An Open Letter to Bungie

Subject: An Open Letter to Bungie
From: Tom Greensill
Date: 28 Jun 2019

I don't know if anyone at Bungie, or anyone at all, will read this. I am currently listening to a video on YouTube entitled "Relaxing Destiny Music". As I listen I am flooded with nostalgia for a game which I've hated and loved all at the same time and has become a part of me.

It started when I was about 7. My oldest brother had purchased an Xbox 360 and with it came Halo 3. For hours I would sit with him and just watch him play this game. I felt engrossed by the Halo universe, a universe created by Bungie. When I finally purchased my own Xbox 360 I bought all the Halo games I could; Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, Halo reach and even Halo Wars. My love for the franchise was unmatched by any other in the world of video games.

Naturally when I heard Bungie wouldn't be creating further Halo titles I was disappointed but I also felt great excitement for what they would be working on next. Details slowly began coming out about 'Project Tiger' or as we now know it, 'Destiny'. I pre-ordered the game before there had been a gameplay reveal, very little was known about the game at the time.

After months of buildup and excitement Destiny was released on the 9th of September 2014. Like many I was initially overwhelmed with disappointment. The story felt as if it could have been so much more. The art, the music and the lore was so beautiful and it felt as if the game was a shell of what it could have been. I stopped playing Destiny within just a few weeks of it's release and I had no intention of returning. I joined in the online outrage and vowed never to build myself up for a game again. I warned friends away from buying it themselves and openly hated on the game whenever it was mentioned.

But, I was wrong. In the summer of 2015 i had nothing to do as school had finished for the year. I had one or two friends who had never stopped playing destiny and the Taken King release was just a few months away. I reinstalled the game and began playing with these friends. They had promised me that through dlc and patches the game had improved. Initially I didn't see much of a change to the game, it was still a grindy looter-shooter with little in game story. But there was something I had missed from when I first played Destiny; friends. I would play from the moment I woke up until the moment I slept every day throughout the summer of 2015. It became clear to me that Destiny wasn't about the story, the characters, not even the loot; it was about the experience which could be shared with friends. To this day I haven't forgotten the emotion of getting that first Atheon kill in the vault of glass, defeating Crota on hard mode. These experiences taught me that everything is better when done with friends.

By the time of the release of the Taken King many of my friends in school had bought destiny. There were roughly 10 of us who would all get home every night and play strikes, crucible and raid on the odd occasion. I marvelled at the Taken King release, many systems had been updated and changed to make the game better. The new raid King's Fall was a masterclass in managing mechanics and communicating. I remember watching the world's first race and just being amazed. It took our team a few weeks to finally defeat the raid. It felt like Destiny had now become a good game as well as a good experience.

A year later and many people I knew had stopped playing destiny in the content drought of 2016. But I and a few others were awaiting the release of Rise of Iron. It was a good expansion, it was criticised for being reskin of the fallen and reusing areas of the cosmodrome but this didn't bother me much. I knew activision were working to make sure Bungie continued to keep making them money and therefore Bungie were on a tight schedule with Destiny 2 being made in the background. Yet again, I loved playing through Rise of Iron with my friends and Wrath of the Machine was my favourite raid from the first incarnation of Destiny.

1600 hours later, I stopped playing Destiny as it was clear Bungie were finished with Destiny 1 and were moving on to Destiny 2. Details of Destiny 2 began trickling out and just as with the first game I hyped myself up for it. But it fell short on release again. It was clear criticism was noted from the original Destiny release. The story was greatly improved, loot was much easier to obtain and exotic gear could now be earned by everybody and not just the dedicated few. This is where Destiny 2 failed. It removed the Destiny magic which I had so loved in it's first year. For example, In Destiny's first year I had a 'Last Word' drop from a crucible game. I ran around my house screaming, the excitement was unfathomable. However, in destiny 2, exotics were just handed away during the main story and you didn't even have to be max level to use them. There was no longer excitement where there used to be. The same is true for random weapon rolls which were removed. There was no longer excitement when a legendary dropped where there used to be. People spent hours farming for 'god roll' guns in Destiny 1, the eyasluna springs to mind most predominantly.

It is true that Destiny 2 was improved by the Forsaken expansion but the magic was still not there. The game had taken many steps in the right direction but these were mostly improvements to the game and not the destiny experience which I felt in Destiny 1.

Now, we stand just a few months from the 5 year anniversary of Destiny's release. Bungie has split from activision, a move applauded by almost everyone. It was clear throughout Destiny's time that actvision had Bungie over a barrel and now the future is with Bungie and only Bungie. This makes me optimistic as Bungie is responsible for creating some of the best games I've ever played. So, the purpose of this letter is to share my experience playing this game, through thick and thin, and to just thank every single person who has been involved in it's development. You have helped create something that has changed me as a person and I'm sure many other feel the same. I would also like to thank everyone in the Destiny community, from the streamers and YouTubers to those people who I raided with on LFG from time to time. It is you who made the Destiny experience worth experiencing.

To finish, if I have one request for Bungie going forward, it's this: bring back the magic. Bring back the magic you know you can create and bring back the magic us players loved experiencing.