I'm so excited for Destiny 2 that I skipped the beta completely

There are plenty of reasons why you might've missed the Destiny 2 beta, which was open to any and all PS4 and Xbox One players this past weekend. Maybe you don't care about Bungie's blockbuster sequel in the slightest, or have a passing interest but somehow missed the memo on the open beta's start and (extended) end dates. Perhaps you were spending time with loved ones instead of touring the post-Tower universe, or taking in the joyously nerdy sights and sounds of San Diego Comic Con 2017 all weekend. Or it could be that you're just like me: someone who has every intention of buying and playing Destiny 2, yet purposefully skipped the beta entirely. If that sounds absurd, hear me out on why abstaining from beta tests for your most anticipated games is actually in your best interest.

Now, bear in mind that this advice doesn't apply to people who treat beta tests as limited-time demos - a fine, cost-free way to see if a game is right for you and worth a purchase, even though you're judging unfinished content that may not accurately represent the final product. This is for those people who know Destiny, love Destiny, played the bejeezus out of the first Destiny, and couldn't wait to jump into the Destiny 2 beta to tide them over until its September 6 release date. If I may be so bold, it makes me think of someone who's ravenously scarfing down an appetizer, gorging themselves on mozzarella sticks and licking the plate clean when the main course is moments away from being served. That earlier consumption might've satiated a craving and felt good in the moment, but ultimately, it's going to make the meal less satisfying as a whole.  

We've been conditioned to view betas as special, celebratory events by a culture that's obsessed with consuming and scrutinizing anything and everything related to our favorite entertainment, no matter how small or insignificant. In the build-up to debut trailers, seconds-long teaser trailers give us something to nibble on; before we can see actual in-game screenshots, we're invited to pore over cryptic images that are made to be deciphered and purposely keep us from viewing the larger picture until the appropriate time. 

These days, being a fan of something has come to be synonymous with knowing everything there is to know on the subject - so whenever we're given a morsel of new information, there's a fevered rush to figure out what it could all really mean. Modern movie and TV trailers happily hit all the main plot points like cinematic CliffsNotes, leaving only the most spoiler-tastic reveals untouched (or not, in the absence of any sensible restraint). With each new trailer iteration, thousands of fan-driven analyses and extrapolations follow in a frenzied hum of people trying to see the movie before they actually see the movie. It's to the point where, even if you actively avoid spoilers, it feels like the biggest upcoming games, movies, or shows can brute-force their way into your subconscious via osmosis from an endless deluge of advertising, coverage, and word of mouth. 

Pre-pay to pre-play 

The Destiny 2 beta - as with many betas before it, and many multiplayer betas to come for games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Call of Duty: WW2 - is meant to be viewed as an exciting treat, rather than what a cynic (totally not me) might view as free labor, the 'chance' to be an unpaid QA tester and a body who can take up space for server stress tests. We're often invited to pay for the privilege of earlier access to betas, where we can blow through extremely limited chunks of content before the general public as our just reward for pledging fealty with a pre-order. If you're a hardcore, dedicated player looking to reach Destiny 2's end-game content as quickly as possible, the experience and intel you've gained from the beta could be invaluable. But for the average player, trudging through the same Strike and PvP maps over and over on Guardians you can't keep, collecting loot that's now gone forever, the beta seems like an easy way to reduce content you were once excited for into a chore you'll hope to blitz through when Destiny 2 launches. 

Again, I'm all for Destiny 2. I enjoyed the first Destiny and look forward to wielding more space magic in the sequel; I'll probably even end up buying multiple copies so I can play with different groups of friends across console and PC. But I've been burned by betas one too many times before - and I've started to notice that, rather than stoking the fires of my excitement for a game, they turn anticipation into apathy. The further you get, the more you'll have to repeat when the game is out proper. Not only will your progress not carry over, but it'll forever change the way you experience that same starting content at launch. You only get one first impression, and a beta turns what should feel like the momentous beginning of a grand journey into a little peek that's predestined to end when you slam headfirst into a content wall. 

If you played the Destiny 2 beta like your life depended on it and loved every second, more power to you. But we need to stop painting betas as can't-miss events that give you an invaluable head start; I have to wonder how many players in Destiny 2's beta already knew they were going to play the full game, yet felt some obligation to take part in the beta lest they got left behind. You probably wouldn't reread the first chapter of book ad-nauseam over the course of a weekend - poring over every sentence, word, and letter for clues, wondering where the story will go from there - then wait a month before continuing the book in earnest. That seems like a surefire way to make the experience less enjoyable, memorable, surprising, and ultimately meaningful - so why do the same with one of your most anticipated games? It's ok to not know exactly what you're getting into when you consume any form of entertainment - that uncertainty is a big part of the fun. If you've rigorously prepared yourself to the fullest, all that's left to do is go through the motions when the time comes to finally play for real.