Destiny 2 has endured something of a battering lately. From our own humble review that called its latest DLC a low point in the franchise to the general backlash from what might be one of the most optimistic and supportive communities a game could hope for. Even with the developers of the game announcing a new path forward and new things to do to hopefully bring people back on board, the disaster that was the Dawning and its over-reliance on microtransactions for the players to really earn any kind of rewards whatsoever, as well as several other mishaps like locking players out of content that was once available freely in game unless they upgrade to the new DLC, it left many apprehensive to believe much would change.
Yesterday evening, after a long holiday break, Bungie finally set in stone its plans and actions to alleviate much of what the community and game critics have leveled at the game and its dev team in hopes of keeping players on board the Destiny 2 experience.
In this article, we have taken the time to break down the planned changes and give you our thoughts on if these changes will be enough to right the ever listing Destiny 2 ship. If you would prefer a shorter recap of all the details, our news team has broken them down for you here.
Expansion and Seasons Content Blocks
The first thing mentioned was the difference in content between Seasons and Expansions. This was a key point of community contention at the launch of DLC 1: The Curse of Osiris with past options like the Nightfall, and even the Weekly events, being removed from the base game and locked behind a paywall. This was a disastrous decision that thankfully was reverted pretty quickly. The new plan is summed up in the following image:
With the events like Faction rewards and Iron Banner being firmly locked into the base game, one has to wonder why this is even something they should have to reaffirm in the first place. Removing content from the base game is just such a poorly thought out and ludicrous idea that I have no real clue as to how it got past the design stage and how they expected it to play out. Still, glad to have it set going forward.
We recognize that the scales are tipped too far towards Tess at the moment, and Eververse was never intended to be a substitute for end game content and rewards. So, we’ll be making three changes for upcoming Seasons:
- We’re shifting the balance of new content in favor of activity rewards over Bright Engrams. This includes adding Ghosts, Sparrows, and ships (to date found only in Bright Engrams) to achievement reward pools.
- We’ll provide a gameplay path to earn Bright Engrams and all contained rewards (including Event Engrams).
- We’ll give players more direct purchase options and make adjustments to Bright Engrams to allow players to get the items they want more often.
We’ve begun implementing these changes for the Crimson Days event beginning February 13 (with even more changes on the way in Season 3):
- Completing Nightfall, Raid, and Crimson Days milestones during Crimson Days will reward you an exclusive Legendary Emote, Weapon Skin, and Exotic Sparrow, respectively.
- Players will earn double engrams at level-up: one Crimson Engram and one Illuminated Engram for the duration of the event.
- Crimson Engrams can also drop from completing the Crimson Days match and from completing the Crimson Days milestone on each character.
- Each Crimson Engram is very strongly weighted to new rewards when decrypted until all new event items have been obtained.
Of all the changes, this is the most important and hopefully and the one they get the most right. In the current game, the Eververse is almost the sole way to really acquire end game rewards. With the Raid and Trial armor not really offering the defined power boost it has done in the past, the pursuit of Cosmetic items has been relegated almost entirely to the realm of the random chance predatory loot box. Gaining these rewards through gameplay was a boring, grindy, and usually unrewarding affair. If you wanted a certain emote, the only way to get it was to either grind the 3 easy weekly rewards on your 3 characters, grind an uncomfortable amount after that when the x3 Weekly buff ran out, or pay for the chance to possibly get the rewards you need.
Cosmetics in these games are, no matter what anyone says on the subject, an incredibly important part of any multiplayer game. Players in games like WoW and the Original Halo games would, and do, go above and beyond in order to get their onscreen avatar to look how they want. One only needs to look at a game like Dark Souls and its burgeoning Fashion Souls sub-genre to see this in action. Removing these rewards from the Eververse and placing them back into the gameplay loop is a much-needed change and one that frankly should never have been removed in the first place. Giving people a path to these rewards is undoubtedly important to the survival of the game.
I don’t want to see something as important to the lore as Saint-14’s ship locked unceremoniously behind a paywall again. I’d rather work long and hard to unravel a mystery to unlock it myself.
We are still investigating changes to XP earn rates. Our goal with any updates to XP are transparency and consistent XP gain regardless of your preferred activity. Right now, it’s too slow in general and lopsided towards grinding specific activities (which is not a fun grind) and we want to fix that without making those activities low value to players who aren’t grinding them (fairness is cool). Our first attempt turned out to be unworkable and buggy so we’re having to investigate other angles. We will continue to update you as we move forward.
Not much to say here, exp gain within Destiny 2 at times feels broken and lopsided. Fixing this will enable players who want to keep up with those of us who can stomach farming Public events over and over again to still gain the rewards when all they want to do is mess about in the Crucible.
Road Map for Content in 2018
January 30 Update
We are expanding the Masterwork system to include armor.
- Masterwork Armor provides increased damage reduction while using your Super.
- You can reroll the armor stat type on Masterwork Armor, and similar to Masterwork weapons, you can upgrade a piece of armor to Masterwork by spending Masterwork Cores and Legendary Shards.
