Picking a live service title for my 2022 game of the year felt like a bit of a copout, and I'm sure at any other game website, it may be perceived as such. If this piece had to be about a game released this year, I have some solid favourites: God of War: Ragnarok, Citizen Sleeper, and Neon White, to name a few. Alas, tomorrow is my last day at this wonderful website, so I'll do what I want.
At GamesIndustry.biz, we refuse to be tethered by arbitrary constructs such as the calendar year. Great entertainment is timeless (unless it is indeed a live service title in which content can be removed from the internet at any time). With that in mind, my game of the year award ultimately has to go to the one title that managed to squeeze 600 real-life hours out of me, Destiny 2.
I was an early adopter of the Destiny franchise, hot off the heels of Halo and raring for a different space adventure. My enthusiasm did not endure. I picked up the first game at launch and within a week, had traded it in.
"Truly one of the most captivating sci-fi universes I've ever spent time in"I didn't quite grasp the concept of a live service on consoles back then, I wanted the content I'd paid for immediately and fully. Years passed, the original Destiny gave way to 2017's Destiny 2, and I found myself gazing longingly at the game, often dipping in for a runaround, and ultimately growing tired of how unwelcoming it was.
In January 2022, my partner prompted me to redownload the game and offered to lead me through the basics ahead of the release of Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, a new campaign DLC which was released in February. Within four weeks, I was transformed from a casual onlooker to a fully-fledged Guardian, all thanks to the lead-up and delivery of this expansion.
The Witch Queen campaign might have been the difference between me leaving the game and being as stuck in as I am right now. The plot adds to the story of Savathún, one of the game's main antagonists (I'll not bore you with the lore), and it largely takes place on her Throne World, a new location added specifically for the campaign. Suddenly, everything in the game was new to everyone, and not just me. Players were largely encouraged to spend time in the area, with a mixture of excellent story-driven missions, repeatable short quests and myriad secrets dotted among the swamps and structures.
I said this prior to my Destiny journey and I'll say it again: the game is utterly impenetrable to new players. After creating a character, you're plopped into a tutorial mission which introduces the important things – what Guardians are, your Ghost, and how to use abilities – but soon after that, you're left on your own in a world full of players that know about as much as you do. There are hundreds of guns. Guns have "perks" that change how they work in some way, and there are countless combinations. The game has years upon years of complex lore, and there's no way to catch up on that unless you take up some extracurricular reading. Destiny 2 is a full-time job.
"The cool thing about Destiny is that it just feels nice to play, regardless of how much you understand about the meta, or weapon 'god rolls,' or whatever character is coming back to cause more peril"
But the cool thing about Destiny is that it just feels nice to play, regardless of how much you understand about the meta, or weapon "god rolls," or whatever character from two years ago is coming back to cause more peril. The weapons are so versatile, everything from the punchy sidearms to the elegant swords feels great to wield. Sprinting and floating through every open-world area is a delight, and the world itself is so mesmerising that if you mess around in it long enough, you might absorb some of the narrative along the way.
All the while, I was playing Destiny 2 with my partner. As we both live at opposite ends of the country, hopping into orbit became our preferred way to spend time together in the midst of soaring living and fuel costs. It would be remiss to understate his role in my Destiny career – I was as overwhelmed as anyone could possibly be with the game for many, many hours longer than I'd have cared to give it on my own. He drip-fed the right information at the right time, advised me on gun choices, and led me through all of the past content to catch me up with the story.
Destiny 2 isn't my game of the year because it's the best game I've played in 2022, or because of the sheer amount of hours I've put in. It's my game of the year because it extended out of my PC and into so many other beats of my life. It became a routine to just hop in for an hour after work to do some quick missions. We'd eat dinner over Discord and discuss weapon loadouts for the Grandmaster Nightfall that week (GM's are super hard end-game PVE content for the uninitiated). This week, we decided to sit down and design our own dungeon, complete with unique mechanics, bosses, settings, and other nonsense, just because it was a fun, creative thing to do.
It's truly one of the most captivating sci-fi universes I've ever spent time in, and it's a shame that Destiny's great hurdle is unintentionally gatekeeping itself from newcomers.
The best way to get through life is to partner up with someone that will go through it with you. The best way to get into Destiny is to partner up with someone that is already into Destiny. What a treat it is to have both.