Of all my interests / hobbies, video games probably consume the most of my free time, yet oddly enough, it’s not a subject I write about very often. Mostly that is because there is a dearth of gaming writers out there, but also because until recently I’d been slowly losing the desire to game. It had got to the point to where I was seriously on the fence about not getting a PS4 & was basically considering retiring my lifelong hobby.
I did decide to get a PS4, primarily because I enjoy gaming with my friends online, but also partly because the chance of getting a next generation console on launch day for the first time ever was just too much for my inner geek to resist. When the PS4 launched it was a significant step up from the PS3 as a gaming machine, but rather lackluster as a home entertainment system, something the PS3 excelled at, for example you could not (& still cannot) pair the PS3 remote control with it to make playing movies easier. The youtube app only recently made its way over too, little things, but initially, it was clear the PS4 was for gaming first & the rest would come. This is not a bad thing, just my observation.
Unfortunately, the first year of the PS4 gaming was a little hit & miss. The new games all looked very impressive, but other than continuing my lifelong love affair with FIFA, non of the games I played managed to capture my attention long term. I’ve still not fully finished any of the launch titles I got. I was starting to wonder if I had wasted my money, made the wrong decision about committing to this new generation of consoles, to the point of considering selling the PS4 & moving on with a gaming free life.
That is until June of last year. When I had the opportunity to play the Destiny alpha public test. I had seen the E3 launch campaign for Destiny the previous year, loved what I saw and had been keeping a distant eye for it’s release day. I don’t recall what I signed up for to get into the alpha but I was very glad I did. Following the alpha I pre-ordered the game, not something I usually do, but I was already hooked & pre-ordering got you into the public Beta which I consumed just as eagerly as the alpha.
I picked up the full game on launch day, I’m not here to write a review per say here, there are more than enough of them out there to satisfy any level of curiosity. What I am going to try and do is put into words what the game has meant to me. The first thing I guess I should say, is that the joy of gaming has been completely restored for me through this game. It may not be the best game ever, but you would be hard pressed for me to find a game that I would say I have ever liked better or enjoyed more. For many different reasons, this game just has my number, the joy of gaming may be borderline addiction once again lol.
11 months after the game launched I still play pretty much daily, I have made a number of new friends through the game, made several questionable decisions about how much sleep I can get away with on a work day, laughed, almost cried and just generally really enjoyed my nights gaming again.
Destiny is a funny game in a way in that it can be very repetitive yet never gets old, for me it is in a way similar to sports games. Yes FIFA is pretty much the same thing over and over, yet there is enough variance in each game, enough of an enjoyable challenge that I will play season after season. Destiny has somehow captured that same magic with its fun and at times intense gameplay. It can be a relaxing evening doing bounties or an adrenaline pumping stress session in the crucible, I can get whatever I want from the game on any given day.
Sadly the gaming clan I was a part of, dmg gaming, did not adopt the game very well, this led to me making the tough decision to call it quits after 6 years with then and sign up with a new crew, which fortunately has a number of fellow ex dmg’ers in it. It was a strange & tough decision to “leave” people who had become real life friends, but in order to get the most out of the game it was what needed to happen & it is a decision I do not regret in the slightest. Taking the step to do that has actually emboldened me to meet people from many different clans & I have discovered that i just really enjoy meeting new people in the gaming world.
The social aspect of the game is quite amazing, I have met a TON of new people & almost all of them have been great company. My new friends in the BYOB clan have been a blast to hang out with, the guys from Dads of Destiny are always there for company or to help if you just ask. The Safe Gamers group is a really cool place where people can hang out & be sure of a positive gaming experience. I’ve even had the privilege of playing a few games with some of the best players in the world from the Invigorate clan, their skill level is off the carts, yet they are totally humble, glad to help a guy like me out & just all around good company either in game or in their streams.
