Only a couple weeks and we’ll be playing Destiny! Yay! I know, I know; I want a couple of weeks to be now too. Gonna be soooooo awesome. But hey at least until then we can relax knowing that Bungie has locked almost all of us out of their best in-game content.
Riiiiight. Remember that? Being here on Gamemoir (which makes you cooler and smarter than the average gamer), I’m sure you know all about how the uber-hard and mega-long end game raids don’t support matchmaking and will only be accessible to those of us who can organize groups of a half dozen gamers with copies of Destiny for the same console to embark on multi-hour raids to conquer the biggest challenges Bungie can throw at us and leave with the bombest loot.
I’m also sure you’ve read opinion pieces which are screaming about the injustice of it all and how we have jobs and kids and have to eat food and stuff. Bungie reps insist that the company is sticking to its guns, and I think we have to respect that, but that doesn’t make them immune to further analysis of their decision. Let’s try looking at it a little differently, though.
One of the great tragedies of the last decade of gaming for me is the breakdown in online communication between players. Back in the glory days of Halo 2 through the early years of the 360, every Xbox Live multiplayer match was an ongoing conversation between gamers, for better or (often) worse. Talking to each other while we battled was just natural. Why wouldn’t you want to talk a little trash, share some jokes, or discuss strategy with your online friends and foes?
Then we started blocking out strangers so we could just party chat with our friends. Then we just stopped using our headsets completely, rendering almost every match a social wasteland of silent struggles punctuated only with virtual gunshots, blows, and the shouts of our avatars. After too many online games spent talking to myself like a loser, I too began simply letting my headset gather dust. I bought a headset for my PS3 specifically to play Grand Theft Auto V Online and was greeted by mostly two things while driving around and flipping other players off so I could speed off when they opened fire: deafening silence and a little of this:
When did online gaming get so lonely and why? Is it the little kids calling people the N-word and questioning their sexualities? It’s them isn’t it? Little jerks. Let us blame the Bieber generation, then, if we must blame someone. I returned the PS3 headset to Gamestop after realizing I could not talk to other gamers without it and could, in fact, spend that money buying something of value; let us say, for instance, a video game.
So in a way, I appreciate that Bungie is creating an in-game challenge that requires quality communication between those who undertake it and is going to be unavailable to the antisocial tools who join matchmaking and quit mid-game for no reason.
Even playing the Strike that was available during the Destiny beta, I found this to be a recurring problem. People would join my fire team, play for a few minutes of the lengthy mission, and then just drop out, leaving us one member down against the evil hordes. One dropout leads to another, and now it’s just me alone, outnumbered, outgunned, and so stubborn that I keep throwing myself against the brick wall of alien forces again and again anyways. Fuck you, cowardly randoms.Destiny is only the third multiplayer game I’ve undertaken on the PS3 (the second being Arkham Origins, which was so broken it barely counts) so I haven’t exactly built up a network of online friends. And even if everybody loves my dancing in Destiny and I’m flooded with friend requests, the odds of five of them getting together at my convenience is unlikely. So like most of us, I’m pretty screwed on this whole Raid thing unless someone else arranges one and happens to send me an invite.
I would hope that these Raids only represent something akin to a Final Fantasy VII optional megaboss; only beatable through the kind of optimized max-leveling that borderline psychopaths undertake simply because they MUST. In Destiny’s case, though, it also represents a new level of loot, which players will then be able to take to the Iron Banner Crucible tournaments, making the most hardcore players statistically overpowered in addition to already being better, more experienced players with organized fireteams. They will then be able to use their additional massive advantage to easily chase out other gamers who play for a chance at the loot offered there, making Destiny multiplayer a bonafide oligarchy.
Given that Bungie has always been a friend to the hardcore gaming community, with Halo being a tournament mainstay, it’s no surprise that they’d reach out and create a space where those people can play without having to worry about randoms and noobs messing up their perfect game. And while most gamers are gnashing their collective teeth at the prospect of being locked out of any part of the game we’re paying $60 for, I respect this decision.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m annoyed that Bungie isn’t at least giving us the option to have a go at these reputedly near-insurmountable Raids and at least snag some loot before the other players tap out like wusses or we hit a challenge we just can’t beat. It’s one thing to make a level so hard that you need friends and communication to beat it, but it’s another to tell the vast majority of your customers to kindly piss off if they don’t have enough online friends or a flexible enough schedule to make it happen and offer up unprecedented riches and multiplayer advantages to the gamers that need it least.
So while I do understand Bungie’s decision to cater to the hardcore social gamers and give online fans a kick in the teeth by coercing them into them into making friends, communicating, and organizing to fully accomplish everything in Destiny, I’m still personally disappointed.
I have no doubt I’ll get my money’s worth when September 9th rolls around and the Hive, Fallen, and anything else that gets in my way is going to have a fucking problem when my new Guardian awakens and ventures into the Solar System, but I really hope that at least once I’ll be able to get a chance to get my ass handed to me in an epic Raid attempt.
The consensus seems to be that once Bungie sees that not very many people are playing the carefully-crafted content they’re describing as “unlike anything you’ve really experienced in a shooter before”, they’ll relent and update to let the peanut gallery have a crack. But their spokespeople insist they are dedicated to forcing players to put on their big-boy pants if they want a chance to rock the best gear and shoot the nastiest baddies in the game. Guess we’d better start getting over our online social phobias, huh?