Bungie Promised Season 2 Would Fix Destiny's Live Events; Instead, It's Broken Them.
After Destiny 2 came under heavy fire for the obtuse and seemingly arbitrary loot systems implemented in their Iron Banner and Faction Rally events, Bungie promised that the events would be reworked. In a massive Promise of Change they released in November of last year, they made a single promise: that their live events would keep players coming back.
Two months later, and they needed that promise more than ever. Season 2 kicked off by delaying the first Faction Rally, in favor of 'The Dawning,' the game's annual Christmas/Winter celebration. This in itself was poorly executed. Instead of invigorating the game with new gear and quests, all new content was locked behind the game's lootbox system. Additionally, this event was just two damn long; after three weeks of snow, already angered players began developing cabin fever.
After a week of normal operations, and yet another promise of change, Bungie charged into the new year, guns blazing. For the first time in two months, Faction Rallies would return.
And, in Bungie-esque fashion, the studio has carelessly blown their horse's legs off. As their steed skids into the dirt and they are once again surprised at their tumble (what indeed could have gone wrong, I image they're asking themselves), let's dissect their latest act of self-harm.
Destiny has two severe problems, foremost above all: a lack of end-game, and a lack of depth.
Both these problems can be fixed with a good old-fashioned live event. Faction Rallies offer solutions to both, via long-term, grindable activities, and rare, unique weapons and armor.
So, of course, their first Faction Rally has neither.
The first Faction Rally of Destiny 2, Season 2 has launched without any Season 2 gear. And Bungie's implemented a faction token cap on chests, the most popular method of earning them.
It's almost comical, how baffling of a move this is. While grinding glitched Lost Sectors is indeed something that warranted a fix, the actual solution is self-cannibalizing. Players need something to grind, but when they found the wrong thing to grind, instead of offering something else, the solution is to…make sure no one can grind?
This seems a grotesque misunderstanding of the game's issues, and a complete misidentification of priorities.
With the game hemorrhaging players, less than 250k played any kind of Destiny 2 PvP activity, at all yesterday. Meanwhile, Halo 5's recently opened 2018 Ranked Slayer Playlists alone managed to accrue 350k players. Destiny 2 is failing to hold onto its players while two year old games considered outright failures at launch, like Halo 5 and Rainbow Six Siege are eating their sandwich.
The decision to throttle faction tokens to 10 minute intervals has destroyed any incentivization to play. Players who still love Destiny, such as myself, have put hundreds of hours in. Yes, I've put over 400 hours into Destiny 2 across PlayStation 4 and two PC accounts. Yes, I bought three copies.
I've enjoyed the game because mastering the fastest way to get rewards is, in fact, an enjoyable gameplay loop. It's not a great gameplay loop. In fact, I'd rather be building T-12 armorsets, or maximizing DPS, or min-maxing weapons for optimal loadouts. Or grinding gear so I get the absolute best damage output. But since Destiny 2 has streamlined any kind of skill or mastery out of their game, I've been content mastering the ability to rack up tokens.
I know the best routes on all planets to plunder Lost Sectors, kill HVT's and pick up chests, all in beautiful loops that are engineered to withstand any complication RNG can throw at me. It's not terribly fun, but it is fun.
Yes, I'm aware we can get rewards by sitting in the Crucible or Strike playlists. I'll be damned before I sit through another of the game's tedious playlists. Those aren't fun at all. A game built on "play your way" should not revolve around a series of playlists that players have no agency in. They aren't fun, they aren't remotely challenging, they're an activity engineered to suck any illusion of empowerment from players and show us the silhouette of the hamster running on a wheel that is the player. They're badly designed on a conceptual level.
I was prepared to dominate this Faction Rally, showering New Monarchy with tokens to reap glorious armor sets and shaders. After weeks of playing Divinity: Original Sin II, Rainbow Six Siege and Halo 5, I would be able to dedicate a week to Destiny 2.
But alas, Bungie has seen fit to destroy the last remnant of complication from the game that posed any minute, tangible challenge.
As a solution, the timed cap makes no sense. They've been aware of the EDZ farming glitch for two months now. Surely Bungie could have found a less dramatic solution.
There are half a dozen better solutions I can think up in two minutes: implement a cap on that particular chest; turn off rewards entirely for that single Lost Sector; rescript the door so it can't open from the exit direction; respawn Lost Sector enemies after the player passes through the door; etc…
There are dozens of solutions that, while imperfect, wouldn't have broken the game at the level this solution has done. And Bungie had two months to figure out a solution.
The second issue is that Season 2 Faction Rally rewards are nonexistent. This is puzzling, and I won't deign to pretend I know why this is the case. I imagine Redditors have already filed a full legal motion to have the individual Bungie employee responsible for this publicly drawn and quartered on the next Bungie Raid Ride-Along. I don't know why this is the case, and I have no solution.
That said, I can't imagine that Bungie should have had any more pressing goal in the implementation than introducing new gear. The lack of unique rewards and powerful gear has been, as previously established, one of the game's two most pressing issues. The failure to address it points to either a severe lack of proper priorities or such dysfunction within Bungie that an even more severe issue exists that warranted their whole attention.
In conclusion, there is no good reason to play this Faction Rally. There are no rewards worth fighting for, and no meaningful way to fight for them.
I truly believe Bungie means well, but it seems to me that there are varying levels of competence among those in the decision-making class. The goodwill that we see on Twitter from devs like Andrew Hopps and Chris Barrett is diluted by bad decisions from Bungie as a whole. Maybe it’s the collective sin of collaborative execution? Maybe it's someone else. I'd warrant not everyone at Bungie deserved a high five.