As of this writing, there are only a few days left to wrap up all of Destiny’s Year One “Moments of Triumph,” a series of challenges that cement the game’s most dedicated fans as “one of the true legends from the first year of Destiny.” With all of the fervor surrounding The Taken King, releasing later this month, I’ve dipped back into Destiny lately, having abandoned it shortly after launch. I’ve had a good time scratching my old dungeon-crawling itch, acquiring plenty of high-level gear. I’ve even enjoyed finding my feet in PVP.
But completing the Moments of Triumph? That’s not going to happen. I inched my way toward them for a few days, but the crushing reality set in before long: I just don’t have the time. There’s no way I can assemble a six person group to take on Destiny’s two lengthy, multi-tiered raid missions. The realization was irksome at first. Why can’t I be legend? Why can’t Bungie offer a path to legendary status to people with lives and jobs and children, and so on and so on.
Then came a moment of clarity. If I know that I can’t become legend, I’m free from the burden of trying. I’m off the hook. I don’t have to tick off all of the appropriate boxes; I don’t have to mark this down as complete. Let all the true Destiny fans have their legendary reward (which really just boils down to an in-game emblem and, presumably, a sense of pride). In the meantime, I will have my freedom. Everyone wins!
It got me thinking about how much my life has been affected by the need for completion. This can be attributed largely to video games, which I have been conquering since the 1980s, but changes in technology have sent the evil Completion Beast creeping into the rest of my life too. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s under your bed right now.
Never mind Destiny, or the massive, tchotchke-filled worlds of games like The Witcher 3, Dragon Age 3, Arkham Knight, or whatever Ubisoft’s open world of the month is. It’s not just games that are urging me to complete them.
Raise your hand if this conversation sounds familiar:
“Have you seen Wayward Pines / Orange Is the New Black / that new Danish crime drama?”
“No. I really need to catch up. My Hulu / Netflix / DVR backlog is a nightmare.”
TV isn’t just something I watch to relax anymore. It’s practically a chore. Something I have to consume so that I’m not out of the loop at parties. At the risk of turning this into a crotchety, “back in my day” rant, let me just say that I remember when you could miss a television show. If you didn’t watch it live, you were out of luck. If you missed an episode of The X-Files, not only would your friends tell you everything that happened, you would beg them to do so. It was either that or wait for months to see the rerun.
Nowadays, if I admit that I haven’t seen the entirety of the latest season of House of Cards, all conversation halts. “Oh,” my friends say, “well, we’ll have to talk about it once you’ve watched it.”
I’m constantly reminded of the things I haven’t finished, that I haven’t consumed. Netflix chides me for not finishing season two of Agents of SHIELD (I know, I know – sorry!). My Kindle prods me, pointing out that I’m only 87 percent of the way through my new Halo novel. My iPhone chimes in, notifying me that there are 23 podcast episodes that remain unheard. Ignored Facebook posts, disregarded Twitter mentions, unread news articles – it’s unending, and it’s all just so I can feel some tiny sense of accomplishment, a fleeting moment of progress.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. God knows how much time I sunk into Cookie Clicker. If progress for the sake of progress makes you feel good, go for it! Find those shards, collect those coins, hunt down every last Agility Orb (I did). Honestly, why shouldn’t the most fervent Destiny fans get something special? And what makes me think I deserve the same reward, if only so my brain doesn’t suffer the agony of leaving a task undone?
Sure, we could turn this into a conversation about inclusive game design. Maybe I could argue that Bungie’s handling of the Moments of Triumph is disrespectful of its players’ time, or even that it’s actively hostile to players who want the prestige but can’t muster a raid group. I could argue that, but the truth is that Destiny was designed to be played with other people, and that raids offer serious players something more interesting and challenging than playing the same strike mission for the hundredth time. The fact that I can effectively chase most of Destiny’s copious, dangling carrots without coordinating time with my friends – or strangers on a forum – is something I appreciate. (As an aside, it’s worth noting that Bungie is implementing several changes in The Taken King that should make Destiny more appealing to loners like me.)
As much as I’d like to claim my emblem and become “legend,” I’d rather pursue all the things that made me enjoy Destiny in the first place: Dropping other players in the Crucible, hunting down new and exotic gear, and generally just having fun with the game’s buttery-smooth shooting mechanics. Why should I trawl forums to put together a raiding party when I can work on my exotic weapon bounties instead? Why scour the galaxy for public events when I could be earning Crucible marks and having a blast in the process? If securing legendary status requires me to ignore the parts of Destiny that I’m already enthralled with, maybe it’s not worth the effort.
Having read all of this, you might assume that I’m lying to myself. You might think that I really do want that lovely, precious emblem, and that the only person I’m trying to convince otherwise is me. You’re right, of course. The part of my brain that craves completion (ooh, unread Twitter mentions!) is very annoyed with me. The part that enjoys playing video games, however, is much happier.
By all means, tick off Destiny’s Moments of Triumph if you can. It’s not easy to do, and you should feel good for doing it. As for me, I think I’m just going to have to miss it. You’ll tell me all about what happened, right? There won’t be any reruns this time.