The New Shader System for 'Destiny 2' Is an Appalling Misjudgment


Ghaul is only the second-worst thing to happen to the Guardians.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Yikes. I too used to keep a very small collection of shaders which I would rarely but occasionally switch between. It worked fine. It wasn’t broke.


So, this reminds me of a story from a while back, doing my first QA testing gig at Bioware while Star Wars: The Old Republic was in development. For most of the beta period of the game, they had a super handy “unify color to chestplate” button in your options, allowing most armor, even from wildly different sets, to seem like they matched well together.

Cut to a few months before release, and the design leads sent out a notice saying they were removing that button to, by their words, “encourage players to collect the full armor sets if they wanted armor that matched”. Everyone in QA agreed this was a really, really bad idea since players would rarely if ever get pieces from the same set of armor while leveling, but nobody in the main design team listened.

To no surprise, one of the main player complaints was how they’d get armor from totally different sets while leveling, making their character look like a clown with various ugly clashing colors, and no way of being able to conveniently change that.

Thankfully, they eventually put that button back into the game, so maybe there’s some hope for Destiny 2 in that regard. I can guarantee you that this was a decision instigated by the shortsighted higher-ups, and not the actual people working hard to make a good game.


Burning glimmer isn’t so bad, but 250 seems high, especially when you need to pop it on a bunch of different elements. Bring it down to 25 and make the shaders recyclable and I’d be on board.


Ye, adding two costs seems to be going a bit far. Either cost resources to apply or make consumable, both is just making it seem like this was designed around real-money considerations.


One of my favorite things to do was to color coordinate my guardian with others in my fireteam. Gathering as a group in front of the shader booth in the tower before an activity for a fashion parade was always so fun! This new system makes this pretty much impossible to do.


Yeah this really sucks. Enough that I’m really thinking about skipping the PC version or at least getting it on sale later


Right, it was always fun to mix things up, like go with an awful clashing combination to go into crucible, for example. For the Wrath raid, I always put on red shaders. Etc.


I know the piece mentions microtransactions at the end, but I think you’re doing a disservice by not mentioning how shaders are integrally tied to the microtransaction system.

Destiny 2 has a system basically akin to Overwatch’s loot boxes. Once you hit 20, each level up drops you a bright engram that opens into a pack of things. You get four drops from opening an engram usually at least one will be a shader.

And you get three uses of that shader. But since you have to use a shader on each item, you would need five in order to complete the look (4 for the armor, 1 for the class item). That means you’d need to get the same shader to drop twice in order to have a complete look.

Since the shaders are consumable, if you start using the ones you get naturally and decide you don’t like it, you’re going to have to wait until you hit another level and get another bright engram. But that could take several hours of play depending on the activity.

But you do have another option. You can buy the ingame currency–Silve–at the Eververse, and use it to buy packs of bright engrams in the hopes of getting shaders they like. It’s about $2 an engram and you do get some discounts if you buy packs, but still, that’s $2 for a chance at a cosmetic that you can only use once on three pieces of armor and might not even like. Granted, it has other items it drops as well, but that’s where things get even worse.

What also drop are mods which are gameplay boosting effects you can put on weapons and armor. So far the stats are hidden on all these boosts, but still, it seems unfair that someone could dump $20, open a bunch of bright engrams, and then have a currently unknown edge in activities. It could be a minimal affect, it could be disabled in competitive spaces, but Bungie hasn’t communicated how mods work.

I think we need to be more aggressive in unmasking how the changes that are happening to games are founded in systems of economic gain. People need to know how games are being changed in order to promote systems like this that change the experience in a way that encourages players to spend more money on the game. This piece makes it sound like a bad design decision when the facts more strongly suggest this is a profit driven decision that so far has been poorly received by the community.

Edit: Changed the number of armor because I’m silly and forgot there are 4 categories of armor not 3.


The Waypoint take on this does indeed seem to be rather missing the point. Eurogamer covered this too, but their headline didn’t mention shaders at all, it was “Destiny 2 has a microtransaction problem” which is rather more like it.


wait…wouldn’t it be 4 plus a class item? helmet, chest, legs, arms for armour?


You are correct. Not sure why I had that in my mind. You’d indeed need 5 if you wanted the look to also apply to your class item.


If what Luke Smith said is true, then hopefully that final sentence Janine wrote will come to pass. If everyone has a lot of shaders, then its not as much of an issue. I also think its not too bad with respect to microtransactions in that case. They only exist as a way to stockpile them, kind of like the cosmetic items we got in D1 dropping from the free boxes. Bright Engrams are a wayyy better solution than the limited free boxes, especially because you can dismantle your rewards for dust.

