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Despite all of the news posts, tweets and Facebook updates that ignited the internet last Friday morning, I still felt like some sort of cosmic joke was being played on me. Could Xur really be selling Gjallarhorn, arguably Destiny's rarest and most powerful gun? And if so, how would this unexpected boon affect the game itself?
There's plenty of naysayers out there, and I totally understand why all of this Gjallarhorn talk might seem utterly ridiculous to folks who simply aren't picking up what Destiny is putting down. Speaking of which, we'll be calling it Gjally from here on out because 1) That's an adorable nickname and 2) The full word is ridiculous.
But here's the thing: A huge number of people really enjoy playing Destiny and wasting your time mocking those folks is childish and dumb. Even if you don't enjoy Destiny, any gamer should be able to understand why Gjally being sold by the in-game weekend vendor is so important to those who give a damn about it.
Pick one of your favorite games; one you've poured hundreds of hours into and still enjoy returning to on a regular basis. Now imagine if that game had an extremely rare drop that would make you more powerful than ever, give your team a killer edge or just be a lot of fun to use. And after all of those hours of playing the game and hoping that drop would pop up at some point and being constantly disappointed by its elusive nature, imagine if an NPC suddenly said “You know what? I'm going to give you that thing for an almost laughably small amount of in-game currency.”
Whether you appreciate Destiny's brand of gameplay and reward loops or not, I think we can all understand what it's like to have something you've wanted to stumble upon in your game for a very, very long time (resulting in an unfathomable amount of frustration and envy) suddenly be made available to you out of the blue.
For those unfamiliar with Gjally, it's an Exotic rocket launcher that does tremendous damage, hones in on baddies and, when it explodes, breaks into even more exploding rounds that also hone in on their own. It's a powerful piece of equipment and it looks cool to boot.
The thing about Gjally is that, up until this point, it was an extremely rare drop and, in PvE, it's an arguably overpowered n00b t00b. It's one of the handful of weapons receiving a nerf in an upcoming patch, actually, meaning the team at Bungie openly admit that this bad boy is a bit too bad for its own good.
But that transition is still a few weeks away and, even after The Taken King drops, Gjally will still be an extremely powerful weapon.
Gjally was sold once way back when Destiny first launched but, at the time, nobody knew how powerful the weapon could become. Instead of buying it for the then much more rare Strange Coins, the majority of Guardians saved up their currency to buy an Exotic primary or secondary weapon they'd likely use more often.
Once word got out about how powerful Gjally became, however, more than a few Destiny faithfuls were kicking themselves for passing the thing by. Little did any of us know how rare Gjally would be to stumble across in a drop. If nothing else, we figured Xur would sell the gun again in a month or two. That didn't happen, though. The gun's rarity became such a topic of discussion that there was even a website set up to jokingly inform you if the weekend vendor had the Gjally in stock. Until last week, isxursellinggjallarhorn.com led to a page that simply state “No” in big black letters. They were a little late to the party (You had ONE job, website!) but, in the week following the Great Gjallying, it was switched up to a triumphant “Yes.”
So once I got home last Friday, the first thing I did was boot up Destiny and make a beeline for The Tower. Xur was tucked away in the bar at the time, leading to many jokes being made about “Of course he is. He'd have to be drunk to sell Gjallarhorn.”
As I expected, quite a few Guardians took this event as a cause for celebration. People kept the in-game jukebox blasting tunes while half a dozen folks danced around. Xur himself was surrounded by even more Warlocks, Hunters and Titans eager to pick up their own Gjally, most of whom started jumping up and down once the transaction was complete.
Once I confirmed Gjally was indeed being sold for a mere 17 Strange Coins, I raced off to scrape together the final three I needed to make the purchase and, boom, that white and gold beauty was added to my inventory.
Gjally is going to take a bit of time to level up and get the full benefit of its power, which I'll admit led to a somewhat anticlimactic first few hours with the weapon. At the time, my Gjally behaved like pretty much every other rocket launcher in the game. I pointed it at a bad guy, I pulled the trigger and the bad guy exploded. There wasn't a blast of radiant light nor did an insane guitar solo start playing in the background . I know it'll get better in time but, for now, it's just another gun.
So why, then, was everyone so excited about getting the weapon outside of the fact that it has eluded them for so long? For the same reason Bungie wants to nerf the gun, actually: It had become an unfortunate gatekeeper to some of the game's content.
I'm not going to go on and on about how dumb it is that all modes in Destiny still don't have matchmaking (Though I certainly could). Suffice it to say that in order to do the top level content in the game, many players have to resort to hitting up the forums to beg other players to add them to their Friends list, join up in the game and finally go on the damn Raids. It's a tedious process and, because of it, players have discovered that they can be quite picky about who they do and do not allow into their groups.
As a result, many players stopped inviting Guardians to their group if they did not actually have a fully upgraded Gjally. Most of Destiny's top bosses are ridiculous bullet sponges. Rather than offering creative and challenging gameplay, they instead require you to hit them really, really hard for a really, really long period of time. Again, I could go on forever about what's wrong with that picture, but I don't want to derail things too horribly.
In other words, if you want to take out the biggest baddies in the game, Gjally was just about the only sane way to do it. As a result: No Gjally means nobody wants to play with you. And that, folks, is a terrible shame.
A lot of folks who “earned” Gjally by lucking upon it are still lashing out against Xur's sudden generosity and refusing to play with folks who didn't have the weapon before this past weekend. Those people are sad and they're saving us all a lot of time by letting us know upfront that we don't want to play with them anyway. But one of the strangest questions I've seen pop up all over the internet since last weekend is: Is Gjally worthless now?
Let's be clear: Gjally was never “worth” anything. Breaking it down in-game only nets you a handful of resources and it's not like you could sell the thing to other players. You couldn't even trade it in for a large amount of Glimmer or anything like that. What these people are actually asking is “Can I still feel high and mighty about having been lucky enough to have a Gjally fall into my lap while everyone else longs to have one of their own?”
The only thing Gjally suddenly popping for sale accomplished was leveling the playing field for anyone who had enough Strange Coins to pick one up. We can all dish out the same amount of damage to Raid bosses now, so elitists no longer have a reason to exclude anyone from simply enjoying the damn game.
And in the end, none of this will really matter for Destiny players come Sept. 15. That next expansion is promising a huge injection of weaponry that will give players a whole new batch of goodies to lust after. Destiny is about to once again become the wild west, and I for one welcome the great unknown that awaits us just over the horizon. Here's hoping Bungie has figured out a solid balance, though. It would be a shame to see folks once again excluded from playing portions of the game simply because a random number generator didn't give them access to another overpowered piece of equipment.