Venture into Destiny – Part 4: A Plague on your Houses

If you’re positively bewildered by what madness you’re spotting here, links to the prior parts can be found at the bottom.

Forgive me dear audience, but I was lead by temptation. I knew what I did was wrong, no one would disagree with that assessment, but I did it anyway. I relapsed. The hardest addiction I still struggle to kick crept up on me and I faltered. You see, I’m just too addicted to side questing and faffing about to not ignore the main plot dangling on a hook. A more sober individual would have fought on to close the foul factories that chug our doom. Yet I was lured off this path, as Petra teased me with a headhunting side-mission.

You see, Petra has tracked down the head of the House of Winter: A group of Fallen who broke into the archives. If you remember that part, you’re doing better than me. Despite pushing them off, apparently their abrupt entrance is enough to make it the personal mission of Petra to hunt the leader down. Just in case he found something out. So it’s time to go assassinate him so the archive’s secrets stay out of Fallen hands.

Gleeful at being able to get out-and-about shooting Fallen Houses, Petra tells me there’s another person she wants to hunt while she’s at it. “House of Wolves and House of Winter are fighting, and it seems Wolves are going to take over because we’ve created a power-vacuum due to our assassination!”.

“So? Good for them. Why does it concern us what the Fallen does?”.

“Because House of Wolves were our friends, and now they’re not?”.

“So it’s spite and we’re on a revenge mission? I mean, if that’s the case fair game, just don’t give me the noble motivation nonsense.”

Sadly, imagining conversations with the cast does not make it so. Cue the heavy defeated sigh as they continue the “FOR THE GREATER GOOD!” excuse as always.

Just as I turn up to create a second power-vacuum by executing House of Wolves’s “kell” (leader, just roll with it), Skolas scarpers away on his ship. “Oh, well, while we’re here I guess we may as well murder all the Fallen we can find.” I guess partially because of doing so (with a specific type of rocket launcher called a “Scorch Cannon”, no we can’t loot it) House of Winter now kneels to House of Wolves. The phrase “nice breaking it hero” at this point is beginning to pulse inside my mind.

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Although I’m glad Petra isn’t putting the blame at my door. Just, well, congratulating me for making our enemy stronger. I should be concerned.

So, rather than finding out where House of Wolves is based, it is decided we’re going to attempt to snipe them as they’re going after their next target (worked last time, eh?) . Even more troubling, we have no idea where they are or who they’re going to hit. So it’s up to me to grind the same three mobs for half an hour for data. Really.

It was while grinding away on mobs significantly lower level than me (level 20 vs level 10), I begun to think about gun mechanics. Specifically, reloading times with relation to an empty-or-loaded gun.

In the majority of FPS titles, reloading tends to take a realistic slant. After all, why pull the slide back if you’ve already got a bullet in the chamber? This leads to a particular tactic in gunfights in games where it is better to reload mid-combat during a break than wait until you’re empty. Not only as it ends up faster that way, but leaves you less likely to be empty mid-fighting.

So it strikes me as interesting when a game with a FPS focus makes reloading times the same empty-or-loaded. While it still makes reloading-in-combat a tricky affair, it means there’s one less advantage from premature loading during a break. Worst happens, you can easily switch to a new weapon if you’re caught in a fire-fight and you’re not able to retreat to cover, as you’d need the same time to reload empty or half-empty.

The question that conjures up is “why”. Especially as it wouldn’t be due to a lack of resources as Destiny is a AAA title. I believe the primary reason is rooted in what Destiny is a competition of. While gunplay is a part of it, it is far from the primary competition.

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Then again, as prior parts have shown, being AAA hasn’t prevented some pretty atrocious writing.

Instead, it is a competition of numbers and the application of the numbers. You fire and a number of damage hits against their number of health. You get bigger tools with bigger numbers to bring down bigger enemies with bigger numbers. If it was left at that, it’d feel less like a game and more a mathematical cartoon for children.

Where the difficulty comes into it is the application. You shoot them in the head, that’s a multiplier. You check your gun. It has a number of bullets, which when empty leaves so much time frame of vulnerability. It has abilities you gain over time, each one tweaking the damage value or rate of the damage value. It’s all numbers. Numbers laid bare open on an operating table. To glance upon. To fawn over. Most importantly, to operate on.

So moments like your reload speed empty-or-loaded is kept consistent. To keep the numbers consistent and easily crunch-able to even the layman. So you can compare-and-contrast weapons easily. If this sounds eerily familiar, it is the Borderlands series approach. Just with less gun modification complicators.

