Venture into Destiny – Part 4: A Plague On Your Houses

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

Forgive me dear audience, but I was led astray by temptation. I knew what I did was wrong; no one would disagree with me on that. I couldn’t help it though. I relapsed. The hardest addiction I’ll always struggle with crept up on me. You see, I’m just too addicted to side questing and faffing about to not ignore the main plot dangling on a hook. A more sober individual may have fought on to close the foul factories that chug our doom but I was lured off this path, as Petra teased me with a headhunting side-mission.

You see, Petra had tracked down the head of the House of Winter, a group of Fallen who broke into the archives. If you remember that then you’re doing better than me. Despite pushing them off, their abrupt entrance is apparently enough to make it the personal mission of Petra to hunt the leader down. Now it’s time to go assassinate him in case he found something out, so the archive’s secrets stay out of Fallen hands.

Gleeful at the idea of being able to get out-and-about and shooting Fallen Houses, Petra tells me there’s another person she wants to hunt while she’s at it. “House of Wolves and House of Winter are fighting and it seems Wolves are going to take over because we’ve created a power-vacuum as a result of our assassination!”

“So? Good for them. Why does it concern us what the Fallen does?”

“Because House of Wolves were our friends, and now they’re not?”

“So it’s spite and we’re on a revenge mission? I mean, if that’s the case then fair game, just don’t give me the noble motivation nonsense.”

Sadly, imagining conversations with the cast does not make it so. Cue the heavy defeated sigh as they continue the “FOR THE GREATER GOOD!” excuse as always.

Just as I turn up to create a second power-vacuum by executing House of Wolves’s “kell” (leader, just roll with it), Skolas scarpers away on his ship. “Oh well, while we’re here I guess we may as well murder all the Fallen we can find.”

I guess partially because of doing so (with a specific type of rocket launcher called a “Scorch Cannon”, no we can’t loot it) House of Winter now kneels to House of Wolves. The phrase “Nice breaking it, hero” is beginning to pulse inside my mind at this point.

Destiny, Activision

Destiny, Activision

Although I’m glad Petra isn’t putting the blame at my door. Just, well, congratulating me for making our enemy stronger. I should be concerned.

Rather than finding out where House of Wolves is based, it is decided that we’re going to attempt to snipe them as they’re going after their next target because hey, it worked last time, right? Even more troubling still, we have no idea where they are or who they’re going to hit. The end result? It’s up to me to grind the same three mobs for half an hour for data. No really, I’m not kidding.

It was while grinding away on mobs that were a significantly lower level than myself (level 20 vs level 10) where I began to think about gun mechanics. I was specifically thinking about reloading times in relation for empty and loaded guns.

In the majority of FPS titles, reloading tends to take a realistic slant. After all, why pull the slide back if you’ve already got a bullet in the chamber? This leads to a particular tactic in firefights where it’s better to reload mid-combat during a break than wait until you’re empty. Not only because it’s faster that way, but also because it leaves you less likely to be empty mid-fighting.

It strikes me as interesting when a game with a shooting focus makes reloading times the same whether it’s empty or partially loaded. While it still makes reloading in combat a tricky affair, it also means there’s one less advantage from premature loading during a break. Worst case scenario, you always switch to a new weapon if you’re caught needing to reload in a firefight if you don’t have time to retreat to cover.

The question that remains with me though is simply “Why?” Especially since it isn’t from a lack of resources since Destiny is a AAA title. I believe the primary reason is rooted in what Destiny is competing against. While gunplay is a part of it, it is far from the primary competition.

Destiny, Activision

Destiny, Activision

Then again, as prior parts have shown, being AAA hasn’t prevented some pretty atrocious writing.

Instead, it is a competition of numbers and the application of said numbers. You fire and a number of damage hits against the enemy’s health. You get bigger tools with bigger numbers to bring down bigger enemies with bigger numbers. If it was left at that, it’d feel less like a game and more a mathematical cartoon for children.

Where the difficulty comes into is with the application. You shoot them in the head and that’s a multiplier. You check your gun. It has a number of bullets, which when empty leaves so much time of vulnerability. It has abilities you gain over time, with each one tweaking the damage value or rate of the damage value. It’s all numbers. Numbers laid bare open on an operating table for you to glance upon. Numbers for you to fawn over but, most importantly, for you to operate on.

It’s because of that process though that moments like your reload speed, whether empty or partially loaded, are kept consistent. Keeping the numbers consistent and easily crunchable makes the process easy to understand for even the layman. It makes it easy to compare weapons easily and get players back into combat more quickly. If this sounds eerily familiar, it’s because it’s the same approach the Borderlands series takes. The key difference only being less gun modification.

To get back into the game after the long grind, Varik finally tells us we’re going to assassinate the assassins. “What about assassinating this Skolas man-spider?”

