Destiny is a game about meticulously outfitting yourself with better and better gear, all with the hopes of getting the slightest leg up against the Darkness. Every part of your ensemble, from your bone-laden knee-high boots to your dashing cape, needs to be intricately engineered to support your build. You have to leap enthusiastically at every single opportunity you have to be a stronger, better Destiny player, or else you're yesterday’s news, Destiny grandpa.
It is in that frame of mind that I want to explore the potential tactical advantages of the game's emotes, which expanded wildly this week with the launch of the real-money Eververse Trading Company. Now, I'm not suggesting that the execution of an appropriate emote can turn the tide of a challenging boss fight, except oh wait, that is exactly what I'm suggesting. A well-timed emote can stir a party to action, tie blood bonds between total strangers and demoralize ancient Moon Gods.
In fact, for the remainder of this listicle, I'm going to exclusively refer to emotes as what they truly are, which is psychic weapons.
While deciding how to spend your precious Silver, you should consider the strategic applications of each of the psychic weapons available to you. Here's how we rank each psychic weapon on the Eververse shelves, in order of their combat usefulness:
Come on, Bungie. This is nothing. This looks like an idle animation from Gex, and doesn't even come close to expressing an emotion I feel every time I play with a pickup raiding group, which is, "You have lied about your capabilities as a Destiny player in every conceivable way." It's like the person using this emote — this one doesn't even deserve to be called a psychic weapon — is using the emote to express how disappointed they are in this emote. It has no strategic uses, and is an embarrassment. It is embarrassing to use it.
Let's have a frank talk about Swing.
If this psychic weapon animation started with you calling your shot, like the Big Batsman, which is what I call Babe Ruth, it might be worth it. Instead, you just swing an imaginary bat at an imaginary ball, and while I may not be a "baseball expert," even I can tell that's lousy form. Dude's chopping a perfectly horizontal line, and kind of loses his balance at the end? He swings like I swung when I played Little League for the losingest team in Huntington, West Virginia, until I got hit in the leg by a stray pitch and cried for 45 minutes and decided on the spot to do community theater instead.
Looking good, Morpheus. Only problem with wielding this psychic weapon is that I personally guarantee you are going to get annihilated moments after using it. That interaction you're imagining, where you use this in Crucible, and someone charges you, and you cut them down? That is never going to happen, because pride comes before a Blink Shotgun to the dome.
Unless, of course, you're a Sunbreaker, in which case, great news: You're fucking invincible.
The next three share a similar theme of letting everyone around you know how excited you are about what just happened in Destiny. Which is ... fine, I guess, but not especially useful tactically. Victory Cheer ranks lowest because, well, nobody has ever done anything that looks like what the person in the clip above is doing. I have seen things in this life that have made me overjoyed beyond measure, and have never projected that joy into the world by raising my hands into a Y, clapping five times, and then pumping that Y right back out again.
I suppose the only way Victory Cheer earns any tactical points at all is if you use it behind an object that's as tall as you are. "Hey, where's xXBlun7Bl4Z3rXx?" your teammates ask. "Here, look here," you say, your dumb clapping hands appearing from behind a rock or something. "Look where my dumb hands are."
Booyah wins the efficiency game for all the psychic weapons on offer. If there is one nice thing I could say about Booyah — and there is, just the one — it is that you probably won't get killed while you're using it, such is its brevity. It also looks like how aliens think human beings express excitement, but it's certainly less preposterous than Victory Cheer's impossible gesticulations. You might see someone in real life execute a Booyah, if it were their first time experiencing excitement.
OK, I've established a real double standard for myself here, because Pumped Up is the most ridiculous psychic weapon of the lot. I challenge you to recreate it in real life, especially the brief involuntary spasm that occurs after you hit the ground. What is even going on there? It's like every appendage is individually pumped to different degrees, and they refuse to work together to express how pumped they are. All the parts except your face, though. Your face is an expressionless mask, which is officially The Funniest Thing in Destiny Right Now.
So, tactical advantages. The animation starts with a brief jump, which you could use to jump over some kind of shockwave attack (disclaimer: that absolutely won't work), while that skyward punch could be used to maybe hit a floating Wizard in the foot or something (disclaimer: no, that wouldn't work either). The bigger advantage is that it would make everyone in your Fireteam worried about your total loss of bodily control. A little empathy goes a long way on the battlefield.
