Can Destiny 2 be fixed?
About six months ago, veteran AAA gaming studio Bungie launched Destiny 2, a sequel to its space opera shooter-RPG Destiny which promised to take the series to bold new heights as it left the previous console generation behind. These days, when Destiny 2 makes the headlines, it’s usually for a negative reason, and that’s because the game’s community has gotten fed up with many of the decisions Bungie made when designing the sequel.
Time and time again Bungie has said it’s listening before promising to do better, and yet even now Destiny 2 languishes in a swamp of mediocrity which it likely won’t emerge from for several months at the earliest (if ever). So what exactly went wrong with Destiny 2 and, more importantly, how can Bungie fix it?
An Eververse of Value
Detailing the various issues players had (and continue to have) with Destiny 2 could fill up an entire separate article, so I’ll try to be as concise as I can. One of the main reasons why players were quick to sour on the sequel was because of the microtransactions-fueled Eververse, a feature which Bungie initially introduced in the original Destiny and greatly expanded in Destiny 2.
Bungie worked hard to entice players into spending real cash on the Eververse’s ‘Bright Engrams’ (loot boxes), and its efforts included secretly throttling the rate at which players could earn free Bright Engrams (something which players were quick to figure out) and hosting a Christmas-themed in-game event which had a heavy emphasis on seasonal loot boxes.
All the Eververse stuff was just the tip of the iceberg though. Destiny 2’s playerbase also wasn’t thrilled with Bungie’s decision to change Destiny’s equippable shaders (items which could alter the armor color of a player’s character) into consumable items, a move which was seen as an attempt to encourage MMO-esque grinding.
Other elements which players took umbrage with included not being able to pick specific PvP modes, Strikes, and story missions to play, having team-based PvP modes switched from 6v6 teams to 4v4 teams, and an endgame Power Level mechanic which encouraged incessant grinding over participating in dedicated endgame activities. In short, even though it launched to a strong positive reception, Destiny 2 has now become known more for what it did wrong than what it did right.
Can The Ship Be Righted?
It’s important to remember that when the original Destiny first launched, it too was in pretty rough shape. While the gameplay and graphics were solid, the first game’s story felt rushed and uninspired, and once a player completed the story there wasn’t much else to do other than grind the same handful of endgame activities over and over.
It wasn’t until about a year later, when Destiny’s third expansion, The Taken King, launched that the game really started to find its groove. Whereas Destiny’s first two expansions, The Dark Below and House of Wolves, did little to fix the game’s ongoing problems, The Taken King brought massive revamps to the core Destiny experience while also expanding it in new and exciting ways.
Bungie has confirmed that Destiny 2 will be getting two expansions in 2018, a smaller expansion which is set to be released sometime next month and a Taken King-scale expansion which should arrive later in the year. The game’s first expansion, Curse of Osiris, failed to impress, but Bungie has at least proven it is listening to player feedback, even if it’s slow to implement the changes players cry out for. We don’t know much about what the two upcoming expansions will add to the game, but hopefully Bungie has some serious plans to wow the community.
In the meantime, Bungie has also said it’s working on other aspects of Destiny 2. Already we’ve gotten a new ‘Masterwork’ system which encourages players to stick with weapons and armor they enjoy, and more recently we got another major update which sped up several aspects of Destiny 2’s gameplay.
Bungie has also said it’s working on a redesigned weapon loadout system to address the “two primaries and a heavy” system (yet another changeup that occurred between Destiny and Destiny 2) which players have been pushing back against. Other miscellaneous features like private PvP matches (a feature which was added into the original Destiny) are on the docket as well.
In my mind, all of the above sounds great, and I don’t think there’s any one thing that will lead to Destiny 2’s redemption. Things like more story content, more meaningful rewards, and more gameplay activities certainly could help, but more importantly, I think Bungie needs to show that it has learned from the many mistakes it made during Destiny 2’s development and initial launch. Bungie has to realize that the Destiny 2 playerbase doesn’t just feel disappointed, they feel betrayed, and while new content and gameplay features are a start, it probably won’t be enough.
Going Around In Circles
It’s nice to think about how great Destiny 2 could be by the end of 2018, but that’s something which the sequel’s playerbase honestly never should have had to do to begin with. After all, Destiny 2 is a sequel, it should have been an expertly-constructed game which combined the best aspects of the original Destiny with new features that encouraged players to keep exploring.
Instead, it ended up suffering both from the same issues the original Destiny had plus a whole bunch of new problems. Destiny 2 was supposed to be a confident step forward, and instead it was a disastrous step backwards.
I don’t think Destiny 2 is beyond saving, but when I look at everything that has happened with the game over the past six months, I can’t help but say that my confidence in Bungie’s creative vision (not to mention its attitude towards its playerbase) is more than a bit shaken.
I’ll keep playing Destiny 2 since I’m very much the hopeful optimistic sort, but Bungie asked players to invest a lot of their trust (and their money) into the sequel, and so far that investment hasn’t really paid off.