Once upon a time, Warlocks in Destiny could channel the fiery energy of distant neutron stars or however that universe’s space magic works to instantly bring themselves back to life. Then they lost all their powers in the switch over to Destiny 2. They gained a bunch of new ones, but self-reviving wasn’t among them. My Warlock might have been made whole again, but I still carry the loss in my heart.
In Bungie’s latest blog post about the state of the game the studio said it was reworking Destiny 2’s solar subclasses. I felt an instant flutter deep in my being upon reading the words “This week at Bungie, we’re investing in solar energy.” But the solar energy they meant was reserved for flaming swords, anvils, and bullets, not the sort of fire that brings people back from the dead.
Bungie’s original reasoning for getting rid of self-reviving was simple. Instead of using the power’s aura to kill enemies faster or reduce cooldowns for allies, players would hold onto it, sometimes for an entire mission or Crucible match, waiting until the best opportunity presented itself. “Waiting is not gameplay,” the game’s director, Luke Smith, said during an interview with Kotaku Splitscreen back in 2017.
Years later, I am still waiting, just without a full super bar at the ready to save me if I fall down into the abyss on the Moon, or to bail my fireteam out of trouble if we get overwhelmed in a fight, or, even more often, when I’m playing by myself and simply want a get-out-of-jail-free card to make my climb up the power ladder go more smoothly.
Cheating death has been a core obsession in gaming, whether trying to find a glitch to make yourself invincible so you can cheese through a boss fight or gaining 30 extra lives by entering a cheat code before starting the game. In some games, like Apex Legends, a rare item makes it possible to come back to life, but those are hard to come by. Other games, like Warframe, let you buy your way out of death by spending away experience points, which just feels cursed. Destiny’s Warlock Radiance ability got it just right. I’ve died thousands of times in games. I’ve forgotten almost all of them. Many of the ones I do remember consist of me spitting in death’s face by simultaneously mashing the R1 and L1 buttons in Destiny.
Few gaming memories have seared themselves into my brain meat like Christmas Eve 2014 when my best friend and I narrowly two-manned the Omnigul Nightfall thanks to self-reviving. One of us was sitting at the entrance to her chamber sniping. The other was trying to clear enemies from the main room. The next thing we knew he had died, blown up by a Cursed Thrall. Then I bit the dust, shredded apart by Omnigul’s arc beams.
The screen faded to black. Another wipe in a night full of them. Except not. The room came back into focus. I was alive, running for my life back to the chamber to bring back my friend. Eventually we killed Omnigul. I have no idea what loot we won, but I still remember the relief I felt as the endorphins pulsed through my nervous system. Beating a boss feels great. But cheating death to do so feels even better.