Above: What true friendship looks like.

I hadn’t realized just how badly Destiny needed private competitive matches until today, when Bungie added them to the game. I also hadn’t realized how much fun I’d have going up against my friends.

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As of today—almost two full years after Destiny launched—it’s finally possible to put together a private match with your friends.

As far as options go, you can pick the game type, the score limit, the time limit, the map, and whether or not you want your light levels to be normalized and balanced.

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Shortly after private matches went live, my buddy Mike and I jumped into a 1v1 game of mayhem rumble. I was immediately laughing my ass off. Soon our fellow raid-buddy Russ hopped in and we played a few rounds of three-player non-mayhem rumble.

A few stray thoughts:

  • This’ll be huge for training. A few people could easily use private matches to run practice skirmishes, coordinate formations, and do other high-level practice, which will doubtless come in very handy during competitive events like the Trials of Osiris.
  • It’ll also be helpful for testing weapons and determining how everything works. Destiny has long has a dedicated community of people who put guns through their paces in PvP, and the ability to set up private “test zones” will almost certainly help them gather more and better data.
  • It’s easy to call audibles on the fly. At one point our mayhem game started getting weird because of how much heavy ammo was around, so we all agreed not to use heavy for the rest of the match. It’d be possible to come up with much more complicated custom rule-sets, as well.
  • It still feels like regular crucible. You still get some crucible faction rep and get drops at the end of matches. (The Three of Coins doesn’t trigger, however, so it’s not possible to farm exotics using private matches.)
  • It’s a great way to kill time. If you have a half-hour to kill before your sixth party member can come raid, a few custom rumble matches will be a great way to kill time. If your friend is ready early, you can just stop the match and go play. You’re not beholden to anyone but yourself and the other players. There’s something refreshingly casual about that.
  • It’ll make high-level play much easier to organize. Today’s 6v6 MLG exhibition got a lot of hype, but it’s really only the beginning. Designed to showcase new maps and a new mode, the event felt as much promotional as it did truly competitive. As many predicted ahead of time, Alpha team (with players like SirDimetrious, Luminosity and TripleWRECK) generally outplayed Bravo team (which featured TrueVanguard, nKutch and RealKraftyy, among others). 12 players was a lot to keep track of, but I’m very excited to watch some custom matches in 3v3 game modes like elimination. Watching high-level Destiny streams is about to get a lot more fun, particularly during the week when Trials of Osiris isn’t happening.

Of course, most of this stuff is true of any game with custom matchmaking. Destiny has been the first competitive FPS I’ve really gotten into since the days of Halo and Unreal Tournament, however, so this is the first time I’ve done private “friendly” PvP in a while. (I play a lot of Overwatch, but for whatever reason am not as drawn to custom matchmaking in that game.)

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I remember how much fun I had playing split-screen Halo in college, but all the same I didn’t anticipate how well that would carry over to Destiny, or how much I’d enjoy going head-to-head with the friends I’ve spent so many hours cooperatively fighting alongside. This will obviously vary from person to person and from group to group, but our smack-talk was good-natured. More often than not, I laughed just as hard at the times I lost a 1v1 as I did at the times I won.

Destiny private matches have been overdue for a while now, and the amount of fun I’ve already had with them does make me wish Bungie could’ve added them to the game months or even years ago. That being said, my initial impressions are very positive. Better late than never.