What Makes 'Destiny' Loot Special Is the Stories Behind It
As players begin to process the idea of leaving their equipment behind for the sequel, a few players share their tales.
When Bungie announced its ambitious plans for Destiny, it came with an equally ambitious 10-year plan for the "expansion and evolution" of the game, stressing players would have a "relationship with the same character for a very long time," carrying over to inevitable sequels. That was back in 2014. Ahead of revealing Destiny 2, or whatever it's ultimately called. Bungie announced last week that players could bring their characters over to the sequel—but that's about it.
"Sequels represent the start of a new adventure for every player, with new worlds to explore, new stories to tell, new powers to acquire, new loot to earn, and much more," the company said at the time. "This led us to a decision that would enable us to serve both the game and the player's best interests."
It's proven a contentious decision among Destiny players, one hardcore fans will have to come to terms with between now and the sequel's release, currently set for later this year. People don't usually dump 10 or 20 hours into Destiny. If the game clicks, it clicks, and you're one of the obsessed, marking your time with the game in days, not hours. A lot can happen over that time, including emotional investment in not only your character, but the equipment they carry around.
When I asked Destiny players to send me their reactions to the news, most said it was the right move for a game that's gone through a lot of changes in the last few years, as Bungie (and players) have better understood what works.
"This game has given me friendships that will last for years. I've talked about my real life struggles with them, and they to me," said Destiny player Luke Underwood. "I've experienced the loss of a dear dear friend I looked to as a mentor. I couldn't put a price on the amount of enjoyment I've gotten out of this game, on the friends I've made, the inside jokes that have spawned, the camaraderie of overcoming something that seemed insurmountable. I can't put a price on it. That's the important stuff to me, and I get to bring that with me."
Other stories were more specific, like the one told to me by Josh Reding about beltane and his online buddy, BallhogOrMVP. For those unfamiliar, beltane is one of the shaders you can collect in the game. (Shaders alter the color of armor). To obtain beltane, players had to painstakingly collect all 50 calcified fragment collectibles in the game, a wholly annoying task that I gave up on rather quickly.
"BallhogOrMVP is a dedicated family man," said Reding, "and he often is found playing Destiny with his son. He is a great teammate and is obsessed with the fashion side of Destiny, and, specifically, he loves this shader. I was there when he collected his final fragment and went to enjoy the fruits of his labor so, only to find the game had glitched. There was no beltane awaiting him at the tower. After a hard reset, still no shader."
Despite support emails to Bungie, the shader never arrived. For months, BallhogOrMVP's lack of beltane became a running joke, a way to rib him. They would occasionally wear beltane to mock him—before ditching it to show solidarity.
Eight months later, for reasons no one quite knows, things changed.
"On a random afternoon, I signed in only to find him garbed in the glorious glow of the beltane shader," he said. "He could not have been happier. He had found it the previous day and wanted everyone in the world to know just how stoked he was to finally receive his beloved beltane shader."
For many, beltane was just another color option, something they got while collecting calcified fragments because it was a thing to do. But for Reding and BallhogOrMVP, beltane was imbued with purpose because of the story behind it.
"I've never felt sentimental about a gun in a game before, not in this way."
"I could not tell you the name of any piece of armor my guardian is wearing right now," he said. "Or the shader or the engram that shows my guardian's colors. I can name a handful of my favorite weapons, but not a single piece of gear means as much as beltane. It is forever etched as a part of my gaming history. The ironic part of it all, is I think it is a smart move for Bungie to wipe the slate clean in terms of loot. Rebalancing is an integral part of any transition. But the shaders hold no value, no value beyond what is ascribed to them by the players."
Another player I spoke to, Patrick Price has, so far, invested more than 1,250 hours—roughly 52 days—into Destiny, with much of his intensive playing time happening during an unplanned lapse in employment. Like others, Price agrees with Bungie's decision, believing it's a move that can let Destiny "be the game it always dreamed of being, rather than the one that we tolerate because of its strengths."
But Price hasn't yet made peace with losing his beloved Imago Loop Hand Cannon.
"I've never felt sentimental about a gun in a game before, not in this way," he said.
The hand cannon appeared to Price as a random drop when he first started playing. At the time, he didn't realize it was something other players might covet—he thought it looked cool. (Players wanted the Imago Loop Hand Cannon because it was a) rare and b) had great stats.)
"I could reload fast and I kept my radar up," he said. "It did nothing super special, it was just good at it's job and looked cool."
There are countless weapons in Destiny, but this was his go-to. He became more attached to the Imago Loop Hand Cannon than "any ship, any item, any character."
"It is no exaggeration to call this gun my partner, as far as Destiny is concerned," he said. "It was a chance meeting, a rare drop early on in my experience."
Price found himself getting made fun of while on raids with friends because "no one used hand cannons anymore." Months later, he was still using it.
"I've heard jokes about how in Destiny pre-release," he said, "Bungie suggested that every gun would tell a story, of when and where you got it. It sounded silly then and it's not true now, not in that way. The story for me isn't how I got the gun, but what new fate we brought about together. The journey, not the destination. My armor changed, what class I played most changed (usually titan), but that gun has lived in the hands of every guardian I play. There is a lot more to my experience, of course. 200+ raids, weeks worth of hours in the crucible, the rare beats of a new story. All that ties back to this one gun, though. Going in to Destiny 2 and beyond, if I could only take one thing with me, there would be no hesitation."
At the end of this email, Price apologized for talking too long about a virtual gun.
"Hope all that romanticization of a firearm doesn't make me sound like a crazy person," he said. "Never held a gun in my life."