Nope, I guess we’re going after The Silent Fang, who used to kill our commanders during a war fought long ago. Naturally this raises plenty of questions regarding their origins and who they are, especially since during said war the House of Wolves sided with The Awoken. I can confirm that absolutely no answers will be given.

Destiny, Activision

Destiny, Activision

No answers, trust me. I have literally no idea what Petra just said using familiar words.

Apparently The House of Devils is about to get a knock on their door and so I’m tasked with making sure the Wolves don’t arrive. Except instead of being dropped off nearby, I’m forced to scurry around the trap-infested lair. Although, in our defense, the Devils were nice enough to brightly light all their trip-lasers which made them much more vulnerable and easier to shoot.

A few hundred bullets later and The Fang were driven off the gates of New Russia. Although there were a few times they nearly killed me since cover was pretty light. As the countdown timer ticks down, I looked at the collection of cars where my body once was. “Who was I to get caught up in House of Devils?” is all I could mutter to myself as I was spirited away to my ship. The only response I’d get was the wind above.

House of Kings begins making me wonder how many houses of Fallen there really are. Although as I land, Petra’s signal gets jammed up. I’m not alone though; oddly enough, Variks can get through fine. If you think this is the moment when Variks shows he has his own agenda … haha, oh no. He speaks of how nice it is to work with me and Petra while telling me about his past. I can’t say it wasn’t pleasing to hear about what makes Variks so different. Especially since something so personal makes the conversation feel so different compared to most of the interactions in Destiny.

After a lot of signals being unjammed, I stumbled upon an odd room with two King barons meeting a Wolf baron. With a knowing smile, I gun them both down. Petra then tells me the Wolves are dead and, while Kings pose a threat still, they’re still not under the control of the leader of House of Wolves. “C’mon, let’s finish off the Kings then? They seem on the ropes after losing two barons in one go.” Sadly, I’m told to focus on hunting Skolas down. I’m steadily becoming more certain in my belief that this may be a revenge mission.

Destiny, Activision

Destiny, Activision

“Why don’t you make them no longer a danger to the city while the opportunity presents itself?” I ask. “Why don’t you remember you’re a mute protagonist who blindly follows orders like a good Guardian?” asks the game.

In celebration of leaving the Wolves a frail and withering force, Varik grants me a pretty rock from The Queen’s vault. After wondering if this theft would constitute treason, I placed the shiny stone in the only place worthy I could think of: the local merchant’s hands. I held onto the the hope that the merchant would know better than to sell it on this planet if he values keeping both of his hands.

We’re now back on Venus since there are concerns arising on Skolas either being a tactical genius or as batty as a belfry. As we walk over the ruins that used to be the door to the Vault of Glass (no idea what it is), it grows more certain that the best case scenario is for Skolas to be sectioned under the mental health act. Especially since the vault contains technology that’s described as “really ‘just awful’ stuff”. Thanks for the specifics, Destiny, as always.

In the depths, the Wolves begin trying to summon glowing bricks. After trying to break through, I end up dying due to “misadvanture”. Confused, I try again. “Misadventure”. I try a third time, making sure not to do anything that could be making splash damage on myself. “Misadventure”. Finally, I suss it out with the cryptic hint of “Oracle Cry” debuff. So what could have been a laughable ‘walk in the park’ suddenly turned into a chaotic pain. I am tasked with swimming through swarms of fallen so I can try to break all six Oracles before they’re summoned. If even one is summoned then I’ll be murdered in one go.

Destiny, Activision

Destiny, Activision

That’s excluding how I’m expected to take fall-damage before I sprint into the heat of combat.

After a frustrating amount of attempts later, I stop the Wolves from utilizing The Vault of Glass. Except now, somewhere more dangerous will be raided by Skolas as a last-ditch attempt to become “Kell of Kell” (as in, King of Kings). Cut to me having a slight smirk dancing across my lips as I think of ‘Ozymandias’.

It seems, using Vex tech (try saying that 10 times fast!), Skolas is summoning every House of Wolf Fallen that has ever existed in history to this current point in time. Like most things involving time-travel, don’t think about it too hard. Oddly enough, the boss fight is strangely brief for someone summoning every single member of their army to ever to exist in history. Still, it is a Destiny boss so I sprayed him enough for him to resemble a trip to a lead-based tanning booth.

And yet, for whatever reason, the Queen wants Skolas alive. Also, for whatever reason, Skolas gives up. Don’t think about it too much.

Suddenly, I got a transmission as Skolas was whisked away:

Destiny, Activision

Destiny, Activision


Did I just… get thanked by the smug queen and receive an explanation for why I was verbally spat on? Huh.

I still wanted to dance on her brother’s corpse though.

I get a new sidearm and the odd assurance that not only am I not in The Awoken’s debt, but rather they’re in my debt for this. Huh. This is a bit of a twist to mull over until next week. Hmm …

…Until next week, bye!

Past Parts

[Part 1: Unfunny Little Robot] [Part 2: Absolute Lunacy] [Part 3: An Inspiration for Regicide]

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