Destiny: our wishlist for The Taken King and update 2.0

By Brenna Hillier, Monday, 13 July 2015 11:20 GMT

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Destiny: our wishlist for The Taken King and update 2.0

Destiny: The Taken King will bring a bunch of new content to the shared worlds shooter, but even if you don’t buy into Year Two content, you’ll benefit from a bunch of changes and updates.

Bungie has begun to outline what we’ll see in the 2.0 update, starting with word that quests and bounties are getting a bit of a shake up. This is a biggest update to the user interface that we seen to date, and makes us hopeful that the developer won’t be shy about making sweeping changes to a game formula which, lets face it, has been in a kind of extended beta test since launch, as players and developer work together to figure out how we can all enjoy the kinds of experiences Bungie intended.

Just in case Bungie needs a few tips, here are our top ticket wishlist items for the future of Destiny.

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1. A major weapons rebalance

It’s very easy for all of us at home to put on our armchair designer hats and declare that such and such needs a nerf or a buff, but without all the raw data developers have access to, we’re often basing these assumptions on anecdotal or personal experience. You might be surprised how few instances of being taken down by a Vex Mythoclast will convince a player the Legendary fusion rifle is overpowered – and how infrequently it is used.

Nevertheless, even acknowledging that, Destiny definitely has some weapon balance problems. The ubiquity of Thorn in PvP – especially the Iron Banner – is one example. The deification of Gjallarhorn is another.

Gjallarhorn in particular needs either a nerf or some rivals in the space, as it’s turned into a noob tube. Outside raids, almost any boss in the game can be taken down in just a few minutes (at most!) with three ascended Gjallarhorns and Weapons of Light, and since bosses are otherwise pretty grindy bullet-sponge affairs, nobody can be bothered doing it the hard way. This has left us in a situation where players are being excluded from groups because they don’t have a Gjallarhorn (and therefore missing out on opportunities to earn a Gjallarhorn), and a bunch of not very skilled players are walking around with an inflated sense of their own value to fireteams. Let’s fix that, Bungie.

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2. Increased vault size

I used to think it was a bit petty to complain about vault size. I thought the only people whinging about were those who took it all a bit too seriously, wanting one of each Exotic for their alts as well as main. Then my vault filled up, and I changed my mind.

In the early days of Destiny, vault space was at a premium. Now it’s reached a crisis of Sydney property market proportions. Keeping a full set of armour for each of the two raids, Iron Banner, Prison of Elders, general PvP and general PvE is near to impossible. You can’t even fit one of every kind of currency in your inventory, so the odds and ends section of your vault (already choccers with “exclusive” emblems and shaders) is full to bursting. Let’s not even talk about the impossibility of keeping ahold of a weapon for every situation.

At this stage, many players have alts who act as mules, carrying around their inventory overflow. Bungie has said several times that it wants you to make “hard choices” about what to keep and what to discard, but given that it had to axe weapon previews on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to bump up vault size even slightly in a pre-House of Wolves update, I’m guessing technical limitations are the real culprit.

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3. A reason to play beyond collecting ’em all

Alright, let’s assume for a minute that Bungie’s gonna get all “this is my design” on the ridiculously tight vault limitations. In that case, my dear, you’re going to have to stop making us feel like our entire purpose in Destiny is to collect things we can’t fit in our vaults.

As it stands, Destiny plays like an arms race. You play to earn loot to make you stronger so you can earn more loot, with the ultimate ambition of snagging the most rare weapons in the game. That’s fine, if that’s your thing, but what about playing for the pleasure of playing? Wouldn’t it be nice to log in for the sheer pleasure of shooting aliens in the face rather than just to grind through another raid hoping for a Fatebringer or Gjallarhorn?

By introducing Prison of Elders, House of Wolves took a step in the right direction to address this. Rotating challenges each week mean players have a reason to keep playing once they’ve hit the level cap and grabbed the new Exotics. More of that please, Bungie. Ranked multiplayer would be a good start.

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4. A more intelligent RNGesus

Alright, Bungie, I accept that someone has to be “that guy” (although it does seem unfair that my clan mate with 400 hours play time under his belt does not have a Gjallarhorn and some Kinderguardian does), and if you rebalance the game so that Gjallarhorn isn’t practically a necessity for finding people to play with, I’ll be even happier with it.

But! I feel like the random loot drops in Destiny are not as fun as they could be. Almost every mission ends in us receiving a couple of low-level engrams we’ll immediately dismantle, or a seventh copy of something we already have. Reactions trends towards resignation and despair rather than excitement and delight.

Bungie made some progress when it changed the loot tables for The Dark Below, putting an end to situations like 20 raids without an armour drop, but it’s still too random – and too unrewarding at present. What’s the solution? I think more varied loot drops (think rare materials and cosmetic items) and more viable endgame gear (see: weapons rebalance) would be a good start.

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5. More variety

I’d really like to see more variety in viable armour and weapon sets. This goes hand in hand with a couple of other points – the weapons rebalance and increased vault size – and is a partial solution to the RNGesus problem, as well as potentially putting an end to the “collect ’em all” mentality, too.

Imagine if there was so much stuff in Destiny that nobody could ever collect it all, and RNGesus was forever spitting up stuff you and your friends hadn’t seen before. Imagine if you did not all have the same stuff as everyone else, and spent time running around the Tower or Reef inspecting everyone to see what they were using.

