This article was originally written by myself and published to 8BitChimp 12th August 2015
At the time of writing, the below were the seven changes that I felt Bungie needed to bring to Destiny if the game was to remain popular with players. Now that Year 2 of Destiny is coming to a close, I’ve decided to evaluate whether or not Bungie has indeed implemented the changes I believed were a necessity, which you can read when it publishes Monday 5th September.
– Legendary Weapons –
When Destiny was first released, there was a slew of desirable legendary weapons that ranged from the likes of Longbow Synthesis and Shadow Price, to Fatebringer and Vision of Confluence. However, the ‘replacements’ that were offered in Dark Below and House of Wolves by and large performed far from what their legendary status would suggest, not to mention the persistent imbalances that plagued the game’s weapons (cough Thorn cough). As such, hardly any legendary’s in the game are worth the grind to earn them, and once you do earn them rarely do you feel like you need them. The previously aforementioned weapons like Vision and Shadow Price were must-haves for most players. Providing comparable alternatives to Exotic weapons, players had to make difficult choices as to which weapons they took into battle. This choice is now gone; players mostly use exotic hand-cannons for PvP and those of us lucky enough to possess her use Gjallahorn for PvE.
Furthermore, there was a reason to level up the various factions and vendors, not only to acquire the weapons they sold but also for a package that might present the new front-gun for your arsenal. The same used to be true of legendary engrams; which, in their current state are equivalent to motes of light at best. If Bungie wants us to still be playing the new content of The Taken King long after its release, they’ll need to offer us a slew of new, powerful, and desirable, legendary weapons to chase down.
– Weapon Balancing –
Related to the above problems with legendary weapons, Bungie needs to find a way to effectively balance the weapons in Destiny. Quite frankly, I can’t take another five months of OP weapons like Thorn in Crucible. Thankfully, they are indeed nerfing Thorn, but the thoughts of an equally OP successor rising to take the place of said infuriating handcannon gives me nightmares. In addition to the weapon balancing issues in Crucible, there is also the issue with regards to the knock-on effect for PvE activities. Take the example of Suros, while the weapon may have been overpowered in Crucible, the same was not true in PvE. There were ample alternatives to Suros for PvE players, yet due to the weapon’s performance in PvP and subsequent nerf, the gun was ruined for PvE activities.
Bizzard’s Rob Pardo once remarked; “Always balance up,” arguing that something feeling overpowered is a good thing, as players enjoy feeling strong. Unfortunately, Bungie can’t adhere 100% to this philosophy, increasing the power of guns in crucible will decrease the time-to-kill, resulting in faster gameplay that becomes less about strategy and countering your opponent, and more about reaction speeds and who can get sights on who first. That being said, weapon balancing in PvP should not come at the cost of making weapons in PvE feel underpowered, or even worse nerfing them out of existence. Finding the right balance, not just between the various different weapons, but also between how weapons perform in PvP compared to PvE — so that balancing an OP weapon in Crucible doesn’t ruin it for raids or strikes — is a must.
– Gear Permanency –
After the Dark Below released, I stopped playing Destiny once I reached the soul-crushing realisation that all of my previous weapons and gear were effectively useless, and only returned to play House of Wolves once Bungie reversed that decision. Unfortunately, Bungie has decided to not allow us to keep using the guns and armour we love, in favour of the new gear that is being added with The Taken King. The problem with this decision is that the rewards earned from end-game activities now feel worthless, and so too does the time required to earn them. Bungie has said that there are new announcements to come with regards to how our current gear will translate into Year 2, warning players against dismantling what they have earned to date. Collecting the various weapons and armour is one of Destiny’s biggest attractions, but that only holds true if the weapons and armour are relevant. What’s the point of collecting sets of gear if they only last a couple of months?
Thankfully, there are various methods by which Bungie could be making our time investment worthwhile. Perhaps they will adopt a transmogrification system from the likes of Diablo 3 (which allows players to skin their gear according to how they want it to look, provided they have unlocked the design). Or perhaps there are Year 2 versions of old favourites that can be acquired by first owning the weapons or gear from Year 1. Regardless, finding a meaningful use for our old gear is a must to keep the Destiny community playing.
– Story –
Yes, now we arrive at the Traveller-sized elephant in the room; the story of Destiny. With a world that is hugely intriguing and mysterious and mystical, it deserves a strong and compelling narrative that is interwoven throughout all of Destiny’s various activities. Let’s hope, even if it’s a year late, that Bungie can deliver on the promise of the universe they have so lovingly created. Also, including the grimoire in-game couldn’t hurt, could it Bungie?
– Crucible –
Since launch, Crucible has been lacking several features and modes. Thankfully, new modes are being added, including a capture the flag-esque mode, Rift. That being said, there are still several features missing from Crucible, with private and custom matches being two of the communities most requested updates to the game. It remains uncertain how much longer Destiny can sustain a large player base when these basic features, offered by the game’s many competitors, are absent from the game. Additionally, it would be nice to see the game modes that are currently on rotation, especially doubles, salvage, combined arms, and elimination, become permanent game modes.
– Rejuvenate Old Activities –
Vault of Glass remains, to this day, as the most enjoyable and interesting piece of content in Destiny. However, the lack of updates to the Vault mean that Guardians have little reason to keep exploring its depths. Bungie has already announced that three of the current strikes will now be occupied by Taken enemies, giving players a reason to revisit them. Both raids would also benefit from similar treatment; specifically increasing the level of the raids, and perhaps offering new rewards for completing the raids on higher difficulties.
Prison of Elders could also do with a few updates; new critical objectives, arenas, and bosses, would go a long way to improving the activity and making the procedural nature of prison less predictable. Finally, patrols are also in need of an update; we’ve trawled through the same areas, fighting the same enemies, completing the same missions, and ignoring the same public events. Eliminating the current repetitiveness of the game and rejuvenating old areas and activities will help to keep the Destiny community thriving over the coming months.
– Quality of Life Updates –
Finally, there are a few quality of life upgrades that Bungie could do with implementing to make the day-to-day of Destiny more enjoyable. The — this time rather small elephant in the room — is of course the vault. It’s been a complaint since day one and despite a small increase, still remains to be a problem. With all the new gear that is coming in the Taken King, a vault upgrade in an absolute must. Additionally, increasing the number of weapon and armour slots per character would also be appreciated.
Another change I would quite like to see is the way shaders and emblems are stored. An unlock system has been suggested in the past, whereby you would unlock shaders and emblems instead of earning them, and thereby would be able to access them permanently. I would also appreciate having more slots for materials on my characters. Thankfully some of the upgrades, such as allowing players to turn in bounties from the character menu and skip-able cutscenes, have already been unveiled. With that in mind, hopefully, Bungie will reveal more details in the future.
So to conclude, the above are the seven updates that I believe The Taken King needs to make to Destiny if the game is to stand any chance of sustaining a substantial player-base for the duration of Bungie’s ten-year plan. That’s not to say that without The Taken King, Destiny doesn’t have a future, more that the patience of its players is wearing thin. The problem with Destiny right now is that the potential of the game’s systems and universe far outweighs the reality of them. It is this untapped potential that brought myself and many others to the game in the first place and has kept us coming back time after time – unfortunately to mixed results. Now while I have little doubt that The Taken King can redeem Destiny, I fear how much middling content its player-base are willing to endure. Perhaps I can best sum up by refraining to the old saying; “fool me once shame on you, fool we twice shame on me!”