Over the summer, I started playing Destiny 2 with my brother. We were both big fans of the first one, though divided by console choice and unable to play together. With his getting a PS4 and a summer of quarantine, it was time to dive into the sequel in a big way. Then we stopped for a while until a mutual friend picked up Destiny meaning it was time to fireteam up and challenge some Dungeons and go on Strike after Strike.
Destiny 2 is every bit the chaotic mess the first one was, and it’s every bit as fun. The story makes more sense than the original, helped along by actual cutscenes and plot and character beyond talks of Crota and Oryx and Rasputin. Not to say it’s super clear; there’s a hilarious meme that does a pretty great job of showing how it sounds to anyone not super versed in it. But play enough of Destiny 2 and it makes enough sense for the world to feel like this big playground to have fun in. Yeah, let’s go fight the Hive on the Moon, or maybe do some Gambit for the Drifter. Tonight, we’re planning on going to Europa where there’s a mysterious call and something about a new band of Fallen threatening, uh, something.
The game is helped by its fantastic gameplay, but I love the world of Destiny even if it’s a narrative jumble. The game has always been good at building a world around the player, one that actively invites you to be a part of it. See, in Destiny, anyone can be one of the Guardians, people resurrected by a Ghost and given the Light of the Traveller to essentially become immortal bad guy fighting heroes. You die? Just gonna resurrect you again so you can carry on with your adventure. You’re not ‘breaking’ the narrative when you screw up, it’s just part of the story. Plus, in bits of lore, some Guardians are portrayed as being foolhardy and reckless, equally interested in grabbing some dope loot as they are with stopping the Darkness.
So when my friends and I are goofing around in a Strike and messing with each other and complaining about loot we’re very much making our own legend in Destiny, carving out our own story in the world conjured by the game.
I wonder why it is that a game like Destiny captures my imagination as much as it does. I’m sure part of it is that it’s a planetary romance meets epic fantasy meets futurism world, but I think a lot of it is how it invites you in. Consider how Harry Potter commands such a wild fandom. A lot of it is the book and all, sure, but there’s also the space for you to imagine yourself within its world. Which house would you belong to at Hogwarts? What sort of adventures would you go on? Harry and friends can go do their thing, but there’s enough space in the margins for you to do yours. There are reams of fan fiction out there, more than a few of which consist of folks making their own characters to do their own thing. There’s this world to play in.
Star Wars is another universe with enough lore to allow for a whole lot of fun to be had. Look at the success of The Mandalorian, a tv show that exists beyond the bounds of the movies and is free to do its own thing, all while hinting at a bigger world. You’ve got the Imperial Remnant, bounty hunters, and New Republic marshals all doing their things. It’s a wonderful reminder that the galaxy far, far away is a big sandbox for people to play in and make their own stories, a sentiment espoused by many writers of the old Expanded Universe (Timothy Zahn of the Thrawn Trilogy described it as getting to play with George Lucas’ toys and bring his own to the sandbox). Letting these stories thrive is so much fun, because there’s space for stories of bounty hunters in Star Wars, and stories of Jedi adventures, and all those new shows that Disney announced recently. Somewhere in there, yeah, there’s space for your fan fiction too.
There are some worlds that make for great playgrounds, great sandboxes to mess around in. Destiny is one of those worlds that’s just plain fun, one that excites the imagination and invites you in for more. So tonight, I’m going to explore Europa with my fireteam, and there will probably be hijinks along the way. ‘cuz that’s how my story in this world is gonna go, and you can’t tell me I’m wrong.