Destiny Raids And The Beauty of Crossroads
There's been a long, ongoing argument within the Destiny community on the topic of Raids in Destiny, specifically centered around their lack of matchmaking. Raids are not matchmade activities, and decidedly so on the part of Bungie. That means that you can't simply hit the play button on a raid icon in the Destiny 2 director and find 5 additional players to start a raid activity. For me, this meant spending twenty minutes yesterday afternoon filling out a group of six with four strangers (and one friend) to experience some of the best and most challenge gameplay Destiny has to offer. And after finishing the raid last night, I think I found the hidden beauty in using a Looking For Group tool instead of matchmaking. I met and played with strangers, and we parted ways as something a bit more than that.
Before we started the raid, there wasn't much in the way of meaningful conversation. We all greeted each other as our Xbox Live voice chat filled with players. No one asked about where people were from or how our days had been. Some cracked jokes or asked questions about Destiny 2. We didn't exchange real names. We had all connected to reach one goal. Complete the Leviathan. When we lost a player to network issues, everyone else decided to stick around, determined to finish what we had started. They stuck around through thirty minutes of waiting and three rounds of new additions. The people that disconnected disappeared into the sea of the internet, and the newcomers emerged from within it, each person stopping for a moment in time at our small slice of the internet.
After three false starts, we finally connected with another player to finish out the raid. After four sections of the raid and lots of learning, losing, and relearning, the final boss's health hit zero. The intense focus in the voice chat lifted as we all celebrated our victory with jokes and admired the new armor and weapons collected for our characters. In a flash, our three hour crucible was over. We returned to orbit, our job done. Thank yous were exchanged like tired, happy handshakes after a hard fought business deal. I thought of the end of Ocean's Eleven at the fountain; the job was done.
One by one, players left the fireteam, their jumpships peeling off from the menu screen like passing cars merging onto off ramps. One by one, they were swallowed up by the online connections that had brought us together. And then they were gone. Voice chat was silent.
As I sat staring at my lonely ship in the menu, I felt a weary satisfaction. Similar to the feeling you get when you graduate from school. The feeling that crossed paths never overlap twice, and the realization that many people only pass through our lives, leaving a memory of themselves behind.
I will likely forget the voices that experienced the raid with me. The only record of our accomplishments will be attached to the digital shoulders of my Guardian, and eventually those too will be deleted from my mind. Life is always on the move and so is my hunt for better loot. I have a feeling I'll run into a few more kind strangers along the way.