I've never been a fan of MMO's. I have always been more of a solo player, and never liked the massive amount of detail that's involved. But since the release of, “Destiny” I have to admit, my views of them have certainly changed. More than 500 hours I had invested in this game. I had dove head first into the lore, reading every Grimoire card I received, studied every map, and even learned about the exotic gear and weapons.
However, one thing I had patiently waited for was a new Ghost, or a new skin for it. A Ghost, for those who haven't played, is a little floating robot that brings your character to life in the beginning. It accompanies you through the game, helping to hack into systems, giving you information as you go, and opening your path as you progress. I had seen the skins for those who purchased the special edition of the game. I constantly theorized on when the rest of us would get the chance to customize our Ghosts.
Well, three weeks ago, I had gotten my wish.
Thursday night; the night before Xur arrives to sell exotic items. I waited patiently for the daily reset, to see what items Xur would be selling that weekend. My hope was that he would sell the exotic sniper rifle, Icebreaker, so that I could be more useful in raids. I watched the clock as it reached the top of the hour, ready for the reset. However, the very moment the reset took place, I was immediately booted out of the session, given an error message. Bungie liked to use specific and strange keywords to help the player identify the issue that caused the session to close. Words like, “Weasel” or “Bee” and “Baboon”
However, this time it had given me a code word I hadn't seen before. This time, it gave me the code, “Spectral.”
Had it been any other game, I would have seen that as a red flag, though because it was a Bungie title, it didn't appear out of the ordinary. Anxious to see what Xur was selling, I wrote the code down on a pad of paper sitting on the dresser where my television sat, to look it up after I was done. At that point, I continued on with the game.
Before I could select my character, the game began installing an update. I found it rather odd at first that an update would be sent out on a Friday morning, rather than on Tuesday during the weekly reset, but I reasoned that it might have been a hotfix for a potential game crashing bug that might have been discovered, considering it was a measly 100kb download. Shortly after I was able to sign into my Hunter character. Without hesitation, I set the destination to The Tower, ready to find out if I would finally get an Icebreaker of my own. As Xur only appears between Friday and Sunday, he spawns in a random location in The Tower (and since the release of the House of Wolves DLC, The Reef was another location as well). So this weekend, he was located down below near the Vanguard room. Without wasting a moment, I rushed over to him with my hopes high. What I discovered though was...quite strange.
Xur's inventory did not have exotic gear, an exotic weapon, shard or engram. No, this visit yielded one item: a new Ghost.
Or rather, a Spectre, as it was labeled.
This Spectre, loosley resembled the original Ghost, but appeared much smoother in shape. The closest I can compare it to is the Hunter's Vault of Glass raid helmet, “Prime Zealot Helm”
It's eye however, was a horizontal hourglass, red like the mark of a Black Widow, and looked around erratically. When I moved the cursor over the icon, the information pane did not show a cost; Not Strange Coins or Motes of Light. It was a free item from Xur. I was completely ecstatic for this long awaited addition to the MMO. My excitement wavered slightly, when Xur spoke.
“Tread carefully with this Spectre, Guardian.”
His remark gave me goosebumps for a moment. It seemed ominous, but that was something I would expect from this game. It was when I read the description that I got a chill.
“An inscription found on the back: 'You should not have taken this.'”
I read the description over and over again, but eventually accepted the “Gift” from Xur.
Upon taking the Spectre, Xur made one more comment. “Good luck, Guardian.”
Unsure of how to interpret such a cryptic message, I returned to orbit.
Once back in orbit, I opened my menu screen to equip my new item. I moved the cursor over my Ghost, and stopped for a moment to read it's description. “Born from the Traveler, built of Machinery and Light, the Ghost is your companion and faithful guide.”
For a moment, I felt a bit of guilt. In terms of the game, he had been there since the beginning. It did feel a little sad to be putting him away. But I really wanted to try out the new Spectre, so I moved past it. When I highlighted the Spectre, a voice came thorugh. It was my Ghost. It spoke in a worried tone. “You're replacing me? After all we have been through?”
I paused for a moment, taken back by the strange unorthodox dialogue from my Ghost. Uncertain of how to respond, I proceeded to change the two out. I then backed out of my menu screen, and selected the Destinations option. Upon opening the map, it seemed a new mission had appeared on Earth. I remember thinking to myself that it must have come with the new Spectre; Almost like free DLC. When I checked the map of Earth, it showed the mission being in the Car Graveyard; The starting point of the game. I moved the cursor over to select it, but once it was highlighted, I had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. The name of this new mission read, “Return to Nothing.”
There was no description of the mission, no difficulty setting and no reward list.
Reluctant to start the mission, I looked down at the base of the television, and saw the paper with the error code. I decided to check it out while I worked up the nerve to start this mission, still unsure of what it held. I opened the browser on my phone, and went to help.bungie.net to enter the error code, “Spectral.”
My search bore no results.
My stomach clenched a little more, and for that instant, my mind drew a blank. I tried to analyze the situation, thinking that it must not be in their database yet, as it was just released. So my next option was to post about it in the Destiny forums. I created a new post about the error code, the update and questioned Xur's gift. Once I finished typing and posted it, I decided to proceed with the mission, while I waited for the response from the community.
