Five Years Of Reporting From The Last City – Iron Banter: This Week In Destiny 2

Five Years Of Reporting From The Last City – Iron Banter: This Week In Destiny 2

Almost every week brings something new Destiny 2, whether it’s story beats, new activities, or interesting new item combinations that allow players to destroy each other in the Crucible. Iron Banter is our weekly look at what’s happening in the world of Destiny and a roundup of what’s catching our attention across the solar system.

Destiny 2’s story is one of evolution. While the core of the game has always been the same as it is now–it’s about shooting aliens, and shooting aliens is very satisfying–just about everything else that makes shooting aliens easier has undergone massive changes. Both on purpose and by accident, I’ve covered Destiny 2 throughout its life and witnessed every tweak, iteration, change, expansion, season, and hotfix since its release.

There are very few games like Destiny, if any. I’ve never seen a game go through so much invention and reinvention, or spend so much time discovering its identity and evolving into it so well. Also, I’ve never had a toy with me to the extent that this one has. I haven’t always liked Destiny 2 over the course of its history, but it’s always impressed me — its scope, its ideas, its ambition. Especially in the second half of its life, I think Destiny 2 finally became the game that Bungie introduced until 2013.

It’s both Destiny 2’s five-year anniversary month and my last Iron Banter column as I move on from GameSpot and games journalism and think about the big picture of my time covering Destiny 2 — a big chunk of my career, it seems. And I think it’s this progression that has made sticking with Destiny 2 worth it for the past five years. It can be easy to forget the way things were – which is why we’ve chronicled some of the biggest changes the game has undergone in the last five years – and in doing so, it can be easy to lose track of the ups and downs of the past and how far Destiny 2, the game’s community, and Bungie have come in that time.

A photo from the Destiny cover 2 centuries ago.
A photo from the Destiny cover 2 centuries ago.

The conversations I have about Destiny 2’s past are always weird. Elements of the past that were disappointing and derided at the time are fondly remembered. The strongest moments in the game’s history are similarly seen as weaker than they were at the time. Destiny 2 is a difficult game, especially through the drifting fog of memory, and that’s made worse by the way it’s discussed at times. Ideas and interpretations are shared among Destiny’s large, strong, very active community, and this colors how things are perceived over time.

For example: the Red War campaign. A conversation I had this week with GameSpot’s David Ahmadi ran through the gamut of our feelings about Destiny 2’s vanilla story. I look back on it fondly, mostly because I felt like it was a big improvement over the storytelling at the time of Destiny 1, while also being a campaign that did a lot to introduce the world and characters, while furthering those elements in important, interesting ways. David recalls an apocalyptic tone, too many silly Cayde-6 moments and a lack of content. And I would say that both things are true. I think we are both right.

There are very few games that exist in such a context — very few games do history like Destiny 2. Among video games, it’s unusual to have this shared experience that we all remember a little differently, and constantly discuss and re-iterate through our interactions with each other. If I had to pinpoint the single reason why I’ve spent so much time paying attention to this game and why I became a (huge) fan when I once actively disliked Destiny, this is it. What makes Destiny 2 exciting is that it is more than the sum of its parts. It’s more than the stories it tells, the content it features, the alien shooting that makes it fun, and the community that surrounds it.

It’s strange to have so much shared history around a single video game, to have it occupy so much space. Its gravity, however, suggests to me that the story is worth keeping, and that’s something I hope Bungie makes an effort in the future. It’s not just disappointing that new players can’t experience old Destiny 2 content — it’s that we don’t get to see that story again. It’s hard to look at where we’ve been to understand how we got to where we are.

However, this is a sign of what attracts me to this game: its evolution. There’s something important about the fact that there are moments of Destiny that you can’t get back, that happened and are now gone. In a way, it elevates the experience beyond that of another entertainment product. I know many players struggle with the “fear of missing out” or are annoyed that they can’t visit the beginning of the game. But I think what has made Destiny 2 special over the past five years is the fact that it will never be what it used to be. Keeping the story alive is important as a flashback, but the real strength of the game itself is that it has changed and can change. It can be more than it is, and we can go on this ride together and contribute to it.

This is something I hope the creators of Destiny 2 and its community keep in mind going forward. Disappointments are fleeting, but the special thing about this thing is that we’re all here, watching it change, participating in those changes, and maybe changing with it. I’ve spent a lot of time with a lot of video games, but none of them have felt like Destiny 2, in its ups and downs. Waiting to see where the game might go next, and what its community might become as it moves forward with it, are the reasons I’ve been hanging around for the past five years. And while I may not be covering Destiny 2 or video games anymore, these are the reasons I’m not going anywhere.

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