When Destiny 2 came out, I offered to review it for Herr Biffo as what with all the excellent Found Footage stuff going on, as well as his secret training for a promotional appearance on Strictly Come Dancing dressed as a giant swan goujon doing the tango, his time hasn’t been available in binloads. Goujons have, but not time.
However, despite the busyness we hit on both doing a piece as we knew we were probably going to approach the game from 2 very different angles. You’ve probably already read Biffo’s review, so here’s mine – which, in somewhat of an achievement for a site that reviews games, is also not a review as such. Sorry.
You can go to any old gaming page and be told about how D2 looks great, plays beautifully, has tons more to do than the original, has more solid plans mapped out for future play and events, it’s easier than ever to hook up with other players to tackle the shared world content and so on.
To do another review like that would be retreading old ground, and wouldn’t tell you much more than you could get from press quotes off of adverts.
So instead, here’s what Destiny 2 is to me, and why. With further apologies as it all gets a bit personal (but don’t worry: not THAT personal – you won’t need wet wipes afterwards or anything).
Biffo rightly hits on the fact that life gets in the way of a lot of stuff you’d like to do – be it gaming, learning to do rad skilly skateboard tricks, or learning from tough kids down the park while you’re being wheeled into the ambulance that people no long use terms like ‘rad’ and ‘skilly’. And also that you’re too old to learn to skateboard.
But sometimes, life’s quirks mean that the problem isn’t not enough free time, but that most of your free time is in the wrong place.
What do I mean by that? Well, not that I literally have time in the wrong place, like a grandfather clock in my sock drawer and a microwave full of watches. No, this: my daughter is primary school age, so goes to bed early evening. My wife also tends to go to bed early because of a condition that often causes her fatigue. She copes with it like a champ, but suffice to say needs her sleep and lots of it.
This leaves me with many evenings to myself = lots of free time to do what I want. Lovely, eh? But: I also work at home so have most of the day on my own too, and consequently don’t have a social group from ‘the office’ either.
Going for a pint after work when you work on your own would be a little weird to say the least (who am I going to go with? The cat?). Plus I’m not a ‘pub’ guy who could go down the local every night and talk about Football Utd. beating Football Club FC in the footballing cup anyway without boring myself to death.
Before you crack out the tiny violins, 99% of the time I don’t mind this at all – I like working from home. In fact I’m here now, sat comfortably in a T-shirt and jeans, while all you dull suits are on your office phones shouting ‘Buy!’ and ‘Sell!’ and dreading your 2-hour commute home inevitably sat next to a flatulent, sweaty guy messily eating an egg curry baguette.
But occasionally, all this means I inevitably have a bit of a ‘human contact’ drought, and because of life’s circumstances the people I’d most like to spend my free time with to alleviate this – friends and family – just aren’t available.
Sure, I have chums I talk to on social media and email and the like, and I’m thankful for that (and for them not getting bored of me prattling on at them – or at least being polite enough not to tell me). But what Destiny/Destiny 2 does – and to be fair, what other games will do for other people – is fill a gap for me that tweets and posts can’t.
Talking to real people and doing a fun thing together is a little thing, but can make a big difference to how you feel.
Case in point: the other day I came home late after a long day of work meetings. I was knackered, a bit hacked off, and everyone was already in bed so I didn’t get to see anyone. I decided to play some Destiny 2 as quite a few of my friends were on. A couple of hours of gaming later and we finally cracked a bit of the raid we’d been struggling with for a week or so.
What could have been a day ending with me in a bad mood feeling decidedly blergh and a bit lonely turned into me feeling chuffed with a sense of achievement at what our team had pulled off. That lifted my grump no end.
Through the game, I’ve kept in touch with old friends and indeed made new friends through friends while tackling raids and other group activities. I’ve even found a common interest with my brother, who lives half the planet away and I hardly ever see in person.
Obviously, this isn’t so much of a review of D2 as a blurb on how – far from being an antisocial activity – gaming can be a hobby that can range from filling a bit of a hole as in my case to being a genuine lifeline to some people.
For me, Destiny 2 has revitalised this social ‘bonus’. It’s such an event game, it’s the first time in a long time that almost everyone I know is online and playing the same thing – and to put it simply, having what is in effect your social scene for a lot of the time expand is nice.
It’s just nice to talk to friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. That’s a pretty basic human thing, gaming-related or not.
I feel the need to try and tie this all up somehow though and make it mildly relevant to a review, so here goes: if Destiny 2 was rubbish to play, all this just wouldn’t happen. People wouldn’t play it or want to continue playing it, and nor would I. And games that have tried to emulate the social aspect but messed up the core gameplay (The Division springs to mind) are now all but dead.
So yeah, good game – and as a happy side-effect, one with non-gamey perks