Bungie could probably do this pretty easily with a random gear generator like Borderlands uses, although it would have to have some arbitrary limitations on it to avoid a bunch of balance problems. Thanks to the Ascendancy system introduced in House of Wolves, as well as the random stats and Gunsmith re-roll on House of Wolves weapons, we already have something kind of like this. I’d love to see it taken further.

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6. Better community tools

I’m still of the opinion that Raid matchmaking would be a bad idea, and that if you need a pick up group for a Raid a Looking for Group tool is a much better idea than automated matchmaking. But why couldn’t Bungie make such a tool, so we didn’t end up with half a dozen different communities and no in-game integration?

Bungie’s official answer to this question (and others such as why aren’t Clans managed in-game, and why is the Clan system so bare bones, and so on) is that it knew the community would make these tools. Wha- bu- why not make them yourself, Bungie, if you know we need them? Why leave us with incomplete unofficial solutions?

Compounding the problem, the community sometimes does a better job despite the natural restrictions of working from outside the system. On Bungie Day, the developer finally released an official armoury (it’s called the “Armory”, which makes my Australian spellcheck hiss), listing every weapon and item in the game and where to get them. It’s not as easy or smooth to use as existing databases, and it doesn’t have any of the excellent loadout functions of the Destiny Item Manager Chrome Extension.

Bungie, don’t leave this to the community. Make us the tools we need to enjoy your game, and integrate them with the Destiny client. (Related: put Grimoire cards in-game already. Nobody likes second screen gaming.)

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7. Rewards for long-term players

Destiny players have absolutely nothing to show for time served. It is entirely possible to buy in within a month of The Taken King launch and earn the Laurea Prima, which I have already argued isn’t about rewarding existing players.

This is something Bungie could stand to address, making its long-term players feel appreciated – something that is particularly important given that each new expansion to date has introduced progression shortcuts, allowing players to bypass the hard work of raid grinding. (Kinderguardians coming into the Vault of Glass at level 33 and skipping through as if shutting down the Vex were a weekend trip to the seaside! Horror.)

Give us a real exclusive, Bungie – something Kinderguardians can’t get at by buying an expensive package or taking a week off work in August. It’s all very well to say that new players don’t have our treasured memories, but new players also didn’t run Vault of Glass 20 times before getting an armour drop, or suffer launch month connection horrors, or endure any of the other road bumps on the way and faithfully keep playing. We have been your unpaid, paying beta testers. Reward us.

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8. More frequent and varied events

The Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris are pretty great, and weekly raids are a part of our calendar, but what we’d really like to see is something new in-game. In the early days the unknown treats of the Queen’s Wrath event, combined with all the mysterious unused corners of the Tower plaza, suggested we’d see regular new and exciting events, with new gear and story elements.

This did not pan out, and it’s a shame, because a game that delivers regular fresh content is a game people want to keep playing and bring their friends into.

Bungie, please take all our money and create a new live event team whose job it is to give us something to check out every other week or so – with new, limited-time rewards to earn (you see why we need bigger vaults, don’t you). You said yourself that you’ve seen huge increases in player activity since you launched the Laurea Prima scheme, so why not enjoy player spikes like that on the regular? It’s genius, isn’t it? Put my cheque in the mail.

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9. Meaningful plot progression

Destiny has a terrific setting, premise and lore that is just not being leveraged. The first game was a whirlwind tour of the four major Destinations and foes, so it was always going to be a typical “go here and do this because I told you to” plot, and Bungie has openly accepted criticism of a rather poor implementation of this formula. Both The Dark Below and House of Wolves made improvements, although Bungie could (and hopefully will!) do even better.

But Bungie has also painted itself into a corner with the whole shared-worlds thing. Nothing the player does can make any difference to the world state, because that same world has to welcome brand new players and more advanced veterans. As such, the community is forced to come up with theories as to why world-shaking events like the raiding of the Vault of Glass and the death of the Hive god Crota happen every single week (time travel! Alternate dimensions!) and make no difference to the world.

The Taken King takes place canonically after Crota has been Ended, and since you can’t buy The Taken King without also owning The Dark Below, that makes a kind of sense. But there will be Guardians wandering around the world being attacked by Oryx’s minions even though as far as their gameplay experiences goes Crota is alive and well. Welp.

A solution to this must be found, or Bungie may as well throw any aspirations at storytelling and world-building out the window. Come on and give us something meaningful to engage with, Bungie. Let us fight the Traveller or whatever.

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10. A solution to the currency mess

Bungie. I literally cannot fit one of every currency in my inventory. I have to throw away materials in order to hold other materials. Every thing I do gives me a thing I need for another thing, but I can’t use that thing because I need some other things.

It’s a bloody mess and the Speaker’s exchange system has not solved it. Please remedy this horrible situation you have created for yourself. Do not make any more currencies until you have really, really, really thought about the ramifications. Okay?

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Over to you – and to Bungie

Destiny certainly has the potential to be the ten year franchise Activision and Bungie are aiming for – but only if Bungie learns from the lessons of Year One and works towards a game with more to offer than the futile Gjallarhorn chase.

I’m pretty sure Bungie is aware of the issues we’ve raised here, and I’m hopeful that the next few weeks of The Taken King reveals will show off potential solutions to many of them. House of Wolves already made some great strides, and The Taken King is a much larger endeavour.

But what about you? What do you want to see in The Taken King? What do you think Bungie needs to do to refine and perfect Destiny?

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