Destiny 2: A Picture Book In Two Parts

3476 wc

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Up front I should say that I’m well aware that I could have turned to Google to clear up any confusion described below. I’m simply relaying how I interpreted the game screens presented to me in the absence of any other context, from the perspective of a person who has never seen or played Destiny 1 or Destiny 2 or even any Halo games before. To a Destiny fan, this is probably going to come across as negative and offensive, but I’m here to assure everyone that it is nothing more than a comedy bit and I have nothing against Destiny 2 or the players thereof.

I don’t know if the game described below is the same one that a brand new Steam free-to-play player will see, or if I’m seeing this because I got the free version Blizzard gave away some time ago.

Part One, The Fun Part

Here we see the very first thing I saw when I ran Destiny 2 on Steam after transferring from Blizzard. I had to create a character, because I never played the free Blizzard version.
I created a Titan. I made him with the silliest hair style because I thought it was funny. I’m not taking this seriously at all. I’m not expecting much from this game, to be honest.
I arrived outside a Cosmodrome with this geometric drone talking to me in the voice of the Human Male player character from Guild Wars 2. It told me to find a gun and shoot stuff for reasons. The scenery was nice. The frame rate was good after a little graphical tweaking. The jumping felt weird and floaty but I can get used to it. It’s a good start. I’m kind of impressed.
Naturally I could not shoot anything until I changed the key bindings from WASD to ESDF because I’m apparently one of only 3% of gamers who prefers the same finger positioning as standard touch typing. This has nothing to do with Destiny 2, but is a general comment on the continuing discrimination the games industry shows toward touch typists. Also, I didn’t have a gun yet.
The floating drone told me where to find a gun and I had great fun running around mindlessly shooting things and talking to Nolan North during the tutorial for about 30 minutes. The lighting effects are great, the scenery is great, the controls feel better than I remember from the open beta.
I was rewarded with some cool cut scenes and a ship which took me to The Tower.
I dutifully took note that, as a new player, I was supposed to complete the “New Light” quest. I also noticed the link to Bungie’s Guide, but I scoffed at it. I’m an experienced gamer, and a 20-year MMO veteran, I thought. Only a total newb would need to go to a web page and read a guide before playing a game, I thought.
I logged off, happy with a fun tutorial experience, far more impressed with Destiny 2 than I had been when I last played the Open Beta in 2017.

Part Two, The Not Fun Part

Later that same day, I decided to log in again to mindlessly shoot some more stuff and talk to Nolan North again. I fully expected to have another 30 minutes of fun. I selected my one and only character.

I should interject here and say what I expected to happen when I logged in. I expected to walk up to some NPC in The Tower Hub and be sent on an instanced mission very similar to the tutorial I started with. I expected to see some cut scenes with some story elements, but I wasn’t expecting any heavy Mass Effect-style narratives. I was mostly expecting to mindlessly shoot stuff and see numbers fly around the screen instead of blood.

