Last week Bungie revealed to the Destiny 2 community a new system they will be implementing in the coming Seasons that will promote gear diversity.
This system is known as ‘sunsetting’ and causes each piece of gear to essentially have an expiry date on how long it will be viable for end-game activities. This is done through a max power level that the weapon can be infused to that is capped out at a year from when the gear was released.
Those of you familiar with the card games Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering will see that this system is quite similar to the rotation of the Standard format in those games.
As new pieces of gear are released, old ones will rotate out of the end-game meta. The purpose of this system is to push players into branching out and using new weapons that Bungie releases rather than sticking to the classic Izanagi’s, Recluse and Wendigo loadouts for years at a time.
The philosophy behind the system is a good one but the Destiny 2 community still hit back at Bungie immediately after this information was revealed.
It should be made clear that gear sunsetting is needed to keep the game healthy long-term but the issue is with several underlying features of the sunsetting system and whether Bungie can deliver on the content generation necessary to make sunsetting work.
Don't Sunset Armor (Reduce Masterworking Costs)
It was revealed last Friday in the ‘This Week at Bungie’ blog post that armor would be sunset a year from release just like weapons are.
The main problem with armor being sunset is situated around the cost of Masterworking and how exorbitant it is. Ascendant Shards are extremely rare within the game world with them only dropping in end game activities and 3 Shards being given out at the end of the paid Season Pass track.
Since the price for Masterworking is so expensive people become very attached to the armor pieces they have chosen to sink such a high cost into.
If players know that a set of their new favourite armor will be obsolete in a single year then they will simply choose to not Masterwork the gear. Surely it’s best to find a compromise between sunsetting masterworking that allows both systems to shine?
The best way to compromise is to massively reduce the cost of Masterworking armor, or make Masterworking materials more abundant, since it will only be available to the player in high level activities for 1 year.
If Masterworking is cheap enough then the only thing stopping players from donning new armor is its stat rolls and how cool it looks since perks can now be chosen at will.
Regular Release of Gear
It is no secret that Bungie has been struggling with keeping up with the content generation required to support Destiny 2 with 4 Seasons a year along with a large Expansion in September. The company is wearing itself thin but with sunsetting it is about to get a whole lot worse which has the community concerned.
If gear sunsetting is released in its current form then every three months will see a large swathe of gear leaving the pool of viable gear for end game activities. Let's say that during a new Season only 20 new weapons are released while 40 weapons from the past have rotated out.
It's immediately clear why this is a huge problem. If Bungie is not able to keep up with a decent number of gear releases then sunsetting could cause build diversity to drop significantly, the complete opposite as to why sunsetting is being implemented.
This season, Bungie had to cut the usual three Ritual Weapons as in their own words they said they didn't have the resources to create Ritual Weapons along with the new Trials of Osiris weapons. If they can't create three simple Ritual Weapons then how can the community expect them to keep up with weapons and armor being constantly rotated out.
Admittedly, there is no easy fix to this situation Bungie will soon find themselves in. Popular Destiny 2 content creator Datto says it best when he says that Bungie will need to “bring the heat” in coming Seasons in order to balance out the sunsetting of gear from previous Seasons.
Let’s say that your favourite weapon is Steelfeather Repeater from Season of Dawn. You have an excellent perk roll for it that you worked hard for and have used it for many hours. The one year period for Steelfeather is about to come to an end as it will soon be sunset. The new Season releases and you load up Destiny 2, looking forward to finding a weapon to replace Steelfeather as your go to. You soon find out that another Rapid-Fire Kinetic Auto Rifle was released that can roll with very similar perks to Steelfeather.
What has happened here is that Bungie has taken your favourite weapon from you and then given back an almost carbon copy, apart from looks, of your treasured Steelfeather Repeater that you now have to grind for again.
This will only promote player frustration. “Why are my weapons being taken from me when the exact same weapons are being thrown back at me to grind for again.” will be the title of many a Reddit thread.
To entice players into playing for these new pieces of loot, Bungie will need to get creative with perks and weapon designs, players are simply over the best in slot Reload Perk + Damage Perk rolls for weapons.
A solution to this that many have been advocating for some time is a decent buff to all weapon damage while simultaneously ridding the perk pools of all damage enhancing perks and adding in new niche perks.
This would keep the overall damage output the same while prompting players into running less used perks that, while good before, were always overshadowed by perks like Rampage and Outlaw.
If Bungie chooses to release sunsetting while simply rehashing old weapons then the system will be considered a massive failure.
Weapon Archetype Variety
There are many different weapon archetypes within Destiny 2 and sometimes it's possible to see a few Seasons roll by before another weapon of a particular archetype is released.
For example, Bows have not seen many releases recently apart from Point of the Stag this Season, Accrued Redemption during Shadowkeep and The Vow from Crimson Days. A very large portion of Bow releases were during Forsaken or the Seasons the following year so once sunsetting kicks in for these releases then a large number of Bows will disappear from end game activities, not that they are viable anyway in those activities but that's not the point.
Another example are Rapid-Fire Energy Scout Rifles. No weapons of this archetype have released recently and there is only Black Scorpion 4-SR, rereleased during Forsaken, that can roll with random perks.
Once Forsaken weapons are sunset what happens to this weapon type? It simply disappears from the end game activity viability pool.
The fix for this isn't difficult but one that can be overlooked. Bungie will simply have to keep track of what archetypes are possibly about to rotate out due to sunsetting and release weapons of these archetypes in a newer Season.
It is possible that Bungie will choose to let certain archetypes rotate out in order to have different end game metas every Season though. We will have to see how this plays out.
Gear sunsetting is planned to go live with a soft launch next Season. This soft launch will only display the eventual max power of different pieces of gear while nothing will actually be rotated out.
The proper launch will be in Season 12 where gear from Seasons 1-8 will be rotated out of end game due to this gear only having a max power equal to that of Season 11.