Credentials? I’ve got three characters that are top end, over 350 hours logged in, dozens more spent trolling reddit. I continue to enjoy playing Destiny, but I’ve been thinking on what areas specifically need tweaking before either the rumored game-changer Comet DLC or inevitable sequel drops. Here are the seven things I’ve noticed that have put a hamper on Destiny’s long-term appeal to players that should be a priority to address.
- The big one that everyone has already mentioned, but really it can’t be mentioned enough. There was next to no focus on story during the campaign. All it did was serve as a roller coaster to show off the worlds and entry level tutorials. There’s absolutely no closure to the main story when you finish. You eradicated one piece of the darkness with many tendrils still grasping at the Traveler. (Hail Hydra). Except the big villain you close out the campaign against doesn’t even have a personified form for you to channel your anger into. It’s a big blob of darkness. So you stop a small portion of the evil that may or may not even have a lasting effect on the well-being of the last vestige of humanity. The final scenes of the game feel so open it’s not even apt to call it a cliffhanger. It’s just a dead stop during the second act of a story it feels like. Even with the addition of the first DLC pack, there was no further story progression. It served as a standalone module within the Destiny universe… Which was cool if for no other reason it had a traditional story arc that made sense and DID provide closure. Crota is awakening – Villain established. Crota’s primary general, Omnigul, is chased through a few story missions before you finally get to dispatch her during a strike. After that you are free to pursuit the ultimate big bad of this chapter of the game, Crota himself. It escalates appropriately mechanically as well. You go from solo story missions (chasing Omnigul), to a three player strike (slaying Omnigul), to a full on six person raid across several stages (slaying Crota). If all of the game had followed the pace and narrative build of The Dark Below DLC, I think a lot more people could have appreciated the core game.
- I mentioned the campaign serves primarily as the training routine for the player. The only problem with that is it really does only teach the essentials of Destiny. Point gun at angry monster, pull trigger. Pick up bounties in the Tower, level up your gear. It does an absolutely horrible job of teaching players how to do anything beyond what we know from FPS’s though. For example; I’ve been playing on and off with a regular group of friends since launch. We’re all topped out with at least one character. It wasn’t until February when listening in on a side conversation about elemental gun types that a friend learned that enemy shields have weaknesses… Red shields give way to fire, white shields to electric, purple shields to void damage. Hundreds of hours spent and nowhere in the game does it explain this. It’s just something you have to learn through playing with others… And Destiny does that a lot. They lean on the community to inform each other. These are the types of things that should come up if Bungie wants to educated the players during the campaign. The things that are unique to Destiny itself.
- Speaking of odd systems in play with little explanation… “Light Levels” – Once you hit the traditional level cap of 20, where XP gained from killing enemies ceases to impact your character progression. Suddenly to get from level 20 to 32 you need to acquire gear with high “light” ratings. The only information they give you is that increasing your light level makes your more effective defensively and offensively. There’s no suggestions on how to begin raising it, no reasoning behind what brackets get you to the next level. Originally getting 120 light got you to level 30 – Which meant each piece of your four pieces of armor had to have a light level of 30. So once The Dark Below DLC came out and increased the cap to level 32, now each piece of gear needs to be 36 light (for a total of 144 light). Why? Who knows. Random arbitrary numbers! The part that’s really confusing is the fact that I can unequip my armor and go from being level 32 down to a level 20. Doesn’t that seem odd that mechanically I can reduce my progression by removing or accidentally deleting my armor? It’s a poorly designed system that I really wouldn’t mind seeing disappear for Destiny 2.