While the game loaded up the mission, a voice over began, as it does with all missions. This voice however, was much more shrill, scratchy with a manic tone. I thought this to be the voice of the Spectre.
It read as follows:
“Sever your ties to your origins. Go back where you came from. Destroy it. Destroy it. Destroy it. Destroy it. DESTROY IT!!!”
Once it yelled, I jumped and grabbed my remote to mute the television. My heart was racing, pumping adrenaline from the drastic change in volume. The mission began, starting at The Steppes; The normal starting point on Earth. I unmuted the television, and waited a moment for instruction...but none came. There was no voice telling me what to do, and no mission description on screen. The only hint I had was the white arrow on my radar. So hesitantly, I followed it's direction. As I pressed onward, the feeling in my stomach only grew. Along the way, the Fallen enemies would not attack me. In fact, they ran away from me; As if to get out of my way. When I checked the my radar, that's when I noticed part of an object behind it. I moved my view up, and that's when I saw the Spectre. I had never seen a Ghost follow the character in plain view before. You only see the Ghost when attempting to return to orbit or summon your vehicle, a.k.a. Sparrow.
The Fallen weren't running from me, they were running from the Spectre. After a moment of staring, it looked down at me, and in it's shrill voice, demanded,, “Keep going!”
I could have sworn the controller began to vibrate, but when I looked down at it, I realized my hands were shaking. As eerie as this all was, my curiosity was still piqued, so I did as the Spectre commanded. After a couple minutes travel, I had arrived; The Car Graveyard. I walked until I came around a corner on the right. I looked onward and saw an open field. Though this time there was a new addition to the scenery. Off to the right of the opening was a stone pedestal. It looked to be of Vex technology. As I made my way to the pedestal, I could hear a faint giggle, with a heavy manic tone. The Spectre seemed to be concealing an anxious laugh, resembling the anxiety I was feeling at that moment.
Once I reached the pedestal, I examined it,, to see an indention in the top. The indent was perfectly shaped like a Ghost. At that moment, a command appeared on screen, “Place Ghost.”
The Spectre, moved over to the pedestal, and looked up at me. He began to repeat, “Do it. Do it. Do it” over and over again.
It was then interrupted by the sound of the Ghost.
“Please, I'm begging you Guardian. Please don't sacrifice me to Them.”
The Spectre once more, almost breaking my speakers, “DO IT!!!”
That was when I saw the first mission objective appear since this all started. It read, “Sacrifice the Ghost”
I slowly reached to the X button, and finally held it down.
The Ghost then appeared in the indention on the pedestal. It started to beg, screaming “No No No,” as a light began to emit from the pedestal.
As the light grew brighter and filled up the screen, the Ghost's pleas turned into incoherent screams of agony. And then was accompanied by silence.
But not for long.
The light disappeared, and I looked on the pedestal. There lied the Ghost, broken; The light in it's eye extinguished. In the corner of the screen was the Spectre, looking straight at me. But it was like he wasn't just staring at my character, but at me, the player as well. I moved the right thumb stick down, so he couldn't look at me anymore.
That's when the controller began to vibrate. I looked at the screen, and the ground beneath my character was opening. It was like the planet itself was splitting in half. Not as if it was falling apart, but like it was a doorway to the center of the Earth. The Spectre began to laugh, harder and harder by the second; That manic tone becoming more and more prevalent. The opening was almost at my feet, so I quickly grabbed the controller, and tried to move out of the way. But the controller wouldn't respond. I looked down at it and it was off. I suspected the batteries died.
Before I could turn it back on, it was too late.
My Hunter fell into the opening.
I watched as he was swallowed into a void of darkness. The only things I could hear were the laughter of the Spectre, and the rushing of wind as I fell faster and faster. But then, the laughter stopped. There was nothing but the wind. I sat there and watched. I set the controller down, as there was nothing more I could do. And all too suddenly, the wind stopped, and was replaced by the sound of shattering bones, and what sounded like the splatter of a body hitting the ground at terminal velocity.
Once more, the air was overtaken by silence.
As I watched in awe, my jaw completely dropped, a new message appeared on screen. “The installed game is corrupted. You must delete the installed game and then reinstall it to play this game.”
The game had crashed. I was completely dumbstruck; Not even sure of what to feel. It took me a minute to gather myself. Once I snapped out of the shock from what I had just witnessed, I reached for my phone and checked the forums, in hopes of answers. Hoping that everything I had just seen was supposed to happen. I pulled up my post, and searched for any information I could, to help piece this together. The comments were filled with hateful responses, ranging from those claiming I was, “full of shit” to being outright called a troll. Very few stated that unless I had evidence to my claims, my post would be removed for not being related to the category it was posted under.
At that moment I took to the Xbox, and reinstalled the game, hoping to show everyone what I had just seen.
Several hours later, it was finished. I opened it back up and quickly moved past the title screen. However, I didn't make it any further. A message appeared, and read as follows.
“NOT SO FAST! This account has been banned. For more information, please go to bungie.net/ban”
Upon further inspection, my account had been banned for “Modified game software” and “Modified game assets”
I couldn't believe it! Whatever had happened caused me to be banned from Destiny, and there was nothing I could do about it.
However, looking back, I'm glad I had been banned. Even now, three weeks after the incident, I would not want to play it again. I am still far too paranoid about running into the Spectre once more...