Breaking: Bungie Admits Reducing XP by as Much as 95% for Hardcore Players; Has Removed System
Since launch, players complained that Destiny 2 turned into a steep grind in the later end of the game. Specifically, hard-core players who played for multiple hours felt that the game severely undercut their rewards.
This morning VG 24/7 reported that Destiny 2 does, in fact, reduce XP gains for players who play for too long. Reductions could be as severe as 95%, and targeted players who would grind public events, or The Crucible.
The finding was based on research by Reddit user EnergiserX. While Destiny 2 doesn't show players exact numbers regarding XP earned, or the translation to in-game rewards, it has a bar that shows XP gains. By measuring this bar's growth over time, he created a standardized measure for XP. This allowed him to compare XP gains over time, across multiple activities.
What he found was sobering. Not only did Destiny 2 punish players for playing too long, it also tilted the board against players who played more effectively. This meant that players who completed public events too quickly, won too many Crucible matches or complete received Bright Engrams too often would hit these barriers quicker. Further, this wasn't just a standard cap, the XP itself scaled down; this effectively tricked players into thinking they were making progress, while actively reducing that progress to a trickle.
This afternoon, Bungie commented on the report.
We’ve seen community discussion around XP gain in Destiny. After reviewing our data, we agree that the system is not performing the way we’d like it to. Today, we’d like to describe what’s going on under the hood, and talk about what you can expect going forward when it comes to earning XP in Destiny 2.
Currently, XP will scale up when playing longer or fixed duration activities like Crucible competitive multiplayer matches and the Leviathan Raid, and XP will scale down when playing activities that can be quickly, repeatedly chained, like grinding Public Events. We are not happy with the results, and we’ve heard the same from the community.
Effective immediately, we are deactivating this system.
As a result, players will see XP earn rates change for all activities across the board, but with all values being displayed consistently in the user interface. Over the course of the next week, we will be watching and reviewing XP game data to ensure that these changes meet our expectations, as well as yours. Any additional updates to this system will be communicated to you via our official channels.
Bungie confirms that XP scaled against players who earned too much. The goal, they explain, was to reduce XP gains towards players who would grind repeatable events. The implication here is that Bungie didn't intend the system to halt progress at the extent seen in practice. While it's possible that's the case, it's incredibly puzzling that Bungie would include a system that allowed XP decreases as extreme as 95%.
While it's certainly possible that Bungie didn't intend for so many players to be affected by this system, it's hard to accept that they hadn't foreseen the slowdown rate being so punishing.
Thankfully, Bungie announced that the system has not only been deactivated, but XP values will be displayed consistently in the user interface. This is a great step forward for in transparency between the game's devs and players.
That said, it's frustrating to see RPG elements in games become such a point of contention, and even abuse. Otherwise fantastic games such as Shadow of War, Battlefront II and Assassin's Creed Origins ran into similar issues. When RPG elements are used to manipulate players, rather than empower them, it's time to re-examine their role in games.
From a design perspective, RPG elements have been used to extend playtimes and repeatability of games. Contrast that with earlier Call of Duty titles, who pioneered RPG elements in first-person shooters to add complexity to the gameplay. Even Destiny primarily included these elements for that same purpose, elevating the player's choice within the game's systems.
From XP meters, to loot-crates, to Orc Captains, gamers need to evaluate what systems are intended to empower them, and what systems are designed to restrain them.