It’s interesting how some games connect with you at a very primal and basic level. Everyone who has played enough games knows what kind of games I am talking about. These are games that you feel at home playing with. You play them when you are happy, you play them when you are sad, you play them at the end of a long day when you just want to relax, and you play them when you have nothing else to do. These are games that are best enjoyed on a rainy day, and yet they have something special to offer on those lazy afternoons. These are games that become your friends, these games become a part of you, and once you like them enough you want to know more about them.
When I was a little kid, it happened to me with Diablo 2. I loved that game, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted to play that game, ALL THE TIME. And when I wasn’t playing it, I wanted to think about playing it. I would come back from school, take a bath, eat my food, and rush off to the upper floor (“The Computer Room”). It would become searing hot during the summer (since we didn’t have an AC in that room yet) and ice cold during the winters, but that didn’t stop me from dungeon crawling with my Paladin. Over the years, I have returned to D2 multiple times, each time determined to beat a new challenge in the game, be it a new character (The Druid) or a new level (The Hidden Cow Level), sometimes these gaps between play-throughs have extended over years, but Diablo 2 for the longest time was the only game I kept coming back to even when I thought I was done.
But then life happened. College was looming, and after that, a job beckoned. The distance between me and the forces of Pandemonium forest grew. We had to go our separate ways, and besides it felt like we had accomplished everything that we could together (a hardcore play-through had been completed TWICE), I mean we just belonged to different generations. The age was finally showing, and I just wanted to try different things. We had to move on. I had to leave my PC and Diablo 2 behind. I knew this was coming, to be honest, the going to college part just made it easier.
After that, I tried out a lot of games. AND I MEAN A LOT OF GAMES. PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Gameboy, PSP Vita, Nokia Engage, iPhone, PS4, Xbox One; the platform did not matter. I spiraled from game to game, looking for the next game who could be that special something again. Hell, I even started a website about video games, so I can try out even more games. It was just this vicious circle of games and reviews, which just didn’t stop.
To be fair, there were some really good ones along the way. I remember with Counter-Strike Condition Zero, I thought I had found a game that I could play forever. I mean the competition kept the experience fresh, there was always a new challenge and there was always something new to learn. Plus I had time and the skills to be good at it, and I got really good at it. I gave it my time when that game was a nobody, and it loved me back. But then Counter Strike Global Offensive happened, and it felt like a completely different game. It felt as if getting popular had changed the game. It wasn’t that the game just looked different, it played differently, it reacted differently, all its old quirks were gone. It was as if all the time I had spent during Condition Zero days didn’t matter anymore. Things had changed too much, and I wasn’t ready to make such a huge investment again. That was the last time I would commit to a Multiplayer game, I told myself. Something that I have adhered to till this date.
I also thought, that if one game doesn’t cut it, maybe multiple ones could. So while Prince Of Persia appealed to the edgy rock and roll angst in me, Need For Speed Most Wanted to satisfy the rebel streak in me. SmackDown Here Comes The Pain, was an adrenaline pumping adventure whenever we got a chance to be together, and Far Cry was what I showed off to my friends. But honestly, deep down inside it never really clicked, it just didn’t feel right to play so many games at the same time. I realized that I was one game man, and so I decided to cut my ties and never look back on those gems again.
This was a really dark time for me. I spent my time playing Minesweeper, Spider Solitaire and Hearts. These instantaneous capsule experiences satisfied me. I just didn’t have enough strength in me to commit to a game again. Not with so much else happening in my life. For a time, I felt I had grown out of it, maybe that was how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to be a casual gamer forever, dabbling in the odd round of Bounce or Snake on my phone. Then one day, I saw an Xbox 360 at Landmark; and the cycle had begun anew.
