Unpredictable is a column from Caty McCarthy about recent games and other happenings bustling in the world of media. This week features the game Destiny (yes, original Destiny) and anime Little Witch Academia.
Man, that first go-around with Destiny was rough, wasn't it? It was lambasted far and wide, Final Fantasy XIV pre-A Realm Reborn style. Players were not stoked off it, aside from its perfect guns. Over time though, Destiny won back its fans rightfully; amending everything from its structure to replacing the bad Hollywood voice acting that plagued it. With Destiny 2, Bungie hopes to win back truly everyone this time, including those who bounced off the first game at its lackluster start for good.
Destiny 2's beta kicks off officially today. (At least, for PlayStation 4 pre-orders.) I'll be around in there, shooting things as one does in Destiny. But with Destiny 2 quickly approaching release (it's practically September already y'all), I'm reminded of my time with the first game, the game that will soon be wholly abandoned in favor of greener, higher res pastures. Or rather, I'm remembering that time I beat the campaign and didn't even realize I beat it until it was too late.
This was back before Destiny—as people love to tell me time and time again—got good. This was what people call "Vanilla Destiny," before the awkward voice acting from Tyrion Lannister (a.k.a. actor Peter Dinklage) was replaced by none other than prolific, familiar voice actor Nolan North. This was back when the only story came in "Grimoire cards," expository lore dumps buried online. This was when Destiny wasn't too great, and disappointed a lot of Bungie fans before it went through its growing pains and, yes, got good.
I played Destiny with a couple friends primarily in its early days. We'd chat nonchalantly, mindlessly going through the motions of the game. The guns were always what drew me back to Destiny. They were punchy, good, when I hear someone say the phrase "gunfeel" they are usually the first guns I think of. I was playing with a friend who backtracked a tiny bit to jog me up to where he was. We had a plan: let's get to the same level basically, and power through the rest of the game. Somehow, we lost track of that goal, or something. If that even was a concrete goal in the first place.
Eventually, we fought a boss. We shot towards a powerful large foe that looked sorta like a mecha. Then as we were talking, we realized a cutscene had been playing for far longer than we expected. Epic-sounding music swelled, the credits rolled, Paul McCartney sang a tune.
Haha. Whoops. We beat the game.
I guess that was the problem with the first Destiny. That it wasn't too engaging beyond the "wow, I'm basically playing an MMO-lite on a console" sensibility, to the lengths of being more lost in a silly conversation than the action my thumbs were enabling on the screen. This was Destiny at its start. Well before its expansions fixed a lot of its core problems, where raids and a satisfying grind loop became a draw more than solely its gunfeel—even if the content gaps in between were a bit too wide.
But as my colleagues and peers have noted, Destiny 2 is shaping up to be better at launch than the game before it. Even with a tonally inconsistent trailer, it's a game coming from a Bungie hardened by their missteps and successes; a more confident Destiny. A Destiny that hopefully won't disappoint the fans looking for a MMO-lite Halo to get lost in. As long as I can get eyesore-inducing bright fuschia armor and goof off with friends for a month or so again, that's probably good enough for me.
I've been procrastinating diving into Little Witch Academia. It's been awhile since I've watched an anime, honestly. The last two that I recall enjoying were Girlish Number and Sound! Euphonium, two delightful slice of lifes with an edge. A few episodes deep into Little Witch Academia, I'm surprised how closely it skews towards those shows. If anything, it's a slice of life with the smallest tidbit of action on the side, not vice versa as with the animated shorts the series is based off of.
But it works astoundingly well. Here we're following Akko, a fresh-faced commoner who isn't from a witch family, inspired by gaudy "performance" magic to pursue her dreams, which has landed her at the witch academy. She's basically a muggle, to borrow Harry Potter terms, but she's no Hermione Granger. If anything, she's a Ron Weasley. She's clumsy, always fumbling, but maybe a little more eager than that particular red-headed kid. If anything, she's probably what I, or any kids that dreamed of magic as a kid, would be like in her situation. Elated, enthusiastic, and terribly, terribly naive.
As I watched the charming show, I realized I've fallen into a pattern with some of my favorite things over the years: Harry Potter, Kiki's Delivery Service, Flying Witch, and now Little Witch Academia. I wonder if it spawns from the wish I had as a kid to be like Kiki from the Hayao Miyazaki animated film, to travel to a town far away with nothing but a cat and a broom to accompany me. I wonder if it came from that disappointment when I didn't get a Hogwarts acceptance letter at the ripe age of 11 (nor a Hagrid bursting through my door in the dead of night with a cake to welcome me to the magic world). It's probably a bit of both: that unattainable, child-like dream to learn magic.
To put it succinctly, as a lot of kids around me growing up found fascination in zombies, jedis, ghosts, or vampires, my sights were always set squarely on witchery. When I was young, I always wished I had the power to magically transform the things around me with the wave of a wand and minor incantation. But obviously, I'm no witch (nor a magician). The closest I'll ever get to it is fiction like this: fiction that lets me live out that impossible dream impersonally, one giggle and smile at a time.