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I don’t play online games. Random team connections and death-match meetups that are over within a few minutes just feel useless to me. A waste of time when so much story could be told instead. Still, these games are the most popular style on the market. And they’ve pushed the artistic value of games into the “dark reaches” for almost every AAA title that comes out.

After playing the Beta, Destiny was another game to throw on that pile. I enjoyed the shooting mechanics. I enjoyed the worlds I played in, but it felt like it was all built around the idea of earning skills and points to get stronger for the multiplayer. So I gave up.

When the initial reviews came in they were pretty weak, compared to all the hype before release. It was supposed to be a game changer, but we ended up with a solid shooter and not much story. My point proven, I gave myself a pat on the back for predicting this exact outcome and moved on.

It’s been almost two years since the game came out, and there have been more and more people playing. The release of long awaited DLC, and a Legendary Edition with all the game’s content in one box, people have gotten into the game more than ever before. I didn’t understand it, but I thought maybe I should give it another shot. I mean, I DID enjoy the Beta’s combat and controls, just not the game itself. Perhaps it was time to look with fresh eyes.

So I paid a ridiculously low sale price to check out the Legendary Edition, and went into Destiny for the first time since 2014…and I haven’t left.

There is little to no story available here. What you can glean from pieces of stories is enough to push the vague plot of “bad guys vs good guys” through a long-enough campaign. It works well enough, but I didn’t really know what my role was throughout the entire game except “Shooter.” It was frustrating in some ways, but the mechanics kept me interested enough to keep pushing forward.

And there is a heavy Versus Multiplayer focus as well. Which is not my thing… but the mechanics translated better from Story to Multiplayer than any other game I’ve played. It’s a surprisingly satisfying game mode, though it’s not what I’m here to talk about.

Destiny is a fantastically unique experience that can only come from the interactivity of games. Dropping onto a planet only to find several players from all over the world in the middle of a firefight – all of them working together to clear a force of evil. Being teamed up with players in a Strike to take out a massive boss, after clearing hordes of enemies together – and reviving them in a hail of gunfire, because they need you and you need them. Letting off a little steam in the Tower with a solo, silent dance party – and being joined by anyone nearby who happens to feel the urge.

Yeah, the dance party thing is silly, but it still paints a different picture when you’re in the world: there’s more to a game than its story.

I can’t described the feeling of how I felt a part of a team in this game. It’s an immersive thing I’ve never really known before. You see gamer-tags above the heads of your teammates – and often they’re ridiculous – but you connect with that person because of a similar goal. You know they want what you want. You know they need you as much as you need them. And you feel bad when you let them down. You feel fury when they’re taken out – and fear that you may not survive yourself. You feel connected, not competition, and that’s something I never thought would be possible. Not without couch co-op, anyway.

Of course, there have been games that have done this in the past. World of Warcraft has spawned many friendships in the real world, as well as online, but Destiny plays in a more realistic space. It isn’t cartoony or fantastical, instead it’s dark and foreboding. It has all the trappings of an over-top-RPG (wizards, oversized bosses and the like), but it never seems to be “too much.” And the extremely responsive controls take a great step toward immersion on a level that other games should strive for. At least I hope they will.

After two years, Destiny has been reviewed by plenty of people. Not much else can be said on that front. But the experience I’ve had isn’t one that gets discussion in many places. It doesn’t come from blazing through the game in its review window, it comes from experiencing the game over a longer period. It comes from being pulled into the world, and internalizing all you experience. I’m not saying the reviews are wrong, in fact, most of what I’ve read is spot on with how I feel about the game on its surface. But there is nothing like Destiny when you’re playing it. Smooth, immersive, and a feeling of teamwork that no one else has touched.

I’m not saying try it, buy it, or any of the reviewer standbys, I’m saying it’s an experience I’ve never had before. And I can’t wait for Destiny 2.

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