For a week and a half, I was privileged to be able to play BUNGiE’s First Look Alpha build of their upcoming new title Destiny. This has been one of my most anticipated gaming titles, and being able to get a sneak peek at their next big thing was an amazing experience. With the lifting of the media embargo last week, there are already a lot of resources out there to get a sense of what Destiny is all about, so I won’t rehash those. A quick Google search will turn up a wealth of information about this new IP. I do, however, want to add my own take on the game with regard to what I most enjoyed about the Alpha and what I’m most looking forward to about the finished game. Continue reading The Casual Gamer: Destiny First Look Alpha
This past week I entered the ranks of next-generation gamers. What’s remarkable about this, at least for me, is that this is probably the earliest in a new console cycle that I’ve acquired a next-gen system. When I received my first-gen Xbox as a gift, that system had already been on the market for two or three years. The Xbox 360 had been out for nearly two by the time I acquired one. This time around, both the Xbox One and the PS4 have been out for just a handful of months. It’s… odd being a (relatively) early adopter, and the decision about which console to purchase first was not an easy one.
I’ve been an Xbox fan for years. I originally acquired an Xbox because I wanted to play Halo, which was surprising in itself. Shooters aren’t typically my bag. When the 360 came out and the Halo franchise continued on that system, upgrading was a no-brainer. I barely even looked at the Playstation line. Sony had few exclusive titles for its console that interested me, and the few that did still didn’t make it worth investing in the Playstation ecosystem.
Then this past year, Microsoft and Sony both revealed their next generation consoles, along with several titles that would be appearing in the first year’s library (and beyond). Most of these titles were cross-platform, and both consoles touted powerful features that made them highly attractive options. For the first time, I actually found myself actively interested in both consoles. The decision to upgrade was suddenly vastly more complicated, since the individual price points for the consoles would make it impossible to adopt both at the same time. Whichever one I purchased first meant it would be a while before I could acquire the other.
Ultimately, the decision came down to a single game, ironically one that will be available on both systems. Which, of course, is the reason why I ended up acquiring a PS4 first.
The one title I’ve been looking forward to for the better part of two years has been the forthcoming Destiny from Bungie. Ever since Bungie passed the Mantle of responsibility for the Halo franchise over to Microsoft and 343 Industries, I’ve been eagerly awaiting their next Big Thing. Destiny is that thing. Originally, I’d planned to follow with tradition and play Destiny exclusively on the Xbox One. I’m already well invested in that particular ecosystem, after all. But the more I’ve learned about Destiny over the past few months, the more I’m convinced that the premium Destiny experience will be found on the PS4. All other things being more or less equal, this ultimately was the final tipping point in my choice of next-gen systems.
2. Tied the Leader
One of the factors in this equation that made this decision so difficult was considering the clan I’ve been a part of since the Halo 2 days — Tied the Leader. The Gunslingers have been like a second family to me for years, providing an armed escort that is focused on sportsmanship, camaraderie, and teamwork whenever venturing into the killing fields. TTL has taken a casual stance of adopting the Xbox One as our clan’s primary next-gen console, which meant that if I went with the PS4 first I would potentially be cutting myself off from my allies on the battlefield. Many of the Gunslingers have stated, however, that they plan to keep at least one Guardian in the PS4 ecosystem, so I’m optimistic I’ll still be able to have my Gunslinger escort whenever I go out to reclaim our lost worlds from the encroaching Darkness.
3. Time Is Scarce
With a full-time job, a farm to run (which may as well be a second full-time job), a family that includes two small children (one currently less than three months old), and various other obligations, my time to game is sparse. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve gotten any games in with my fellow Gunslingers, who have themselves moved on to other shooters. TTL is no longer a Halo-exclusive clan, and that’s a good thing. What that translates into, though, is that, even if I had more time to game, I probably still wouldn’t be playing much with TTL. The shooters they play aren’t generally attractive to my own interests, so I feel like what little time I have to game is better spent on titles I’ll actually enjoy. Trying to ramrod gaming sessions into an already busy schedule just to have a little face time with the Gunslingers doesn’t make sense. Destiny will, of course, be the exception to that rule because A) it’s a Bungie shooter, B) it’s going to be a rich mythic sci-fi story, and C) it’s a multiplayer game I’m actually interested in. Knowing there will be Gunslingers playing Destiny on the PS4 made it that much easier to move in that direction first.
