How Good Does Good Need To Be For You People?

There was a time when I’d admit to being a casual FPS fan. It’s enjoyable to shoot pixels as a way to blow off steam, but my heart had been firmly dedicated to the long-form gameplay of RPGs. Strangely, as I get older I find I have less patience for the reams of virtual paper enlisted to carry an RPG story to a conclusion, which somehow translates to wanting to spend more time shooting monsters and aliens in their ugly-ass faces. Time spent equals practice, and practice equals improvement, so while I can’t see myself ever getting on the Call of Duty bandwagon, I am a HALO fan, and I have recently been playing a lot of Destiny, enjoying myself, and improving my skills (at least in PvE). Looking forward to The Taken King expansion, it’s the first expac for an FPS that I’ve ever pre-ordered. Despite the line that TTK will “improve”, or in some people’s estimation, “salvage” Destiny from the failings of 1.0, I bought the expac simply because I like Destiny full stop. I get to log in, take up objectives, and shoot aliens as I pursue those objectives. Really, that’s all I’m looking for. I’m not expecting some kind of life-altering, transcendental experience that’s going to elevate me to some kind of karmic other-plane through the masterful confluence of story, graphics, and mechanics. People have complained that Destiny is lacking in story like it’s some kind of primal sin, but it’s a FPS, not Shakespeare. How people can ding a FPS on a lack of or a lackluster storyline makes little sense to me. If people really care that much for narrative, I might suggest Divinity: Original Sin or Pillars of Eternity, because what those games lack in face-blasting shotguns they make up for in deep, complex stories. I wonder if people are just trying to sound smarter than they are, as if transcending the perceived confines of the product somehow makes them appear thoughtful and learned. I’m never deaf to legitimate opinions on factual, broken elements, like how the loot table in Destiny seemed to be way off the mark, but where exactly do people set the goalpost such that a game that’s all about shooting aliens and which delivers on that promise is still considered to be “mediocre”. Mediocre at what? It’s a shooter; you shoot stuff, and last time I checked it does that pretty well. Medicore in getting you to care why you’re shooting stuff? I can tell you why: because you have laundry to do. Because you had a long, stressful day at work. Because the kids are asleep and the S.O. is asleep or out with friends. I can’t imagine that anyone in the history of anytime bought an FPS because they wanted to be wowed by the in-game reasons why they had to take up arms. Topics like this one are entirely subjective, and that’s something else I’m not deaf to. Everyone’s had different experiences that lead them to the lives they lead in the present, and those experiences include the shaping of the things that they like and dislike as well as the limits of what they’ll sit for and what they won’t. Personally, I like Destiny because of what it actually does, not what PR wants me to think that it does, or because I have low or high expectations of what it is or what it should be. I don’t believe in dinging a game because it doesn’t live up to a set of personal, immovable expectations. I always do believe that no game “sucks”. When we feel that we don’t like a game it’s really only because our expectations outstrip what we’re presented with, and because we’re unwilling to reconsider what we can get and want to get out of the game that we have in front of us. The way video games are marketed, there’s always a purposefully placed gap between what we’re told the game will be and what we want the game to be that’s left to be filled with speculation and hopes (the “hype”), and even if that gap is very narrow, we want what we want and woe be the product that doesn’t fit into the mold of our desires. But games simply are as they are when we hold them in out (virtual) hands; if we don’t like that, then thank gawd there’s a virtually unlimited selection out there we can look to for satisfaction rather than waste our time playing games we don’t like. Postscript: Before someone wades in here with a Powerpoint slide they created about what’s “broken” with Destiny or tries to equate “ungood” with “broken”, know that they’re not the same thing. If a game has technical issues, then that’s a problem, but it’s a problem that can be solved. The unfortunate side-effect of the Internet on gaming is that games can and are released with issues, and with the knowledge that fixes can be deployed at a later date. That’s the reality we have to live with. Issues that can be fixed with a patch are not damning in the same way that people tend to throw a product under the bus because they’re unwilling to reconfigure their expectations on how the game is designed once the product moves from “extrapolated beliefs and ideal game desires” and in the realm of “this is what it actually is”.

Leave a Comment