You never forget your first time.. (Destiny)

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Wednesday, November 24, 2021, 11:15 (217 days ago) @ CyberKN
edited by Kermit, Wednesday, November 24, 2021, 11:22

I wrote this review about two weeks ago just after the assembled DBO crew helped me finish the raid. I neglected to post it right away, to let my thoughts marinate a bit, do a bit of research, and see if my opinion on it warmed up. It did not.


This section of Cairo Station is burned into my brain. Not because I died a lot to the jetpack elites (I did die a lot to the jetpack elites on legendary), but because it’s the first time in Halo that a player ventures out into the vacuum of space.

The skybox opens up, gravity is suddenly a fraction of normal, and this chill tune starts playing as I play cat-and-mouse with the remainder of the enemy forces in the area:

Shortly after I re-enter the station, I venture outside again, but now my battleground is the firing mechanism of Cairo station’s skyscraper-sized MAC gun. I have to contend traversing it in low-gravity with dodging incoming fire from another trio of elites.


The MAC’s barrel towers overhead, and I watch an absolutely massive covenant cruiser tear past the station, on its way towards the earth below. It always takes me a few moments to get my bearings, with the platform rhythmically inverting it’s slope as the gun reloads and fires, over and over.


In contrast, Deep Stone Crypt’s “spacewalk” section didn’t really elicit any emotional reaction in me whatsoever. It’s a bog-standard platforming puzzle with static platforms and slow-moving turbine obstacles. The music is nice. The atmosphere is fine. I would have expected the encounter’s unique twist on the Destiny jumping puzzle formula to be altering the gravity, since we know that functionality is a thing Bungie can alter on-the-fly in D2. But no, it’s just some pretty music and VO from the station’s caretaker. Occasionally, shanks appear to harass you.

The raid’s main mechanic, of having select players with specific buffs that allow them to see or interact with things that other players can’t, feels so incredibly formulaic at this point. It works as a thing to keep players on their toes, but personally I’m just kinda sick of seeing this mechanic pop up, over and over, in D2's raids.

The final boss… exists? It does its “job” in that it makes use of all the prior introduced mechanics, but it also feels really anti-climactic, especially after the conclusion of the prior encounter.

The narrative motivation of the raid feels a bit same-y to Rise of Iron, where we just need to stop the Fallen from getting their hands on golden-age tech. I had to go back and read a transcript of the raid dialogue afterwards to get the whole thread of what led from one encounter to another. It seems a bit easy to miss in the moment.

I can’t figure out why many people hold this raid up as “the best”. The encounters present a decent level of difficulty, but nothing jumps as new or interesting. I wrote a little piece five years ago (Wait, what? That can’t be right...) about how I believe those are the most important qualities of a raid. Maybe there was some incredible, unmatched zeitgeist around DSC when it was new, I don’t know. I’d like to hear people’s thoughts, now that I don’t have to worry about spoilers.

The one exception I can think of, where I actually felt that twinge of old-school raiding excitement, was when I was performing the role of operator in the initial security room encounter. I’m alone, separated from everyone else in my fireteam, dodging stealth vandals in a mysterious, poorly-lit server room, as I path around to my objectives- objectives I must complete quickly, before the room catches on fire and my guardian begins to cook. That was my favourite part of the whole experience.

In summary,

DSC is “fine”. It’s a perfectly acceptable piece of endgame content. I just think everything it does has already been done much better, by Bungie themselves.

As soon as I saw that Halo 2 screen capture, I knew we were in trouble. :) I also remembered your comment about the gravity outside during our run. Yes, low-gravity makes sense and would've been cool--perhaps it was a missed opportunity. After all, Bungie has been doing low-gravity gameplay since 1994, but to me this is one of those sections of Destiny where the music and atmosphere work perfectly and the gameplay is almost incidental.. I felt similarly about "The Journey" levels when D2 came out (escaping the city, then retaking it--content now vaulted, sadly).

Then there's the timing of the raid, which was shortly after finally getting to Europa, and uncovering some pretty big chunks of Destiny lore, it all just worked for me. A lot of this is subjective, of course. The Vex are the most fascinating enemy to me, but the Fallen are probably my second favorite, perhaps because I see them as scrappy like us, with a similar history. At bottom are the Hive, who kind of bore me--too insect-like in behavior and the whole Mordor schtick isn't my favorite. Fighting them in dark caverns and towers just wears me down after a while. Destiny wouldn't be Destiny without that content, but aesthetically, it's just not my favorite, whereas golden age tech is. I loved the Arcology on Titan. I love most everything about Europa, and that's a big part of why I love DSC.

Gameplay-wise, every stage was built on what came before, and I suppose that in itself could seem formulaic at this point, but I thought they followed the formula very well. It is very challenging when you don't know what you're doing, but is (or was?) much less so when you do, and I like that combination. DSC had surprises. I agree with squid regarding the space walk. It probably has a bigger impact when you've just experienced as a group the surprise that you go to space (SPACE! in raid called "crypt"), or when you spend hours trying to beat the previous encounter, and some of that time is spent thinking that getting outside through the airlocks is part of what needs to happen, and then you take in the amazing view of the space station after beating that Atraks encounter and everybody agrees it would be cool if you could actually go out out there... AND THEN YOU DO. And I'll say again, the music was perfect. With our group we sauntered through there like we'd been there plenty before because we had--it's like watching a movie with people who'd already seen it. They're chattering about whatever, and that's bound to affect the experience.

This is why I love blind raiding so much, and there's really no substitute. I was disappointed to hear you didn't realize we were deorbiting during the penultimate fight, and I blame that on the unfortunate fact that you were handed the mechanics, and we pretty much did it in one or two tries, and therefore you weren't in the environment long enough to notice what was happening. We certainly noticed during the blind run, and we thought it was freaking cool! Maybe not ninjas on fire cool, but unexpectedly going to a space station, having to traverse its exterior, then having to escape it while it plunges from orbit felt pretty darn cool during our blind run.

So it could be nostalgia or my tastes or what have you, but the bottom line is, for better or for worse, FOMO is kind of justified for certain experiences in Destiny. You kinda have to be there. Is it worth it? Sometimes I think not. it all came together for me in DSC, and I'm always up for a run.

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