I mentioned briefly that for many, many years, I successfully avoided multiplayer. This is the story of how Destiny turned my ideas of multiplayer on their head.
I was always a single-player sort of person. It began with Wolf 3D, with the original Prince of Persia, and continued with Revenant, Might and Magic VI, Diablo, and Baldur’s Gate. Single player made me a part of stories. Incredible ones. And I was more than happy. Because I’ve played more RPGs than anything else, epic stories were never hard to come by. And stories became the reason I played and continue to play games.
I’ll always have a mix of games waiting for me to dabble in at any given time – the previous weekend, for example, I finished the Ultimate Edition of Gears of War. Next in my review queue is Gunscape for the Xbox One, along with something called Hero and Daughter for the PC. But RPGs are my first love. Always have been, always will be.
And for that reason, when the first crop of MMOs began to make news, I found myself interested. These were exactly my kind of game, after all. The only problem was that other people were involved.
It isn’t that I don’t like other people – after many months of Destiny multiplayer I’ve realised that I like other people just fine – but I was worried about what would happen to my experience with the game.
I find that I lose myself in certain types of games in much the same way that I lose myself in books. So having someone come along and interfere with that immersion, by doing something strange, by doing something that very obviously did not fit, was an uncomfortable idea.
With World of Warcraft, for example, I didn’t really want to quest with other people. I wanted to run around Azeroth. To actually be in all of the places that I had only ever seen as an eye in the sky. I didn’t want to run around and see names like Haselhoof, Worgenfreeman, Oprahwindfury, or Idtrapthat. To me, that would shatter the illusion. And the illusion – coupled with the immersion that came with it – was what I prized above all else.
The only multiplayer I did attempt was the occasional Unreal Tournament 2k4 deathmatch. But it wasn’t enough to hold my attention for very long. So, despite a friend nagging me to come play online with him, I kept a safe distance from multiplayer and immersed myself blissfully in single-player.
Then Destiny came along and screwed everything up.
My first time in the tower was jarring, I’ll tell you that. It took me a while to get used to seeing players dancing, bowing, facepalming, sitting down, jumping like they’re rabbits on crack – and goodness knows what else in between missions. But once I got used to it, it became amusing. Endearing, almost.
More interesting to me was the sight of other Guardians when I was on patrol. Every now and then, someone would show up when I was on mission. (I entered Destiny’s universe about a month or so after The Taken King launched, so you can imagine how late I was to the party.) There were level 40 Guardians everywhere and, very early on, several of them popped up in the Cosmodrome.
For the most part they danced about with some manner of terrible and glorious purpose, almost always on their Sparrows, zipping about the ruins of Old Russia, never quite noticing the level 4 Guardian chasing madly after them. And yes, I was chasing. I couldn’t help but wonder what they were up to, where they were going, and whether they needed some low level help with some manner of thing.
Not once did I make contact with a Guardian until a random event in the Cosmodrome.
I was on patrol, doing a little bounty farming, when I saw a grim, shadowy figure crouched in the grass. I shot the Fallen Dregs in front of it and then fired a full clip at it – realising belatedly that it wasn’t a Fallen at all. By way of response, the shadowy figure stood up and waved to me. If characters mirrored their player’s expressions, my Warlock’s jaw would have been scraping the dusty ground.
Now, having played through a great deal of Destiny, I’ve realised that was a female Hunter. At the time, though, she – it could easily have been a dude behind the character, but I’m going by the character’s gender, not the player’s – was a creature entirely alien to me. All I noticed was a very impressive set of armour, which I now think was a raid set, and a very intimidating looking weapon.
Before I could respond – I hadn’t used the emotes before and, for the life of me, could not figured out how she waved – she whipped out her gun and pointed it right at me.
“Bugger,” I thought, fully expecting to be turned into a bloody mess. (At the time, I didn’t know that PvP involved getting into the Crucible.)
Bullets whizzed past my head and I heard Fallen shriek and die. I turned, fumbling with my own gun, a squishy level 7 Warlock, while this level 40 Hunter leaped into the fray, and took out the bulk of the three waves in the Extraction Crews event. I managed to kill a few while she did most of the work and, before I even realised what had happened, my first public event was over and I had successfully achieved the Gold tier – or was it Silver? I don’t remember.
The Hunter did a little dance, which I found hilarious, then faced me squarely, waved again, hopped onto her Sparrow and whizzed off into the sunset.
For my part, I stood there gaping for a bit. That wasn’t anywhere near as horrible as I had expected. On the contrary, it was rather awesome. I had actually, briefly, unintentionally teamed up with another human being and, to my very great surprise, it hadn’t ruined my experience. It had improved it.
All of my arguments about silly names breaking immersion and whatnot seemed utterly ridiculous all of a sudden – because I couldn’t remember her name and couldn’t remember having noticed it either.
Up until that moment, I wanted nothing to do with multiplayer. After that moment, I found myself wanting nothing but. Whoever that Hunter was, she changed my perspective on playing with people – because, like I said here, I wasn’t playing through a story written by someone else; suddenly, I had a story of my own.
One that, might I add, had never happened before, would never happen again, and perhaps would never happen to anyone else as well. Not long after that, I got myself an Xbox Live Gold subscription. And ever since then, I’ve been doing my damndest to seek out the stories that Destiny has to offer.
So if you’re playing Destiny on the Xbox One, look for onebesottedfrog. If you find me, come say hi. And then, let’s go make some stories together.