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My First 24 Hours With 'Destiny 2: Shadowkeep' Largely Involved Not Playing

Broken servers and long waits plagued Shadowkeep's launch. The opening hours made up for it.

by Ricardo Contreras
Oct 2 2019, 9:08pm

Image courtesy of Bungie

This should be a review. I should be telling you about how I lost it when I first saw [REDACTED]. Or how much the moon has changed since Destiny, with new areas and surprises meshing seamlessly with a map I had memorised long ago. I should be talking about how exciting it is to actually feel invested in the story of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, given how lackluster the story missions from previous campaigns have been. I want to tell you all of this and more about Shadowkeep, launched yesterday and marked a historic shift towards independence for the franchise and Bungie as a studio, but I’m not, because it took me a long time to get there.

Rewind to yesterday afternoon. I was staring at the clock. My hands were typing out a transcription of Rob and Austin talking about Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, and my ears were technically listening to the clip I was transcribing, but my mind (and eyes) were elsewhere. It was mere minutes away from the launch of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep. I wouldn’t be able to join as soon as it launched—I still had to finish that podcast article—butI figured it’d be fine; Destiny is prone to having shaky launches around their bigger releases. Surely in a few hours, everything will have been smoothed out and I’d be joining my fellow guardians on the moon.

Screenshot from Destiny 2: Shadowkeep. Three guardians on the surface of the moon. The surface has been cracked open with green gas seeping out. In the background, a single red tower marks the position of the Scarlet Keep
Image courtesy of Bungie

When I’d finally finished transcribing, as excited as I was to play and stream Destiny for the rest of the day, I decided to grab lunch and do a few errands first, completely unaware of the server issues that were compounding at the same time. While there were initial signs of instability, many people were able to log on as soon as the servers went live. Then, the deluge hit. According to PC Gamer, Destiny was just past 200,000 concurrents on Steam before the servers crashed and were then taken offline for “emergency maintenance.”

I had just hit play on Steam when this tweet went out, and watched as the Destiny directory on Twitch filled up with thumbnails of the login screen. I was put into a login queue, number 15,728. Next, 30 minutes of watching that number go down until I was finally able to load into the game.

Deflated, I jumped into Breakpoint while I waited. I kept the game running on my second screen, hoping for any sign of life. It would be another three hours before I could finally log in. I had done everything I needed to be ready. I merged my PS4 account with my PC one, I made sure to sign up for the PC migration from Battle.net to Steam. I even took the time to sort through my inventory and get rid of old armor and weapons I wouldn’t be using anymore.

Eventually, the dam broke for me—and a large part of the community. Destiny was open.

The first mission of Shadowkeep has you assaulting the new enemy base on the moon, and it loads in as many players as it can. Eris Morn, a beloved character that’s been missing since the beginning of Destiny 2, is back to let us know that The Moon’s Haunted, and it’s up to the Guardians of the Last City to stop whatever dark rituals are taking place there. All at once, I was in the middle of a large scale battle, with friends and enemies on every side of me, airships flying overhead, and tanks filled with other players rolling up to the Scarlet Keep. It felt amazing to be a part of this wave of people, together charging headfirst into the exhilarating unknown, much like Destiny’s future itself.

For as much as the downtime frustrated me, the opening mission of Shadowkeep was appropriately bombastic, and tapped into the feeling of being a part of a larger community experiencing something new for the first time. Despite a rocky start, I’m so glad to finally be on the moon.

-The campaign starts strong, and the enemies are stronger, too. The story missions aren’t fooling around—enemies hit harder and can withstand more punishment. This level of challenge is a first for Destiny, whose campaigns have traditionally been tuned to be pretty easy. To help out they’ve added a new finisher mechanic, where when an enemy is near death, they glow and you can use a finisher. You have to be in melee range to do it, and while the flashy animation might get old quickly, for now it feels great to finish off a beefy enemy with a martial arts style open palm thrust.

-Bungie has still not learned how to properly signal when a quest is part of a campaign. Even as a veteran player, I was confused when at one point the story missions stopped without a clear direction. Turns out, I was meant to “cleanse” a macguffin I was given at the end of the last mission by doing various tasks on the moon’s patrol zone.

- Tonight I hope to finish off the campaign and start digging into the end game. A lot of last year’s expansion’s best moments were in the "post-credits" quests that took the player to some unexpected places and paid off on plot lines they had started back in Destiny 1. Shadowkeep's campaign is already more interesting, and that has me excited to see what other secrets the moon holds.