Why 'Destiny 2' Isn't Working, And How to Fix It

In 2006, World of Warcraft’s Gates of Ahn'Qiraj event began. The end reward? Two new raids. To open it, players on every server had to restore a magic scepter, contribute hundreds of thousands of materials across both the Horde and Alliance, players completing numerous epic and hardcore questslines, a lengthy battle outside the Scarab Wall, and finally, one player on each server would get to take the scepter and ring the gong to open the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj. In 2006, around 7 million human beings played World of Warcraft, but only around 250—0.00003% of the player base, a rounding error at best—would receive the title of Scarab Lord, including Destiny’s current director, Luke Smith. Seven million other players wouldn’t get to feel that special, but Smith did. Which might be where Destiny’s problems begin.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/g5xkgw/why-destiny-2-isnt-working-and-how-to-fix-it
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This article pinpoints why I’ve fallen off Destiny 2 hard, and why I’m unlikely to return until they fix it or release a Destiny 3. Being punished for having a busy life is the last thing I want with a live game, I want it to be a place I can log in, do a bunch of fun stuff, work towards something I want and enjoy it for as long as I want.

Monster Hunter, as outlined in the article, exemplifies what makes a live game work for me. There aren’t seasons, there are seasonal events that return each year and new events rolling through periodically; there aren’t expiring armour or weapons, they’re stepping stones to a higher tier of attack or defence, variety isn’t negatively encouraged by negating your builds, it’s naturally encouraged by the monster’s different strenghts and weaknesses.

It answers the content question with a really beefy story mode that runs a through-line through your hunters progression, which periodically branches out into DLC quests that never go away after they’re released, and in Iceborne they introduced the Guiding Lands, a multi-biome map where you can hunt all day long in pursuit of special material and layered armour.

Destiny 2’s problems is a problem of perspective and I hope they can find a way to fix the FOMO problem, because I don’t want to play a game that forces me to play it.

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This stuff is fascinating to read, but makes me really happy that their New Light thing was such a shitshow I couldn’t get into it.

The relentless drive to keep players in the game every single day is so strange to me. Sadly my only mode of comparison is FFXIV, which seems to understand that players are gonna drop in and out all the time, and that’s fine.

The problem with the guns being taken away is super frustrating to read, honestly. It kind of removes one of the things that players might enjoy. Like, in Borderlands 2, a game I put WAY too much time into, I absolutely fell in love with specific guns and legendaries that let me customize a personal playstyle. And the game allowed you to use different game modes to get the guns you wanted at higher levels, so if you wanted to put in the time, you could keep hold of your faves. It’s frustrating that Destiny doesn’t seem to have a similar system, but the Light Level thing has always confused me.

realizing just what it would take for this season’s main activity was… something.

Where there’s a special currency you use to upgrade a Seraph bunker. The most you’ll get in one burst of the special currency comes from one type of daily bounty, which each grant you 50. So just from bounties you can get 250 each day. Items from the highest tier of upgrades cost more than 250. Then as you upgrade the Seraph bunker, you get a second currency to put into leveling up the Seraph bunker which then will give you access to spending the special currencies on special weapon quests and cosmetics. The weapon quests will be done multiple times to make sure you get the perks on each item that you want.

So you’re doing bounties to get upgrades to get levels to get to play a gun gacha. This activity will go away in 3 months only to be replaced with a new activity to grind, which will have a new gacha and this season’s guns will go away for good.

Destiny 2 heard the term “hobby-grade game” and decided that they weren’t good with settling for hobby.

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The greater irony is that many of the more dedicated players have already completed the bunker upgrades and now have no productive seasonal activity to take part in until the next one opens in, like, a couple of weeks. So it’s a system that alienates casual players while still failing to occupy the hardcore ones for more than literally one day.

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Also, I think this article hits on something that the community anger has vaguely hinted at but not really expressed directly: Make Number Go Up is not a compelling game loop for, like, a lot of people. But it seems like Destiny is being run by people who think it is.

I kind of get where the misconception comes from, because WoW expansions always increased level caps. But they increased level caps as part of the carrot to get people into new zones. Destiny isn’t adding new zones every season, it’s just Make Number Go Up for no reason. (Eventually, the number is going to be tied to weapon retirement, which I think would be easier to stomach if, like, we got new zones and strikes and whatnot every time Number Go Up. Which is very obviously not the plan.)

