A regular part of the week is where boy s, Lady B and myself team up to play Destiny, usually streaming it on Lady B’s Twitch channel. It’s usually a bouncy fun experience of teasing, mindless shooting, and putting the world to rights.
Then Bungie released its latest Season of Content and started telling a harrowing story that confronts major characters with loss and regrets in the form of embodied nightmares of people who were important in some way to them. As players, we assist in their attempts to bream free of the grip of these taunting entities.
So far, so normal, but the dialogue and pace and beats of the story have been making my partners cry, and occasionally making me wince, as attempts to sever links fail and instead the characters have to come to terms with accepting these dark shadow sides of their regrets and fears. The nightmares are unrelenting in their taunting and harsh observations, in a way that anyone who has wrestled with their own demons and regrets in the small of the night will find arresting familiar.
Through a mix of cut scenes and in-game dialogue we’re being taken on a harrowing story of the need to forgive ourselves and come to terms with the people and events of our past that still hold on with fierce grips. It’s like being beside people doing deep therapy work, and it’s an unexpected rollercoaster that has been deeply affecting us.
Who would have thought that the new weekly chapters of a shoot and loot game all about space magic would turn out to have some of the deepest and sympathetic treatments of loss and regret across a whole slew of popular media currently available, and would be doing so in an engaging way that keeps us coming back for more and caring ever more intensely for these imaginary figures as they reflect our own fears and doubts back at us.
As the saying goes: “I came here to have a good time, and honestly I’m just feeling so attacked” – and as entertainment that pulls us out of our comfort zone, I can’t think of a better summation
So, uh, somehow I’ve made to 50 years and I have pretty much most things working okay, a good job, people who love me, most of my marbles, and as of today an all clear from a cancer scare. So that’s a good way to start the next revolution round the sun.
I’ve just finished a charity stream with Lady B and boy s playing the new Destiny expansion and been getting blown away by all the deep lore that is being paid off after years of breadcrumbs. The gameplay is slick, the storytelling compelling, and the excited noises from boy s deeply amusing. We had to force ourselves to stop because it was gone 2am.
So, what’s planned for this year? To be honest I don’t know. I never expected to get to this milestone. I was surprised to be so happy at age 40, let alone still among the living. My next markers are my tenth wedding anniversary and the fourth anniversary of collaring boy s in this next month. A holiday might be nice later this year.
For now though I have a week off work and some vague plans for D&D this weekend. That’ll do.
Time flies sometimes and this week has been a case in point, to the extent that I completely lost track of time this week and forgot my regular counselling session this evening. I have duly made my apologies and acknowledged my status as a doofus.
Most of my tiredness today is self inflicted, but being the consumate geek that I am it has been through games rather than debauchery. Lady B, boy s and I have been regularly playing Destiny 2 together, using Discord to chat while we do, and we decided this week to have a go at the Grasp of Avarice Dungeon. This is a term for a high end adventure with challenging mechanics that isn’t quite as challenging as a 6 man raid event.
We spent about three hours earlier in the week making our way through the earlier stages of the scenario, and found ourselves cursing the developers as much as we were laughing for the traps, fake-outs, and fast-paced challenges that faced us.
We died, a lot, but kept at it, and cursed loudly when network issues meant we had to call it a night. Last night, we agreed to stream another attempt and were delighted to find that we had triggered a save point at the beginning of the boss fight.
The days have been blurring a bit, not helped by the persistent trapped nerve pain in my leg and lower back – but going into one of my branch libraries has given me a bit more exercise as a change in routine and does seem to have helped with the worst of it.
In the meantime I’ve been continuing to draw and play around with software so there’s at least something constructive going on.
I also finally managed to solo complete a legendary list sector in Destiny2 to retrieve the Four Horsemen exotic before the option disappears with the new season later today. There may have been some quiet swearing involved.
I’ve been deliberating over whether to buy into the latest expansion for Destiny: The Taken King for a while now, and on reflection, barring a major price drop, I’ve decided that I won’t.
There are two factors that swung it for me. The first was the price, which was only just short of buying the original game again. Even worse was the fact that there is no way to buy the expansion without also re-purchasing the original game and the two previous expansions.
These are items of content that I have already bought, and that are already installed. For there to be no option to patch to upgrade feels like blatant gouging, and I have many other games to experience without this burden on my time, wallet, or integrity.
The second consideration is that the expansion has inflicted a bit of a first in gaming history. It has actually removed content from players who have not upgraded. The types of matchmaking and game types have been slashed, only to reappear as options for people who have bought the game again.
This is not an expansion, this is extortion. I’m not playing.
Oh dear, I’ve done it again. I’ve been enthusiastic about something geeky and someone’s gone and spent money based on my recommendation. Have they learned nothing? In this case Sir S, one of my Sunday Hooligans, was over last week and as we got chatting I mentioned a couple of the games I’ve been playing on the XBox One. Off the top of my head I think I mentioned Witcher3, The Master Chief Collection, Forza, and Destiny.
As a longtime Bungie fan, I could see his eyes light up, so I fired up Destiny, went online and got my arse kicked merrily by all comers in the Crucible matches. I even had my American ex-editor’s husband turn up in-game to join in the fun (on my team, to be fair).
