On Saturday, Destiny 2 held its first live in-game event, inviting players to witness the destruction of a vast spaceship on a collision course with Earth. Perched on the gantries and rooftops of the Tower, we watched the ship looming large in the sky and... waited. What many expected to be a few minutes of fireworks turned out to be 90 minutes of watching projectiles move almost imperceptibly slowly. I genuinely liked the big, sci-fi slowness of it all - even if I did miss part of the climax because I'd walked away to do household chores.
The Almighty, a system-destroying weapon thousands of miles long, has been headed for Earth all season. Earth's spacewizards have spent the season reactivating weapons systems of Rasputin, our iffy AI ally, so he could blow it up. With the next season starting on Tuesday, it was time to fire and wrap up the Season Of The Worthy.
"Tomorrow at 10AM PT we take aim at the Almighty," Bungie announced last week. What was unclear is that they really did mean they were taking aim at 10am. For the first 30 or so minutes, I thought the event was bugged and hadn't started. Then, finally, red streaks appeared in the sky, the trails of Rasputin's incoming weapons. Crawling towards the Almighty subpixel-by-subpixel, they finally blew it up after an hour, sending a lump of wreckage crashing into Earth and raining fiery fragments for the rest of the day.
It was far slower than I expected, after Fortnite events like the Travis Scott show which cram a whole lot of excitement into ten minutes. This was so slow that at one point I got a book out. Then I cooked dinner, ate dinner, and did the washing-up after dinner. The Almighty was a little more ablaze, the other lines a little closer. So I hung my washing out to dry, and came back just as a large chunk of the now-burst Almighty roared into the atmosphere.
Here's a sped-up, snazzed-up look from Bungie:
Thanks to your efforts, Rasputin's full power was on display and saved Earth from certain doom.— Destiny 2 (@DestinyTheGame) June 7, 2020
Re-live the heroic time-lapsed fireworks. pic.twitter.com/9eNS2EQkYu
Whereas here's a minute of what we saw in real time:
I quite like that this was slow. Some of these weapons were fired from as far away as Jupiter's moon of Io, of course they look slow to us. My favourite parts of Destiny are the big sci-fi spaces and watching shots come in across millions of miles is pretty cool. The season is really about Rasputin, not the Almighty, and this is a big show of force from a character who has definitely shown he considers us expendable. There's an Defcon-y vibe to just standing there watching as unstoppable devastation rolls up.
That said, Bungie handled this terribly. Expecting players to wait indefinitely in a season which has already wasted so much time with a bounty-grinding event and a laughably unrealistic community goal was a big mistake. I myself would still want the full hour of build-up, for dramatic effect, but the first half-hour was a waste and the wait would've been so much more palatable if Bungie stated an ETA for impact. "Launch at 10, impact at 11:30" and yer done. This season may have been empty but that doesn't mean I've proven a willingness to do nothing for 90 minutes.
I don't doubt Bungie will talk this week about learning from feedback. They've talked a whole lot about learning from various mistakes they've made, topics from FOMO to fashion, and the talk is good. It doesn't mean much until they follow through, mind, and stop making so many obvious mistakes in the first place.
The still-unnamed new season will begin on Tuesday at 6pm. Bungie will announced it at 5pm, as well as announcing the next expansion. This might be a good omen for the season, that Bungie want to spring a big surprise. But after three decreasingly-good seasons, I'll not get my hopes up until the autumn expansion.
The past year or so of Destiny has been quietly telling a story leading up to the return of the Darkness, the mysterious spaceforce which caused the first collapse of humanity. We've been gathering allies, building power, and setting ourselves up for a fall by talking about how bright the future is looking. Leaks, teasers, and basic institution suggest the season will be about preparing to give the Darkness a spacekicking, then it might all go down in the expansion. Though whether the game which actually tell that story or continue hiding it in lore chapters, environmental hints, and two-second cutscenes is... frustrating to contemplate.
I'm up for Drifter and Eris Morn getting back out there:
Just please, don't destroy Titan.