Destiny: Year Two

I will start by saying that I did not play one single second of Destiny: Year One for 2 reasons:

  1. I did not own a console.
  2. I did not want to.

Consider my total surprise then, when I decided to buy an Xbox One, got Destiny as a free game, and fell hard for the game which had just begun its second year. I truly believed that Destiny would just be a game I messed around with until newer games and backwards compatibility arrived. Now it seems that I may favor Destiny over anything else that may be available in the near future. How did this happen?

Apparently when I started the game back in September, a lot had already changed and because of these changes, the game was better than it was in Year One. That worked for me as it is the only version of the game I knew. The Taken King had just come out, but I doubted that I would like the game enough to buy the expansion, let alone all of the DLC it required.

So there I was, leveling my Warlock (Blind class pick by the way. I had no idea.) I got him up to around level 14 when I discovered The Crucible. Up until that point, PVE questing was OK, but there was not much there to keep me engaged. As I began PVP, I discovered a whole new game. Destiny, it turns out, is a very fun and satisfying multiplayer FPS with quality map design and game modes. What really sealed the deal for me was when I realized I was gaining the same, if not more XP toward leveling than PVE and the loot rewards at the end of each match seemed much more valuable to me than PVE as well.

It was not long after that I plunked down the cash to buy all the DLC and The Taken King in one fell swoop. What was most important was that this opened up all of the multiplayer modes including Rift, Salvage, and my current favorite, Mayhem Clash. 

It has been roughly 2 months and I am doing Crucible bounties almost everyday. I started a clan and almost have light level 290, which I hear is recommended for raiding. I am PVP focused but my friends and I will do a daily heroic story or even Nightfall on hard once in a while along with the occasional quest. I rely on PVE to break up any PVP frustrations or monotony. Right now, it is a good mix.

I do not know what Destiny was like in Year One and I think that is for the best. But why do I love Destiny so much? It boils down to a few things:

  1. The game plays very well. The control feels very good for an FPS.
  2. More often than not, it feels like network connectivity in multiplayer is solid, so I can do my best (It does have its hiccups though)
  3. The game does a great job with loot. There is always an item to chase or a way to upgrade what you already have and this happens often.
  4. Destiny has been spiced up during the time I have been in game. It has been kept fresh. One weekend was an Iron Banner event (Which I excitedly earned rank 5 in). We are currently in a Halloween event (Festival of the Lost). And I hear that an arena event is just around the corner.
  5. Amazing things happen in multiplayer. This is important for any cornerstone game. I have so many clips of cool stuff happening in Destiny. Part of the reason I play is to be a part of that, whether it is a last minute miracle win or performing an amazing last second denial in Rift (See video).

Right now Destiny is my game of choice. I still find time to sprinkle in a little bit of Hearthstone though. Who would have thought that a year old game that I got for free would be one of my favorite games of this year?!

I will not be buying a new console this year

I have been around for several console launches. Based on my last console launch purchases, one might mistake me for an Xbox fanboy. 

As I have grown older, I have become more discerning as a consumer. ‘Shiny and new’ is no longer good enough to guarantee that my wads of cash will flow through the system, at least on Day One.

We have come to learn that it is a near foregone conclusion that most things that require online services during a large scale launch will fail on some level for some customers on Day One. This was certainly the case last night for some new PS4 owners and I am sure some Xbox One customers will not be lucky enough to go completely unscathed in some fashion next week.

With these two new consoles, the PS4 and Xbox One, there really is no single system selling game, at least for my money. Everything is a mishmash of games available on PC, previous generation consoles (Call of Duty, Battlefield), or just standard launch title fare (Knack, Ryse). If Ryse ends up being a 10 out of 10 classic, I will have no problem eating my words. Take away shiny, new, and fanboyism and I do not see any compelling reason to slam down my hard earned cash for either system.

It is then not surprising, the move I made this week. I took the money I had set aside for the console launch (read: Xbox One pre-order) and diverted it to a much needed gaming PC upgrade.

This is the first time I ever changed direction so quickly, decisively, and so late in the game at a console launch, but I have to admit it was an easy decision considering the facts, or lack thereof.

Fact 1. Microsoft has been very mum, to a fault, about sharing information and specific details about its new console. So much so, that I could not tell you if I would be happy with it out of the box or not. I suspect I might, but too many questions were left unanswered. Some answers have been found, but most of them were not available on Microsoft's own website. I guess no one really cares about the IR Blaster's full capabilities? Microsoft could really benefit from writing up an Ultimate FAQ like Sony did. Instead, Microsoft has slowly trickled out tidbits here and there in videos. Why the holding back of such vital details?

Fact 2. What game is actually worth playing on either console?  Resogun? And on the Xbox side, take into consideration the resolution limitations for the currently available titles. Is that really next gen? Sure, games still probably looks impressive, but there is something about knowing a game is running at 720p and wondering why I would not just play it on a 360 or PC. A few extra textures? At this point, I expect each generation to be magical somehow. It needs to wow me (Saying "Xbox on" is not enough), or what would be the point for the next 8-10 years? Regardless, it is tough finding the point on Day One this go around.

Fact 3. I have spent the most money on games this year via Steam. The biggest reason for this is that Steam has ridiculous sales that save gamers tons of cash. In addition, halfway through the year, I stopped buying things on the Xbox Live Marketplace knowing I would not be able to carry my library forward to the ‘One’. You will notice an Xbox Marketplace launch game Powerstar Golf that is retailing for $20. I cannot tell you if this game will be worth $20. I also cannot tell you how much value that $20 will give me in a couple weeks during the Steam Sale, but I can venture to guess I will be able to buy at least 5 “known great” games that I actually want.

With these ideas in mind, I could not come up with a good reason to justify buying either console on Day One. The PS4 was a longshot from the beginning and looking at its unorganized UI (I am certain a 'sort by' feature will be added to the games list in a future update), I could not imagine myself using it as is. I am sure I will eventually get an Xbox One (unless Titanfall underwhelms, although playing Titanfall on PC is always a viable option).

So I wonder, what could have all but assured that myself and other people like me would have plunked down the cash for something shiny and new on Day One this year?

1. Some form of backwards compatibility (even severely limited). I would have been happy playing older, good games on a new console (read: Meatboy, Geometry Wars, etc.)

2. The proper and detailed divulging of details that would allow consumers to make an informed decision on an unknown and unproven piece of hardware. I had to scour the internet to find answers to my questions and some of them are still remain answered.

3. Better launch titles. Everything that seemed remotely interesting to me will not be available until at least next year. Watchdogs, Titanfall, Thief, The Division, etc., ad nauseam.

Both consoles appear to have a somewhat bright future, but for now, I am absolutely convinced that I am not missing out on anything... yet.