The Bleeps and Bloops of Destiny are Necessary Worldbuilding

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  • A little while ago I tried the Anthem beta and I didn’t like it very much. I know it’s very not finished but the entire time something felt off. Videogames are an amazing technological feat and that any of them exist at the scale that we do is kind of amazing. But at a certain scale it’s amazing how many of those things need to go kind of perfectly for the experience to feel “normal.” And the sound of the shooting does not go well.

    Weirdly, it took this negative experience to realize how amazing the sounds of Destiny are. It may sound cliché but sometimes it takes something bad to help you realize something good and the sounds of Destiny (2) are very, very good. Everything feels identifiable. Battles in the distance allow an experienced player to make out what’s going on. The pulsing roar of a thermite grenade. The heavy thuds of a hand cannon and the distinct pattern of a pulse rifle. The very particular sound a cabal shield being deployed sounds like.

    Maybe I can’t tell you which specific gun but I can tell you a lot about that distant battle. That kind of high metallic buzzy sound? That’s a hunter’s swarm grenade. The irregular “thuds” that go off without any metallics? Bow. That persistent crackle of electricity? Stormcaller super ability.

    And those “exotic” weapons that everyone is after? They might not all be worth seeking them but they sure do sound special. The staccato pop of Crimson or the proton pack like whine of Wavesplitter make them stand out from the noisy crowd. Even when playing with friends we might ask each other about our loadouts just based on the way the sound. You’ll know the whining shriek of Telesto but sometimes you have to head scathingly ask a friend why they’re using Sweet Business. Definitely not part of the meta.

    While the utility of any of that is pretty minimal, Anthem made me really miss it. I don’t think every gun in Destiny feels “weighty” or that it gives you the kind of military industrial complex testosterone rush that other Bungie games do. Instead I just think they all sound kind of different. Different enough that the ones that are a part of the meta game become kind of familiar.

    For the most part, the sounds in Destiny sound like what you expect them to sound like. The magic crackle of a ritual. The distortion that fills your ears in the first few seconds where your shield breaks and your armor is directly exposed to the hurt. The little sci-fi swoosh your ghost makes when it does basically anything.

    None of those sounds are “organic.” They’re lab grown and tested. How the hell is any going to know what sound a electrified machine gun is supposed to sound like? No one but Destiny 2 sure as hell has one and I sure has hell know when it’s being fired. A pulse rifle that shoots void energy that might be able to pierce the veil of space-time has no basis in reality but I definitely know when Graviton Lance is on the field.

    With everything going on in Destiny and its DLC and successors you’d think that the small, repetitive sounds that eventually become background noise as you’re playing would be easily forgotten. And you’re right, I did forget. Until I played another game that’s currently doing it a whole lot worse.

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