If you absolutely, positively need to taunt someone in Crucible, this is the psychic weapon to use. Remember: Bring It On looks too cool to be successful. On the inverse, not a single dang frame of Come at Me looks cool. Those light chest taps into a pre-hug arm stretch look more like a step out of a Bob Fosse routine, and then — OH SHIT — another, more exaggerated arm stretch with a weird rooster chest pop? Shit looks hilarious.
And the fact that shit looks hilarious is exactly what makes this such a powerful psychic weapon. A Guardian turns the corner and sees this waiting for them, they're going to be too busy laughing at how dumb you look to shoot at you. And there, once you've debased yourself — that is when you go in for the kill!
Unless that Guardian is a Sunbreaker, in which case they killed you from around that corner, throwing a hammer through time and space that hunted you down like a cartoon bullet. They killed you before the match even started, simply by reading your username out loud. You don't have time to deploy Come at Me, because the Sunbreaker made you dead forever.
If you use Slow Clap against another real-life person, you're a Grade A Ding-Dong. I've dumped more of my hours on this earth into Destiny than I have into any other endeavor, but it's still a game, and games are presumably fun, and there's nothing fun about being a Ding-Dong to another living, breathing human soul. Also, it takes a long time to execute, but more importantly, don't be a Ding-Dong.
What's great about Slow Clap, though, is that it makes a noise. You can make a noise in Destiny that isn't you shrieking at your own demise! Oh, sweet agency! We have been afforded a kind of percussion that doesn't involve the discharging of firearms. With enough people Slow Clapping in unison, you could potentially put on a Bring in the Noise, Bring in the Funk-style production for all the denizens of the Tower. You could retire from Darkness-thwarting, and become a full-time step dancer, which, really, isn't that the dream?
You can use Safe after someone finishes one of the 26 discrete platforming segments that came with the King's Fall raid. That would probably be pretty funny.
If you haven't read Sun Tzu's The Art of War, allow me to summarize the two main strategies espoused throughout the treatise:
1. Carefully assess the strengths and weaknesses of both yourself and your opponent before devising a plan of attack
2. Keep 'em guessing!
That second part is literally a direct quote from Sun Tzu, and is the basis for how to use the Evil Scheme psychic weapon. Both in PvE and in the Crucible, the secret to success is knowing what your opponent is going to do without tipping your own hand, and Evil Scheme perfectly obfuscates your intentions.
"Wait, what's he doing, rubbing his hands together. Does he still have heavy ammo? Is he — AACHHCKKLKH." That sound there at the end was you dying because a Sunbreaker looked in your direction.
There is only one practical application for Watch Your Back, and while I can't confirm scientifically that it works, my gut tells me that it absolutely works: You can use it to threaten the Cryptarch. I do it now, as a ritual, before decrypting anything — just letting him know that, to date, I have killed two different MOON GODS, like, a hundred times total, and if the legendary engram I'm about to unpack is another Light level 260 class item, then hey, this Cryptarch guy is starting to look a lot like a MOON GOD, don't you think?
One time I redeemed three special weapon exotic engrams, and they all decrypted as 4th Horsemen, a shotgun I already had. If only I'd been able to tell Master Rahool to Watch His Back, maybe I'd have ended up with the Telesto I so richly deserved.
Go ahead and put your sarcastic Slow Clap in the dumpster where it belongs, because Congrats is where it's at. There is nothing I do not love about this animation — the pointing to determine the target for your accolades, the motivational-speaker-ass fist pumping, the Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans determined clap. This is how adults communicate nonverbally in Destiny, when they tell each other, "Oh, nice, you got the raid helmet to drop. I just got more Moldering Shards, but instead of complaining, I'm going to let you have this moment. Today's your day, xXBlun7Bl4Z3rXx. Live in it. Celebrate it."
How many people have just rolled up into Atheon's, Crota's and Oryx's living rooms and just started shooting their shit apart? Like, you have no idea what Crota's up to when you kick in the door to his lair. Dude could have been chilling with the Swordbearer and watching old episodes of Frasier or something.
