I realized that from my experience with the game, which I largely shared with my friend whom we will call Mr. Bubbles. Upon the game’s release when he got his White PlayStation 4 bundle (I’m just a wee bit jealous), we both jumped into the game’s single-player separately, only to reach level 20 and from there become almost permanent fireteam mates.
He would be my ultimate Destiny Wiki: briefing me on how the Light on the armor works, which exotic weapons are worth getting from Xur, which Vanguard Auto Rifle is best-suited to my play-style and so on.
We would discuss how Eva Levante has no worthwhile shaders, how Motes of Light are insignificant but then run off to the Speaker to discuss which cosmetic class item (which costs 25 Motes of Light) looks best on my Hunter (Answer: Legend of Six Coyotes).
I learned how the 77 Wizard was the ultimate Fusion Rifle until Plan-C came around and how it was my biggest mistake of 2014 to buy an Emerald Coil Sparrow upgrade from Xur for 25 Strange Coins.
We would alternate between Strikes and PvP, while occasionally aid one another’s struggle with the Exotic Bounties (Damn you Xyor! Y U NO spawn?). Also, Destiny’s production values made for a much smoother experience. For instance the Fireteam management was neat, the interface was excellent and the dedicated servers helped streamline the experience considerably; which was something I was worried about, given my internet connection’s crapiness and inability to even run a decent online match of Super Street Fighter 4.
For me personally it was the conceit of playing with a fellow Guardian that made me persevere through the grindy bits. So much so that we both even began our second characters, took them to Level 26 and would run the Weekly and Nightfall twice a week; helping each others’ under-leveled characters get through, with an exotic item and those extra 9 strange coins waiting on the other side. Mr. Bubbles even started a third character: A Hunter (after a level 30 Titan and a level 28 Warlock).
Even though Destiny’s fireteams are a three player thing, we two would happily tough-it-out and occasionally in the thick of things, we would be clamoring to send a PSN invite to a third player amidst the hoards of enemies. It was liberating. We followed an understood almost implicit timeframe wherein despite the time difference we would both be synonymously live on our PlayStation 4s and whenever we found each other online one of us could create a party, quit our Lords of the Fallens and our Evil Withins to play Destiny together. The Daily had us coming back for the Ascendant materials, the Bounties had us patrolling Earth while farming Spinmetal and the Tuesday resets of Weekly and Nightfall always got us excited with its lightswitch challenge and elemental damage modifiers. All so exciting.
Alas! That excitement exists no more. Since the Destiny’s first expansion: The Dark Below released, we have barely played Destiny together. What exactly has changed? While he has access to the DLC, I decided not get the Dark Below or the expansion pass and I stuck to the base game. At one point, I even contemplated getting it. That’s coming from a person who never ever buys season or expansion passes, but also from the person who poured in over 90 hours into vanilla Destiny.
There were many contributing factors to this decision. On the PSN store of my choice (India) the expansion pass costs more than a full-priced day one PlayStation 3 game and a little under a full-priced day one PlayStation 4 game. Quiet conveniently the PlayStation 4 lets you share games via Game Sharing (by switching primary console status with a friend; which the two of us have actually done). But the same does not apply to the Destiny DLC, which comes patched to the main game for all players and buying the DLC acts like a permission/license (not a download) which is strictly tied to a single account.
Even though the high price of the DLC is a matter of contention, in reality it’s really beside the point. I am not into Destiny for the value it purports – its surely is grindy, but its also a well-polished brilliantly functioning FPS, a definite contender for my GOTY – I am in it for the ‘story’.
Now, hold on there. Hear me out. People say there is no story in Destiny. I argue the stories in Destiny are the ones you make with your fellow Guardians. Like that one time when you paid the three Hive majors on Earth a visit for an easy bounty and a random player was being a total douche by sitting dead centre in the room where the majors spawn. So you did the only logical thing: You with your fireteam tried to melee that troll out of the room, making room (pun intended) for the Hive. Or that time when you being a Sunsinger were tasked to rescue the team in the Phogoth Weekly but you completely didn’t use your Radiance when your team was wiped, for you were busy talking to your dad (the Sunsinger was me by the way, what a douche, I know!). We still laugh about it from time to time.
So how does the DLC change the way we play? For the opening week, I could access neither the ‘Weekly’ nor the ‘Nightfall’. As I heard from him it was probably the toughest Weekly for him so far (maybe because my Sunsinger wasn’t there for the rescue *nudge nudge). Missing two of the major events in Destiny – that actually brought me back to the game after its first month – made me reconsider my stance on Destiny. Should I continue playing the game (a difficult question to answer); Should I just try for the Level 30 gear now (a relatively easy question) will I feel left out of the race for Level 32 (I knew the answer already).
I know the Weekly and Nightfall strikes will be reverted back to the original Strikes now and then but it will all be different now. Occasionally these events would want to feature the new DLC Strike to satisfy the expansion buyers, which is understandable. But as for the basic game, my friend would be farming for the new DLC upgrade material (radiant shards and energy), he may be running Erin – the new NPC’s – bounties. The worst part of it all: I cannot help him do any of it.
For fun’s sake we even did a little experiment. After inviting him to my fireteam and making him the team leader, I suggested he begins one of the DLC missions. Naturally it did not start. On his end he got an error that not all fireteam members own the DLC. But on my end the game suspended and opened the PS store with DLC already put my cart and a button asking me to “Add Funds”. That’s not just greedy, it’s rude!
Previously, we could count on each other for any help we needed, with a strike, a bounty, the daily or the Raid. Now he is bound to look elsewhere, visit destinylfg for potential raiders and play with complete strangers maybe. Occasionally I would find him online on PSN patrolling Earth, maybe going about killing Crota’s minions with the sword, while I keep up the show of being the Herald of Andraste in Dragon Age: Inquistion.
Maybe Far Cry 4’s co-op will be our solution which we both look forward to, or maybe some disruptive changes to Destiny that smooth it out for the existing players while catering to the new comers. Concerns also arise thinking of the next expansion – House of Wolves – due in the coming months that might bring another level of complexity to the friendly equation. Anyhow, I hope Mr. Bubbles’ Hunter reaches Level 30 soon, Shame that it is something not entirely in his hands. It partially depends on what new changes Bungie makes to the game I ‘used to’ love.