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Venture into Destiny – Part 13: Goodbye Space Cowboy

(Destiny, Activision)

If you’re positively bewildered by the madness you’re seeing here and would like some additional context, a link to previous parts in this series can be found at the end of the article.

This is it. The final part. The final rush and push before this land is ours. Sadly, in contrast to Venture into the Borderlands, this won’t be some big bang like stabbing a plug socket with a fork. We’re simply cleaning up.

What better place to start than at the end of the last part? After all, I was promised a portable nuke to fire at people named after a mythological musical/drinking horn. So it seems the only right thing to do is to push on and get us that rocket launcher. At first I strode out by myself to find the materials required to craft it. To call it a foolish endeavor is to underestimate the sheer folly of playing hide-and-go-seek with small, fist-sized physical glitches. Even with a guide, I got lost several times. In the end though, after a lot of determination, I got myself 5 organic technological ores.

“Okay, NOW can I have my weapon of mass destruction?” I inquired Lord Reaper upon getting back at the base, my right hand clutching on to a bag full of materials.

“Oh no no no . . .” he chuckled, “There is one more piece, and you must assemble it on-site.”

I admit, at first I was still fine with this. After all, most of the missions were, at most, only tricky, and afterwards I could have given the famed rocket launcher a test run on unsuspecting foes. However, I knew something was up when I was told Fallen were ready to move on to the city. “Maybe I’ll just be supporting infantry by disabling heavy machinery or something similar?”

Destiny, Activision

(Destiny, Activision)

Maybe the “threat” is the silence of walking through the relaxing, non-Fallen riddled countryside? C’mon, let me hope.

Well, no. Instead the Ghost decides to make the rocket launcher on-site while swarms of Fallen charge me. There’s no better way to describe the quantity than to say I was swimming in bodies. I kept asking if we could just assemble the Gyllenhaal off-site, but Saladin insisted I stay on this suicide mission. I’m still not entirely sure if he has recovered from losing his allies in battle, as his obsession with the glory of the battleground and wolves is getting out of hand. His mind seems to be akin to a teenager’s poster collection, and it is putting me into mortal danger.

Finally, the rocket launcher got made and I was essentially given unlimited ammo to take it for a spin on some tanks and fallen, which, well, was rather underwhelming. I mean, it’s pretty good and does take out humanoids like nobody’s business. However, against the tank, especially when you have to aim for its core, how could this possibly work? Quite frankly I could have done with something more accurate and less of a vague blast zone. Especially since it was a new tool, I would have had to upgrade it to unleash its full potential. This brings me to the analysis of equipment in Destiny, as it does something I find rather interesting.

Equipment in Destiny isn’t just about how much DPS it lays down or how much armor it offers you. In addition, they offer small bonuses. These usually include buffing your strength, intellect, and/or discipline, which in turn lowers class-ability cooldown times, but not always. They also include things like increased ammo capacity, changing the scope, which can improve things like handling or range and making enemies explode if you kill them with a headshot.

If the system ended then, I’d give it a thumbs up and we’d swiftly move on. However, these upgrade systems are not a charity organization. These perks are not merely granted to awaiting players from up high in heaven. No, no, you have to EARN them. You have to go out in the world and show you’re not some rich kid who wears armor for fashion and who doesn’t know how to point a weapon. You unlock each of the upgrades by gathering enough XP with the weapon or armor equipped.

Destiny, Activision

(Destiny, Activision)

Considering the bodies I left trying to get my mini-nuke launcher, Gyllenhaal, a good few of my gear levelled up. 

In addition, the amount of upgrades depends on the rarity of the item. Uncommon, the green ones, have a chuckle-inducing paltry amount. Exotic, the more common ones, will demand that you have a shopping trolley to wheel all the upgrades around. That isn’t to say every single upgrade is usable when unlocked–oh no. They’re all set out in columns. So there’s no having all the scopes simultaneously mounted on your sniper rifle. Instead, you pick one scope that improves the gun in just the way you’re pleased with.