I patiently waited for the loading screen to finish to take me back to the place with all the people walking around. And waited. And waited. I realized that’s not a loading screen. That’s actually the game. I was playing already, apparently.
I also noticed that while I was sitting there recording my local video for posterity, musing aloud into my microphone, a little speaker was blinking next to my name. I realized I was also broadcasting my thoughts to the entire world. Or at least to Bungie’s servers and my fireteam, which hopefully was just me.
I confirmed that yes, the default settings are voice chat on and push-to-talk off. So yeah, if you have a microphone attached anywhere to your computer, you’re going to be talking to the world by default. I guess the kids are into that? I don’t know. Anyway, I fixed it. No big deal. Just would have been nice to know that ahead of time. Games should have epilepsy warnings and LIVE-ON-AIR warnings.
I was very put-off about the microphone and because the game wasn’t behaving the way a normal game behaves. The only button on the not-a-loading-screen screen was Open Director, so I clicked that and was presented with *this* screen, with my mouse pointer hovering over Earth and this popup on display. I hovered the mouse on all the planets and read the popups, and eventually I spotted the bright green target at the top of the screen. That’s The Tower, which I remembered is where I was before, so I clicked on it.
I expected to transport down to the surface, but instead it opened up *this* screen, which is some kind of map. After hovering the mouse over several icons I found one that said “Main Quest: New Light,” which I remembered was the thing I was supposed to do, and clicked on it, confident I was back on track.
Except all that did was toggle a waypoint. Nothing else happened. Okay, that’s weird, but whatever. I figured out I was supposed to click on the triangular Courtyard icon to “fast travel” down to the surface. That gave me a big green Launch button, which I clicked on.
That took me back to a loading screen that really *was* a loading screen. Looks a lot like the one that *isn’t* a loading screen, doesn’t it? At least now I know to look for the little animations down in the corner and the Open Director button.
Then I got a nifty little drop ship cut scene as I landed on the surface. It’s nicely rendered and quite beautiful. I waited for it to complete. And waited. And waited. It just cycled there for a long time. It turns out this is actually another loading screen. But there’s no little animations in the corner. Well, now I know, I guess. Who needs consistency when there’s trial-and-error? Maybe it wasn’t supposed to last a long time, but the launch week load on the servers made it so.
Finally I arrived back in the Courtyard, where I left off last time, glad that the weirdly incomprehensible part of the game was over so I could get right into the mindless shooting that was so enjoyable before. Just a few seconds to figure out which of these NPCs to run to and I’d be in business.
The most obvious icon was a green one with an animated border around it, hovering over an NPC behind a desk. I clicked the NPC (having to *hold down* the activation button until a little circle fills up, I might add, a thing that I strongly dislike and have yet to understand why it’s become a ubiquitous thing in games). It brought up this lovely store front where I could spend as much money as I wanted! Okay, whatever. At least I know where it is now so I can avoid it in the future. I’m just here to mindlessly shoot stuff.
Then I saw the flashing blue Destiny icon over the Gunsmith and made my way over to his desk. That must be the first breadcrumb in my first quest! I was given a new gun. Neat! I can use that when I’m mindlessly shooting stuff! It’s been five and a half minutes now but I’m sure I’ll get to the shooting any minute now. With the new gun, my power level rocketed up from 751 to 752. (I wondered how I managed to start at 750 instead of 1, but I figured it was just a perk of waiting so long to start playing, a form of “level boost,” if you will.)
The Gunsmith sent me on my way with no further breadcrumbs. I hit M to open the map and I found a different Destiny icon labeled “Main Quest: New Light.” Ah ha! That’s the quest I’m supposed to do! I’ve been a bit confused about why it’s so easy to find the store but hard to find mindless shooting, but it’s all over now because all I have to do is make my way over to that guy, click on him, and I’ll be mindlessly shooting in moments!
Hey, I remember this guy from the Open Beta! And Fringe! And John Wick! He gives me a nice speech. I listen patiently. When it’s over, surely all I’ll have to do is click that purple icon and I’ll be mindlessly shooting just like I was in the tutorial. Except… wait a second. That icon says “Introduction: Strikes,” not “New Light.” Nothing on this screen says anything about the “Main Quest: New Light” I’m supposed to be doing. Okay, whatever, I’ll just click this Strikes thing and get something underway. It’s been eight minutes now, which is almost a third of a typical half-hour gaming session for me. The Tower is an interesting-looking place, but I can tell this is just a lobby and it’s not meant to be the actual gameplay experience. I think? Surely not?
Okay now what’s this then? After clicking the thing, two purple icons appeared saying something about “Quest Steps.” There’s a bunch of information about the rewards I’ll get, which, as a brand new player, I don’t understand. There’s a tool tip at the bottom saying I’ve received a quest and I need to use the Director to follow it. I hit TAB on my keyboard like the tool tip tells me to do.
The Director is the map again. There’s no line showing me where to go, so I have to hover over all the icons looking for something that sounds like the right thing to do. I find another blue Destiny icon over to the left which says “Main Quest: New Light.” I’m getting a little dubious now, but perhaps *that* will be the pathway that leads me to the mindless shooting I enjoyed from the tutorial. So I start jogging through the busy station to *that* NPC.
Hey this is half of the Firefly reunion that I remember from the Open Beta! She has another speech, which I listen to. There’s another Acquire Quest button. This one says “Introduction: Worlds.” At this point, based on my previous experience with the other guy, I don’t have the slightest idea what that means or what’s going to happen when I click on it. I’m still looking to follow a “New Light” quest like the game originally told me, and I don’t see it here.
Apparently I can’t do this yet? But a couple of purple new quest icons appeared over on the side anyway? And the tool tip at the bottom is telling me to go to the Director again with TAB. I have no idea if I’m making progress on this “New Light” quest or not. Am I getting new quests here? What is even happening? Where is the mindless shooting already? My only UI choices here are to press TAB to open the Director, click an “Open Character” button, or click a “Dismiss” button. I’m starting to feel like I’m caught in an endless loop.
I hit TAB to open the Director, because it seems to be the only logical path forward to find the mindless shooting. I can’t see any other blue Destiny icons on the map (although looking at the screenshot now I can see one way over on the right there). I notice that the Destinations tab up there is flashing and there’s a tool tip telling me to go there, so I click on it.
It brings me back to *this* screen, but now I don’t see any green targets highlighting any of the destinations. I hover my mouse over everything to see what they say. I see a bunch of words I recognize from Destiny 2 marketing material over the years, but none of it jumps out at me as the thing I’m supposed to do to continue the “New Light” quest. Eventually I click on Earth because that’s what the tool tip at the bottom told me to do.
It brings up a map, presumably of Earth. The habitable areas of Earth have apparently gotten really small in the future. Anyway the only Destiny icon I can find is “Discover The EDZ” which is not the “Main Quest: New Light” that I’m looking for. Am I supposed to do this instead? Did somebody tell me that? Did I miss something? I must have missed something. I need to get out of this and go back a few steps because I assume I’m in the wrong place. I’m getting pretty annoyed at this point because it’s late and I just wanted to mindlessly shoot some stuff before bed. I’m now thirteen minutes into this gaming session. I hit escape and return to the planet map.
I find the Quests tab at the top and click on it. I see the “Main Quest: New Light” quest I’m supposed to do. I click on it to track it, hoping it will help me find it. I hit escape a couple of times to get back to walking around The Tower. As I walk away, Ikora Rey tells me to “stay strong,” which I thank her for, because I’m finding it to be unexpectedly challenging to find the mindless shooting in this game.

