When Destiny works, it’s a special kind of magic.
The raids, although they were there, were never appealing to me personally. I’ve been two-manning the Nightfall with a friend since Destiny 2 launched. I’ve yet to feel a moment of struggle, a moment of fear of loss, and then the triumph of unexpected victory in the whole year that Destiny 2 has been out.
Until the Whisper mission that I completed for the first time literally two days before Forsaken launched.
A friend and I were trying to two-man the Whisper mission. We’re fairly decent players overall, but wildly inconsistent. We’d take anywhere from five to seven minutes to clear the platforming section each time. The problem was that one of us would make it through smoothly, the other would always make stupid mistakes. One of us, each time, and then we’d make it to the final room, burn down two bosses, and struggle with the third. I’d given up hope of finishing it.
On The 100 and most LFG sites – Xbox LFG and Bungie’s own Fireteam page included – the recurring theme of posts for the normal Whisper mission was ‘know the platforming’, ‘don’t suck’, and ‘know what to do’. I knew what to do, I’d run the mission dozens of times. I just wasn’t consistent, not in the mood to waste someone else’s time if I was having an off day, and not in the mood to take flak for it either.
But on Sunday, the 2nd of September, I saw a remarkably polite post on The 100. Very different from the ones I usually see.
“Need one for Whisper normal,” the description said. “We can go when you are ready. Message on Xbox for invite.” So I sent a message: “Still need one for Whisper?”
“Yes” and a party invite swiftly followed.
Two gentlemen were waiting in the party. One of them, I learned during the course of the run, was 65. He retired just before the original Destiny released and put hundreds of hours into the game before switching to Destiny 2. He had the Whisper and was helping a friend get it. The friend was 53 and he politely informed us later – to much chuckling – that he was 23 and would not hear a word that said otherwise.
When we started the mission, I wasn’t confident of getting the gun. I didn’t doubt their ability, mind you – they had the EP shotgun, Legend of Acrius, all the good stuff. They knew what they were doing. I was fairly certain that I’d bugger up the platforming or die more than I should and bugger up the run in the process.
But I was determined to try anyway; even if we failed, I’d get some practice.
We failed the first time. Got one boss down and the other two to half health.
Went back to IO to wait for the next Blight event. One of them disappeared and I couldn’t figure out where he went. I went looking and, five minutes later, I see him perched on the tallest rock in Lost Oasis. The other comes up to me, sees me looking up at him, and chuckles softly. “Yeah, he likes high places.”
We traded stories. They were in different parts of the US and were surprised to learn that I was in India. We talked briefly about how Destiny connects people. The people we’ve met, the raids we’ve had, the reasons we still play this game. We spoke a little about politics, about travel, about my trips abroad and their planned trips here.
The next Blight made an appearance about half an hour later. We tried again. Failed again. Our third growled that he wanted to complete Forsaken, get 600 Light, come back and stomp the crap out of the Taken. I agreed. Our humble leader, however, said that we ought to try again. Just one more time before we part ways.
Those were the magic words.
If you’ve ever raided in Destiny, you’ve probably experienced this. You fail, over and over and over, everyone’s tired and ready to quit. One person says that they have enough energy for one more run. Just one more before they have to drop off.
And it clicks.
Everyone gets their shit together, all the old mistakes stop happening, ammo drops for everybody, bosses die, victory is had, the postmaster is crushed beneath the sudden avalanche of loot that drops into his little shop-thing.
That third run on the Whisper was our moment.
We got the Whisper with 7 seconds to spare. 7 seconds. (I’m reasonably certain that Bungie would be pleased.) I was so sure we wouldn’t make it but between Polaris Lance, a pair of EP shotguns, double pulse nades, and some excellent Acrius use, we blasted Valus Ta’aurc – the one boss we could never finish in time – into a heap of interdimensional goo.
Suddenly, we were energized. We had the weapon. We had the Whisper. Hell, I had the Whisper and I didn’t think I was going to get it before Destiny 2 year 3.
Our intrepid fireteam leader says: “Want to try Heroic?”
Naturally, we said yes. We failed the first time. No heavy ammo – probably a bug because of the ammo economy changes in update 2.0 – made the Heroic run even rougher than the normal one. We failed the first time.
The second time around, I switched my Titan to Sentinel for add clear, our leader switched from Nightstalker to Arcstrider, and our third went back to Striker with double pulse nades. We finished it with 3 seconds to spare and got the catalyst.
As we paused at last, to take a deep breath and revel in our victory, I finally stopped laughing like a maniac to say to my companions, “Moments like this are the reason I play Destiny.” There was a moment of silence, of shared understanding, and then I heard a soft, fervent, “Yep” come through on my headset.
These moments of shared camaraderie, of triumph, of challenge and subsequent victory, are what make Destiny worth playing. It’s what makes the raid magic, what makes the Nightfall fun when you’re not overlevelled, and what I hope Bungie adds more of to the Destiny experience in Forsaken and beyond.