For me, September through November of 2015 was peak Destiny. It was the game at its creative best, where every week it felt like there were fascinating new things to do and talk about. I’ve never played a game as obsessively as I did during those three months. Which, of course, led to burnout.


November 2015: Burnout In Paradise

“For Two Months, All I Played Was Destiny,” went the headline. “I’m Taking A Step Back.” Somewhere in there, my relationship with Destiny went toxic. I indulged the addiction for a while, curious where it might lead me. I’ve never been properly hooked on a game like that, and The Taken King was the closest I let myself get to problematic play.

On various Destiny message boards, lots of hardcore players are saying similar things. The situation today is in some ways similar to the wall we all hit last February, five months into year one. In other important ways, it’s different. I feel more at peace with the ebb in my playing this time around, and much more confident that Bungie will do something cool to get me playing again, probably sooner rather than later.

I’m still processing the weeks from mid-September to the end of October, and getting my head around just how thoroughly hooked on Destiny I allowed myself to become. I mostly feel relief that Destiny has run out of ways to keep me playing: If the game maintained a content crescendo like the one we saw in September, I’m not sure I’d have the stamina or the bandwidth to keep pace.


Unlike the wall I hit the previous February, however, I was more at peace with this one. I didn’t need the game to give me a ton of constant things to do. I was ready to play something other than Destiny.


In the intervening months, my colleague Jason Schreier had published a fantastic reported piece telling the messy, true story behind the making of Destiny. The article increased my sense of distance from the game, as I came to better understand why the Destiny of 2014 had been the game it was. In that article, Jason also confirmed that Bungie was planning a sequel to Destiny, which at the time they were planning to release in 2016. (They would later push it to 2017 and release Rise of Iron to tide players over.)

I was exhausted. A sequel was in the works. My break from the game extended from weeks into months.


Most of 2016: Seasons Change, Time Passes By

After The Taken King, Bungie dramatically slowed the pace of new Destiny content. They shifted to a “live team” approach for new content, releasing free limited-time events they hoped would be made profitable by their new microtransaction system. It wasn’t a bad idea so much as an underdeveloped one, and none of the game’s timed events were enough to make me want to dust off my Guardians and wade back in.


I spent several months not playing Destiny. It was fine.

September 2016: An Iron Sendoff

In September 2016, Bungie launched Rise of Iron, their final proper expansion for Destiny. Like a lot of Destiny players, I was happy enough to have some new things to do in the game, but I wasn’t willing to re-commit to the extent I had a year prior.


Rise of Iron wasn’t The Taken King by any stretch—it had a lackluster main story, ended much faster, and the new explorable area was nowhere near as interesting. But I’m not sure I would’ve even wanted another Taken King.


Rise of Iron functioned much more ably as a goodbye. Over and over it asked us to reminisce about our first moments playing Destiny. It made that busted first gun we got into a prized exotic weapon. It brought back the fabled rocket launcher Gjallarhorn—still the best gun name in the game, btw—and had us re-forge it. My review became my own sort of goodbye:

At the end of one of Rise of Iron’s later missions, you will find yourself looking down on the field of abandoned vehicles where the first Destiny mission began. Your little robot Ghost asks you to stand with him and take in the view. Oblige him, and he’ll reminisce about all you’ve seen and done together.

It’s a heavy handed attempt to inspire nostalgia for a two-year story that, taken in its entirety, has been cobbled together and vaguely unsatisfying. Sure, Ghost. I remember when you woke me up in that field of abandoned cars. You sounded like Tyrion Lannister then. You took me to meet a guy with no face, and he gave me a speech about The Traveler and The Darkness. I blew up some statues. A robot lady gave me a gun and then vanished forever.

Yet I still felt something, looking out over that snowy skybox. I remembered the friends I’ve made and the challenges we’ve faced over the last two years. I remembered the first time we beat Atheon, and how psyched I was to finally earn Thorn, and how I nearly lost my mind when Gjallarhorn dropped. I remembered the arguments we had over how to make it through the Thrall maze, and the time we stayed up till sunrise glitching our way to heights we weren’t meant to reach.

I remembered all the misguided ways Bungie has angered us, the poor decisions that have wasted our time, and the ways we’ve exploited the game that exploited us right back. I remembered those things, and so many more. That was the journey, not any scripted mumbo-jumbo about the Light and the Darkness and whatever else.

Ghost was still talking. I bit my tongue. Even if he could hear me, he probably wouldn’t understand.


Bungie made a few subsequent attempts to get players like me back into Destiny, but they all failed to different degrees. I didn’t really want to re-play old raids yet again. I grew tired of the largely stale PvP meta, and longed for the days when Trials of Osiris was new and exciting. I didn’t care about my light level, and with a sequel on the horizon, I couldn’t get too excited about loot. Last spring, as my old raid buddies and I limped through a couple hours of the revamped Vault of Glass, I realized I was done.

Over the last three years, I’ve spilled tens of thousands of words on Destiny. I’ve charted the highs and the lows, and experienced highs and lows of my own. I wonder if I’ll experience the sequel in the same way. Hell, I wonder if I’ll experience any other game the same way.


Time will tell; today is about remembering the game as it was. Three years is a lot of time, and I’m glad I spent so much of it with Destiny.