There are a dozen other little factors that played into my choice, ultimately, very few of which would be interesting or relevant to anyone but me. I’ve had my PS4 for just under a week now, and I’m already very happy with the decision. I do plan to acquire an Xbox One sometime in the next year, hopefully before Halo 5: Guardians launches (which, incidentally, is another case of a single title driving a console purchase decision). Most of the games I buy for that system are similarly likely to be single-player games, because that’s what I can fit into my busy schedule. It’s an interesting time to be a gamer, and I’m looking forward to seeing what new titles are added to the libraries for both systems in the next year.
New piece of Destiny fan fiction I wrote last week. This one merits a bit of explanation. I wrote it as a kind of transition piece for my clan, Tied the Leader. The TTL Gunslingers were founded on and modeled a bit after Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. At the time we were a Halo-exclusive clan, so the moniker was appropriate for the kind of game we played. Now with Destiny, the title of ‘gunslinger’ still holds (especially since there’s a particular build of Hunter that carries the same name). This story is meant to represent TTL’s passage from one Bungie title to the next.
Out Of Darkness, Unto Destiny
He stands on a low hillside, looking out over the grassland stretching before him. The night presses in on him, wrapping around him like a cape, cloaking him in darkness. It is late, and the moon has not yet risen, but still his sharp eyes can pick out every detail of the landscape below. The wide brim of his hat hides his eyes in complete darkness, shielding them even from what little starlight filters down through the clouds above.
He stands straight and tall, despite the burden of his passage to get here. A pair of six-shooters — the last of their kind, for all he knows — hangs low and heavy on his hips. He barely notices their weight. He has carried them for so long that they are now almost a part of him, an extension of his own body. They have not been fired in a dog’s age, yet they have been meticulously cared for. He suspects they will not be out of place here.
Echoes of the words that brought him here (“There are other worlds than these…”), spoken not to him but to a distant ancestor, still ring inside his skull like a bell. They repeat like a geas, driving him onward, urging him toward… something. He knows the truth of those words, though, knows them all too well. He has passed through more than one doorway, portals through space and time. They have brought him here now, to this “where,” to this “when.” He is not certain yet what his appointed task will be, but he knows he will not have to wait long to find out.
A burst of gunfire draws his attention, and his hands reflexively drop to his pistols. He does not draw them, for one does not draw iron unless one intends to kill (I kill with my heart, that old, familiar creed whispers in the back of his mind), but he readies himself for action. He looks in the direction of the gunfire, and sees a figure running as though all the hounds of hell are on her heels. He absently notes with approval her resourcefulness; her gear has clearly been scavenged from whatever cast-offs she has come across in her travels. A tattered cape flutters behind her as she runs. She wears a helmet that glows faintly with a low blue light, a kind of new technology that he has not run into before.
The six low creatures that pursue her are like nothing he has ever seen. They are fleet of foot and deeply alien. They too bear helmets and armor that have seen better days. Most have four arms, giving them a vaguely insect- or spider-like appearance that he finds unsettling. All have weapons of their own and are using them now to fire on the figure that runs before them.
He takes a step as though to enter the battle, the champion within him rising to her defense — then stops. She dives forward just as one of the creatures fires on her. She hits the ground with a roll, coming up holding a pistol so much like his own that he starts with surprise. Three time she fires, and three times the bullets find their mark. Her pursuit has been reduced by half. The corners of his mouth turn up appreciatively, the closest his lips have been to a smile in years. The woman is a gunslinger in her own right — not unheard of, of course, but not common from where he comes, either. He relaxes his grip on his pistols and leans back on his heels to observe, confident that she is more than capable of taking care of herself.
Her counterattack has reduced her lead substantially, but the remaining creatures are more wary now, more cautious, and are giving her a wider berth. They have seen what she can do and are reluctant to give her an excuse to unleash more of her fury upon them. It doesn’t matter. The night is lit briefly by a ball of purple energy that falls out of the sky, as though a piece of the sun has been hurled Earthside. It explodes on the ground near the figure, obliterating two more of the creatures. A moment later a second figure descends smoothly from a gliding arc to stand next to the first, this one wearing a cloak that would not have been out of place on one of the gunslingers of old. A heartbeat, and a third figure emerges from the darkness to stand next to the other two, this one enormous and covered head to toe in steel like one of the knights of Arthur Eld’s court.
