Everything You Need to Know as Destiny 2's Metamorphosis Kicks Off
Like its own predecessor at launch, Destiny 2 launched in a deeply flawed state. Vanilla Destiny was a scatterbrained experience that was immediately baffling. Destiny 2, however, started off well. It's campaign, while a bit derivative and shallow, was a fun, satisfying blockbuster adventure. Its first quests were actually pretty good, with some memorable Adventures and quests.
But soon, complaints began to emerge. In roughly a week, the game's best players ran into a wall. They claimed there wasn't anything left for them to do. The game's more casual players were a bit baffled and frustrated with these complaints.
It wasn't until a few weeks later that the entire community began to understand what the aggrieved players meant. There wasn't anything wrong with the end-game: It just didn't exist.
In my mind, Destiny 2 is a regression from the game I loved. It callously disrespected its fanbase and tried to court a casual fanbase that would never love the game. Casual fans may sell units, but they're fickle. New games come quickly now, and the deeper mechanics and mastery required for long-term play just don't appeal to them. Bungie made a game about little, designed for no one.
But I'm optimistic for Destiny 2, more so than I was for Destiny 1. For starters, Destiny 1 was a bad game. Its systems were nonsense, its level design was garbage and its own loot and gear systems were so utterly broken they both had to be completely reworked within its first major expansion. Destiny 2 has none of those problems. It's fundamentally a good game with no depth. Destiny 1 was a crack addict with great party tricks that needed to sober up. Destiny 2 is a genuinely talented performer that can't stop sleeping in. There's a difference in potential that may not have been apparent in execution.
In today's TWAB and Destiny 2 Development Update, Bungie shows off their plan to turn things around. Will it be enough? I hope so. But they have advantages they didn't have in Destiny 1; a game that represented a failure far beyond any of its sequel's shortcomings.
So, Director Chris Barrett opened the Destiny 2 Development Update:
"Hey, everyone. At the end of last year, I made a promise that I would update you on our plans for Destiny 2. The team has been hard at work and we’re ready to share where we are headed. We used to wait to talk about game updates until we were certain we could meet our deadlines to avoid letting players down if we changed our plans. No longer. We’re not just listening, we are doing. Please keep in mind that the further out we make promises, the more they are subject to change. With that caveat, here are our plans."
Right off the bat, he acknowledges the issue of Eververse, and explains how they'll be implemented in the upcoming "Crimson Days" event:
"We recognize that the scales are tipped too far towards Tess at the moment, and Eververse was never intended to be a substitute for end game content and rewards. So, we’ll be making three changes for upcoming Seasons:
We’re shifting the balance of new content in favor of activity rewards over Bright Engrams. This includes adding Ghosts, Sparrows, and ships (to date found only in Bright Engrams) to achievement reward pools.
"We'll provide a gameplay path to earn Bright Engrams and all contained rewards (including Event Engrams).
"We’ll give players more direct purchase options and make adjustments to Bright Engrams to allow players to get the items they want more often.
Further, he announced that the game will receive a large update on January 30th, expanding on changes that have already been made.
Masterwork weapons were a great step towards adding depth to the gear system, and the next natural step will be realized with this update: Masterwork Armor. They increase damage reduction while players are using their super; like Masterwork weapons, they can be rerolled for new perks with Masterwork cores and Legendary shards.
The Raids have been a highlight for Destiny 2. Despite Curse of Osiris launching to mostly negative reception, the new Raid Lair was widely praised as the game's crown jewel, even favorably compare to the Kingsfall Raid. Unfortunately, its reward system was not so well received.
To remedy this, Bungie is now adding Raid specific mods and guaranteeing that all major encounters will drop at least a single item, rather than just tokens. Speaking of tokens, hold onto those: they can now be spent with the Raid vendor, Benedict, to buy Raid armor and weapons directly.
Ghosts, too, are getting Raid specific perks, although there's no elaboration on what that will look like. Bungie promises to add even more Raid rewards in the future.