This is all topped off with an unlock system. If you think grinding away will let you access all the bells and whistles on your new revolver, think again! Depending on the rarity, you’ll be using things like armor/weapons parts, glimmer, and even parts you must harvest off the planet like spin metal, all  the way up to more forbidden and rare material like Ascendant Energy and Exotic Shards, which I have, fortunately, never come across.

Another fortunate thing is that when you unlock a part, all other parts on the column are also unlocked, giving you the chance to switch around as you want. You can also dismantle other pieces of equipment and pay a hefty toll if you want to boost the DPS/armor to the same stats as the dismantled gear.

I am particularly fond of the fact that it encourages you to stick with a piece of equipment you enjoy, rather than flitting between whatever has the most numbers next. The previous game on the Venture Into series, Borderlands 2, did have the problem that I was always cycling to whatever had the biggest noise and most raw power. There was simply no room for favorites, which was a personal shame as there were guns I liked that I had to ditch to keep up with the enemy levels.

Destiny, Activision

(Destiny, Activision)

You better believe I’m clinging on to that helmet as long as I can.

I also enjoy the customizability of this. I really like how upgrades aren’t just a linear paths about getting stronger and stronger. Instead, they are about tweaking to your heart’s content. I tend to hate scopes and bulky iron sights on guns, so  I was usually able to avoid having to deal with either due to this choice. It also allows you to tweak the upgrade abilities to better match your play-style.

In addition, I like having to unlock the upgrades and boost them up with other gear I find. The best way I can describe the experience of unlocking each part is that it almost feels like your armor or your gun grows with you. The fact that you have to hunt down materials to boost them, making you specifically work to upgrade the equipment, adds to this nourishing feeling. It is tempered with the fortune that materials aren’t so rare as to make upgrading and moving on prohibitively expensive. This is especially important by the end of the game where Legendarys and Exotics are your bread and butter.

Naturally, this comes with the obvious problems: your gear is going to be less powerful until you work at it. This in turn discourages swapping for the latest gear, which is fine but then acts against how the engram system (which we spoke of before) encourages boosting your light level as high as it goes, which ends up encouraging swapping for the highest numbers. Due to this issue, you usually end up with an overstocked inventory.

There is also the tedium of hunting for materials to buff up your gear: once you hit higher levels, it becomes incredibly hard to ignore. As the rate at which you get better equipment slows down, it tends to pay off to go hunting on each of the planets for materials like relic iron to unlock upgrades with. While I personally dig it, as it makes me feel like I’m growing with my gear, I could see others finding the process frustrating. Overall though, I’m incredibly fond of this upgrade system, as it feels like you’re adding character to your gear via the mechanics of growing with it.

Destiny, Activision

(Destiny, Activision)

Considering how tough it was hunting down Relic Iron on Mars, especially spotting it, I do sympathize with the struggle.

Phew, that was a meaty analysis but one that I think was a long time coming. Getting back to the game, with my new weapon, I was presented with a problem: I was done with my task of getting the legendary boom-tube, so now what? “Weeeell, remember that one fight you rage-quit out of because the difficulty was rather ridiculous?” I could feel the phrase gnawing at the back of my mind. “Why not go fight ‘im again?” I wanted to say no, because “rage quit” does not do my severe displeasure of the boss fight justice. Yet, there was nothing else I could see.

So off I went back to the Taken King’s source. The one with the gassing, the fire jets, the swarming of mobs, and, oh, the high-damage, high-health boss itself. Rather than having one tricky component, it just hits everything it has at you as it screams “OH SORRY, YOU SAID BOSSES WERE JUST BULLET SPONGES–HAD ENOUGH?” It almost feels self-conscious and desperate to prove itself as good at boss fights.

It’s due to the overkill on components that even when out-levelled by over 80 light points, the boss fight still proceeded to kick my teeth in. I died over and over and over again, until I could scavenge enough rocket launcher ammo. I then lowered his health to half, which is when the swarming and gassing is at its thickest, and proceeded to blast the rest gone with 4 missiles. I wish I could say the victory was satisfying, and yet the only thing I could feel from overcoming the boss was  the anger of being put through it in the first place.