To get back into the game, after the long grind, Varik finally tells us we’re going to assassinate the assassins. “What about assassinate this Skolas man-spider?”. Nope, guess we’re going after The Silent Fang who used to kill our commanders during a war long ago. Naturally this raises plenty of questions of who they are, especially as during said war the House of Wolves sided with The Awoken. I can confirm absolutely no answers will be given.

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No answers, trust me. I have literally no idea what Petra just said using familiar words.

Apparently The House of Devils is about to get a knock on their door, so I’m tasked to make sure the Wolves don’t arrive. Except rather than being dropped off nearby, I need to scurry around the trap-infested lair. Although, in our defence, the Devils were nice enough to brightly light all their trip-lasers and make them vulnerable to being shot.

A few hundred bullets later and The Fang were driven off the gates of New Russia. Although a good few times they nearly killed me as cover was light. As the countdown timer ticks down, I looked upon the collection of cars where my body once was. “Who was I to get caught up in House of Devils?” I could only mutter to myself as I was spirited away to my ship. Only the wind to respond.

House of Kings now, making me wonder how many houses of Fallen there are. Although as I land, Petra’s signal begins to get jammed up. It isn’t as though I’m alone, as oddly Variks can get through fine. If you think this is the moment when Variks shows he has his own agenda, haha, oh no. He speaks of how nice it is to work with me and Petra while telling me of his past. I can’t say it isn’t pleasing to hear of what makes Variks different. Especially as something personal makes the conversation different compared to most of Destiny.

After a lot of signal dejamming, I stumble upon an odd room with two King barons meeting a Wolf baron. With a knowing smile, I gun them down. Petra then tells me the Wolves are dead and, while Kings pose a threat still, they’re not under the control of House of Wolves’s leader. “C’mon, let’s finish off the Kings then? They seem on the ropes after losing two barons in one go.” Sadly, I’m told to focus on hunting Skolas down. I’m steadily becoming more certain in my belief this is a revenge mission.

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“Why don’t you make them no longer a danger to the city while the opportunity presents itself?” I ask. “Why don’t you remember you’re a mute protagonist who blindly follows orders like a good Guardian?” asks the game.

In celebration of leaving the Wolves a frail withering force, Varik grants me a pretty rock from The Queen’s vault. After wondering if this theft would constitute treason, I put said shiny stone in the only place worthy I could think of: In the local merchant’s hands. Just with the hope the merchant knows not to sell it on this planet if he values his hands.

We’re now back on Venus, as concerns are arising of if Skolas is a tactical genius or as batty as a belfry. As we walk over the ruins that was the door to the Vault of Glass (no idea what it is), it grows more certain that the best case scenario is Skolas is to be sectioned under the mental health act. Especially as the vault contains technology that is described as “really just, awful stuff”. Thanks for specifics, as always.

In the depths, the Wolves begin trying to summon glowing bricks. After trying to break through, I die due to “misadvanture”. Confused, I try again. “Misadventure”. I try a third time, making sure not to do anything that could be making splash damage on myself. “Misadventure”. Finally, I suss it out with the cryptic hint of “Oracle Cry” debuff. So what would have been a laughable walk-in-the-park suddenly turned into a chaotic pain. I am tasked to swim through swarms of fallen so I can try to break all 6 Oracles before they’re summoned. If even one is summoned and it’ll murder me in one go.

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That’s excluding how I’m expected to take fall-damage before I sprint into the heat of combat.

After a frustrating amount of attempts later, I stop the Wolves from utilising The Vault of Glass. Except now somewhere more dangerous is being raided by Skolas as a last-ditch attempt to become “Kell of Kell” (as in, King of Kings). A slight smirk dancing on my lips as I think on Ozymandias.

It seems, using Vex tech (say that 10 times fast), Skolas is summoning every House of Wolf Fallen that has ever existed in time to this current point in time. Like most things involving time-travel, don’t think too hard on it. Oddly, well, the boss fight is strangely brief for someone summoning every single member of their army ever to exist in time. Yet, it is a Destiny boss so I sprayed him enough to resemble a trip to the lead-based tanning booth.

Yet, for whatever reason, the Queen wants Skolas alive. Also, for whatever reason, Skolas gives up. Don’t think too much.

Suddenly, I get a transmission as Skolas is whisked away:

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…Odd…

…Did I just…Get thanked by the smug queen and an explanation for why I got verbally spat on? Huh.

I still want to dance on her brother’s corpse though.

I get a new sidearm and the odd assurance that not only am I not in The Awoken’s debt, but they’re in my debt for this. Huh. This is a bit of a twist to mull over until next week. Hhmm…

…Until next week, bye!

Past parts

[Part 1: Unfunny Little Robot] [Part 2: Absolute Lunacy] [Part 3: An Inspiration for Regicide]

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