How refreshing would it be if, before you started executing the arcane series of steps you have to do in order to access the glowing, vulnerable nodules inside their bellies, you actually showed them a little respect? Formal Bow is the perfect way to say, "Hello, MOON GOD, I hope you are having a good morning, also, we are about to fight." I never, not once over the course of maybe 60 completions, got Crota to drop the Black Hammer, but looking back, I think it's because I was being awfully disrespectful about the whole thing.
The secret to dealing with a bear in the wild is to never go into the wild in the first place, for any reason. Barring that, the secret is to make yourself as big as possible, in an effort to scare the bear away with sheer human volume. Some people also say the secret is to fall down and lie perfectly still and, now that I think about it, how in the hell haven't we figured this out already? These two options are literally diametrically opposed.
Anyways, the Tantrum and Cower psychic weapons allow you to follow either strategy. Tantrum effectively makes you bigger in size as you flail around impotently. I think it's supposed to be used when you exchange your 20 Moldering Shards at the end of King's Fall and get two Moldering Shards in return, but it's definitely got some defensive uses as well. Cower lets you make yourself real small, as if to say, "Oh, don't waste your Face Lasers on me, Ogre. I'm just a wittle guy."
Either option should help during the final fight of King's Fall, because Oryx is basically like 40 bears standing on each other's shoulders, wearing a big ol' MOON GOD suit.
So, you've got this Ghost that brings you back to life after you die, no matter what. You're immortal, but only kind of, because for a second there, you definitely die. And when people die, you're supposed to be sad for them. In that sense, I've started using Sorrow every single time one of my squadmates dies in battle.
Now, this puts me at a temporary tactical disadvantage during the mourning process, sure. It's a long animation, too, which basically ensures that I'm going to beef it, leaving one of my other Fireteam members to show Sorrow for me. But you wouldn't believe the bonds this behavior has created between me and the Destiny community — people really, really like getting eulogized by total strangers in the middle of stressful fights.
If nearly every piece of fiction I've ever consumed across all the different artistic mediums in existence have taught me one thing, it is that the only way to combat evil is with love. There is no "Full Blown Smooch," "Soft Embrace" or "Tender Hand-Hold" psychic weapon available yet, and so we are left with Blowing a Kiss, which still should be able to get the job done.
I'm trying to put together a group of six dedicated Guardians, all of whom will put down their weapons in the middle of the Golgoroth fight, and all in unison, blow him six kisses. Bungie has guaranteed that all these emotes are purely aesthetic, but I believe with every fiber of my being that Golgoroth would just fucking disintegrate from all those kisses, all hitting him all at once. That, or he'd actually fall in love with the six of us, and we'd form a little polygamist love commune, all right there, in his gooey hang zone.
Do you remember Carlton Banks, from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Here is a history lesson: Carlton was the son of Philip Banks, the uncle and trusted guardian of Will Smith, who was allowed to use his real name in the show for some reason. Here's the thing: Carlton and Will were not very similar. Will was loved by his peers because of his Freshness, while Carlton was largely shunned, because he was a spoiled and naive man-boy who, by comparison, was challenging to be around. He often did a silly little dance, and that's what Enthusiastic Dance is based on.
In one episode, Carlton buys a fucking gun, because The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air wasn't afraid to get real, but that's neither here nor there.
Anyway, Enthusiastic Dance references something from the '90s, which automatically makes it gut-bustingly hilarious, but its real worth is as a strategic instrument of war. Consider this: All these psychic weapons take up the same slot as the Point emote, which used to be the only useful emote, because it actually allowed you to non-verbally communicate with your Fireteam. The problem with Point is that it could be ignored.
The same cannot be said for Enthusiastic Dance.
You're fighting in the Court of Oryx, and you want to take down Bracus Horu'usk before moving on to Krughor. How do you explain that to the other Guardians in the zone? You flail, right there next to him. How do you express to your raid group that they should stack up on you, because you just found an elusive Calcified Fragment? You do the Carlton right on top of that bad boy. You are literally an Inflatable Wacky Waving Tube Man, shaping the battlefield with expert hands.
Also, it costs 500 Silver, which is basically five dollars, so if nothing else, it lets people know that you're the kind of person who has lots of five dollars lying around.