Daily Reaction: Destiny 2 Needs to Use New Content to Recontextualize the Old, Not Loot Reissues
I still love Destiny 2, a lot. I’ve put 3000 hours into the game, and it will continue to hold a reserved spot on my exceptionally limited PS5 SSD. I love Beyond Light, and I am eagerly looking forward to the new content and Seasons to come. I’ll still play regularly, still work to knock out various weekly tasks and try to achieve titles and chase the many carrots that perpetuate the Destiny 2 grind. The criticisms that follow come from what I want to see as someone who is highly invested in Destiny 2, but am not really getting excited for how the team plans to renew the grind.
Today’s This Week at Bungie (TWAB) detailed loot reissues that are coming in an attempt to make the Dreaming City and Moon destinations relevant again. What it boils down to is a reissue of the destination weapons with a new perk pool as well as some guarantees for high-stat armor rolls. There are also some changes coming to vendor ranks designed to make them feel more rewarding and tangible. You can read all the details in Bungie’s blog post, most of which are set to come next season, launching in just about a month.
Strictly put, these changes and additions aren’t bad, but they seem like a lateral move more than anything else. I’m not jazzed up about hunting new rolls for old weapons that I’m already past caring much about. It’s a circular issues that Destiny 2 has as an ongoing game, one I don’t envy Bungie needing to solve. An overabundance of loot and gear in the game has caused Bungie to move in the direction of sunsetting items after a year, capping their Power potential. And then to keep gear relevant, we’re now seeing reissues with new perks that require players to grind old content to get the newish gear. But that gear, too, has an expiration date.
Sunsetting solves the issue of gear bloat. But it also kills attachment to gear, and the desire to grind for anything special, particularly when the content itself isn’t changing. It’s hard to get charged up about running the Pit of Heresy or Shattered Throne dungeons again, playing years-old content for a few new rolls on reissued old weapons that will also eventually be capped. That’s not exactly what I log into Destiny 2 to do, and I’ll opt to play something else in my backlog long before trying to grind out something like a Waking Vigil with Reconstruction.
On the Vendor Rank side of things, this again is a small band-aid to bigger issues. A lack of new reasons to play the ritual activities has been a consistent issue for years now. New Strikes are rarely seen, we haven’t had a new Crucible map in ages, and Gambit is still limited to the same four maps we’ve basically been playing since the mode released more than two years ago. In fact, the ritual activities have had more content removed than they’ve had added or adjusted.
Reworking the vendor rewards doesn’t fix the fact that ritual activities simply aren’t fun to grind or engage in anymore. My whole group instantly groans anytime Gambit is mentioned. Crucible certainly isn’t getting the love that it deserves. And despite Destiny 1 actually adding some intrigue to the normal Strike playlists though Strike scoring and various challenges attached to that, Destiny 2 has yet to really give players a reason to re-run The Inverted Spire for the 100th time. Bungie may be adjusting the rewards, but if the activities themselves remain unchanged, my motivation to replay them plummets, regardless of the possibility of grabbing a few crystals or Exotic golf balls as a reward.
Which highlights another issue within the gameplay loop: none of it matters.
I’ll be the first one to say that what matters is assigned by the player. Purpose is created by the one behind the controller. But one of Destiny 2’s biggest problems right now is in difficulty and variety of content, where there’s just not much to do where build crafting in that way really matters all that much. I’m starting to become disillusioned. Endgame challenges like the Deep Stone Crypt Raid can basically be memed through using any old combination of weapons. I find a new gun I like and latch onto it for a long time, eventually stopping caring much about rolls for other weapons. The builds—outside of the extremes like Warmind Cells and Charged with Light mods—simply don’t feel like they actually impact your playstyle in a big enough way. There are very few “aha” moments where grinding out a new roll on a reissued gun can make the game suddenly feel different to play thanks to its perk combo.
Now I know that Bungie doesn’t have infinite resources and can’t just make mountains of new content all the time, and that’s really the catch-22 here. But Destiny 2 feels fundamentally like two different games. There’s the static and unchanging ritual activities. And then there’s the new expansions and seasonal content that actually add new elements into the game. While I love engaging regularly with that new content (currently everything Europa-based and the Wrathborn Hunt/Crow Seasonal content), I couldn’t care less about hopping into Strikes, Crucible, or, god forbid, Gambit. Why would I when those playlists are all basically the exact same things I played a year ago, and the year before that? I love when new content can recontextualize the old, like Crow’s missions on the Tangled Shore, Dreaming City, and EDZ.
What I’d love to see, somehow, is the evolution of Destiny 2 encompass everything about the game. Rewards are nice, but the fun I have is in playing the game, and I’d love to see some love given to the actual content, not just the carrot on the end of the stick. Remix Strikes with new enemy layouts to make the experience different each time. Maybe actually care about Gambit enough to give it a new map or two.
I will forever be more interested in the forward momentum that Destiny 2 has as opposed to the older content. It’s why I don’t mind sunsetting gear or the Destiny Content Vault removing content from the game. I was even fine with last year’s model of limited-time season activities that left at the end of three months (and already have concerns with how the extension of those activities is looking like it will play out this year). Short of a complete wipe and launching Destiny 3, Bungie is doing what they have to to prevent power creep and content bloat. It’s a tenuous balance to continue to evolve a game for years on end, making new content relevant while also not making people feel like they are completely losing out on the old stuff. I don’t envy the decision makers who have to figure out how to please everybody.
Now, here’s the other issue with a constantly evolving game: messaging about things like reissued rewards shouldn’t be taken in a vacuum, but often is, thanks to how it’s disseminated. I’m even guilty of doing it here, right now, as you read this. Destiny 2’s changes are often a slow burn, incremental changes over time to update the way that people engage with the content. I have no doubt that additional changes are coming, and Bungie is well aware of the fatigue players have with ritual activities. But for the time being, talk of reissuing weapons and making aesthetic changes to Vendor Ranks isn’t exactly motivating me to return to Destiny 2’s older content and ritual activities to continue the grind. I’m much more interested to hear about next season’s new gameplay loop, new ways it uses old destinations, and new gear to get excited for.
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Published at Fri, 15 Jan 2021 00:45:55 +0000