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– by Campbell Clark

Destiny 2 was released in September 2017 and after initial praise it became clear that the game was an empty shell when compared to its predecessor. Some updates to the game along with a lackluster DLC were released in December, and we here at LRM have been following the progress of this game. You can catch up with our previous review of the Curse Of Osiris DLC HERE.

On Thursday, January 11, Bungie dropped a development update after promising to release more responses to the feedback from the players, you can read this full and lengthy list of roadmap changes HERE.

The positives are that Bungie does seem to be listening and communicating more often. But to say that fans are now all happily awaiting these changes would be a false statement. While many of the changes are a push in the right direction, the timelines for making these changes are severe, with Bungie aiming to have all of these in place by the time Fall arrives, approximately one year after release. Coincidentally, this is also when there year-two large expansion is due to arrive. Though Bungie has released nothing officially about this, it follows the cycle of the first Destiny game, and is almost guaranteed to be the case here as well.

I won’t go into too much detail about the specifics mentioned in this update. There are far too many things, and much of it would mean nothing to readers not immersed in the game mechanics already. But a few things caught my eye that I wanted to discuss.

Notable Issues

Heroic Modifiers will finally be coming for Heroic Strikes…In Spring 2018. Now, this should never have been released in its current state as it is, and it seems strange to many players/fans that this change will take so long. The game already has modifiers for strikes in the form of Nightfalls, and it also has modifiers on Heroic Adventures. It’s hard to believe it will take them several months to simply add these to that playlist. The benefit is that it would make the gameplay more fun/challenging and different from running ordinary strikes, which are, right now, no different at all other than an irrelevant number.

One of the updates that’s due to drop on January 30 is Masterwork Armor, in addition to the Masterwork Weapons Bungie has already introduced. The problem lies in that with what we know about these armor upgrades they seem entirely uninspiring. The benefit of these armors is that they will make you have more damage resistance while using your super abilities. That’s pretty poor, as it will have an impact on the Player V Player content, but make virtually no changes to the PvE co-op content. Players are not having an issue being killed by enemies while using their super abilities right now. This feels like something that should just be added to the game in the background rather than having to upgrade armor pieces to provide this benefit. They will also provide stat changes which we cannot quantify yet, but again, the fans were really looking for far more powerful builds, and this does not seem to cut the mustard. I’m sure many fans would rather they delay this and come up with a better plan that isn’t afraid to make the player feel powerful.

Eververse has been a thorn in Bungie’s side recently, also. For those that are not aware, Eververse is Destiny 2 form of microtransaction loot boxes. They provide cosmetic only gear, but they do lock much of the best cosmetic items behind the random purchasable loot boxes. Like other dev companies, Bungie has always claimed that, these loot boxes fund more consistent updates.

However, most other dev companies use these to fuel the price of what would have been DLC content purchases. In Destiny 2, Bungie has paid for DLC along with microtransactions, and the most recent DLC was in this writers opinion nowhere near $25 worth of content. Bungie has vowed to make less content accessible ONLY through Eververse, and they have also said that Loot boxes will be both easier to earn and produce more consistent results. The key with loot boxes is the balance. They should exist only for those that are happy to spend money to get items they want quickly, but for hardcore gamers, they should be acquirable through enough gameplay to get the rewards they wish eventually, free of charge.

It is possible that Bungie will get the balance right in this next pass. We shall see. This does bring me to my main point in this article, the aforementioned goodwill gesture Bungie nees to make in order to bring fans back.

A Gesture of Goodwill?

Here is the problem. Throughout Destiny, fans were basically okay with it being a sort of paid for beta, we bought the new content and Bungie reacted to feedback and made many additions to the game, by the time Destiny was nearing the end of its lifespan (No more updates) it was in a really good place. Fans were happy with this because we felt that all our rigorous playtesting for three years would mean Destiny 2 was awesome right out of the box, and would be built upon again to make it even better.

This never materialized with Destiny 2 shipping in what feels like an incomplete state, and that much of the changes Bungie is implementing are features that Destiny already had before the end of its update cycle. Bungie is now asking us to once again fund the development of this game with both loot box purchases and also paid for DLC. Right now, many clued-up fans are quite rightly planning to wait for the September year-two large update, because going on previous marketing, Bungie will charge the same price for the full game as they do the update alone. So what benefit is there for a gamer to purchase the previous DLC’s while Bungie sorts the game out? Better to just wait till the big update in the Fall and play all the content in a finished state.

I’m sure that’s not what Bungie wanted. The player base is dropping dramatically, and players are looking for a compelling reason to come back to a game they refuse to pay extra for. You also have to feel for players (myself included) who purchased the Season Pass and paid for the Curse of Osiris DLC along with the Spring DLC before the game was even released because we were told how fantastic Destiny 2 was going to be. We would be expected to playtest the game and provide feedback for them until the next big release. Oh, and they will charge us full price for that bad boy as well. Not good enough, and I am planning on boycotting the September update, as it currently stands.

You know what Bungie should have done, considering they released a clearly unfinished shell of a game for full price and lackluster DLC for full price?

Bungie should have added this one paragraph to end of their Development Update:

“Lastly, we apologise for the game not being as good as you or we wanted it to be. As a goodwill gesture, we are making Curse of Osiris and the following Spring DLC 2 free to download for anyone who owns the Destiny 2 base game. We understand why people may have chosen not to purchase this content and we want to have you back playing our game and helping us get this experience to where it should be. For those players who have purchased Curse of Osiris, you will be given a code to get a reduced price for the September update when it arrives. For those of you that purchased the Season Pass on good faith, we will be providing a code for you to get the September update free of charge as long as you have the Destiny 2 base game. The September DLC will be full price for anyone that does not fall into either of the above categories. We hope this good will gesture will clear the air and help us to come back together as a community once again.”

Yes, it would hurt their financial prediction models I am sure, but frankly, I don’t think it would hurt those projections as much as NOT doing this, because the player base is still dropping, and sales for the Spring DLC will be low as a result. It will also affect sales of the big September update, with fans feeling like they have simply given Bungie enough cash already to develop their game to a decent standard.

It’s becoming a sad but familiar story with many of these AAA tentpole releases. The games are rushed out unfinished and sold at full price, then developers charge the consumer for Loot Boxes or DLC in order to fund the changes required to grow the game. These developers need to understand that the practice cannot continue, game fans have had enough and there are always rival games doing things differently which people can move onto instead. Destiny is the kind of game that is a hobby, but right now it feels like an expensive and unrewarding hobby.

The question remains whether Bungie is truly ready to save Destiny 2 from dropping off into mediocrity. Despite great initial sales, how much faith do you think fans will have when Bungie releases the inevitable Destiny 3, probably in 2020. My clan, which is over 30 players strong, have all but stopped playing this game and I doubt any of them will rush out to purchase Destiny 3 until other players start to provide feedback.

What do you think of Bungie’s practices? Do you agree they need some sort of goodwill gesture along with their planned changes to bring players back? Are we wrong to expect that our initial purchase would be funding a game as good as its predecessor?  Leave your thoughts below as always.

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