But I think the fact that shaders overwrite old ones is absolutely ridiculous and makes it hard to commit to a piece of armor or switch up your aesthetic. And we should get enough in a pack of shaders for all possible slots, so at least 10. Honestly, maybe it makes more sense to have permanent shader unlocks to apply to your armor as a whole? Like spend 10 shaders and a bunch of glimmer to get a permanent token that only applies to armor, and keep the current system for weapons and other stuff without overwriting.

@TheJames I think its hard to make a good call on the mods until we’ve all had the game for a few weeks. I’ve personally earned quite a few just through leveling and not spending money, and you can’t get any good ones from spending silver anyways. It feels like they’re limiting themselves by making it copy the Overwatch system like you said. They want you to unlock mods and other gameplay stuff by leveling, but having the same loot table for the microtransactions is just a bad call. That’s why I personally feel like its more of a bad design compromise as opposed to profit-driven, since they need to have microtransactions but don’t want to lock stuff behind a paywall.

For what its worth, you level up after Level 20 at a pretty fast pace but your point about the small number of shader uses is very true. Just makes it more stressful and difficult for no reason, especially because Eververse stuff doesn’t do much to alleviate it when you’re still only getting 3 uses for $2. Hopefully they change it.


I’m not particularly bothered by the business end of things here, but more that they’ve reworked the system in a way where you’re actively hesitant to customize your character how you want due to the limitations that are imposed on it.

It’s a total head-scratcher. Nobody likes getting consumable stuff in games, because you always end up with at least some degree of remorse when you use it. Heck, it’s why Destiny’s combat chooses to put grenades on a cooldown instead of a limited amount, so that most players actually use them instead of saving it for a rainy day.

If they wanted to tie shader unlocks to their loot box system, there are so many better ways they could have pulled it off. Making a ton of variations like Guild Wars 2 has, or having players assemble fragments of them in a similar way to League of Legend’s cosmetics.

I can guarantee you that they would not be facing nearly as much backlash if shaders were a thing you were unlocking slowly instead of a limited item doled out regularly. As much as people gripe about Overwatch’s heavy pushing of loot boxes, they’re still an easy investment to justify because you’re always unlocking something through them.


It says a lot that even Warframe, Destiny’s free to play cousin, has more generous microtransactions. You buy a whole palette of colors for $5 and it’s yours forever, no random loot boxes, not consumable. You can even get it cheaper if you wait a bit since there’s a daily log-in bonus that often gives out 25%, 50%, and 75% discounts on the paid currency.

The time, hassle, and cost to do something as simple as changing colors should not be easier in a free to play game than a full priced one.


This! A change like that means I’ll probably never use the shaders due to choice paralysis and I’ll ultimately be disappointed in how my Guardian looks. For a game that wants me to “live in it” I sure don’t feel able to “live in it.” :frowning:


I love it.

I care about my shaders, and I want to get more of them. Always.

Sure, it was nice having Gloohoo, and just, hitting 20 on any character, and glowing forever, but it wasn’t a system I interacted with. It wasn’t one I thought about.

I love this new system. I want to gather shaders, I can mix-and-match shaders on 4 armor slots, I CAN SHADE MY WEAPONS to match now, I can shade my ship, and my ghost, and my space bike. It’s fantastic.

I was shocked at first, and dreaded using shaders. Ever. I might need this later.
Around level 15, I had some legendaries I knew I was going to be infusing other stuff into, that looked cool, and I popped some shaders into it, and I loved the way I looked. I did I think, I spent a resource I valued, and I cared about the result.

Many of the aspects of that that I enjoy could not exist in the old system.

New? Yes. Scary? Yes. Bad? No.


I guess? But that seems an odd way of putting it when the vast majority of the good parts about the new system would not be lost if the shaders were not consumed on use. Which I think is more what people are upset about rather than literally wanting to go back to the old system.


Yeah I like being able to dye weapons and armor peicemeal but I could still do that if they hadn’t made them consumables. Hell I’d be fine with it if shaders had to drop for each piece of armor separately or something but as it stands even with how many you get it still feels like it’s there as much to get you to buy engrams as it is for you to grind them out. Especially since a lot of the shaders I like are only found in bright engrams


I think the worst part is the shaders drop in 3’s and you have 4 pieces of sharable gear. It’s pretty blatant anti-consumer hostility. I admit I am part of the problem although because I bought the first time purchaser pack.