Changes Coming To Destiny 2’s Endgame (And Why They Matter)
Even as Bungie and Vicarious Visions had a big week with the PC launch of Destiny 2, the live team for the game is beginning to share some of its plans for how the game is aiming to improve and evolve across all its platforms. Yesterday’s “This Week In Bungie” article included a section from game director Christopher Barrett, in which he highlights several notable features that Destiny 2’s live team is working on. In most cases, we don’t get a sense of how soon any of these updates may go in, but we do get an idea of where the live team is putting their focus.
We've included Barrett's direct statements, followed by our own commentary about the potential impact.
Barrett: New systems and rewards to give our most engaged players additional, optional pursuits.
Why It Matters: We don’t get a lot of detail here, but it’s notable that Barrett leads with this subject, as it’s certainly the most central concern for many dedicated Destiny 2 players. Many players I know have simply run out of engaging rewards to chase. Even if those players are willing to repeatedly play the same content, they hope for some kind of rewards that will give them a reason to log in, and right now, that’s not happening.
Barrett: Better incentives for players who complete challenging Prestige activities.
Why It Matters: Prestige activities attempt to provide particularly challenging content for high-level players, but the rewards simply don’t justify the extra work for many players. While it can be fun to tackle extremely hard content for its own sake, it’s hard to stick with a tough task when you’re not going to get anything exciting out of it. Undoubtedly, this comment was also specifically motivated by the recent launch of the prestige mode of the Leviathan raid, which offered scant value to players willing to navigate its complicated challenges.
Barrett: Better rewards and replay value for strikes, adventures, and Lost Sectors.
Why It Matters: I’m especially excited to hear about this point, as strikes, adventures, and Lost Sectors are all enjoyable aspects of the Destiny 2 experience that are underplayed, simply because the rewards don’t match the effort that goes into getting them. I wish that, in addition to the mentioned activities, Barrett also acknowledged the need to have a more meaningful and replayable approach to the game's excellent story missions. Ikora's meditations don't fully capitalize on the fun inherent to that activity.
Barrett: Private matches for the competitive community (we are targeting early 2018).
Why It Matters: The original Destiny eventually included private matches, which was a boon to the burgeoning competitive and streaming communities. It was surprising to many that Destiny 2 launched without the availability of private matches, as it felt like a step backward. Hopefully, private matches give players some of the flexibility they are hoping for in the Crucible. This is the only note to which Barrett attaches a date, implying a degree of confidence that the functionality is on track for launch in that time frame.
Barrett: Crucible tuning like adjusted Supremacy scoring and better spawning rules.
Why It Matters: The Crucible had some big changes in Destiny 2, and many players have been frustrated by the way the competitive experience is tuned. Barrett calls out Supremacy for a good reason, as it’s the mode that players most often complain about. Another big problem has been spawn placement; it’s relatively common to spawn in and immediately be under fire or behind enemy lines on the map.
Barrett: Better incentives for completing Crucible matches (and penalties for quitting competitive games).
Why It Matters: Both of these issues are enormously important for the life of the Crucible experience. For the time invested, players simply don’t get rewards commensurate with their time. As for the penalty callout, the competitive playlist includes two match types that both involve multiple lengthy rounds of play. A single match can take a long time to play through. However, players often drop in the early minutes, leading to a frustrating and boring session for the remaining seven (or fewer) players. Something should be changed to discourage players leaving these types of matches.
Barrett: Continued improvements to Iron Banner and Faction Rallies, including uniqueness of rewards.
Why It Matters: I am very pleased that Bungie has launched so many unique events in the first weeks of the game’s life. But some of those events have felt lackluster, including the two that are called out here. Iron Banner and Faction Rallies both have the potential to be successful and fun, and I’m glad to hear that Bungie is taking a close look to improve both. I also hope that the rewards for these events become less random.
Barrett: Changes to make the mod economy more interesting and impactful.
Why It Matters: The mod system is an interesting introduction to the Destiny 2 sandbox experience. Ostensibly, the mods should allow a player to dynamically customize their characters. In practice, the system often locks you in to a build, and discourages experimentation. Plus, managing the mod inventory is confusing, and there are too few slots for all the mods you get in the game.
Barrett: Ongoing improvements to Exotics, including adjustments to reduce instances of duplication.
Why It Matters: This is great news for dedicated players. Many of Destiny 2’s exotics are interesting to look at, but less interesting to play with. I hope the team at Bungie can bring back the excitement of using exotic weapons and armor. Plus, the duplicate drop issue is a real problem. Many players (myself included) have complained that they have gotten half-a-dozen copies of the same exotic, but are still waiting for one desired item that they are missing.
Barrett: New ways to spend surplus currency and materials (looking at you Legendary Shards).
Why It Matters: No lie – I have hundreds of legendary shards, gunsmith materials, and tokens that I’ve just gotten sick of turning in. This issue is a small one for players in the first many hours of play, but most players who stick with Destiny 2 begin to see how currency stacks up and becomes mostly meaningless.
Barrett: An emote interface that allows players to equip Salty, Spicy Ramen, Six Shooter, and Flip Out all at the same time.
Why It Matters: This seems like a small thing, but it’s huge for many in the Destiny community, and has been a request for a very long time, stretching back into the first game. Presumably, the solution in-game is relatively simple – change the emote system so that each direction on the d-pad has a customizable emote slot – but Bungie has stubbornly refused to make that change, so perhaps there’s something in the back-end of the game that makes it more challenging to implement. Regardless, I’m happy to hear they’re looking at a change. Frankly, I’m a little surprised this hasn’t been a higher priority for both Activision and Bungie; the emote system is entirely tied together with the microtransaction-driven Eververse store. As such, increased flexibility for using emotes has the potential to drive MTX sales.
So what’s the big takeaway? Early this week, in advance of the PC launch, I wrote a piece highlighting Destiny 2’s first season and endgame, including a number of concerns I have about replayability. Based on this brief report from Barrett, the developer also recognizes some of those same issues as problems, and is hoping to make concrete changes. We don’t know how long most of these changes will take, or if the new systems will do what is promised. But it’s meaningful that Bungie is exploring these topics, and as a player, I’m especially gratified that Bungie is being upfront and communicative about its plans, even before the exact details of those plans have been locked in stone.