Destiny 2 had it’s first big Fortnite-style live event today with players crowding around to watch as the Almighty space ship that had been hurtling toward Earth all season was finally shot down. The only problem was it took forever.
The live event kicked off at 1:00 p.m. ET with an in-game alert telling players to head to the Tower to watch as Rasputin, the warmind AI players spent all season powering up, take care of the giant space ship that had been menacing Earth for the last couple months. Players weren’t sure what to expect. A giant explosion? A new cutscene? Something more apocalyptic?
That mystery slowly turned to confusion as players sat around the Tower staring up at the sky while nothing much seemed to change. It took half an hour before jets of red light started to appear to the upper right of where the Almighty was. A few minutes later it became clear they were moving toward the ship. A few minutes after that another set appeared from beneath the Almighty aiming upwards.
Then nothing until around 50 minutes into the event when some finally began to make contact and tiny explosions began bubbling up all around the ship. It wasn’t until after an hour and a half of sitting around that players finally got to see the real fireworks they were hoping for. There was a giant flash of white across the sky, followed by the wreckage of the Almighty flying across behind the Tower and eventually into the mountains on the other side of it.
The final moments were spectacular to watch, especially as someone who has probably spent dozens of hours running around the Tower collecting bounties, turning in quests, and changing out my gear. In the game’s social hub where nothing ever seems to happen, here was something very much happening.
But the climactic conclusion of what’s been a pretty bad season overall was undercut by just how long it took to build up to the finale. What might have been thrilling to watch unfold over five minutes or even 20 was instead stretched across 90 minutes, during most of which nothing that interesting was happening. It was like watching paint dry except that most paint dries faster.
The Tower didn’t come out of the event completely unscathed. Parts of the wreckage from the explosion took out chunks of it while giant craters can now be seen in the city below. On the whole though everything seems to have worked out as hoped. The Tower and Last City might be damaged, but they’re still standing. No last minute surprises or twists.
It almost seems fitting, given the hundreds of hours Destiny’s most devoted players have spent running the same missions over and over again to earn the same familiar loot, that its first big live event would be a similar test of thankless patience and perseverance. It’s hardly just Destiny players though. Back in 2017 thousands spent hours watching Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan sit motionless in front of a fireplace. And earlier this many fans sat and watched someone draw art for eight hours to see the new Assassin’s Creed get revealed.
Destiny has been full of “had to be there” moments. Usually they revolve around a new mystery, puzzle, or challenge that the community works together to overcome, with players who come late missing out on the original thrill of discovery. Watching the Almighty fall out of the sky for 90 minutes was a lot of things but “had to be there” doesn’t quite feel like one of them. I hope Bungie continues adding more environmental storytelling and live events to Destiny 2. I also hope the next doesn’t take so long.