Gears Of War, Mass Effect, Bastion, Army Of Two, Diablo 3, Kingdom Of Amalur, Call Of Juarez, Sleeping Dogs, Halo. There was so much I had been missing out on. So many great games that were ready to be experienced. Of course, none of them held a candle to Diablo 2, but hey my life was way blander without them. Sure, I couldn’t find my Diablo 2 again, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have good times with them. It also helped that I was in a way more stable place in my life than ever before. A good job, a place of my own, and a constant stream of money meant taking care of video games was much easier.
Plus, I became way more intuitive about the kind of games that I liked. I hated games like Life Is Strange and The Walking Dead who depended on a good back story and a pretty face but were shallow as hell. I also didn’t like games like Shovel Knight, or Rogue Legacy who wanted you to enjoy them irrespective of how they looked. Games like Assassin’s Creed 3 were the worst, who just wanted your money. Persona 5 was so good, but so frustrating at times, it was crazy. I wanted the complete package, I wanted a game to look good and play great. I was willing to spend money on it, but I should get enough back to make my investment worthwhile.
Many games came very close. Especially the Witcher 3. It was mature, deep, had excellent gameplay, looked great and respected my money. Moreover, it spiced things up from time to time with new DLC. It was almost perfect. Almost. The thing with Witcher 3 was, that it was difficult to get back too. We took one break and suddenly I didn’t know who Geralt was. Slowly but surely we drifted apart, and by the time Blood and Wine rolled around, we had decided to part ways.
But it was alright, I was way more happy in my space than I ever was. Maybe I wouldn’t find my Diablo 2 again. Maybe I would just have to shuffle from great game to great game. Maybe I would never join a game’s Reddit ever again. And I was alright with that. I was alright spending a weekend with God Of War, followed by a couple of days of Fortnite during the week. Video games were still important in my life, but they just weren’t that high on the priority list now.
And then boom, just like that Bungie announced Destiny 2.
And yeah, it was rocky at the start. Destiny 2 at the beginning was just a stripped down version of Destiny. During my first 4 weeks with Destiny 2, it felt like Counter-Strike all over again, but then Forsaken came around, and it felt like it had gone through a makeover. It just made life so simple. I could come back every day spend a couple of hours, and get some actual progress out of it. It made it very easy to track quests so I always knew what it wanted, and yet there were times when I was doing something familiar and something completely unexpected would pop up. Plus it always felt comfortable, it didn’t matter if I came back after 2 hours, or 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 months, the way I played the game still worked. On the other hand, if I felt something was too hard to crack, we would talk about it in the forums, and over time it would become easier to achieve. It felt as if my opinion meant something. It was that warm fuzzy feeling that I hadn’t experienced in a while. I had finally joined a game’s Reddit again.
That’s when the rabbit hole really opened up. Soon the wallpapers on my phone were Gunslingers. A few months later, I had a Destiny keychain, and a few days after that I was ordering a Thunderlord T-shirt (only available to players who had unlocked the exotic in-game in its first week). The game made sure it made me feel special by providing me with these rewards both in-game and outside it. I did my part too, by diligently playing it off and on, and paying for its annual pass. It was the perfect relationship.
I knew the world, in general, looked down upon Destiny 2. But I couldn’t care less. I was happy with Bungie, and I didn’t mind showing it off. Soon my FB cover was The Ace Of Spades, my FB profile pic was Zavala, and at one point I seriously considered a Ghost shaped Alexa speaker, but good sense prevailed. Secretly I kind of felt cool about liking something which wasn’t hugely popular. Every diss post made my love for the game stronger. I was spending time on Reddit, reading about the different perks so I could be a better guardian. I was printing out instructions (on paper) so I could complete an activity just like it was supposed to be. I dreamt about how I could execute those jumps in the Ascendant plane. It had taken almost 18 years for it to happen, but here I was again with D2, feeling at home once again.
So to anyone who has felt that a game may have left them behind. Or to anyone who can’t seem to find a game which could match the nostalgia of the one game that got uninstalled. It’s ok to feel lost, disillusioned and disinterested in video games from time to time. After all, we are all human. But it just takes one game to make us a fan-boy again. So don’t lose hope, the right game for you is just around the next E3.