The Masterwork system has been one of the few good things added in the Curse expansion, so extending it to armor is a good move. Still, the buff itself feels weak, with supers already offering a considerable amount of protection outside of PVP, and this still doesn’t add much to the identity lost on armor with the removal of the set and random buffs seen in Destiny 1. It’s a good move but still one that needs expanding.
Raid Reward Rework
- We are updating Raid rewards to make them more unique and interesting. They will now feature mods with Raid-specific perks, and we are adjusting the rewards to ensure a Raid item drops from each major encounter. The Raid vendor will also directly sell Leviathan and Eater of Worlds armor and weapons for purchase with Raid tokens and Legendary Shards.
- We are also adding a new Ghost with Raid-specific perks that has a chance to drop from the Leviathan and Eater of Worlds final encounters. We intend to return to creating more Raid and other activity-unique rewards in the future.
Raid gear in the current game doesn’t offer the power boost seen in Destiny 1, with raid items offering a considerable amount of extra gameplay benefits and prestige to players who own them, even if only confined to the raid itself. Weapons and armor would offer you a boost when fighting bosses, trash, or even just dealing with the mechanics. The lack of this system in D2 has lead too quickly to most raid armor being infused or replaced by an item with preferred stats that anyone can obtain. I don’t raid myself, but this lack of progress has taken a lot of the shine out of repeating these encounters that has lead to a lot of die-hard raiders from the first game just quitting. Doing the most challenging and time-consuming activities should offer you rewards past what us plebs in the cheap seats can get, and if doing so via power levels isn’t the plan, giving raiders perks and benefits the rest of us won’t get is as good an option. Reintroducing ships, emotes, and ghosts to these encounters will also help this.
Strike Scoring + High Score Tracking
Strike Scoring is coming to Nightfall and replacing the current time limit mechanic. The scoring is similar to the Destiny 1 system but with adjustments to emphasize competitive execution of Strike objectives and support for player selectable score modifiers. In February, Nightfall High Scores will be exposed in-game via new emblems and will unlock rewards. We also have plans for Clan and Community High Scores in the works.
Timed strikes were a good idea but badly implemented. If they had based it on the Mythic+ model from World of Warcraft wherein finishing the instance within the timer rewards the player with a greater amount of items (We’ll ignore the keystone system aspect of this because it isn’t currently one within Destiny), while finishing the instance outside the timer still offers rewards but at a decreased amount, this would have been a good system to implement, but failing the team outright when the timer reaches zero, which added with the possibility of a poor selection of enemies and modifiers usually lead to more aggravation than a sense of challenge and reward. Changing this system to a tracked score should have been the way from the start. Offering players higher amounts of loot and cosmetic items should be a nice way to offset the more relaxed and casual nature to nightfall and prestige activities, a team of plebs like myself plugging away should still get to finish the strike, even if we know we’re getting less than the Raid clans would.
One would also hope the leaders of the season scoreboards would get extra rewards like unique cosmetics if they remain high on the list by seasons end, this will give players a reason to repeat Nightfalls even when they outgear it.
Work is underway on a full rework of armor and weapon mods. This will focus on reducing redundant mods, more unique theming, and greatly increasing their impact on your power. We are aiming for a February release, but the scope of the rework could push parts or all of it out to early spring. We will be evaluating how Mods play into the Bright Engram economy as a result, because we’re sensitive to pay-to-win outcomes.
The current Mod system, while a good idea is sadly extremely shallow with only really recovery items and a few handling and reload mods being anything close to useful. Hopefully expanding Mods to feel more open and in the best tradition of Destiny, weird and unique, could go a long way to fixing much of the sameness that is the current norm in game. Also remove Mods from Eververse. Even if it’s not game breaking, no actual useful gameplay items should ever come from Microtransactions.
- We are adjusting game mode rules to increase the pace of gameplay and power ammo acquisition in Quickplay.
PC Tower Chat
- We are adding text chat to the Tower for the PC version of the game.
Exotic Repetition Reduction
- This will prevent players from receiving the same Exotic twice in a row. You may still receive duplicates, just not consecutively.
Fireteam Members on Destination Map
- You will finally be able to see the other members of your fireteam on the destination map. No more having to ask your fireteam where they went when they fast travel to another landing zone.
I would like to be more happy about these, they’re all good changes, but they should have been in the game from day one and not a plan for months into the games’ life.
Spring 2018 Updates
Beginning with Season 3 we will introduce Seasonal Crucible Ranks. There will be two different ranks for players to pursue:
- Valor – A progression rank that goes up as you complete matches. Winning helps you move up faster, but there are no loss penalties.
- Glory – A progression rank that goes up when you win and down when you lose. Performance is how you move up here.
Bungie has balanced the game much more with PVP and competitive play in mind, so the lack of a progression system has been madness. Hopefully, these systems will help players who play Destiny 2 for the PVP side of things have more streamlined progress and a way of boasting of their kills.
- Private Matches are coming to all players of Destiny 2. Players will be able to invite their friends to play on the map and mode of their choosing.
