Over the weekend I dipped back in to Destiny 2 to grab the bugged, seriously overpowered gun Prometheus Lens from everyone's favourite video game arms dealer Xur - and I ended up having more fun with the game than I'd had in a good long while.
One of the weirdly brilliant things about the Destiny games is they're at their most memorable when they're broken. We had this with Destiny 1 and the Vex Mythoclast, an exotic fusion rifle that evaporated poor Crucible opponents in the blink of an eye. And while Crota's End was a disappointing follow-up to the never-been-bettered vanilla Destiny raid Vault of Glass, I'll never forget spending hour after hour trying to take Crota himself down as our raid leader disconnected his PlayStation 4 from the internet.
And so we come to Prometheus Lens, a trace rifle that hit the headlines last week for the speed with which it melts enemy Guardian faces in the Crucible. This trace rifle fires a red laser beam that does such a ridiculous amount of damage so quickly, that it is now the first gun on the team sheet for Destiny 2 PVP fans.
Amid yet another Destiny 2 outcry (the game's not having the best of times at the moment, bless it), Bungie announced a plan to nerf the Prometheus Lens. It launched with a bug that made it do more damage than intended, Bungie, affectionately nicknamed Bungo by fans for its penchant for cockups such as this, admitted.
Would Bungie cancel the weekend's Trials of the Nine event as a result? Trials is Destiny's ultra competitive PVP event. People take it very seriously, and the last thing it needed was a whole load of red laser beams of death ruining the fun for everyone.
No, Bungie replied. Trials would go ahead as planned. Not only that, it gave everyone Prometheus Lens. And so Xur, troll face basking in the reflective glory of the European Dead Zone's stunning sky box, opened his van-full of exotic wares and sold Prometheus Lens to the Destiny masses by the bucketload.
This was perhaps the best thing Bungie had done to Destiny 2 since the embattled shared world shooter came out in September. Bungie, in full Bungo mode, owned its mistake and effectively said, well, if everyone's overpowered, no-one's overpowered. Go out there and have some fun melting faces, Bungie declared. And fun we had.
The Crucible has been a right laugh because of Prometheus Lens. As expected, everyone's using the thing. Red laser beams of death are everywhere. Turn a corner, Prometheus Lens. Jump onto a platform, Prometheus Lens. Rush a capture point, Prometheus Lens. I've had a huge amount of fun blasting other players to bits, and, when I die from Prometheus Lens, I can't help but laugh. In one breath I'm able to rinse four Guardians in a few seconds. In another I don't last more than four seconds because four red lasers whittle my health down upon each respawn. The Crucible is broken, but it's glorious. As my colleague Tom pointed out, Prometheus Lens turned Destiny 2 into Unreal Tournament with Instagib enabled.
Destiny 2 PVP, fuelled by the broken Prometheus Lens, looks like this right now:
And what of Trials? Well, it's all about the Prometheus Lens meta. Take a look at this page on Destiny Trials Report. Just take a look at it. 90 per cent of kills this week in Trials were caused by Prometheus Lens. The gun was used in 99 per cent of matches.
Good, I say. Destiny 2 has been a dour affair. Bungie is a pretty serious studio that takes its space magic nonsense pretty seriously. I love it when the developer lets its hair down, or relaxes ever so slightly as to allow Xur to sell the very gun everyone was losing their shit about.
The Crucible is chaos, but every now and then chaos is exactly what a video game needs. One of the reasons I preferred Destiny 1 PVP to Destiny 2 PVP is that it had four more players on the map (two on each side). Destiny 2's fewer players and longer ability recharge time means fewer supers and grenades and special powers kicking off at any given moment. For a game with some of the best particle and sound effects in the business, that's sad. When you kill someone with Prometheus Lens, they sort of explode in a cool, red sci-fi mini-explosion. And look at the lasers everywhere. Look at the pretty lasers shooting across the map!
The Prometheus Lens also rekindled my fond memory of Halo's Spartan Laser, which was one of my favourite weapons in Bungie's later Halo games. It turns out the Spartan Laser inspired the Prometheus Lens, so it's okay in my book.
In celebration of Prometheus Lens weekend, here is the screen grab from Halo Reach that I saved years ago which eventually inspired the weapon. pic.twitter.com/5eJr9nuSqN— Jon Weisnewski (@sharkeatsman) December 8, 2017
Now, I know you can't have a competitive PVP environment dominated by a single gun. And I know it's all fun and games for a weekend, but if The Crucible continued to be packed to the brim with red death lasers it would get old fast. So the inevitable nerf must be made. Bungie must patch the fun out of Destiny 2.
Wouldn't it be cool if Bungie added a just-for-fun Crucible mode that restricts players to using pre-nerf Prometheus Lens only? I think that would be awesome, but it doesn't feel like Bungie's style. Perhaps such a thing will have to wait for when players get their hands on private matches in 2018.
Until then, Bungo's broken Prometheus Lens reminds me how much fun Destiny can be when it doesn't work properly. It reminds me how ridiculous this shooter can be when things don't go to plan. And it reminds me that for all the fuss over progression and the endgame and experience points and bright engrams, good old fashioned video game fun is the most important thing.
So here's to Destiny 2's broken Prometheus Lens! A flash in the pan, for sure. But what a flash!