A Month With Destiny 2 - Part 1
Nothing quite scratches the shooter itch like Destiny. Gunplay is tight, the gameplay loop is good and the raids are absolutely phenomenal. I originally wanted to write a review of the Destiny 2 expansion, The Witch Queen but through a series of events, I wasn’t able to get the campaign and other content completed at a decent pace. So here we are. I’ve played through the legendary campaign and a bunch of content afterwards and I wanted to give my thoughts.
Destiny is such a weird game, in general. It was my first foray into faux-games as a service (this is back in Destiny 1 days) where the game clearly expected you to keep playing but the only thing it had that could help enforce it was seasonal DLC and the gear treadmill of constantly upgrading to keep relevant. Destiny 2 set all of this in stone, with adjustments to the Eververse store (cosmetics), locked seasonal content such as story and exotics, and a battlepass. I’m not fond of these things, especially the story being lost forever if you didn’t play, but I get why they exist. The ask instead is that instead of buying in via season passes and expansions, you could instead just buy an expansion. Obviously, similarly to how gachas work, I imagine that people with a compulsion to collect everything, or just people willing to shell out on cosmetics for internet clout help boost this.
I bring all of this up for a good reason. I have a group of 6, sometimes 7 people I play with, which is the perfect number to do raids. I’d argue that raids are the best content in Destiny, requiring both a good understanding of your class, ability to adapt as a group and a decently fierce loadout. When Beyond Light got announced, we all played the hell out of the game; doing pretty much everything it had to throw at us so we could see it before it all got taken away at the launch of the expansion. These were really good times, and even when Beyond Light actually launched we ran through the story multiple times and capped weekly to make sure we were ready for the raid when it launched.
Over time though, we all fell off the game. It’s a domino effect for a group. After you go below 6 you can’t do the raid without bringing in a random person, so you stop doing that. More people leave, and if it drops below 4 you can’t do Gambit or Crucible (PVP) without being in a group with randoms. Some would argue this is a benefit, and that’s fine. I actually have nothing against randoms and Gambit is fast enough that it doesn’t really matter. It’s when you get below 3 that things get bad. That’s when you lose access to Nightfall raids, the Trials of Osiris (hardcore PVP content) and just general malarky on the planet, such as difficult Lost Sectors. Some of this can be solo’d or duo’d if you’re amazing at the game, but you are certainly missing out on some things once your team dips that low.
The reason my group fell off is simple enough. Whilst most of the content is good or great, it doesn’t exactly vary much. Nightfalls have difficult advantages and disadvantages every week, Raids have specific challenges, as do the special dungeons that you could chase down. Once you’ve cleared this content you’re left with a few options: Do it again on an alt class, play it again just for fun, or leave it alone. The gear treadmill in Destiny is random too, where you might get a drop at the level you already have, instead of another slot where you actually needed it. When you stop being able to clear some of the weekly locked content too, such as the Prophecy dungeon because your group has dropped below the preferred amount of players, you start to get limited by the Light cap. That’s what the game expects of you, to clear as much of the “Pinnacle” content (really end game stuff), as it’s the only way to get drops over the soft light cap. If you’re not clearing that content, and as much of it as possible, it’s hard to reach the hard light cap, to make raiding all the easier. If you’re not doing that every season you are constantly on the back foot, and it’s a hard thing to get back into.
I want to talk a lot more about The Witch Queen, and what it did to try and fix some of these problems, but it’s important to show potential blockers when it comes to games to see how developers try and overcome them. Destiny really is a really fascinating look at modern gaming for a few reasons, but that’s a story for part 2 of this. I was going to jam it in one article, but no-one wants to hear me waxing poetic too long. So we’ll see you next time, for part 2.