit.
It’s those little memes. It’s the nicknames and pop culture commentary during the parts of the game we know like the back of our hands. Those cultural touchstones.
I’m the type of player Destiny’s creators didn’t expect. In an early interview, COO Pete Parsons said “What happens when it’s not the Master Chief, but it’s you that’s the hero? That’s a huge challenge for us.” They only expected the average player to play 2 or 3 hours a day. For me, the number is closer to 4-5 on slow days. The number jumps during new content.
I like learning and optimizing and tinkering. I like collecting. I like putting in time and feeling like I’m getting better. I like Destiny’s low barrier to entry and a high skill ceiling. I like being good at something. I like guiding my friends through competitive Crucible matches and cooperative raids. I like my aforementioned space zombie knight.
Sorry. I love my space zombie robot knight.
I really love him. My alternate characters too, I guess. But not as much as my Exo Titan, Chimeric-44. My armored engine of war.
I loved him when he was using the Defender subclass, running around with No Backup Plans and a Universal Remote. I loved him when Felwinter’s Lie, still my favorite shotgun in the game, was stupidly overpowered and Hawkmoon, a gorgeous silver hand cannon, and Red Death, a blood soaked pulse rifle, weren’t nerfed yet. I loved the exhilaration of channeling the Traveller’s light by throwing hammers literally forged from solar energy at my foes in the Crucible, Destiny’s Player versus Player when the damage reduction was 55% instead of the standard 50%. I loved him when we converted binary into decimal during the Wrath of the Machine raid because that was a thing we had to do. I love him now as the Striker subclass he uses most of the time. I love him with his Dunemarchers leg armor and his Lord of Wolves shotgun and lightning grenades that I’ve developed a supernatural sense for throwing perfectly onto any flat surface.
You can’t take it with you
I remember reading the quest for the Striker that made me fall in love with the subclass:
“What the City wants us to do—what we want to do—it doesn’t make any damned sense. That phrase ‘tip of the spear’ sounds good in speeches, but you know what happens to spear tips? They break. But that’s what it takes. If the choice is between you or the Wall? You break.” —Kabr
I wrote freaking fanfiction about the Titan class and how I envision Old St. Louis…that’s how you know the love is real. But all of this really just belabors the point: I found friends in Destiny. I found a community. I found a home.
With Destiny 2 on the way, I remember the saying “you can’t take it with you.” The gear won’t come with me. But Chimeric-44, my little Exo Titan will. My memories will. The myths will.
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Happy Fourth of July, Intelligamers.