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  • Daniel James

Crimson Days Impressions: Fun, No Strings Attached

I loaded into Destiny 2 on PC, waited for the appropriate update to install, the launched myself into the Tower.

Crimson Days is certainly a restrained event compared to The Dawning, and it shows. Visually, The Tower gets a very pretty flower arrangement at spawn, but the rest of the social space seemingly missed the memo and didn't dress accordingly. The vendors, too, have varying levels of interest.

Tess Everiss, of course, was first to beckon me. I'm wary of her tricks and I taped my wallet to the underside of my shoe to prevent any loose Silver from ending up in her pockets. Then I gave her wares a look.

Unsurprisingly, we get new 'Crimson Days Engrams' that are red, ornamented and filled with cosmetic items. What's new though, is that these don't cost Silver, meaning there's no way to directly buy them with real-world money. That isn't to say that the engrams are entirely earnable in game, though. You buy them with 'Silver Dust' which in most circumstances is an infuriatingly awkward currency that both is and isn't a microtransaction.

You receive Silver Dust indirectly from paid engrams, and from free Bright Engrams. But both engrams dole out the dust at erratic, random paces so it's hard to say either is responsible for delivering it. In fact, I don't think anyone tracks how much Silver Dust they have, much less tries to proactively earn the stuff. Either you have it or you don't, Bungie willing. So it's not a microtransaction, but it's not-not a microtransaction.

What's an awkward abomination of Destiny 2's bad currencies has turned into a safe middle-ground though, as Tess Everiss momentarily keeps her whorish hands away from my pouch of Real-World-Money. This saves the event from the "Festival of the Cost" archetype that's plagued so many of the game's events since the infamous attempt to shove microtransactions down the 2016 Festival of the Lost.

It seems only one person in The Tower is at all enthused about The Dawning, and that's Lord Shaxx. I'm not one to assume romantic prowess, but if anyone has a healthy romantic life or an excess of enthusiastic love to bestow, it's Shaxx. So, he rightfully runs the Crimson Days event from his Crucible booth.

Even then, his charge is pretty simple. Just play 5 matches of Crimson Doubles, the new 2v2 game mode and he'll grant you a Crimson Engram.

From this point on, my experiences become increasingly anecdotal, so excuse me if my stories don't match yours. I genuinely don't know why my experience was as bizzare as it was, and I'd hardly wish to impose commentary on something I don't understand.

Every single one of the five rounds I player ended in a 3-0 or 0-3 score. I have theories for why this is the case, but I'll save them for later.

The game is basically a regular death match, set on a full-sized Crucible map. And whichever team, or couple, racks up the highest score, wins that round. Win 3 rounds, and you've won the match. It's refreshingly simple, and hopefully a blueprint for the return of Elimination.

Strategy is actually refreshing in this game mode, since the game can't possibly occupy the full map. A good team will find a defensible spot, often the B-flag location, and hold down the zone, picking off the opposing couple until the timer expires.

It's a bit unbalanced, since the first 30 seconds of the round basically dictate map position and heavy possession for the entire round. There's almost never time to force the enemy team out, since the maps are so open, a 2-man squad can't draw the other team out for engagements or force them to migrate. Of course, this assumes that both or at least one team are competent in staking out zones. There are definitely matches where you'll end up furiously, hunting for each other in the endless expanse of the map.

I believe this is the reason all my matches ended 3-0 or 0-3, but it could just be monumental coincidence. You'll either have a partner with the awareness to seize a zone, where you'll slaughter the enemy team with ease; or you'll be running into the team who did, and die repeatedly. My first two matches, we were predators, the third and fifth, we were prey. My fourth match was a bit of a clusterf***, where all of us ran around the map like chickens with our heads cut off. We still won 3-0, but it doesn't make me feel any better.

That said, it means that matches have a level of thoughtfulness and level of intensity that's been previously missing from games. Engagements are more rewarding, exciting and have actual consequences. Losing a teammate can be a make-or-break moment for the whole match; a double-kill feels like you've just pulled off something incredible. Stakes are raised, and that's where the game's previously lost "hero moments" can arise.

That said, this 2v2 shouldn't really be considered a proper return to those "hero moments." The stakes, have been raised, yes, but so has every single flaw with the gameplay. The low skill ceiling becomes an increasingly frustrating issue, as "hero moments" present themselves more often, then are dashed by body shots.

I think Crimson Days is reasonably fun, but the issue is that Destiny 2's multiplayer isn't in the best state, and the 2v2 mode significantly exacerbates some of the games issues. But it also heightens a lot of what makes Destiny 2 fun, and that could be a welcome exchange for those willing to stomach its issues.

I'm still working through the rewards, and since I've only played a single day, I can't really judge if the rewards are worth the trouble. I'm optimistic, though, because the last Iron Banner was extremely well executed. I stayed all the way through for the full armor set and remain quite pleased with myself for getting its ornaments. Likewise, I could see myself logging in every day to play this event if the rewards meet that excellence. Crimson Days is simple, straightforward and lacking in microtransaction-nonsense; it's good dumb fun, and for once Bungie hasn't made any bizarre attempt at hiding it.