I probably won't end up playing Destiny. It's on track to be one of the biggest and most successful video game releases of all time, and it's something that I've been hyped over for months. So why do I feel like turning my back on this gaming phenomenon three days after its release? Mostly because the galaxy is a very lonely place when you explore it alone.
Destiny came out three days ago. In that time, players have levelled their way through the story, got themselves great new gear, battled strange aliens and taken in breathtaking landscapes. I've been more than a little busy this month, so I haven't started yet.
Between projects we're working on internally, IFA coverage, Apple iPhone 6 launch coverage and general September insanity, I haven't had time to go to the gym or sleep properly, let alone level up in a game. Even though it's a game that knocked my socks off in beta and one that I've spent months pining for, life got in the way of gaming.
Three days after the release I feel like I've missed the boat on Destiny.
Yesterday I asked Twitter which version of the game I should get into, and started hearing tales from friends of their adventures, and where they were in their levels. I can only imagine what they've seen so far. Would they come back for me?
Mark Serrels of Kotaku made the interesting point that he started even a few days late and found that his friends rushed him through the levelling process so he could catch up.
I'm level 5 in Destiny. All of my friends are 20. The sad realisation that my life isn't built for playing video games.
— Mark Serrels (@Serrels) September 11, 2014
By the time I start playing (probably on Sunday if I pick up a copy of the game), the gulf in levels will have grown exponentially between someone who has been playing for even a week and me who will have just popped the disc in.
This whole thing got me wondering: it didn't used to be like this. I remember buying a game on previous gen consoles months after my friends had it and still enjoying their company on multiplayer servers in the same way I would have if I'd bought the Day One Edition.
Have games become memes? Ephemeral experiences like a night out or a nice lunch that are shared and then locked to time?
These massive universes designed for friends to quest in together seem to encourage users to start in tandem with each other now like runners in a foot race. If you don't, you risk being left behind while your friends wave at you from the finish line.
Starting Destiny now, even a week after it has been released, feels like telling a joke to your mates that they've already heard. You're that guy.
This is the same thing that made me stop playing World Of Warcraft. I gave Azeroth about 70 levels before I quit, and it wasn't because it stopped being enjoyable. It was because I was by myself. I was guild-free, clan-less and relied on pick-up groups to tackle dungeons meant for you and four of your friends to defeat. Those groups would always fall apart and my time in the world would just be wasted. I'm not about to repeat that with Destiny.
Is there room for a lone adventurer in a galaxy so vast and unfriendly?