Thought of the Week: Where Did Destiny 2 Go Wrong?

It’s a weird sensation to be playing some Destiny 1 (D1) again after playing Destiny 2 (D2) for so long, however that’s exactly what I did over the weekend (aside from making another weapon review video), and what a trip down memory lane it was.

Yes the graphics look dated, the character models look less refined, the user interface is clunky and the textures can be very pixelated at times, but none of those really mattered to me that much.

It’s a bit like saying your favourite teddy bear is the one that’s missing a leg and an arm, but you still love it to bits because you’ve kept it since childhood and along with that – a lot of fond memories.

This made me think a little more on “what went wrong with D2?”, well, here are my thoughts.

Removal of Random Rolls

A big portion of D1 was about finding the right weapons, there was never a need to have 200+ different guns because of the RNG nature of the weapon perks. Which meant every time a weapon dropped for me, it was (almost) always unique, and as a player I looked forward to testing it and see whether it fit me.

This made obtaining a weapon, even if it was a duplicate, a decent experience. Most importantly it made the grind “unpredictable”, one day you could end up with rubbish weapons, and then next day you could get an absolute “God roll” – a weapon with a fantastic array of perks.

You no longer get random rolls in D2, so once you have the weapon – you have it, and the stats will be the same for every instance of that gun. The only thing you can adjust are shaders, and Masterwork mods, but nothing that will make “your copy of the gun” unique, nothing that you can show off to your friends like getting “Luck in the Chamber” for an Eyasluna hand cannon in D1.

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D2 Masterwork mods will boost a random stat on the weapon, and can be re-rolled; but the core of the gun perks will always remain fixed.

From a development perspective I guess it reduces the risk of RNG accidentally creating a God-like weapon, which then enrages the community, not to mention potentially a pain to fix as well – because if you fix the perk, it’ll impact the entire weapon pool on every gun with the same perk. So from a maintenance perspective it was a logical choice to provide a pool of fixed weapons… but definitely not a good choice for playability.

I honestly think the random rolls should come back, even with the aforementioned risks in mind, I still think RNG plays a huge part of what made the original Destiny weapon system great.

Removal of Weapon Levelling

Yeah, not only did Bungie remove the random rolls, they also removed the need to grind for experience points to unlock perks on your weapons. Every perk on every weapon comes fully unlocked in D2.

My initial reaction (when I first started D2) was “cool, no more grinding!” – however after some play time, I think it has actually made D2 worse.

Not only did it cause the game to become significantly shorter as a whole, it also made it very difficult for players to get any sense of achievement other than “owning” the weapon.

It’s a bit like growing a character in an RPG from Lv1, and it’s joyful to get new powers or magic spells; whereas in D2 you start with a Lv99 character with every spell readily available… you get the picture.

I don’t think re-introducing the perk levelling would be a wise decision at this point, however there are other ways to add on to the existing structure. For instance – the Legend of Acrius exotic shotgun has a 2-stage unlock process, and to unlock the full weapon you need to gather some “tokens” from an activity; I think Bungie can reuse that pattern and apply something similar across all weapons.

Let’s call it a “Weapon Upgrade Forge”:

  1. Add a new “Forge” option at the Gunsmith shop,
  2. Add an experience counter for every weapon (except exotics), players can earn experience through normal gameplay as long as the gun is equipped. Additional multiplier for when the player actually uses the gun to make kills.
  3. When a weapon has reached its max experience, players can visit the Gunsmith with specific sets of planetary materials to unlock 1 or maybe even 2 “hidden” perks for said gun.
  4. The hidden perks can either be fixed perks with full effect, or randomly generated perks with lesser effect to keep the guns balanced.

This upgrade system introduces a solid end-goal for every weapon, and can definitely give a solid purpose for grinding with your favourite weapons. It also solves the problem with planetary material being a complete waste of time and inventory space.

Of course, this is all just theory, and in real life developers are limited by systems, resources, performance, and all sorts; but it never hurts to be creative. I for one would love to see a weapon upgrade system in D2.

Loots are Too Easy to Obtain

In a way, this is both a good and a bad thing.

Now, if you have an office job working 9-5 and you’re not home until after 6pm, minus the time for food, and time with your loved ones, you probably have an hour of gaming time left before you have to clock out for the night. The last thing on your mind would be “grinding”,  therefore it’s a good thing to get easy drops… or is it?

I’m not a hardcore grinder, but I do spend a bit of time in the world of Destiny, and I can tell the difference in drop rates between D1 and D2 like it’s night and day.

Bungie has definitely made D2 “friendlier” for ALL types of players, so that the casual Guardians won’t feel “left out” when compared to those who can afford to play the game everyday. The removal of random rolls and weapon levelling reinforces the casual play style, too.

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Completing Prestige Nightfall strikes should present you with better weapons… but no, you’ll just get normal weapons.

On top of that, some of the best weapons like MIDA Multi Tool, Nightshade, Nameless Midnight, Uriel’s Gift, Positive Outlook and Sunshot – are all weapons that require near-zero grinding time, some were even “given” to you during the main campaign.

What D2 needs now are weapon-related quests, and not just simple missions, they need to be complicated, or requires a good grind.

A good example in D2 would be Saint-14’s shotgun quest (Perfect Paradox) – a challenging side mission that rewards an excellent weapon. There were lots of similar missions n D1, like Sleeper Simulant, exotic swords, No Time to Explain, Thorn, not to mention the raid-specific exotic weapons when you complete raid challenges.

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The mission for Saint-14’s Perfect Paradox shotgun is a great way to add more depth to the game.


Last Point

Yeah, it’s been a bit of a rant, but it’s one that’s long overdue.

As it currently stands, Destiny 2 has plenty to offer new players, but doesn’t have nearly enough for its loyal fans, because D2 started with the same content volume as when D1 first launched – how that is even possible given Bungie already has the foundation and experience of hosting D1, is beyond me.

With the upcoming major updates leading to May’s Season 3 DLC, I believe things will eventually turn and the game will be at a point where it should be. Right now? I’ll most likely spend more time playing other games and only log on for special events. I’m hoping to utilise this quiet period to record some new games for my YouTube channel.

As always, thanks for reading, if you see me online, don’t be a stranger 🙂 come say hi.


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