As I looked at what was left of the quest log, I began to feel a bit cheeky. You see, the Halloween quest was still on. I still had the masks to do it as well. So I got my now-dusty Traveller/Speaker masks out of storage, brushed off the layer of dust on it, and got going. First, I would have to do a Heroic with the Speaker mask on. I do not exaggerate when I say the others carried me, as wearing the mask (with 0 armor) dropped my armor amount heavily. It went from 349 to 312. So I died a lot. It was embarrassingly bad. It hit a point that, if kicking were allowed, I’m sure I would have been booted after the first 15 deaths.

Destiny, Activision

(Destiny, Activision)

Considering that doing so would shut up Nolanbot, it might have been a blessing in disguise. 

Yet we got through. The boss was brought to his knees and a locked chest was brought out, one I coincidentally had a key for. After sliding it open, I got the Hood of Malok, which instantly made me sad that there was no way to apply it as just a cosmetic. The stats were bad. In addition, continuing on the coincidences, by doing a Heroic, I was able to throw some XP into my Dawning Book of achievements (which, when levelled up, gives me random knick-knacks). There was also a Treasures of the Dawning. So, overall it was a pain and an embarrassment, but I got a lot out of it.

From there, I hunted down the Court of Oryx, a neat chamber where you can summon different tiers of bosses designed specifically for the area. The nice touch was that each one had a puzzle to solve. For example, one will be invulnerable until they teleport, and in another, they will be invulnerable until you shoot all the mobs down. I really can’t complain as I did enjoy it. I shuffled about with that until I finally finished the Halloween quest and got myself a Treasures of the Lost box.

Then it was off on one more mission. They were apparently bringing an ogre beast in and feeding it enough dark energy to make Oryx look like a clawing infant. So it was time to prematurely complete the summoning circle and kill the weakened beast. This involved grabbing some delicious, succulent souls and bringing them to the circle. What struck me most was that they honestly weren’t joking when they said the beast would be weakened–I chuckled and shot it without it being able to do anything back as I was on a ledge.

Destiny, Activision

(Destiny, Activision)

Oddly appropriate name for once.

Then, for old time’s sake, I went back into the prison with two others to shoot convicts. What can I say? I really enjoy the arena setting and the co-op angle of it. I also opened up my packages and, sadly, got a resounding nothing out of it. I guess I got really lucky with the Halloween package the first time–in the form of a wolf mask–but this time, it was just a purple hexagon. I also gave another random Heroic a go, this time with better gear. I had a smoother ride. I only died at least 10 times rather than at least 20 times!

Then, well, that was it!

. . . Yep! Not with a plot that ended with a bang. Not with an explosion of gameplay. Not even with a bombastic graphical display. Just the dawning realization that there’s nothing else meaningful to really pursue. Maybe I’ll return one day, with more content to fuel analysis, but for now, we’ve hit the end of the road. That isn’t to say it was a dull road, a short road, or a road best left untouched. It was a winding, lengthy path with many interesting sites. Some sites were enjoyable, others not so much, and others, still, were just infuriating. Yet each part left me considering the design process that must have gone into the game, as Destiny, above all, was pretty experimental, all things considering.

I’d dive deeper into my thoughts, but there’s one more part to go. The journey has ended, we drift out amongst the stars in the ship as our Venture into Destiny has reached something of a conclusion, but there’s nothing stopping us from considering the journey behind us. So next week will be a classic review of the entirety of Destiny, complete with a score.

Until next week, as our ship leaves The Tower to potentially never return, cheerio.

Past parts

[Part 1: Unfunny Little Robot] [Part 2: Absolute Lunacy] [Part 3: An Inspiration for Regicide] [Part 4: A Plague On Your Houses] [Part 5: Black Gardens on Red Planets]

[Part 6: A Wolf Amongst the Taken] [Part 7: Venturing Onwards as Sif] [Part 8: Taken for a Violent Walk] [Part 9: Let Us Light The Way] [Part 10: Step Lightly and Carry a Large Gun] [Part 11: Racing for a Victory Bathed in Iron] [Part 12: The Legendary Boom-Tube]

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