Destiny 2 Finally Has a Grind…but a Progression System that Can’t Keep Up
Destiny 2’s lack of a solid endgame angered many. The game was too shallow, and progressions was paced via ‘Milestones’ or weekly goals that rewarded players with powerful engrams. Because these were limited, and reset weekly, it limited progression per week. It wasn’t long, however, before players realized this system was implemented to hide the lack of an endgame.
With Warmind, the grind is back, and there is quite a formidably endgame. The latest Raid Lair, the ‘Spire of Stars’ is bone-crushingly hard, and Escalation Protocol has even the hardcore players smashing head-first into it like a brick wall. None bar the absolute most elite have beaten the Raid Lair, and even fewer have seen the final stages of Escalation Protocol. Throw in mysterious exotic quests that are still unsolved, a satisfying Sleeper Simulant quest, and the collection game for the exotic Worldline Zero, and we have ourselves a satisfying endgame.
There’s a problem, though. Destiny 2’s Milestones are still limiting progression, despite there being no need to. Let me break this down. The Raid Lair and Escalation Protocol are extremely difficult because they require high Power Levels. The primary way players raise their Power level is through Milestones. There are only a few Milestones per week, and these can be completed in a matter of hours.
After beating the campaign, there’s the midgame -or the process of grinding for the endgame. The endgame itself is sound, doubtless the result of Bungie’s attention to players and their “summit” in which they invited Destiny content creators to give feedback on the expansion. But the game’s midgame encourages shallow play, despite not being shallow at all. Simply put, it only rewards the most shallow interactions with it, with no rewards for those who choose to grind.
To grind for the end-game, you need to raise your Power Level. But most players can only reliably raise their Power Level through Milestones. Yes, there are exotic engrams and old Raids/Lairs to grind. But exotic engrams can’t be reliably worked toward; that’s not a complaint -I don’t think that should change- it’s just a statement of what they are/aren’t.
Raids and Raid Lairs are a good way to grind through the mid-game, unrestricted by the softcap, but they aren’t accessible to the majority of players. This isn’t a problem for new Raids, since they aren’t designed to be easily accessible, nor should they. They’re endgame activities. The problem is that they aren’t designed to be midgame activities -much less the only midgame activity that reliably rewards players.
And that’s exactly what they are now. Raids and Raid Lairs are the only way to progress forward, and most players can’t very well grind them. They require planning outside of the game, getting a group together via LFG, amongst Clan members or with friends. For the overwhelming majority of players, that’s only possible once or twice a week at most. For the majority of players, it’s not practical more than a few times over the course of the year. That’s fine for an endgame activity; it’s not okay for a midgame activity; and it’s unacceptable when they’re the sole grindable midgame activity to even get to those endgame activities.
So, how does Bungie solve this? Right off the bat, we need to acknowledge the core problem. The weekly softcap is bad. It’s vestigial to an era of Destiny 2 where it was unfortunately necessary. Warmind gives the game enough of a grind where it’s no longer needed. Next, Milestones and Powerful Engrams should stay, but Powerful Engrams should drop at least once per hour across Heroic Strikes and Competitive Crucible, both of which are designed to be ground.
An alternative solution could be to make Powerful Engrams drop from tokens, but also to slow token drops to an appropriate rate. At the moment, I have no clue why the token system exists. It makes sense for events like Iron Banner or Faction Rallies, but not for any other vendor. It’s not bad, it’s just useless. At the end of the day, the loot is never dropping above my Power level, so it’s just going to be recycled with the Gunsmith…to give me more loot below my Power level. You see the problem?
All these systems work in synergy, and it’s impressive, but they’re not doing anything useful for me, the player. I don’t care about any of these rewards if I can’t use them. They can’t be broken down into any kind of resource I can actually use. It’s not like I’m at the endgame, or I’ve reached anything close to max level. I’m safely at 350+ Power, which is nowhere near the cap. I just want a reliable rope to climb upward. I don’t care how long the rope is, or if it will take me nonstop grinding to get there. I just want my grinding to actually go somewhere material.
Destiny 2’s Warmind expansion is a great addition to the game with a meaningful grind that’s kept be invested. But in Week 2, I had a really hard time motivating myself to play after beating Milestones. I ground the Crucible, I ground Heroic Strikes, and both rewarded me with unusable garbage. That shouldn’t be the case. Artificially extending the endgame via softcaps and milestones is an unnecessary measure for a game with an endgame that can stand on its own two feet.