Destiny newbs face greater challenges than an angry Archon as they conquer the Cosmodrome.
Missed part one? Catch up on our Kinderguardian Adventures.
We resumed our Destiny adventures after Fallout 4 started to die down a bit, making an after-dinner playdate.
“So – ah ha ha – there’s a patch sometime today,” I warned Ash via text message. But the spirit of modern gaming smiled upon us for once, and we were not brought down on the one evening out of seven we fancied shooting a few faces.
In the tower we had a quick run down of faction fiction before pledging to Dead orbit – henceforth “the emo guys” – because Ash said the other ideologies were silly. Also, Future War Cult dress like a NASCAR team. Then it was off into battle again.
On her own, Ash had done an excellent job of levelling her toon up to the required level. She’s a smart person. Despite Destiny’s tendency to hide information in hard to see tooltips and beautiful but easily ignored menus, she built herself a white-haired human Hunter, unlocked all her abilities, and reached level eight. She even knew where we were quest-wise, commenting that she hadn’t tackled one that we’d done together.
From the mouths of babes
Quotes from the Kinderguardian:
“It still freaks me out a little when someone just walks up and starts waving and shitz. It’s like ‘My Destiny is with Brenna, you jerks!!'”
It all makes a lot more sense the second time, of course, but it also makes a lot more sense, uh – without me. Unprompted, Ash commented that it was “easier to skill up” when she played alone and could actually get a shot in.
In-game, I saw she was right; she’d improved leaps and bounds, as evidenced by how often Fallen heads popped off in that satisfying burst of ether wisps as she honed in on their weak point. A tear of pride would have sprung to my eye, had I been in any way responsible for this development. As it was, I was just pleased to see her lobbing grenades, melee attacks and supers about with merry abandon, falling in to the rhythm of that combat loop that is the essential, core experience of Destiny – and so satisfying.
We played together for a couple of hours, during which time I was (unfortunately) able to introduce Ash to another essential Destiny experience: doing the same things over and over again while praying to RNGesus for a break.
Maybe this isn’t fair; I don’t know if RNG or some other system is responsible for the propagation of Patrol missions. Whatever it is, it’s a shithead, just like RNGesus and its refusal to hand over boots, or whatever it is you’re after.
Here’s what happened: we were doing a quest designed to introduce you to Patrol missions. It tasks you with completing one of each type of Patrol mission, except for Kill All – of which you must do three.
I didn’t want to do what I would have done as a veteran player – hook up in a fireteam of three, spread into different zones, smack it in a couple of minutes. Instead, I let Ash guide us, but suggested we take every Kill All mission that popped up. We knocked over two in the course of our first three Patrol missions, which probably took about 15 minutes. Excellent. Despite doing it organically, we were rocking through this filler tutorial quest, and we’d soon go on to bigger and better things.
Well, we did not. After those first two Kill All missions, we didn’t see another one for over an hour and a half. An hour and a half! 90 minutes of running from zone to zone, hoping for a particular icon to pop up.
Before you chime in, let me remind you: I’m not actually silly. I had us do available missions, so that new ones would spawn in to replace those we’d completed. It didn’t help. Eventually, I gave up on doing it at a newb pace, apologising to Ash for usurping her leadership as I zoomed off on bewildering chores.
Here’s how that went down: I’d do a lap of every Patrol mission zone, seeing no Kill All icons. I’d start in one zone and clear everything out, except Leader Kill and Scout missions, which take too long for my tastes. By the time I’d done every patrol available in the last zone, new ones would have spawned in first zone. I’d do a lap of every zone. There were no Kill All missions.
What should have been a quick quest with some valuable lessons ended up becoming a chore, likely convincing my Kinderguardian to avoid Patrols forever. This is probably not what Bungie intended. The opening tutorial quests should make you want to return to the game’s various modules.
Reader, I shit you not, we did this repeatedly. I lost track of how many Patrols we did. By the time we finally got a Kill All mission to spawn, nearly every icon in every zone was a Leader Kill mission. Remember when those were rare?
