“This is the worst I’ve ever seen you,” says my girlfriend, and she means it. “Your life is centered around Destiny. Every time you have a free moment, you use it to play the game. On Tuesday, and I paid attention, you played it for 6 hours straight.” I ponder these revelations as we walk through Downtown Los Angeles towards the months-old, clean, brightly lit supermarket. To my right, a homeless man reaches up at us for some change. I have none.
“But baby, what you have to understand about the Vex is that their weak spot is actually at the center of their bodies. Well… frames really, since they’re robots. The center of their frames. That’s where you need to aim if you want to score a precision kill. Not the head. Except for Minotaurs. I’m pretty sure with them it’s the head? Hmm. Now that I think about it, I’m less certain.” She shakes her head and looks at her shoes. A pair of Nikes just like mine. My fault, really. I purchased her pair as a Christmas gift, and my pair as a… gift to myself. I continue my explanation: “honestly though, I get confused with all the different races in the game. The writing is mostly garbage. Other than all the stuff around The Taken, and well, I also enjoy some of the larger scale concepts in the game… like the sentient Russian A.I. who’s a fan of ballet. Rasputin.” She takes a box of cookies from the shelf, looks at the ingredient list. “Rasputin? Julian, what are you talking about?” “The um… the artificial intelligence in the game. It was supposed to protect earth from The Darkness? But it failed. Anyways, it’s not important. What’s exciting is that I’m starting a new character, baby. It’s a female robot. A Warlock. I’m gonna do the Stormcaller quest and zap my enemies like… krrrraakkkkkowwww, krrrraaakkkowwww, krrrrrakkkkowwwwwwww!” I look up from my gnarled fingers (they have been conducting electricity… a lot of it.) and notice I’m alone in the cookie aisle. She’s gone.
I wander over to the café they’ve built for us inside the supermarket, spotting the barista who always seems to have a sad, wistful look in her eyes. I can never tell if she’s bored or miserable. “Can I get you anything?” She asks in monotone. I stare at her for a good minute before answering, trying to ascertain the source of her chagrin. Some people just are sad. It might not even be linked to life events. We all carry with us the sorrow of our ancestors. “You have to reach level 25 first, because it’s a pre-requisite along with the completion of the first quest in The Taken King—which is basically Destiny 2.0—and both of these things combine to unlock the mission I’m talking about… to get the proper subclass. It’s sort of annoying, because the double-jump and grenade skills get reset, so you’re sort of crippled um…” (To my left I’ve noticed a woman in a wheelchair waiting for an Ethiopian pour-over.) “I mean… hampered? Hampered. For a little while. Until you can level those skills up again.” I’ve already had two coffees today and I feel like I might be incubating a flu. “Can I get you anything?” The sad young woman asks again, this time to someone behind me.
I step out of line and my eyes wander over to the checkout lanes. There I see my girlfriend listlessly piling bricks of flash-pasteurized almond milk on the conveyer. She barely looks up when I accost her. “Hey there,” I whisper, kissing her cheek. She smiles. I help her move the rest of the items to within the cashier’s reach. In front of us in line there’s a fifty-something with a gelled faux-hawk wearing a navy blue puffy vest. He’s carrying a half-asleep chihuahua that’s wearing a pink leather jacket and a collar strung with human ears. “Seriously though, Destiny just feels right. In fact I’d say the gameplay is probably the best part of the entire thing, other than all the planet jumping, the art direction, and the voice acting. I also particularly like the Vanguard guy. I think it’s the same actor who plays that character from The Wire, you know, Cedric Daniels, the lieutenant who’s always yelling at McNulty.” I carry a paper bag in each hand as we exit the building. The sky is overcast, a layer of clouds scattering the sunlight, strange weather for Los Angeles. A slight drizzle falls languorously over the city, covering my glasses in dew. The shape of my girlfriend is blurry through the droplets. “I’m thinking of getting a headset for the higher level Nightfall strike and the raids. Can’t do the raids without proper coordination. Teamwork, really. That’s what it takes to survive those.”
In the lobby of our building, I open the mailbox to reveal a small manila envelope. It contains a pair of Control Freekz, little purple buttons that will sit on top of the Playstation 4’s normal controller sticks. These will help improve my aim when using sniper rifles. Better grip for the thumbs, too. I close my eyes in the elevator, small shapes materializing in the resulting darkness: Psions taking cover behind makeshift walls. I shoot at them, and a series of numbers float up into the ether above the Psions as they crumple and fall beneath my plasma strafes. Upstairs, in unit 805, I sit on the couch and turn on the television. A few forlorn notes rise from a grand piano, my ship floating in orbit around a ruined planet. The empty apartment with no light except for the strobe of interplanetary battle. Another wave of Cabal pour from the torn hull of a massive downed warship. My ghost, in his high-pitched voice, informs me that they purposefully crashed it on the Dreadnaught so they could use it as a beach-head. Of course they did. If there’s one thing I know about the Cabal, it’s that they have a fine sense of sacrifice.