Mark doesn't Destiny. I, on the other hand, Destiny far too much. This is why he's commissioned a series of articles written from deep within this online obsession. It'll be part insider update on a franchise, part circus freakshow. I honestly suspect this is Mark's way of collecting damning confessions that will be used in, best case scenario, an intervention by my loved ones, or divorce proceedings.
I'm not paranoid. You are, co-conspirator.
Having been starved of new 6-person raid content since Crota's End (which deployed way back in December of last year), the hardcore Destiny community has been all over the new King's Fall content. At the time of writing Bungie reckons only 34% of its playerbase has successfully navigated through this rage-vomitorium to clip the giant mothman wings of Oryx.
I'm clearly mixing with like-minded diehards, because 90% of the contacts on my list have completed this raid. You can tell immediately, thanks to a special red-on-black emblem that all veterans peacock as a status symbol. I estimate that more than half of that number have gotten two other "alt" characters readied and through King's Fall as well. Basically, Oryx has about as much mystique left as a naked drunk guy doing cartwheels. Which in itself is starting to cause problems...
Our old friend elitism is back, and I was a fool to think it would be eliminated when Bungie reworked its levelling and loot drop systems to be more fair and equitable. Basic human dickery cannot be killed off so easily.
Most problems stem from that old chestnut, the haves versus the havenots. A few months ago it was difficult to raid if you didn't have a Gjallarhorn; this season it's the Oryx-wrecking Touch of Malice and a light level of 300+. I've seen people drop into a fireteam mistakenly wearing some Year 1 pants they were using for PVP, and man, nobody expects the Spanish inquisition that follows. “Hey, new guy. Are you REALLY 300 instead of 273? Change your pants, man. Right here, in orbit, where we can watch you. Duit nnnaow!”
My own personal issues come from the fact that my friendslist is a cultural melting pot of every Raider personality type imaginable. You've got the veteran who has the patience of St Michael, but also gives - no bullshit - a 10 minute tactical sermon at the start of each boss fight that nobody but Rainman can remember afterwards.
He's much preferred to the veteran who is simply out there to brag about all the gear he has (that you don't own, because he's secretly inspected your character beforehand, like a stalker). His “Keeping Up With the Space Kardashians” shtick isn't the worst of it, though. Said condescending prick never "joins" your raid. There's always, ALWAYS a turn of phrase in his verbal acceptance that suggests he's not coming to muck in as an equal so much as *sigh* yes, OK, he can help carry you through like luggage. If his abilities were not so formidable you'd have defriended him and paid somebody to track him down and shit in his letterbox months ago.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the Kinderguardians and the 9-to-5ers who, thanks to work, family, and other commitments I vaguely recall as concepts, have not touched the raid yet. The best of these bunch are very enthusiastic, eager to learn, and communicative. Hearing them shriek with joy when each boss gets vaporised is a reward much more satisfying than any chest-based drop. Though that wouldn't be hard, considering the majority of chests dispense a crappy I.O.U. material that's become unaffectionately known as "moldering sharts".
There is also a unique breed of johnny-come-lately gamer that still wants to do the raid "blind". Disclaimer: I absolutely respect the sort of person who avoids YouTube walkthroughs and wants to test their mettle against the full challenge of a 6-person rubiks cube. However, that sort of guardian doesn't dovetail very with anybody with a lick of King's Fall experience and a reasonable time limit.
I had one mate who idealised the raid as something much more special than it was. He was a 40- year old raid virgin who "wanted the first time to be special” and was as "saving himself for the right team" . Fair enough, and to each their own, but there's always going to be a problem when you put that posse on a pedestal. He wanted a team that would have *minimum* five straight hours to spare on wandering about, appreciating every single new wall texture, and figuring out rather complex puzzles and boss battles from scratch.
Needless to say, nobody's schedule allowed for such a league of extraordinary guardians to coalesce, so after a few weeks of waiting, like a fretting spinster, he was forced to leap into a team that held a couple of veterans. The resulting raid was an unmitigated disaster; one of the most awkward and frustrating online events I've ever been a party to.
From the onset he decides to cut short anybody's attempt to explanations with either belligerent disinterest, or the phrase “I'll just learn as we go". The group is as patient and polite as it is experienced, so we give it a try. We try and we die. Repeatedly. It's clear that he's not open to instructions or hints on which weapons or roles he should play to aid the team as a whole. The more we suggest, the more maverick he becomes. I think he wants to see how each role works... by abandoning his own and getting us all killed.
It gets to a point when one Guardian has to issue an ultimatum to leave the group if the offender doesn't stop acting like a hyperactive child in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Sharp words are exchanged from both sides, and this devolves into petulant acts of defiance that cause the entire team to wipe once or twice again. At one point, I swear I can hear the sound of grinding teeth over a mic.
Honestly, for the next hour the tension is so thick in the air you can cut it with an arc blade. By the time we reach the halfway mark, what little mojo in the team is gone. People make the usual excuses and leave. "Sorry, I have to get up early tomorrow", or "it's not you. it's me" - you know, a bad day on Tinder type stuff. Nobody will be calling anybody else after this particular play-date. Not even for an impulsive "looty call" in a Nightfall mission.
This is why I think Destiny brings out the very best and very worst in console gamers. Bungie recently stated that it wants players to "not expect" Raid content to be included with each and every expansion they release. Personally, I think that's a cracking idea. A full year of waiting would up the quality of the final content, and it'll allow me just enough therapy sessions to forget the last raid and heal emotionally.
It should also give me enough time to make some new raid friends, because now that I've outed their idiosyncrasies on Kotaku, none of them will want to buddy up with me anytime soon.
Thankfully, it's Iron Banner week, so I can forget about running raids and go kill my fellow guardians in PvP. There's a fair chance I'll be randomly paired against my old teammates. Catharsis, thy name is a sniper round to the face and a “Carlton” corpse dance.