What a Failed Puzzle Says About the Future of Destiny


Over 24 hours after the Tuesday reset, Destiny 2’s player base still hadn’t figured out the Niobe Labs puzzle. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. In the ensuing week, not only would Bungie admit to an increasingly frustrated community that they had made a critical error in constructing their elaborate puzzle, but they would also announce that they were ending their relationship with Activision. From the way the two stories overlapped, you could be forgiven for thinking that somehow the Niobe Labs puzzle was some kind of last straw in the unhappy marriage between Bungie and their publisher. In fact, if you look at the kind of puzzle Bungie built, and the connections and deductions it asked of its players, it does seem to typify the tension between Bungie's blue-sky vision for Destiny and the kind of mass-market consumer commodities that Activision is the business of selling.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/gy74a7/what-a-failed-puzzle-says-about-the-future-of-destiny


I feel like black armory has kind of been a wet fart for a lot of people after forsaken breathed life into D2 and this was just the cherry on top of the sundae. The forges are all very similar and none of them are really interesting, the unlock quests for them are long boring and character specific and for it to all just culminate in a puzzle that’s mostly meant for streamers and twitch chat just rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. I’m curious what bungie does going forward but I’m not exactly excited since it’s pretty unlikely it was an activision decision to launch their new DLC with a power level requirement that meant you probably couldn’t do it even if you were light level capped in forsaken.


I found this entire thing fascinating. I’ve been a fan of “prestige activity unlocks new activity for entire playerbase” bit they’ve been doing with Forsaken. As far as difficulty level goes, streamers and r/raidsecrets are incredibly adept at figuring these puzzles out so I’m not surprised Bungie tried to throw a curveball to them.

More generally, I tend to support ambitious misses when I can. I think the setup was intriguing, but Bungie just barely missed on the execution. I would like to see more of these going forward.

I would like to see a different kind of community activity where the entire playerbase can be involved, but these kinds of pinnacle activities are a fun event when they go well.


On one hand, I find it encouraging that a mass market game company is willing to try something like this: creating a puzzle that requires going outside the game to solve, and the kind of out of box thinking that can cause you to “next-level” yourself at the simple parts. It’s basically a video-gamification of the escape room genre.

At the same time, I feel deflated at how quickly the mystery was solved. The internet is a powerful force for demystification, and for all of the other problems I have with Ready Player One, part of its popularity hangs on the desire for idle mystery that I think exists right now.

There’s plenty of real, probably unsolvable mysteries out there (mathematical proofs, cures for diseases etc…) but most of us aren’t qualified to even begin working on those things.

So any time I read about one of these puzzle boxes being solved within { insert short period of time here }, it actually makes me sad. It’s like: there goes a thing I wasn’t even really given a chance to be frustrated by.


I was semi-involved in the puzzle solving, and there were a few issues surrounding this puzzle. A large part of the difficulty of this puzzle came from just how long it took to input a new guess. Every time you wanted to input a new idea you had to fight through the 6 or 7 waves, input the 5-6 previous solutions correctly, and then had about 30 seconds to try a new idea before you would wipe to the timer mechanic. Every time you would reset to stage 1. This was around 15 minutes a run. It also required a group of 3 guardians, and doing the round 7 puzzle required people to be pretty good at it too, as a poor clear meant that you would be getting shot during the puzzle input time. This meant there were a ton of ideas that weren’t tested, or weren’t tested well. It also meant there were more ideas than testers. Combine that with the last few steps being poor puzzle design in my opinion and that’s were things got bogged down.

As for black armory as a whole I like it a bunch. However I’m probably in the minority of destiny players, I have about 765 hours played. The raid is fantastic, and I’d take this over the next curse of osiris style expansion any day.

Edit: Here’s my plug to join the waypoint discord and our destiny community! Any player of any skill welcome.


I agree. I’ve been having a blast building weapons and running forges. The weapon frame requirements have led me to do a lot more Escalation Protocol, which gave me the Ikelos Sniper last week!

I’m just hoping to have some time to run the raid soon. It’s just been really hard to block out the few hours need.


I do hope that this is the sentiment going forward.
Bungie tried something ambitious, and they just missed the mark slightly.
They should iterate on this, and of course, make sure all hints are actually in the game :slight_smile:

This is not a fuck up the same way Destiny 2 vanilla was.


It was a little frustrating watching the subreddit turn on the puzzle and, in a sense, Black Armory over the last few days.

I generally don’t care what those try-hards think, but I know that Bungie is listening to their suggestions.


I love the way Destiny has gotten weirder and these puzzles are the perfect reflection of why. It’s not something that I can really dedicate any time to myself but it’s fun to catch up on and then to go through what others unlocked. I play with a clan who are deep into the comings and goings of Destiny, and the way everyone talks about how the community unlocked something almost goes hand in hand with the lore. You feel more apart of the game and it’s world. Sure it was a bit of a cop out to have the new content just unlocked, since it was probably only a matter of time before someone solved it. I’m not sure the reasoning behind it, apart from the players demanding their season pass content. I think the game benefits from having event styled features.