In the interest of time, I’ll fast forward a bit here because I wandered around The Tower station for quite a while trying to understand the quest tracking system. I followed some dots that led me to Chief Shipwright Amanda Holiday. This turned out to be the Destiny icon on the map that I mentioned up above that I missed before.

Amanda tells me about legacy missions I can do if I want to. I don’t understand any of this, but I assume this is a way to replay stuff that happened in the previous years of this game’s storyline. I’m not interested in that so I hit escape and leave.
I find myself reading the “Main Quest: New Light” again. I finally *read* the text. It sinks in that the very first quest that is given to me in the game-the *very first one*-says to grind your way to Power Level 770. My jaw hits the floor. It says to complete various activities to do so: Bounties, Quests, Strikes, and more. Okay! Well, it’s kind of disappointing that it took me almost twenty minutes to learn this, but at least we’re learning something and getting somewhere. (I’m a lot more annoyed at game time than I am writing this, and considerably downplaying my real-time irritation about it.) It means that I had been getting sub-quests all along and I didn’t realize it. I was supposed to complete the sub-quests in order to make progress on completing the Main Quest.
I find a soccer ball on the flight deck and kick it around a few times. It’s the first real gameplay I’ve experienced after 20 minutes. Otherwise it’s been a solid 20 minutes of reading text and trying to understand menus and buttons and user interface systems.
Now that I know I’m supposed to do the sub-quests, I decide to do “Introduction: Strikes” because it’s the first sub-quest I got from the Fringe guy. I tag it in my quest list. Now to figure out how to actually *do* it.
I open the map again. I click on the Destinations tab and find the green target where I tagged the Strike mission in my Quests list, over a thing called “The Vanguard.” I click on it.
It opens another screen with another green target. I note that it’s for “fireteams of 1-3 players,” which I assume means I can do this solo. I click on it.
I’m told I’m about to do “The Arms Dealer” Strike mission, whatever that is. I click on the Launch button.
I freak out when it says “Searching for Guardians…” and I escape out of it immediately. Apparently if my fireteam is smaller than 3 people, it will fill in random players to make up the difference. I have zero desire to do a 3-person PUG as my very first thing in a two-year-old game, knowing what I know about how universally awful veteran players are to new players. I don’t want to interact with any other players in any way, to be honest. I just want to mindlessly shoot stuff, exactly like I did in the tutorial. The tutorial was pretty great. There was one little public quest thing in the tutorial (just like the open beta) where a bunch of random nameless strangers appeared together in this one spot to mindlessly shoot a big thing with no coordinated strategy at all, which is the extent of social interaction that I want in a mindless shooting game. I spent a bunch of time searching the menus for a way to play this Strike thing solo, but came up empty. I assume it’s impossible and look for something else to do. I know, I’m really mixing up verb tenses in these things but this post is so much longer than I expected it to be and I’m pretty sick of editing it.
I find my way back to the Quests list and tag the “Introduction: Worlds” quest, because it’s the only other thing left to click on.
I open up the Destinations and see the green target now pointing me to the European Dead Zone on Earth, so I click on that.
I look for the green target to tell me where to go on the Earth map, and I don’t see it anywhere. By now I’ve forgotten about the Destiny icon that I looked at before, because I’m looking for a green target symbol. I scroll all over creation and get super frustrated because I’m tired and don’t want to play anymore and I escape out of the whole thing and quit the game after 28 minutes.

I can report that in the course of making this post, reviewing the screenshots and the video I recorded, I found several things I did wrong or didn’t notice the first time through. I’m reasonably confident that I was on the right track toward the end there, and if I click on the “Discover the EDZ” blue Destiny icon on that Earth map I’ll be able to play a solo mission and mindlessly shoot stuff and make progress on increasing my power level. [I was partially correct. I found mindless shooting but it wasn’t an instanced mission.]

So it wasn’t a total loss. But man, it sure *felt* like a total loss. It’s never a good idea to put a non-intuitive UI in front of me when I’m tired. I would have expected a lot better from Bungie, a company that I don’t know much about, but I know has been around for quite a while and made a lot of very successful games. I’ve never played any other Bungie games, so maybe this is normal for them, and someone whose played every Halo edition before would have instantly and intuitively understood how everything worked. Perhaps in the future I’ll be able to report that I successfully shot some stuff mindlessly. [I did.]

P. S. Posts like this are why it’s far, far easier and faster to just record a video of a gameplay experience than to write a blog post about it hehe.

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