We've probably all been there at least once before. You're innocently going about your business, shooting around corners and throwing grenades to cover your teammates when a high-pitched voice on the other end lashes out: "What the [email protected]#, man! You're such a [email protected]#$!" In-game socializing doesn't have the greatest reputation, but that doesn't mean it's a lost cause or that it isn't still incredibly useful.
It was with that risk in mind though, that Bungie decided to limit voice chat options in Destiny to Fireteams — which are groups of three guardians/players — only. You are grouped into a Fireteam either by invite or, in the case of the instance-like Strikes, matchmaking. If you want to play missions, patrols, or bounties with other players, you'll have to track down your Fireteam yourself. The only other form of communication you have with players you meet out in the game is to approach them and click through a series of prompts to invite them into your Fireteam and initiate said voice chat. While this does minimize how much vitriol and shouting you're likely taking in on a daily basis, not having the option to activate a wider proximity-based chat actually hinders what the core of Destiny is all about.
We're only a few days into Destiny and I've already demolished the entire campaign (Kirk will have your review next week), including almost 100% of the patrols and strikes as well as a bunch of bounties. I have taken on the same boss battles multiple times over, with different agendas and — in the case of Strikes where matchmaking comes into play — different teammates. But I spent a lot of my mission time alone, and I wasn't the only one. There are threads of tons of people lamenting their lonely experiences in this multiplayer game. There's even a petition that started last night and has since grown to over 3,000 supporters as of this writing.
It wasn't for lack of trying, either. I set my Fireteam settings to public, in the hopes that someone might randomly jump in and help me take on a few story missions. But without better organisation or prioritizing, that's about all the agency I have in the matter. I've danced with a lot of other Destiny players but I've never asked them about their last run. I've never asked if someone was about to go on the same mission as me and maybe wanted to team up and do it together.
Anyone who is familiar with MMOs will remember seeing something like "lfg" pop up in general chat. The Looking For Group players represent the most obvious need for some kind of more readily-accessible communication in Destiny. Though you can "interact" with players to send them an invite to your Fireteam, by the time you've approached them, clicked in on the right stick, and then hit options and then the invite button, they're probably long gone, already forgetting about the dance you two once shared together under the Traveller upon first meeting. (Incidentally, I'd also suggest more matchmaking options to help players get grouped together on missions. This would likely come in even more handy once six-player raids open up next week.)
In-game social interactions are tricky. Sometimes they're just noise — people shouting to be heard, or leaving their music on too loud for the mic to pick up the audio — but sometimes they're useful. Sometimes we like to share ideas or stories. Maybe we want to ask about each other's gear or if someone can extend a hand in this mission you can't seem to beat on your own. Or maybe you're just engaging in a round of volleyball or soccer back in the Tower and you want to cheer your newfound friend on. Or yell at them for missing that last lobby.
At its heart, Destiny is about taking on instance after instance, defeating tougher and tougher enemies while improving your gear and mastering the fight. There's a story in there — if you care, but I frankly couldn't bring myself to — and some really pretty scenery, but that's not what kept me up for 24 straight hours playing through the game. It was beating a Strike boss, going into town to equip my new gear, and going back in to demolish that Strike boss more efficiently than the last time. But it's not quite the same without a few teammates, and I've found myself playing through many missions mostly by my lonesome.
I want to share my world, but Destiny's shared-world shooter is very specific about how I can go about that. Giving players the option to open up communication as they see fit could make a world of a difference.