- We’re bringing 6v6 PvP to Destiny 2 in addition to the current 4v4 game modes.
- Mayhem will return as a limited-time event during Season 3 and going forward.
- We are making some changes to make quitting less common and behind-the-scenes security improvements to help improve the overall Crucible experience.
6v6 is back, praise the traveler. While 4v4 works well for the competitive mode, which should be more about teamwork and planning, in the quickplay modes it just reinforces a sense of uniformity with players breaking off to flank often being punished, rather than being useful, when a team of 4 players grouping up just destroys you. This added with more game modes, many weirdly cut from the game after being much praised in Destiny 1, is another thing that leaves me scratching my head as to their absence.
Weapon and Ability Balance Pass
- Sandbox adjustments based on player feedback and data from the live game. The Sandbox team will share specific changes as we lead up to Season 3.
Exotic Weapon and Armor Balance Pass
- Exotic weapons and armor are receiving a comprehensive design pass to ensure they stand out from the rest of the gear and offer new, exciting, powerful ways to play.
Destiny 2 feels slow. Compared to the first game everything feels like it’s running at half speed like a negative modifier is always on.
If these changes are to be useful, they really need to look into balancing the game more with PVE and PVP split. Currently playing in PVP without stacking your group can feel punishing with the lack of abilities locked away behind snail pace timers, a system understandable in PVP but in PVE just add to the feeling of ennui.
Exotics too need a firm look. Currently very few feel as exciting or game-changing as in the first game, so much to the point that many high-end raiders use 3 legendary weapons instead of an exotic. Bungie need to buff them across the board and really embrace the weirdness of the older weapons from the game, hell, I’d kill for a No Man’s Land right about now.
- Specific vendors will now display a Seasonal ranking. Earning reputation will unlock unique Seasonal rewards and will reset each Season.
Improved Iron Banner and Faction Rallies
- In addition to the changes that you will see when Iron Banner and Faction Rallies return this month, we will continue iterating on these to make them unique, exciting experiences that you all look forward to.
Playlist Repetition Reduction
- This feature solves the problem of experiencing the same playlist entry multiple times in consecutive or frequent succession for both Crucible and Strikes.
End Game Player Pursuits
- We agree with your feedback on the imbalance between Achievement and Bright Engram rewards, and we will be making adjustments to shift more rewards into specific endgame pursuits instead of generic XP grinding for Bright Engrams. We are excited to share the details as soon as we have them worked out.
I think this is too vague to really give much of an opinion on, more end game content, even if only cosmetic, is badly needed and its absence is a big problem in game. Let’s hope this is a good few steps forward and not a leap back.
- When multi-emote launches, you will be able to choose which emote you have equipped to each of your four emote slots.
- We are targeting an additional 50 slots to player vaults. We don’t believe just adding more space is a complete solution and are actively working on other changes to reduce load on your vault space.
We are adding an Exotic accessory tab to Vault collections so you will no longer need to spend Vault space on Exotic Ships, Sparrows, and Ghosts.
PC Clan Chat
- In addition to the Tower chat that is targeted for February, we are adding clan chat to the PC version of the game.
Heroic Strike Changes
- We’ll be introducing modifiers to add more gameplay variety to the experience.
Vault space needs more than just 50 slots, but they seem to know that so it’s hard to fault them on it. Mod slots and Shaders NEED to remove the limits on their sections at the very least. Still, these are good quality of life improvements, PC chat, Multi-Emote and Heroic strike modifiers have been promised for a while now, so here’s hoping they actually make it before Destiny 3 comes out.
Fall 2018 (or sooner)
We are working on a lot more that we’re not quite ready to discuss. Expect more on this small sample of items in the future:
Item Collections and Records
- Weapon Slot and Archetype Improvements
- Additional Crucible Playlists (e.g. Rumble)
- Better Clan Rewards
- Masterwork Exotics
- Pinnacle Weapon and Gear Improvements
- Trials of the Nine improvements
- Shaders and dismantling
- The Future of Guided Games
- Address Solo Vs Fireteam matching
Our Final Thoughts
All in all, this is a promising list of changes going forward. Many of the items here have been on repeated wishlists within the Destiny community since the game’s launch and sadly, many of them are lessons that were learned from the first game and then ignored. It’s getting harder to put faith in Bungie as more and more of these “We’ll fix it this time!” wishlists get posted, only for more things to go missing or break, but they have fixed this before.
One has to wonder why they needed to learn this at all, nearly all of these are things either added into Destiny 1 or that have been demanded by the community for a while now. Destiny 2 feels like so much of the hard earned and massively well-received progress from the first game was jettisoned without anything being added to replace it. With the first game, these glaring absences could be forgiven. It was the first time the developer had tried something of this scale and the work they put into fixing it made good on the promise the game had made, but now? They’re falling into the same pitfalls they had previously filled in and are promising better signage.
Time will have to be the judge of it all.Related: Article, Bungie, Destiny 2, MMO, Shooter, Update