In February, Bungie is giving Destiny 2 a second, larger update with some much more substantial changes.
Strike scoring will return, with elite players being featured on high scores viewable on Bungie.net. The implementation was popular in Rise of Iron and many were baffled that it hadn't returned. There will also be exclusive rewards and emblems to reward individuals and clans for their scores.
Armor and weapon mods are being completely reworked, Bungie promises. The present implementation is rather bland, something Bungie aims to remedy by pushing their diversity and power. They mention "unique theming" which I take to mean there will be noticeable types or categories of mods, although I'm not exactly sure what it's supposed to mean.
The update will prevent players from receiving the same Exotic twice in a row. This means you can still get duplicates, but they won't be back to back. I'm not entirely convinced this is a good change. A far better approach would be to simply reduce the drop-rates of Exotics you currently own. It wouldn't need to be a lot, and would still make RNG a factor, but it would be far more consistent. This "no Exotic twice in a row" is okay, but I'm not sure how effective it'll actually be.
Gods of Mars/Spring 2018
"We’re taking the time we need in development of Expansion 2 that will allow us to react to player feedback from Curse of Osiris. In the coming months, we’ll talk to you more about what you can expect to find in Destiny 2’s next story. The team is eager to show you what they’ve been working on.
Independent of Expansion 2, the team will deliver a number of new features that will be released before or during Season 3. Every player of Destiny 2 will receive new content in the following categories…"
Ranked Crucible is finally here. Finally. It's funny how we talk of rewards to keep players invested, and Bungie is clearly struggling with balancing and doling out those rewards. But Ranked Crucible is such an oddly fantastic solution. I might not care about an Exotic Engram, even when a new Exotic drops for me.
But a number? You better believe I'll spend hundreds of hours grinding that number as high as can be. Bravo Bungie. This is what we've wanted. This is something I can sink hours into.
Starting with Season 3, there will be two different ranks players will have: Valor and Glory.
Valor is a progressions rank, a more straightforward indicator of how much you play. Winning ranks you up faster, but you can't lose rank. This rewards persistence.
Glory is a rank that's adjusted with wins and losses. It's an indicator of performance and consistence, and something I expect to spent months agonizing over. It looks somewhat similar to the CSR system implemented in Halo 5, for those familiar, but without details don't get married to that idea.
Ahh, one of the more obvious and excruciating things that we've been without. It's bad enough that vanilla Destiny launched without it. It was hugely surprising that it didn't launch with Destiny 2. We had a single year of unbridled bliss in Rise of Iron, then it was taken away. Unconscionable. But Bungie has made amends.
The new private matches/custom games let you pick everything from game type, map, time limit, score to win, maximum lives, etc…
It's hardly the kind of insane modularity seen in games like Halo, but it's still a great step towards catching up. I've been playing a lot of Halo 5 in lieu of motivation to play Destiny. And the amount of unrelenting, gut-busting fun that can be had in a custom game with friends is hard to replicate. Props to Bungie for returning it to us, and I hope to see it expanded soon.
It's hugely encouraging that Bungie has a roadmap to The Fall of the next year. This is perhaps the most substantial roadmap in Destiny history, since even in D1, we never saw more than a month or two forward. So I'm applauding Bungie for this.
In their own words, here are their priorities:
Item Collections and Records
Weapon Slot and Archetype Improvements
Additional Crucible Playlists (e.g. Rumble)
Better Clan Rewards
Pinnacle Weapon and Gear Improvements
Trials of the Nine improvements
Shaders and dismantling
The Future of Guided Games
Address Solo Vs Fireteam matching
While we'll have to see these changes in the wild to see what kind of effect they'll have, I'm mostly encouraged by this. The emphasis seems to be squarely on adding diversity of experience and depth of gameplay. Bungie is indeed looking to the right places to adjust the game, so when they said "We're listening" over and over again, I have no doubt that's exactly what they were doing.