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I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to play some Destiny 1 with Andy McNamara a few years ago and he said that Luke Smith’s guiding light for Destiny is his longtime love affair with World of Warcraft. That was specifically in regards to raid design at the time, but now that Luke is Director of the whole thing, it’s unsurprising that his sensibilities have migrated as well. I think the Larger Number Chase works out okay when you have your normal group and treat it like poker night (or you’re a professional streamer etc.), but to hop in once every three months to be baffled by the new rules and battered by the new content you didn’t prepare for because you fell off the last curve early isn’t for everyone.

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Not just related to Destiny, but the current fascination with using the pressure of temporary rewards to occupy as much of a player’s time as possible, to where it has to be virtually the only game they have time to play, is an incredibly self-destructive mentality.

I don’t mind an MMO putting something in the “can never get again” vault if it was available for like 2 years, but now we’re in cycles of 3 months. This kind of acceleration is not healthy for the medium.

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I really want to like Destiny. I love the way Bungie shooters feel and the world is beautiful and filled with beautiful scenery and evocative names. But every time I try to jump in I’m met by a baffling array of currencies, inexplicable upgrade materials, and a general lack of direction about how to proceed. Personally I feel that a game has failed when you feel the constant need to go outside it to get information about its mechanics, something that is practically required to proceed in Destiny.

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Yeah and New Light was meant to fix that and only made the game opaque as fuck, it’s really frustrating.

Also I find the focus on raids kind of strange? As an MMO player, raids are content that’s cool and all, but IIRC raids are not actually a thing the entire base of most games do. But it seems D2 is entirely about its raids? It’s just such a strange environment. Having a live service MMO game that centers around just the power grind seems super strange.

D2 continues to fascinate and confuse. XD Kinda glad i bounced off New Light so hard.

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D2 from outside might sound like it’s entirely about raids, given that raid progression is sometimes tied to story progression (Vex Offensive was unlocked by the world’s first clear of Black Garden, IIRC), but raid loot is generally considered to be subpar compared with stuff you can get elsewhere, and raids don’t have associated Bounties, which means you progress faster on the Season Pass by doing literally anything else.

If anything, the core PvE progression is Nightfall: The Ordeal, which is a weekly strike rotation with higher power levels and super fun “difficulty” modifiers like “you can only damage shields with a matching element but you can’t change your gear and also there’s no matchmaking”.

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Destiny 2 is a game for Streamers With Friends.

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This is a wonderfully insightful article. I love how it breaks down the behavioural response to mechanics in the game.

I had a mostly good time with Forsaken, but when Shadowkeep came around, I chose not to buy it, because of all of the sticks I’d encountered as a casual player. Things like having to PvP to get exotics (and not just play, but do well). Things like weirdly long grinds, with time limits. Things like story I could only see if I got into a raid, which was never going to happen. I still want to play Destiny 2, because the world is wild and the moment to moment gameplay feels good. But I feel like it doesn’t want me, the player would log in every few weeks to shoot a few things and see what’s up. Not every game has to want that kind of player, but early in its life: D2 looked like it did, so it’s weird how hostile it became via its Seasonal play.

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Not to mention MHW also has certain seasonal events that bring back almost all of the major limited-time quests that offer special rewards. So if someone was too busy or whatever to play and get a fancy one-off weapon when it was available, the quest for that is almost certainly going to come around again at most within the year if not sooner.

By comparison, Destiny 2 locking so much of its story stuff behind bite-sized, time sensitive weekly progression is such a slog.

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And I still have beef with them never concluding the Dreaming City arc. You’ve had the Awoken doing the time warp again for over a year and you think now’s the time for Rasputin? You might as well just give me a whole season of the blah Black Armory exo.

The going theory is that this year’s seasons are revisiting the old expansions in order. So Dawn was Curse of Osiris 2, Worthy is Warmind 2, and the next one or two expansions will be Forsaken 2.

Whether they satisfactorily resolve anything related to the Dreaming City remains to be seen.

Yep the pressure of having to play every week a set amount to even follow the story is the key factor that made me drop the game completely. I don’t have patience for games that don’t respect my time or want to control it.

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This was a really fascinating read and I think gets to the heart of the feeling I got early on during Season of the Dawn. I’ve put in 1000+ hours between Destiny 1 & 2 and still logged on one day and was absolutely lost as to what I was supposed to do. I didn’t make the kind of incremental progress that I’ve been able to make in times past.

I do think there’s a serious gap between Bungie’s aspirations for this game and the audience’s expectations. Somehow, new content drops are consumed in a matter of hours by diehards, but are still really opaque for more casual players. I’m not really sure what the answer is for this game, but it just seems like it’s in a weird place. I’m sticking around for awhile because I have a ton of fond memories tied up in the series, but my desire has been low for a few months now.