The sole remaining creature roars defiantly before turning and loping off into the darkness. The three figures let it go without pursuit. Word of what has happened here will pass among others of the creature’s kind, and perhaps they will be more reticent to attack these figures in the future. They are gunslingers, to be sure, but they are also something more. It is these, he is sure now, that he was meant to find.
The three of them appear to confer for a moment, and one of them produces a glowing orb that takes flight and moves rapidly around their heads. Whether magic or technology he cannot determine, not from this distance, but he suspects it is probably some combination of the two. It would not be the first time a civilization had used one to harness the other.
This is why he is here now, he is certain of it, but the time is still not yet right for him to reveal his presence to these people. That moment will arrive soon, but there are other things he must do before then. He turns and slips away quietly before he can be discovered, an aura of golden light glowing faintly around each of his pistols.
The sun rises above the Enceladean horizon, and the small moon’s icy surface immediately begins to sublimate. Wisps of vapor rise and dance, looking for all the world like tendrils of delicate smoke. The vapor coils and writhes and is carried through the thin atmosphere by the barest whisper of a breeze.
A moment later, a figure cuts through the fog, and for the briefest of seconds, she looks as though she is wearing the mist like a cape, as though the entire surface of this little moon exists for the sole purpose of cloaking the Hunter in mystery and wonderment. Then, as she continues pacing forward, the illusion is broken, and the vapor swirls to fill the void she has left behind her. She pays the mist no mind.
This is the good stuff.
Traxis packs the last of her gear into her satchel and snaps the buckle closed. She hoists it over her head and settles the strap over her right shoulder, reaching behind her to adjust the satchel until it rests comfortably in the small of her back. Her Hunter’s cloak is draped across the back of a chair, and she deftly snags it in one hand as she strides across the room, snapping it to her shoulders with practiced grace. The mirrorweave shimmers briefly as it adapts to the colors of her room, ultimately settling on a pattern that best blends into her current environment.
She paces to a blank wall, which dissolves at her approach to reveal a hidden weapons cache. Inside are a dozen firearms — mostly rifles but also a couple of smaller pistols — and a handful of short knives. The guns represent her favored discoveries from her forays throughout the solar system. They have all saved her life on one occasion or another, several more than once. They are all dear to her, and she guards them fiercely.
Traxis selects a long-barreled rifle now, lifting it reverently from its cradle in the wall. It is a sniper rifle named No Quarter, and of all her weapons, it is the one most precious to her. At a meter-and-a-half, it is nearly as long as she is tall, but it is so light and perfectly balanced that its ungainly length is never a disadvantage. In Traxis’ hands, No Quarter is exceedingly lethal, and more than a few enemies have felt its merciless bite.
She snaps a mid-range scope — she has wall duty today — onto the rifle’s barrel and slams home two modular attachments into the stock. One is a super-efficient heat sink, allowing her the option of rapid fire without overheating — and subsequently jamming — the rifle. The other magnetically accelerates every round she fires. Against organics, it is merely adding insult to injury. Against Vex, it can mean the difference between winging one of the damnable robots and hitting it with a kill shot.
She reaches up and fits her mask to her face. She doesn’t need it here, of course. The air in the city is perfectly breathable, but Traxis is a Hunter. She prefers solitude and isolation, and the teeming masses of the city are neither of those things. Her mask gives her a barrier, an excuse to avoid eye contact and empty platitudes.
Traxis steps from her room, sealing the door behind her. No Quarter is slung across her back, ready to draw blood in defense of the city and, by extension, The Traveler. She inhales deeply, taking in the smells of the city around her. These are the people she has sworn to protect. She exhales, repeating her personal mantra before setting out for her post on the wall.
“No Quarter,” she breathes. “Forward unto Destiny.”
The story above is a work of fan fiction. Destiny is a registered trademark of Bungie, LLC.
This is it. It’s a tantalizing glimpse into what’s to come.
A) I know this guy. (See Tied The Leader, the clan I’ve been a member of for, well, years now.)
B) Bungie is, as always, one of the best video game companies in the business. For so many reasons.
C) Bungie + DeeJ = too much awesome