A Lament For Destiny 2

Resident Evil Producer joins Bungie. Probably to work on their Destiny

The question most pressing on my mind when it comes to Destiny 2 is whether the game can ever be saved. Can the developers Bungie ever bring this game back to the levels of hype and positive internet chatter that the first game enjoyed at times? Most of the media coverage on Destiny 2 has been resoundingly negative. We ourselves here at LRM have been covering the game and those that have kept up with our coverage will know by now that I was a massive fan of the first Destiny game and have so far been heavily critical of Destiny 2.

For this piece I am going to assume you readers have a knowledge and understanding of the kind of game Destiny and Destiny 2 are, or should be. If this is all new to you, check back on our coverage HERE. You can go back and read each article and follow the ongoing critique of a game in serious trouble.

On YouTube, streamers abandoning the game in droves, and player populations down as low as they have ever been, Bungie has been stepping up efforts to make changes to the game and communicate far more openly with fans in both their own forums and the dedicated sub-Reddit. Bungie has released a roadmap for changes they are planning to make, which you can see HERE and the last article linked above covers this in more detail.

One of the things from that roadmap fans were waiting on was some more detail on the planned Sandbox changes that Bungie are going to start making to try and improve the game experience. You can find the full details from Bungie’s This Week At Bungie  post from last Thursday, February 1.

Now whilst some of the changes being discussed here are good changes, and they are needed, they still don’t offer enough to entice many fans who have quit the game back. Let’s discuss why that is?

The Beginning of the End.

To explore what went wrong with the Destiny franchise we have to go back in time to September 15th 2015 and the beginning of the second year of the original Destiny game. This was when the massive expansion The Taken King was released, the largest expansion for Destiny yet and quite frankly it was a roaring success both financially and critically. The expansion was designed as far as we can tell by the same team who eventually brought us Destiny 2. The cinematic campaign, massive amount of content and quests, hidden exotic quests and general things to do, lifted Destiny above where it had been previously. But I’d also argue this is the point that Bungie started to head down a dark path. And as we know from the movies, once you start down the dark path…….

Destiny, only released a year prior to The Taken King, had not faired too well critically, bashed for a poor campaign and a badly told story. The casual players dismissed it quickly. Yet as the year drew on, Destiny started to grow its own unique fan base. This fan base grew and grew as the old meme from the time “Do people still play Destiny?” became a running joke amongst players who had found a nugget of something a little bit special. Online videos appeared of people screaming as they finally dropped some of the end game weapons they had been trying to get for so long. My own friends all picked up Destiny just before the second of its mini expansions were released, so we were late to the game.

I still remember one of my friends getting a Gjallarhorn to drop for him very early into his game experience. It then seemed like it took months for another one of our team to drop this mythical weapon and it happened to be me. That feeling is hard to explain, suddenly even though I was initially terrible at the game, I had become important to the team. So we started playing more and more, because we had found out about other god tier weapons we could get and I started to become better at the game as well. To get to the next level we were going to have to complete some of the six-man Raids, which we were worried we would not be good enough for.

We worked as a team and we slowly progressed through both Raids available at that time until eventually we completed them. Probably my favorite time in gaming thus far and even then there were more steps, to get access to even better weapons we would have to learn how to complete Raids in hard mode. A challenge indeed, because when one of your team dies, they cannot be picked back up. It took a lot of practice, but eventually we mastered these challenges as we ran these Raids 3 times a week and some times more so that every one of our team would have the best chance they could to get the weapons they longed for. Fatebringer, Vision of Confluence, Praedyths Revenge, Blackhammer, Swordbreaker and many others. Once we had these, we felt like a powerful kickass fire-team ready to take down gods and monsters wherever we found them.

To give you an idea what I am talking about you can watch this video of various people’s reactions when receiving their first Gjallarhorn rocket launcher, this is a feeling that just doesn’t exist in Destiny 2 yet.

When The Taken King Launched in Sept 2015, we were told that all of those god weapons we had acquired would not be carried forward. All the work we had done would be for nought, because they wanted us to use all the new weapons they had designed for the expansion. The problem was that none of these new items could hold a torch to the power we had at our fingertips previously.

The new Raid was magnificent in terms of its design and challenge level, but the guns were very average, and you could and would find better alternatives elsewhere in the game apart from 1-2 rare exceptions. Even the mighty Gjallarhorn rocket had been left behind, whilst many weaker and less used exotics had been carried forward. Bungie had decided that they had peaked too early, the things they had given us couldn’t be bettered and their solution was to take the toys away from us and start again. It was clear Bungie were also worried that only the elite players would be able to get their hands on certain weapons like elemental primaries that could only be attained from hard mode Raids. So again, they just removed them and didn’t allow anyone to get them. This was Bungie’s solution to every problem for a time, players are becoming too powerful, let’s make them weaker, this gun is being used too much, lets nerf it or remove it.

This was the point that my own group started to fragment and whilst a few of us carried on, it was never quite the same as it had been before and many of us were playing Destiny less and less. The team that made The Taken King, it seems were rewarded with being given the reigns to Destiny 2 and left the original game in the hands of a smaller live team. It took them a while, but by the end of Year 3 of Destiny that live team had essentially fixed a lot of the problems that started with The Taken King. They brought back Gjallarhorn (though it was nerfed slightly), they eventually brought back Fatebringer, Vision of Confluence and many others as well (though nerfed slightly) and some of us came back and had some fun. But it still didn’t quite feel the same as it had done. Every time it felt like players discovered powerful ways to do things or quick ways of doing things, Bungie would deploy the nerf hammer. Whilst players strove to become more powerful, Bungie was like an older sibling just holding us back a little, a fix here, a nerf there and ultimately keeping us from achieving our full potential.

The problem with Destiny 2 and something that still has not been addressed by Bungie is the power fantasy they won’t allow us to have. Guns in Destiny 2 are just not as good as they were in the original game, as always there is a meta, a few guns which perform better than others, but none of them would compare to the guns we used in Destiny. It baffled me somewhat when Destiny 2 director Luke Smith said that his favourite gun from Destiny was Fatebringer and that he would be sorry to let it go, but it must. What I have never heard him say is why? Why would we never be allowed to have guns that worked so well anymore, we liked them?

Having overpowered end game gear that is worth chasing for, that is worth finding a team to do things with, worth spending hours learning challenging content just for the chance to attain is what made the game so good. Destiny 2 has removed this gear chase completely. Replaced with a feeling of harmony where even the most casual of players can finish the story once and be using the gun experienced players use in the most challenging content. Bungie always said they wanted us using a more diverse range of weapons, but the truth is that I used a bigger variation of weapons pre-Taken King than I do now in Destiny 2. This was also further compounded by Bungie’s desire to keep their PvP modes more balanced. Destiny had too many people using snipers and shotguns they said, and these expert players made it tricky for new people to learn. So they basically killed them by placing them into the same categories as rocket launchers. Surely even someone who knows nothing of the game can work out that if you have a choice between a sniper rifle and a rocket launcher….you choose a rocket launcher. The balance they were looking for in PvP has ultimately killed it, no one is watching it on Twitch anymore, whereas people were tuning in to see expert players in the first game. The result of this change also stops these guns from being viable in the PvE realm, because again…a rocket launcher is always a better choice.

To explore What Now? Please click on page 2

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Campbell Clark

Cam is Senior Editor at LRM Online, and has a passion for all things geeky, including sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book movies.

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