I've never been on a blind date or speed dating, but last night I sorta did for the first time. I redownloaded Destiny 2 and powered up the game to see what's in store for its new week-long event, Crimson Days. And what I found wasn't dissimilar to the ol' dating pastime.
Speed dating, for the unaware, is typically an event where a host of singles line up and shuffle around for microdates. It's a matchmaking process meant to take the awkwardness of first approaches away, all while fostering another form of awkwardness in its place. From friends I know who have been on blind dates or have tested speed dating, they both seem like inefficient ways to really meet someone who's potentially worth dating. But for busy people, sometimes it's the only option.
Destiny 2's new event has a lot in common with it. It replicates the moments where sparks fly and the idea of companionship clicks; like an early date where you realize you're falling in love with the other person. On the otherhand, sometimes partnerships don't work and nothing "clicks," and it's easy to realize the common thought of, "hey, this just isn't working out between us." Fittingly, Crimson Days is a Valentine's Day themed event. Players are rewarded with a lot of red and pink-hued shaders; there's new loot in store, including some Sparrow vehicles with appropriate shades of red with rose petals. There's a realigned Crucible map (PvP) from Destiny 1 called The Burnout that reimagines The Burning Shrine map in an alternate reality. (Basically, the lasers are red instead of blue now.)
Best of all, there's a refreshed Crucible mode for players to easily hop into: Doubles, an event-only two-versus-two mode. In the first Destiny, this mode was resigned to only players that were able to pair up with actual friends, as there was no random matchmaking in store. Destiny 2 fixes that oversight, and throws other changes into the mix too.
I ended up playing the new Doubles mode for hours, and I found it had a lot in common with what I perceive speed dating or blind dates to be like. In the special mode, you and the random, mysterious other player feel each other's vibes out before charging forth, hoping to run into another duo to fire upon. At the start of each map, the booming voice of Shaxx may say a romantic soliloquy, or something like it. The maps are the same they've always been, bouncing from Nessus to Mercury in a flash.
The Crimson Days event in Destiny 2 concludes on February 20 at 9am PST upon the weekly reset. Some players on Reddit are already pleading with Bungie to extend all their events beyond a measly week, or at least to shuffle the Doubles Crucible playlist into the main game at some capacity.
As someone who generally stays away from the PvP side of Destiny 2, Doubles is actually, dare I say it, a lot of fun—mostly because of the random matchmaking element. With only one pal at your behest, players are encouraged to stick by one another, as you get an ability recharge boost for it. If you get separated, you're more vulnerable—and your foes get pinged to your location. That leads to having to trust the other player, and them having to trust you. In my dozen or so matches, I cycled through many partners. Sometimes they felt like dead weight, as I was the only one netting kills and emerging victorious. Sometimes it felt the opposite, like we were two halves of a whole.
There was one match in particular that I found especially exhilarating. My initial partner dropped out of the match within moments, leaving me alone for about a minute or so. I ended up finding my two foes—or rather, they found me—and I did my best with my Sweet Business gun at my side. I managed to mow down one of them, gliding in the air while throwing a grenade towards the other; and unexpectedly, a new partner joined the fray. When I thought all was lost, the opponent was gunned down in the nick of time. The following rounds proceeded to be highly successful, with my partner and I sharing a digital bowl of neon ramen at the end of every round when we were triumphant (we both had the same emote, like it was fate or something). That match reminded me of what Destiny 2 has potential to be: tense, illuminating, and at its best when shared with others, whether I know them personally or not.
In random matchmaking for multiplayer games, I find most of the time true teamwork isn't as breathlessly easy to fall into, minus, say, Overwatch or PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. For most other multiplayer games with random matchmaking though, pointing, shooting, and knowing when to fall back are the only aspects of teamwork necessary. Sure, if you weigh your team down there's potential you'll get a nasty message in your inbox after, but aside from that, teamwork doesn't feel as essential. You do your own thing, and your teammates do the same.
In Crimson Doubles though, partnership is essential—just like any date. If your teammate abandons your side, it could spell trouble. If you find an opponent alone, it's either a good sign for you, or a bad sign because the other could be running around to flank your behind. Every encounter is a gamble, but with a good partner at your side, it's nothing too scary.
So I'd like to say thanks to all those partners I speed dated in Crimson Days' Doubles event. Some of you were great, some weren't, but that's beside the point. For the first time since the early month or so of Destiny 2, I was having fun with the shared world shooter again. That's a feeling that's become far rarer as the months have dragged on, leading me to ultimately delete the game from my hard drive after its lackluster expansion last December. Who knows if this refined, all-too fleeting Crimson Days event is a symbol of what's to come in the future, whether in events or not. Yet as with all things, it's at least a start.