There’s something of a lull going on in the Destiny community at large right now. Festival of the Lost has finished, and the holiday release season is pumping out game after game. Last we had Black Ops 3, yesterday was Fallout 4 and next week is Battlefront causing many to leave their ship in orbit and try something new.
During the downtime the player base will become a bit fidgety. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people bemoaning their friends who have switched to Call of Duty or Fallout. I’ve heard people complaining about Destiny’s economy changing all the time. I’ve heard people complain about the current grind for better and better gear.
These are all issues, but I don’t think with any of them, there’s anything very much to be worried about. Destiny may be “dead” two months after the release of the latest expansion and in the middle of a bunch of brand new games, but not for long.
No matter what Bungie does, good or bad, the grind can never be fully eliminated. Grinding for weapon parts was detrimental to the game, a view shared by many. That’s almost fixed, soon you'll be able to buy weapon parts in exchange for Glimmer, but already a new issue is cropping up, there now seems to be a cap on how much Glimmer you can earn over a short time, slowing down farming by quite a margin.
Economy issues are always going to be around. Destiny has a lot of different currencies right now, and some are added and removed with each new dlc, making continually balancing this economy rather complex. Mistakes will be made. The weapon parts nerf, when weapon parts were hard to come by already was a miss, but if it wasn’t that it would have been exotic shards or strange coins or something that was out of balance. Bungie will forever be spinning plates and sometimes one will smash.
Players also think that Bungie are artificially changing things to increase the grind. Possibly true, possibly not, but the problem with a game like Destiny, is the grind has to live. Without a grind, your players will simply have nothing left to do.
What are the stages of “completion” in Destiny right now?
- When there’s a new piece of content out you beat it, which is just a matter of doing all the missions, leveling as you go.
- Start collecting weapons, exotics and legendaries. With exotics specifically, most are now readily acquired through some combination of Xur, exotic quests and RNG, which is at least somewhat less of a grind that being almost entirely RNG the way they were in past versions of the game.
- You keep playing to get to max level. Getting to Light 290 is a easy. 300 was harder, but the Raid helped. Now, in the wake of Hard Mode and revamped Trials of Osiris, the climb is to 320. But with each number you tick up, the harder it gets to reach the next, as it’s almost purely RNG by that point.
- Once you have all the weapons and are inches away from max level, if you can ever actually reach it, all that’s left is min-maxing. Oh, you have the Raid sniper? Well, now you want to play until one drops with Hidden Hand. Finally got that boss helmet? Well, now you want one with pure Intellect. You can grind for years to find a 320 primary to infuse into your 318 favorite. It’s infinite.
If you finally “win,” what do you get? A temporary sense of satisfaction, sure, but that can be enough to make you stop playing. And we just can’t be having that.
We saw how this played out with House of Wolves, which was a large dlc, but one that was able to be “finished” in practically record time, hitting max level in the first week or two with a very linear journey (etheric light), and amassing all the useful weapons a short while thereafter. And one of the most common complaints about House of Wolves? There wasn’t enough to do after a short period of time.
This is why Bungie has been experimenting around with time gates lately. By making players wait for quest triggers, they give players a reason to keep coming back to the game. It’s a wall they build so players won’t finish everything in the first three weeks of the game. And it’s doing its job. I may not like the way Sleeper Simulant or No Time to Explain finally found their way into the game, but it was a success. Those became little Destiny mini-holidays as everyone rushed back into the game to start those quests, and played with their new toys after.
This is probably what we’re going to start seeing more of with Destiny. These little micro-quests that appear every so often in between Bungie building up to something big. I think the best example of Bungie doing this in a way that really worked was the Festival of the Lost which was a really cool addition to the game, and even though it was purely for cosmetic items, it was still a lot of fun.
And yet people were still moaning about the grind, only this time it was “I opened 100 bags of candy and didn’t get an Atheon mask!”
The grind is not going to end. There are good and bad ways to implement it, but Destiny is not the kind of game that is ever going to want to simply end and say “The End.”
Players have to decide for themselves. You can stop whenever you like. You can take a break from Destiny. It will still be there when you get back, unlike some other games.
I’ve put down for Destiny right now. I have a few quests left unfinished, I’m well below max light and I didn't get any decent masks.
I'll return to Destiny. The Taken King drew more players than vanilla Destiny itself. The game is improving, and growing as a result of that improvement.
I firmly believe that Destiny will be around for the next decade, but it’s going to have its dead time like almost all games. There are going to be times when you think there’s nothing left to do and it’s just the worst kind of grind for those last few points of light, and you’d be right. Eventually new content will appear. New quests and new gear. They will come, and given the rate content has been released so far, we probably won’t be waiting all that long.
Destiny isn’t disappearing anywhere just yet