If the subtext wasn’t clear in my Destiny 2 review, then I’ll just say it out loud – I’m not perfectly happy with Destiny 2. Sure, it’s more Destiny, and considering I spent 1000 hours in that game, that’s certainly not a bad thing, but the problem is that Bungie has simplified the game to cater to a specific audience. My issue is that the game I fell in love with originally was catered to a different audience.
Originally, I was drawn to Destiny simply because it was a shooter. It’s well designed, and Bungie knows what they are doing when developing shooters, so I instantly fell in love. What I didn’t understand initially was exactly what kind of game Destiny was – it’s not a shooter in the same way that Halo is/was, it’s something very different: a looter-shooter with RPG elements. This took me a long time to really understand, as I was the type of gamer that moved from game to game, just getting my fill of what each game had to offer, but never really putting much time into them beyond the primary story arc. Destiny, on the other hand, is a kind of “lifestyle game”, in that there is enough content there to build habits around, and an entire community dedicated to sharing its secrets.
Over time, I came to appreciate this – the complexity behind some of the end-game content required players to grind through earlier content in order to find the right equipment for the task. Building an appreciation for this then leads to a desire to uncover everything that the game has to offer – a kind of “gotta catch ‘em all” mentality. While Destiny changed a great deal over its three-year lifespan, the grind was initially very deep. Weapons would drop with random perks, so finding that perfect “god” roll was a never-ending task. Exotics were almost entirely dependent on extremely rare random drops from bosses, and farming certain locations/raids/etc., was commonplace as a result. Later in the Destiny lifespan, exotics were tied to quests, and increases in power level was simplified, but this remained the grind until the release of Destiny 2.
To some degree, the grind is the same, but it’s now lacking some very key complexity. The biggest issue is that weapons and armour are now fixed (i.e., there are no random perks applied to weapons or armour). While you still need to grind for specific items, once you’ve got them, you don’t need to hunt for another one. This means that the primary reason for grinding (to find that god-roll Eyasaluna, for example, or the Warlock gauntlets with scout rifle reloader) is gone. In fact, I have no desire to hunt for armour at all – it seems armour is pretty much only for cosmetic purposes now. A second issues is that the power level grind is straightforward once you understand how it works – grind until blue engrams (plus mods) can’t increase your power any more, then do your Powerful Gear milestones. Rinse and repeat. In this way, I now have 2 characters at close to max level, and I’ve only put 85 hours into the game (I say “only”, which may surprise some, but note that 85 hours isn’t much in Destiny terms, even only a couple of weeks out from release).
Why is this an issue? Well, as good as the Raid is, and as much as I am happy with the improvements made to Nightfall Strikes, I see no reason to play either. There’s no gear I want to grind for, and I can hit max level in the next couple of weeks just by doing my Milestones. Recently, Bungie pushed out the Faction Rally update, which enabled a new monthly (at least I think it’s monthly) event wherein players grind events for a specific faction reward. However, I barely even played it, for much the same reason – I saw little to no value in the weapons on offer, and didn’t understand how that would help me achieve anything beyond just “getting more stuff”. Ultimately, I don’t feel like I need more stuff. Perhaps that reflects a problem with the stuff that’s in the game – there’s very few items that I feel I need to farm for.
All of this will likely change soon enough – the Prestige Raid is about to be released (and I’m yet to do Prestige Nightfall, while I’m on that topic), for example. Iron Banner will be happening in the next week or so, and we are yet to see how that has changed. And let’s not forget Trials of the Nine (as much as I’d LIKE to forget it, I’m yet to unlock the trophy for this one). Still, I’m unsure why I would need to do Prestige apart from unlocking the trophy – once is probably enough. Then again, the power level is likely to be raised along with the more difficult version of the raid, but still, I’m sure I can hit max power level by the time the next DLC is released.
I guess I’m a little disappointed that I don’t feel the same desire to get deeply invested in Destiny 2 that I felt with the original game. Part of this is because Bungie has simplified the grind, so it’s less satisfying, and part of it is because I’ve started playing Warframe, which is a similar game with a highly complex grind – in some ways, Warframe is offering me what I was hoping for from Destiny 2. I expect some changes in coming months – new events on one hand (Faction Rallies, Iron Banner, themed events, possibly Sparrow Racing – free to all players), and new story elements on the other (new missions and modes, and possibly a new Raid, all part of the upcoming paid DLC) – but I really hope that the grind is made more complex. It’s the grind that keeps me coming back daily, and at the moment, I’m lucky to be playing Destiny 2 on more than two nights a week…
Note that this is not an article intended as general criticism of Destiny 2 – I’ve already done that in my review. Here, I’m just voicing my slight disappointment that the game feels different to how it used to.