Streams, yes, that’s another thing I have discovered this last year. From twitch to mlg tv, there are folks all over the world at all hours of the day live streaming their gameplay & interacting with their viewers. A year ago I would have told you that was ridiculous & I would have no interest in such a thing, how things change lol. The right streamer, with a game you love can be great entertainment & in some cases very educational. I’ve watched quite a lot of John & Burdi from the Invigorate clan the last couple of months & just watching them has vastly improved my skill level as a gamer. Seeing how things work and opening your eyes to what is possible is a game changer.
The community playing Destiny is by far the best part of the game, it is the best part of any video game I have ever heard of. Want to know more about the lore? Go over to reddit or one of the many Destiny sites and fellow gamers have gathered the intel in easy to read formats, some chronological etc. You could spend days theorizing with other fans if you wanted. Even better, you could head to http://www.astrumterra.com/audiogrimoire.html and enjoy some incredible dramatized reading of the cards, or tune in to the Guardian Radio podcast every week.
One of the great complaints with Destiny is the failure to convey the incredible story particularly well in game. While I agree it could have been done better, I personally do not feel that the way the game is set up would be really conducive to extended story telling cut scenes. The game and its universe does have an incredible story though, this lore can be found through reading the grimoire cards on Bungie’s website (and other sources – see above). Again, this has been a major complaint from many (having to do it outside of the game), however to me, what could be considered a design flaw was actually a work of accidental genius as it has brought the community much closer together as they try to figure everything out.
There are very limited matchmaking systems in the game, again a frustration for some, yet form this has come an incredible array of LFG (looking for group) systems. Clans work together, alliances have been formed & so many real life friendships. My virtual circle is ever increasing, sure occasionally you meet someone you never want to hear from again (easy to accomplish), but you might also meet some really cool people.
Not just in game, but outside of the game the community regularly comes together to help a worth cause. There have been efforts to support fundraisers for Cystic Fibrosis, Operation Supply Drop, St Judes Hospice, the Nepal earthquake and even to do something nice for a kid that was bullied. There have been many more, these are just the ones that I have been involved with in some small way.
There are times when I wonder if I have allowed this game to become too prominent in my life. 2-3 hours every night I spend playing Destiny. However, they are the hours after my family has already retired for the day & if I am being honest, the only other thing I would do with that time is watch tv. Yes I could read a book, or go for a run or do things that people say you should do, instead I do something that i love, that I am passionate about again thanks to Destiny. Those hours are always some of the most enjoyable of every day, time that I spend time in good company doing something I enjoy.
I should I suppose put this in perspective. I am still enjoying my family time, leading worship at the homeless shelter, making new music, looking forward to another season coaching my kids soccer team, I even write a blog post occasionally 😉 Sometimes i give myself a hard time for playing the game a lot, but I am just fighting the old fight of judging myself for allowing me to be myself if that makes sense. For the first time in my life, I am just embracing this, not ashamed, not trying to hide my love of a video game, I am just having fun playing a game in my spare time with a bunch of different people that i really enjoy, if thats not a good thing, then I have no idea what is. If you follow me on Twitter & don’t care about the game, sorry about that 😉
When I was pondering on whether or not to get a PS4, I wrote the below on my hopes for the next generation of games. Thanks to a company called Bungie & their incredibly talented team, thanks to the amazing community of people that I am proud to be a part of, I can whole heartedly tell you that all my dreams for this generation of gaming have come true, and I have truly rediscovered the joy of gaming.
“Maybe the next generation of games will have some fresh ideas, better co-op, more original themes that involve more than just killing wave after wave of bud guys. Don’t get me wrong, there is enough little boy in me to still enjoy playing war, but it just seems like there should be more to a game than that, especially with the technology available. Maybe the next gen of games will have online modes where the technical flaws in the game don’t make my lack of ability even more frustrating than it already is. “
If you’re on Playstation & want to team up with a semi-responsible grown man who just loves to play Destiny, my PSN ID is LUFCTX 🙂
Want to see some of the game? Here is a video I made, with a song I wrote & recorded, more on that soon…