Between seeing the games and technology, as well as the simplicity of how the box sits in the middle of everything, he got that gleam in his eye, and a wistful tone about whether he could talk his girlfriend round to letting him install one. So of course, being a bad, bad man I showed him the beginning of Batman Arkham Knight.
This week, I dropped in to see M where he works at the local Harris+Hoole and he was still trying to convince himself which hardware and software bundle was best. One brief conversation later, he went for a bundle that included the MCC, Destiny, and Batman.
I’m either a very bad man, or a very good friend. Either way, I’m pretty sure he’s not going to regret his decision.
The Dark Below just went live on the Destiny servers, so I just had to have a wander on to take a first look. If you had any illusions that you could wander into the missions as, say, a mid-20s level character and solo the new material, then you can forget them now. You may be able to solo them if you are already a 30th level hardass, but you’ll almost certainly be wanting to team up with a couple of people and take some extra ammo.
Missions can be got from Eris, who appears on the laft hand side of the main plaza in the tower. You can’t miss her, she’s on a balcony just before the entrance to the area leading to the Speaker, with a spaceship tethered behind her. Similar to the Queen’s Wrath mission setup, she not only has equipment and consumables for sale, but missions and bounties. The missions also take up bounty slots, so you may need to use up some of those patrol missions taking up space to clear the decks a bit.
The first mission dropped me into the area where you fight the Walker in the Earth Strike mission (being deliberately vague in case people haven’t done that content yet), starting where the Walker was and fighting your way back into the buildings. From there, you’re into the Hive warrens that you may have discovered while doing Cosmodrome patrols – and the big bad in there is… tough.
As befits a beefed up Crota agent, he has a big sword and he knows how to use it (oo-er ma’am). He’s not just a bullet sponge, but he deals out heavy damage too, and sends out a pulse that negates your double-jump/glide abilities, so prepare to adapt to slogging around the scenery to avoid him and the inevitable zerg rush of allies when you’ve really cut into his hitpoints.
I’m going to enjoy this expansion, but I’ve definitely had to stop to get reinforcements…
It’s been a very restless night, so once Lady M left this morning to go slay the dragons at work, I have to admit I collapsed back into bed for a few more hours before getting up about half ten (oh, the luxury!) to potter around the house. One of the useful things I find when I’m not having a great day is to fire up the XBox and shoot things online for a while, so I make no bones about having used up a couple of hours doing that, in between taking in deliveries of Christmas presents and items being delivered to neighbours. I’m mostly dividing my time at present between Destiny and Thief (which Lady M bought me for my birthday last year and which has been languishing on a shelf while I’ve been distracted with other games this year).
I’m in the hard slog with Destiny of trying to level up in the high twenties now, which comes only from completing missions and/or competing in multiplayer combat. I’ve had a bit of a sideways slip by accidentally leaving a Dead Orbit Warlock Bond equipped while doing vanguard missions, so all the experience from those went to the faction rather than towards getting my vanguard level up so that I could buy effective armour and weapons to increase my Light level. (Whoops) Now I’ve corrected that I’m going full steam ahead to try and get to level 28 and have a reasonable chance at doing the Vault of Glass Raid. The PvP side of things I’m mostly only dipping into as I’m average at best when it comes to that.
In Thief I’ve just finished the second mission and am enjoying dipping into the stealth play and collectible searching side of it. There’s a lot of it that seems to have similarities with Dishonoured – which is no bad thing as that’s another game I’ve played an awful lot of over the last couple of years. In both games there’s a certain Victorian early steampunk/industrial age feel, a sickness sweeping the streets and an authoritarian response that sees guards everywhere. It feels very immersive, and there’s enough world-building with papers and letters to be read to keep my interest.
This afternoon I’m mostly working away on nanowrimo and gaming material in the local Harris and Hoole, and time is rushing past suddenly, so I’d better get back to it so I can finish and prep some food for when Lady M returns. Tomorrow, it’s back to the library and all the chaos and fun to be found there, so here’s hoping for better sleep tonight…
I’m a bit behind, it’s just been a busy couple of weeks with work and general chaos – so I’ve only just got round to writing up last week’s game. I’ll aim to get this week’s one done this weekend.
In the meantime – well, Destiny. I’ve been playing both solo and with a widening circle of friends, and have even set up an XBox Clan called PessimistChic today to give us a shot at some of the clan-based achievements. Give us a shout if you’re passing – we’re mostly casual and enjoy working out what fits where.
Impressions of Destiny? Well it’s very, very pretty – I think Venus is the most astounding location so far, simply for the lush palette and vistas that open up around every corner. How does it play? Very like Halo – and for me this is a huge bonus. Is it the best story in the world? No, it’s sort of there but I’m not gripped, I’m just in a hurry to get to the next sprawling level or to get out there and explore the massive patrol areas.
It definitely isn’t an MMO, and it doesn’t easily allow for general chatter, making it rather lonely if you’re playing solo or casually… but if you have formed a party with friends and a wider fireteam, well then the game transforms. I’ve been doing missions and strikes and a bit of Crucible PvP with friends and playing socially like that has been great fun. I suppose the advantage has been that we haven’t been exposed to so much of the casual idiocy and profanity so common in online games – at least no more than we manage among ourselves. Paradoxically then, it feels more social to me as a game, because I’m playing with friends I generally already know or who I’ve made contact with over time.
So – Destiny – gets a big thumbs up from me – I’ll write some more specific odds and ends shortly, going into different areas of play.