I guess with the Activision split, I expect Destiny to get weirder. However have they truly got a plan of what that entails? Like, Forsaken did feel more of a retrofit to what the first Destiny was - but where do Bungie then take that? Having content like The Whisper of the Worm and more accessible 3 man fireteam raid like activities like Shattered Throne has been fantastic, not to mention gambit which is so much fun and can get immensely competitive and tactical. I heard the rumours that there may be more pvp activity with light and dark affiliated Guardians.


There were reddit leaks about darkness themed subclasses in the works for d3, which would make some sense considering the next part of the annual pass is centered around drifter and gambit. I’m curious what they’re going to do for the planned gambit updates because right now a lot of it revolves around who has the better invader with queenbreaker because primevals die extremely quickly to specific supers.


Cozmo just ran a Gambit feedback thread on r/DTG the other day.

It looks like they’re looking into modifying something in the game mode. I’m curious what ends up getting changed.

I enjoy the game mode a lot, but there are some strategies that are really hard to counter without organization.


Honestly hearing about this on the Beastcast and reading about it here has me actually interested in Destiny for the first time. I love weird collaborative efforts in wider gamescapes and while this one went sour, I hope they try it again.


There’s been a few over the years. There was one in the Wrath of the Machine raid in D1 that unlocked a very powerful gun. I’d honestly suggest looking up the Outbreak Prime quest because that story was WILD.

Also the first Sleeper Simulant quest was really cool.


Gambit is a weird mode. So invading. I have almost 100 army of one medals. An invade can be backbreaking or waste 20+ seconds of your time. Now you do need a certain amount of skill as an invader, but constant wall hacks means it’s not that bad. It’s actually all about how the other team works. The current rules have the invader always spawn only in 3 possible spots. But always exactly that spot. So if the enemy just banked there are some positions you can take with a SR, LMG, or LFR and cover one or two of those spots. You invade, and in less than a second you’re dead. There are seriously some gambit teams that can where it’s impossible to invade. Combine that with good clear tactics and effective boss dps tools(buffs and debuffs) and you can kill the primeval in less than a second.

But there’s poor matchmaking so 95% of the time of you take your invades slow, don’t tunnel vision, and pick off enemies in 1v1 you’ll win because the game loves you pair teams vs solos.

I basically won’t gambit solo anymore, we’ll see if I care enough to get breakneck. It’s a mode that has a ton of potential but is just weirdly swingy.


I’ve actually had a decent enough time playing Gambit solo - but I tended to only play 3 matches a week for the three legendary items, so having a focus on the rewards helps me ignore the bad rounds/matches. But as you say it is super swing-y. I also hate that there is randomness in the heavy ammo drops, and if you have a Taken Armaments mod from the raid you will 80% of the time get heavy ammo form killing a blocker with a grenade, which can make for another level of imbalance.

I think having a single round mode, or a much faster mode would be an improvement, but really balancing MM more evenly is desperately needed. I was joining a convo. about this on DTG reddit, and it is really depressing to know that the majority of my crucible matches start with one team with a 70+% chance to win and in about a year of checking my stats I’ve only seen that prediction be wrong 3 times.

DestinyTracker is a godsend and a nightmare as it shows you what a poor job of balancing the MM does (my favorite was a Y1 match with 8 solo players, so the MM had a clean slate to pick from, and I was the highest rank on my team and depending on who I swapped with I would have been lowest or second lowest on the opposing team).


So, the matchmaking (at least for cruicible, i can’t remember if gambit uses SBMM) is kind of intentionally bad on purpose now. Y1 had much stricter matchmaking and people haaaaated it. Every match being a down to the wire nail biter was mentally taxing and the queue times grew really long as the population shrunk. Bungie said to hell with it and it only matches you based on ping now and everything is 6v6 outside of comp playlists.


I understand what you mean. I’m still enjoying Gambit, but it’s a crapshoot of what kind of experience I’m going to get.

It reminds of the difference between Casual and Ranked in R6:Siege. Casual is generally run whatever setup you want etc. Even solo queing in Ranked can involve picking specific operators and strategies for the map.

Depending on experience, I’ll see well-outfitted classes and weapon sets on some teams and absolute inexperience or incompetence on others.

So yeah, there’s definitely matches I know that I’m going to lose. I’m just working on my auto-rifle kills and doing my best to annoy the other team with being a dirty, rotten sniper.


Gambit is tons of fun, unfortunately it’s kind of also a solved game mode and isnt exactly balanced. You want a good blocker buster special like telesto or ikelos and then a long range primary with outlaw/rampage etc with a linear fusion rifle for invades. This leads to a lot of blowouts because some people have all the invader spawns memorized with queenbreaker and taken armaments and some people dont.


I can’t decide if this is the best two sentences ever written about a video game or just my favorite.