Editorials

What’s Up with Destiny 2’s Latest Promises? 

Bungie has been trying, I have to give them that. However, I am reminded of the phrase “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” At the end of November, Bungie laid out plans on how they were moving forward with the sandbox of Destiny 2. The changes to activities, rewards and systems all sounded nice and then Curse of Osiris landed with an uninteresting thud. Sure, new things are there and many of the changes are good and welcome but there is still no drive or chase for loot that compels me.

Fast forward to now. Bungie has just released another list of plans for what Destiny 2 is going to become. Some of these are follow ups to the November 29 post, while othesr aim to tackle ongoing problems and issues brought on by the previous promises. So, I’m going to analyze Bungie’s latest statement and decide for myself if they are doing the things that I want to hear.

Content Categories

Bungie’s first point is to clearly lay out what content you get and from where. Paid expansions such as Curse of Osiris and the upcoming rumored Gods of Mars will be the primary inflow of new content. This is new areas, maps, strikes, raids and gear. Seasons (of which we are currently in Destiny 2’s second) will be open to all players. This means various events such as Iron Banner, Faction Rally and Crimson Days are guaranteed to all players. Players who don’t purchase DLC will also continue to get seasonal rewards as well as updates and new features.

I think it is important for Bungie to make it clear that ongoing content is still going to be available to those who don’t opt in to the DLC. Conversely, it really shines a light on the mediocrity of Curse of Osiris. The content of Gods of Mars has to be really good for me to be convinced that is was worth my money (which admittedly I have already spent). Another concerning aspect is that it specifically calls out that Expansions will feature “Raid Lairs” rather than proper raids. The Eater of Worlds raid lair is fun but the brevity and simplicity of it is not an improvement in my opinion.

Eververse

Next up on Bungie’s list of things to fix is the bane of all Destiny 2 fans. The Eververse, which started out as a harmless emote vendor in Destiny 1, has become a constant pain point in Destiny 2.  Bungie wants to de-emphasize Eververse by putting ghosts, Sparrows and ships back in loot pools. At the same time, though, they want to increase the ways that you get loot boxes Bright Engrams through normal gameplay means. They don’t exactly say how but their aim for Crimson Days seems to hint at some of these changes. Crimson Days loot boxes engrams will drop from matches and through milestones in addition to normal level ups, currently the only way to get loot boxes Bright Engrams.

I am generally unsatisfied by these changes until I see them in action. Saying that ghosts/sparrows/ships are going back into loot pools only works if they are dropping fairly often, which I have serious doubts of Bungie’s desire to do. On top of that, they seem to be doubling down on the idea of loot boxes Bright Engrams by throwing even more at you amid talking of allowing “players to get the items they want more often.” I do like what they are saying about the special event loot boxes Engrams being “very strongly weighted to new rewards.” Sounds like you won’t be forced to spend money to get some of those cool, limited time items as long as you’re willing to grind for them.

XP Rates

This is probably the most annoying part of Bungie’s update. This was mentioned it was being worked on in November and now in January there is no update on the idea of a fix or a timetable for it being fixed. I honestly think they need to just put XP back the way it was before they were caught with their hand in the cookie jar and just be up front about what activities get you what XP rather than hiding the true XP totals.

Masterwork Armor

Something I was really interested in from the last major update was the idea of Masterwork Weapons. In practice, however, the system was incredibly uninteresting. The “stat bonus” was practically unnoticeable and the drop rate on Masterwork Weapons is far too low to make re-rolling practical anyways. The exchange rate of ten Masterwork cores to convert one normal weapon into Masterwork I find to be sheer lunacy.

Needless to say, the lack of interest I ultimately found in Masterwork Weapons extends to armor. I have little doubt that the “armor stat” will be anything substantial and the bonus perk of “damage reduction while using your Super” is significantly less useful than generating orbs for multi-kills like with Masterwork Weapons.

Mods

Mods have slowly become my most hated thing about Destiny 2 because they betray the entire of idea of what a mod should be. Attaching Light Level to mods means that you are not switching them out regularly, like you should with mods. The actual modifications themselves have little to no effect on actual gameplay. The fact that they come in loot boxes Bright Engrams is also super ugly.

Bungie is aiming to fix some of these things. Raid mods will feature Raid specific perks, which I suppose is a cool addition. More importantly, though, is that all mods are the target of a serious increase in power, as well as reducing the amount of similar mods while introducing new, more unique mods. There is no talk of removing the Light Level component and they aren’t taking them out of loot boxes Bright Engrams, even though they admit they are “sensitive to pay-to-win outcomes.”

Loot

Let’s be real: loot is a primary reason any of us play Destiny 2 and the lack of interesting loot has become one of the big disappointments of Destiny 2. Unfortunately this update is fairly light on new, cool things having to do with loot beyond Masterwork Armor. Each encounter in a Raid is guaranteed to drop an item (how that ever came to be is beyond me). There is again talk of having items tied more towards completing activities including activity-unique rewards but nothing solid about what that actually means. They are targeting Season 3 for a variety of changes, such as seasonal rewards from vendors, major adjustments to Exotics and emphasizing endgame activities over XP-grinding for loot boxes Bright Engrams.

Loot is what the game is about and nothing in this update tells me anything about how they are going to make chasing after items compelling or how they are going to make items feel different from one another. Masterwork Armor isn’t compelling in any way. Sure it’s a logical addition after introducing Masterwork Weapons but it really feels like that whole system needs to be reworked.

Activities

Honestly the most exciting thing I saw in Bungie’s update was focused on Strikes, which has always been my favorite content in Destiny after Raids. Strike scoring is coming back and being implemented in Nightfall in place of the time limit – which is great because I hate the time limit. High scores will get tied into rewards as well and there is the idea of high scores being implemented in Clans. Maybe intra-Clan leaderboards or Clan versus Clan competitions. On top of that modifiers are heading back to Heroic Strikes, which will certainly breathe life into that playlist that feels rather tame right now.

Crucible is also getting its fair share of improvements as well. Most of these are aimed at Season 3 but the changes are significant. Ranks will be introduced that reflect both progression and performance, which I hope would be tied into rewards in some way, giving Crucible players something to aim for besides just turning in tokens (although in reality the entire token thing needs some looking at). Other changes include Private matches and 6v6 each making glorious returns, which is certain to get a lot of people excited. They keep referencing changes to Iron Banner but don’t elaborate in any way on what they are. I guess we have to wait a couple of weeks to find out when it comes back January 30th.

Takeway

My ultimate takeaway from Bungie’s latest Destiny 2 update is that I don’t intend to be fooled twice. I got real excited when Bungie last dropped a long list of changes and dates and much of that ended up being unfulfilling. Looking at this list through a more cynical lens leaves me with little to be excited about for Destiny 2 I’ll still probably be back for the events: Crimson Days, Faction Rally, Iron Banner and probably a Raid and Strike here. Still, this Bungie update seems to be focusing on a lot of the outlying, smaller problems and less the overarching issues with replayability and compelling rewards. Granted that type of thing will, unfortunately, probably be reserved for a full Taken King style overhaul in the fall but I want to hope that we will see good improvements along the way that will keep me coming back regularly.

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