- Another poorly designed system is the end game currencies. Once you hit level 20 you’re told that Motes of Light(MoL) will be your primary currency for advancing your character. The only thing I’ve been able to do with MoL though is purchase a cosmetic armor piece. Yay..? What they failed to tell you is that any really progression will be purchased with “Marks”, earned through the Crucible (PVP), or Vanguard (PVE Strikes). Then they don’t provide any means to directly exchange currency you have an overflow of into something you need. Here’s a list of game currencies that you acquire – Crucible Marks(1), Vanguard Marks(2), MoL(3), Strange Coins(4), Glimmer(5)… And then advancement materials such as Ascendant Mats(6), Radiant Mats(7), and Exotic Shards(8). So the end game you can look forward to begrudgingly acquiring an abundance of one of these 8 materials while wishing you could get any of the other 7… Because oh yeah, outside of Marks (which have a weekly limit to which you can earn) – All rewards are random. A simple currency exchange program would at least let you direct how to progress your character instead of hitting a wall for weeks. Once again – Look forward to learning about all this through word of mouth as none of this is properly explained once you hit level 20 and start progressing through your light levels.
Since you’ll be wanting to get to max level, the only way to do that is raid gear. I hope you like the look of it too, because you’ll be seeing it a lot. Every single Warlock, Hunter, or Titan will look identical to each other at level 32. The raid gear is (mostly) the only way to be top level so everyone is wearing the same boots, chest, and gloves that you are! Usually the helm varies between a few exotic options due to the scarcity of raid gear helmets, but even then usually each class only has one or two helmets worth using. The only touch of personality you really get to imbue is which of the color schemes (“shaders”) you want to equip to modify the look. It’s a shame too since Diablo 3 solved this problem perfectly by allowing your players to transmogrify their look. This allows you to alter the aesthetics of any gear you’re wearing to look like anything you’ve previously owned. I absolutely love a few of my Warlock’s robes coming up through the levels. Hell, even the level 12 armor sold by the starting merchant looks more appealing than the “best” chest piece available to me now. Some variety would go a long way with helping me “become legend”. Right now I feel like a cookie cutter solider in the Traveler’s army. I definitely don’t feel legend at this point.
- One of the last complaints is with how Bungie is more focused on “correcting” player behavior than improving the game. Yes, there are events in the game that can circumvent some if not all the challenge through some creativity. Hiding beneath platforms, using the kinetic force of exploding lamps to bypass a chunk of level, climbing to previously unknown reaches to achieve a wicked vantage point of the field. Why not let those players that want to do that play the way they want? It doesn’t negatively impact those players not participating. There’s no in-game economy to be crashed through flooding the market with easily acquired goods. The only purpose I can see in squashing exploits instead of implementing quality content on a regular basis is to try and bad out the length of play time with Destiny. It took them over five months to fix a bug in which the rarest ammo available would randomly disappear upon death… the same amount of time to analyze and realize that one of the three secondary weapon types was completely useless as it was designed. These are issues that should have been addressed long before fixing a mid-boss being stunlocked off the edge of a cliff or changing the encounter of the final boss in Vault of Glass so players can’t coordinate and play a strategy.
- The final complaint is just letting the game run it’s natural course. Developers are always trying to make a game the largest and only game you play. Bungie really pushed the boundaries with artificial currency caps, limiting progression marks, resetting limiting rewards to once per week… Which just resulted in players making alternate characters. There are so many arbitrary walls put in place to prevent you from playing until you’re done. Back in my EverQuest days we openly called these “timesinks”, because they exist solely as an insult to the player by expressing how little the developers value your free time. It’s okay for players to be “done” with Destiny for a time, Bungie. You’re planning an onslaught of DLC that we’ll be back for. If we quit for a few weeks, we shouldn’t feel like we’ve missed out or are behind the times. That’s just going to discourage people from jumping back in after a leave of absence. Also, it kind of turns it into a chore at that point. Getting a new piece of armor with a lower starting light level than your current piece but a higher cap makes you feel like you need to invest time to fix the problem, versus just playing and enjoying since it’s an upgrade.
Anyways, those are my thoughts as an invested player. I realize all games have flaws. I celebrate them usually. These seven sins though are just poorly done, rushed, or outright insulting as an experience to the players wanting to stick around. You can do better, Bungie. With the Dark Below DLC you improved the story, and allowed SOME currency transfer between high end materials. Please don’t stop there, as you really have a rock solid game going right now that has the potentially to be something special.