It is hard to pinpoint exactly when the gaming community got so loud, but it is clear that 2017 has been a rough year for the industry. There have been some fantastic releases, of course, but also a lot of disappointment. After the palaver over EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2, it seems developers are treading on thin ice and the players are making themselves heard.
Destiny 2 is no different, finding itself under increasing scrutiny by its player base. Returning players to the franchise had high hopes for D2, and perhaps overly high expectations. At launch, it was reminiscent of vanilla Destiny; a little sparse on content but visually stunning and fun to play, albeit for different reasons. Destiny gave players a grind and a challenge, while Destiny 2 promoted the “friend game” over the “endgame”. The ease at which exotic are earned took away that “exotic” feeling, while some of the pieces are, sadly, lacklustre. The players were immediately divided into two camps: those angry and upset that the progress of D1 had been lost, and those who reminded themselves of the disappointment 3 years ago.
To compare vanilla D2 to vanilla D1 and, now, Curse of Osiris to The Dark Below raises some considerations. As a sequel, Destiny 2 definitely feels like it is lacking and like Bungie and Activision have lost sight of what their players enjoyed. As a game in its own right, however, it is still a lot of fun despite its shortcomings. After all, why does anyone play a game? Surely fun is what it should be about.
A large part of that has been the full integration of clans. While still lacking in many basic social features (in-game chat is still just a dream), clans have found their own ways to group up, recruit and chat with one another, and many are turning to other applications to facilitate that. Other changes have only polarised the community further; crucible, in particular, promotes the “team kill”, but divides fireteams with the new 4v4 set up. Three and six do not go into four very well, setting it apart from PvE activities, rather than allowing them to easily fit together.
Catering to the casual gamer, Bungie has definitely taken a risk and may have alienated some of its hardcore players. There is still challenge there, but it is not rewarding in the same way that it was in D1. Special perks have been lost and the ability to reach level cap is all too easy even if you only play for an hour or two a week. Commitment and perseverance do not pay off as perhaps they should.
At the end of November, Bungie tried to show the community that they were listening. “The State of Destiny 2“, released on November 29th, went a long way to allaying some concerns and fostering a sense of relief in those still playing and hoping for the sort of improvement that occurred over D1’s lifespan. A lot was said, but a lot was also left vague or unsaid and, how some changes will be implemented remains to be seen. The hope is that they build on the fun they have developed, rather than stripping it to make way for any changes.
The Curse of Osiris DLC launched December 5th. It suffered the same failings as TDB had—the story was too short to flesh out—but overall has provided some good fun. Being the first part of two planned major updates in December, it was only this week that the true extent of it could be measured. But rather than inspiring players, it left a sour taste behind. Leaving old players behind on endgame content was nothing new, but scaling the old content tot he DLC caused trouble. Losing prestige access might have been forgiven if not for the trophies. Loss of access entirely to other activities (Trials of the Nine and Iron Banner) didn’t make sense, especially without the level advantages that were in place throughout D1.
The backlash prompted a swift apology. It was always a given that players would be unhappy with the DLC lockouts, and those new to Destiny, particularly PC players, may not have known what was coming. But locking base game achievements was a step in the wrong direction. So, along with the already planned updates for December 12th, a hotfix was implemented, bringing the prestige raid back down to Power 300 and only requiring the DLC for Trials when a new map is featured. Other updates include Masterworks and vendor purchases.
The question now is whether Destiny 2 will continue to succeed with such a vocal disgruntled community. While many people are still playing and enjoying the game, it is far from perfect. Many common requests and complaints seem to have been heard, with updates planned in the new year, but the vocal minority is louder than ever and that alone can scare away new players before they even see one of the Red Legion. There is a lot to say about Destiny 2, and not all of it good, but there is a right and a wrong way to say it.
Can it succeed? Absolutely, yes. With the planned changes and future updates, there is no doubt that Destiny 2 can grow into something truly spectacular. Look back at D1, its growth and development. While it feels like so many steps back right now, there is a long potential future ahead. Trying something new carries with it a risk. Destiny and Destiny 2 both are games designed to be revisited, with continued things to do. The implementation is different, but there is no doubt that both have paid for themselves with regard to time spent playing.
Some of these recent mistakes have damaged the players’ trust and there is a long road ahead, but with some support, constructive feedback and a little faith, there is no reason Bungie cannot recover. After all, when most players have already put in over a hundred hours (some over a thousand) since September, it is hard to deny that, time-wise, it has been, and will continue to be, worth the investment. Especially considering that other full-priced titles can be completed in under 20 hours. Personally, I will continue to hope and continue to offer feedback and suggestions, but for now, I am having a lot of fun with friends, new and old.