We were hampered in this quest not only by the Kill All missions sudden shyness, but also by the tremendously slow spawn rates in the Cosmodrome. I haven’t wandered around in Patrol down there for quite some time, so I don’t know if this has been the case for a while, but we’d often wander into zones after being away for ten minutes and find no enemies. Not one enemy still alive, preventing the respawn: no enemies. Just empty landscape, and no respawns despite trotting around for a minute or two. It was especially bad in the Mothyards and the Steppes, although one particular group was always available in the latter, at least.
What in the heck? Is this a response to the increased loot drop rate of The Taken King? Were players Loot Cave-ing again? Is that why I can’t find any damned Fallen anywhere? Even the Taken seemed pretty quiet, and last time I played regularly, I couldn’t go more than a minute without having a Taken Lieutenant turn up and ruin my attempt to finish a Bounty.
It was a frustrating play session. What should have been a quick quest with some valuable lessons ended up becoming a chore, likely convincing my Kinderguardian to avoid Patrols forever. This is probably not what Bungie intended. The opening tutorial quests should make you want to return to the game’s various modules.
For me, spending so much time in Patrols really highlighted how awkward this mode is. There’s really no reason to spend time in Patrol outside of quests, bounties and farming, and that means there’s absolutely no reason for endgame players to be there.
From the mouths of babes
Quotes from the Kinderguardian:
“The annoying thing was when there was three patrols around but two of them were the same, I get that it’s randomised but FFS make sure there isn’t duplicates.”
“The good part was that cause we had to run around soooo much, I was actually getting a handle on it and I started to just run through enemies. It smushed my desire to kill everything I see, especially when we had to run through the buildings to get to the next section, towards to end I was just running through and only stabbed stuff when it was in my face.”
Public events suggest Bungie envisioned Patrol as somewhere people would hang out, but they just – don’t. Sure, it’s fun to just shoot shit, but when you’ve shot everything a few times you start to wonder what the point of it is, and perhaps have an existential crisis re: the meaninglessness of your favourite hobby, which is after all pressing buttons while staring at a screen and oh no the despair cycle.
Skipping ahead to much later in the game: The Court of Oryx, an activity available in Patrol mode, suffers a similar problem. The rewards are good enough that people want to do it, but they don’t just hang out there with strangers while they wait for their raid group to log on, or whatever.
There are a couple of reasons for this but one of the main ones is that it’s just better to hang out in orbit and go make a sandwich, if there’s no reward to motivate you to do some other activity. From orbit you don’t need to endure so many loading screens to get into whatever activity you’re actually planning to pursue when your pals turn up, and yes, we’re still complaining about the loading screens. My play time is almost as limited as my patience.
Destiny lacks any sort of active, playful social space, really. The Tower and Reef are all well and good, but there’s nowhere you just hang out, shoot stuff, and meet people. The small population of each instance is also to blame for this, and while it would be ridiculous to have huge crowds in every area, there’s no denying the world of Destiny can be pretty lonely – and loading screens really do present a strong disincentive to go out and just mix it up with fellow Guardians.
The instance size and loading screens are problems that probably require massive technical overhauls to address, and I doubt we’ll see that till Destiny 3 at the earliest, to be honest – if we ever do.
It wasn’t all grimly bashing ourselves against Patrols, of course. On our many passes through the Lunar Complex Ash paused suspiciously. “What’s this red on the radar? Did we miss something upstairs?”
“Ah, no,” I guided her to a hidden corner. “See this baddy here? Aim at it – but don’t shoot! See how it’s got those red question marks? Yeah. That means it’s waaaaay too hard for us.”
“What is it? Why is it here?”
“Well, that’s something you’ll find out later. Try to remember it. Come on, you can take a good look at it.”
“Is it dangerous?”
“Nah, it’s fine, you can get pretty close. It won’t aggro unless you get really close. Look – ”
The servant stood up. I screamed into the mic. The room filled with ?? levelled baddies. We ran like helpless children in the path of nuclear fallout, shrieking the whole time. I have no idea how we even managed to point ourselves in the right direction, but we made it so safety.
“It’s okay… they won’t … come out… past here,” I panted.
“Oh yeah I’m absolutely gonna trust you after that! Mrs ‘It’s not gonna aggro’ over there.”
She’s not going to let me forget this one.