Take a moment to ask yourself why you play computer games. Most of us play for fun and relaxation as an escape from the stress of work and everyday life. Sure, a game can and should be challenging, but when it is no longer fun to play, your favorite game can suddenly start to feel like an unpleasant, unpaid second job.
That, in a nutshell, is the problem with Destiny 2. The developers at Bungie should have created a game that was rewarding and fun to play, but instead Destiny 2 now has a loot and progression system that punishes all but the most elite players, which sucks the life and fun out of playing the game.
The issues with Destiny 2’s loot and progression system are well known to most of us who play Destiny 2 on a regular basis, but it is essential to understand that without constant progress and rewards for one’s efforts in a game, that effort can easily become a tedious, punishing grind, and that is exactly the case with Destiny 2.
Destiny 2’s progress is measured in two ways. Currently, the game has a player level cap of 30 and a power level cap of 385 with mods. The player level determines when you are able to do certain activities, and the power level determines how much damage you will dish out to enemies and receive from those enemies.
Once you reach level 30, the player level becomes essentially meaningless, and the power level is everything. A level 30 player with a power level of 345 will struggle in heroic strikes while a 385 power level player will melt enemies in those same heroic strikes.
The biggest problem with Destiny 2 is the design of the loot and progression system. When Destiny 2 was first released in 2017, it was obvious the game was much too easy, and there was also a massive lack of progression-based endgame activities.
In addition, Bungie gutted all the game systems that players loved in the third year of Destiny One and replaced them with over-simplified game systems that catered to the most casual segment of the player community. Sadly, as Bungie learned rather quickly, casual players don’t stick around for long.
After a disastrous Curse of Osiris DLC on December 5, 2017, Bungie reacted, or perhaps, overreacted, to the massive number of player complaints. When Bungie released the Warmind expansion on May 8, 2018, player progression was radically changed.
In order to slow things down and add difficulty, Bungie added as soft cap at 365 power, made exotics drops the same power level as legendary drops, removed several powerful weekly clan engrams that offered higher-level loot from the game, and they increased the resilience and damage output of the enemies. As a result, player progression slowed to a crawl, and higher-level enemies were basically wiping the floor with players at the start of the Warmind expansion.
Unfortunately, Bungie made these dramatic changes without any consideration for the greatly diminished player population, which reduced a player’s ability to find groups for high-level endgame activity. Many popular and well-known clans were decimated, with membership dropping from 100 active players at the launch of Destiny 2 to four or five active players at the launch of the Warmind DLC.
The population problem is compounded by the glaring lack of end game content that allows a player to increase their all-important power level. In order to get loot that drops at a higher level than your current gear, a player has five weekly milestones, each of which rewards players with one powerful engram. These five weekly milestones, plus the raid, are the only activities in the entire game that will reward the player with better gear other than the final level of Escalation Protocol.
Despite the fact that Escalation Protocol offers a 385 power loot drop for completing all seven levels, grouping is a mess and players below about 370 power will have a very hard time completing all seven levels of EP unless they are being carried.
Although a player can always do four of the five weekly milestones as a solo player, one needs a group of six for the raid and a group of three for the Nightfall milestone. However, the lack of an in-game looking-for-group feature for raids and the lack of a matchmaking feature for the Nightfall weekly milestone, combined with the fact that Destiny 2’s player population has dropped from about two million players at launch to about 100,000 active players at present, makes it quite difficult, if not impossible, to find a raid or Nightfall group every week.
Even the PVP milestone can be problematic, as solo players get crushed by pre-made groups in competitive Crucible, Trials, and Iron Banner. One can participate in competitive PVP as a solo player but getting destroyed over and over is certainly not fun.
Simply put, once you have done all the five weekly milestones and the raid, your guardian is finished progressing for the week, and all the other activities in the game are basically a waste of time. Public events, lost sectors, adventures, and strikes, except for the weekly heroic strike milestone, all drop gear that is 10 power below your current power level. This results in literally dozens, if not hundreds, of loot drops per week that are absolutely useless for progression.
It is infuriating to think that no one at Bungie thought to have one of every 20 or so legendary engrams players receive in the open world, public events, lost sectors, adventures, and strikes drop as a powerful engram. This would have given players a reason to play every activity in the game and grind away, knowing that every single drop could potentially help them improve their Guardian.
While these issues are frustrating and do limit one’s ability to progress in Destiny 2, there is one other factor that takes the problem from the level of frustration to absolute torture, and that is Destiny 2’s atrocious RNG-based loot system.
When players get loot, they have no input in choosing which armor they will receive out of the five different armor pieces Guardians wear, and they have no input in choosing which weapon they need for one of the three weapon slots. It is all based on the blind luck of a random number generator and, as a result, players often receive gear they don’t need and they make no progress for the entire week.
As an example, consider my own nightmare experience in Curse of Osiris. In COS, the power level cap was 335. Out of a total of eight gear slots, I had seven at 335 and one, the artifact slot, at 334. It took me six weeks of getting drops for every slot but the artifact before I finally received a 335 artifact and maxed out my power level.
While this may seem insignificant, six straight weeks without a lick of progress in a game is incredibly frustrating and annoying, and it shows a great lack of respect on Bungie’s part for the time players invest in Destiny 2.
How Bungie thought this was a good idea is beyond any logical explanation, and it makes it very easy to understand why so many Destiny players feel Bungie deliberately designed a loot and progression system that was intended to slow a player’s progress to a crawl to compensate for the lack of endgame content.
Surely, there are better ways to add difficulty to a game, respect the player’s investment of time and effort, and offer well-designed loot and progression systems. Bungie needs to not only fix the mess they have created, but they need to clearly explain exactly how they intend to do it. There are thousands and thousands of disappointed Destiny players who would love to hear Bungie explain the reasons for the choices they made which, sadly, made a total disaster out of Destiny 2.
We deserve answers, both as fans of the Destiny franchise and as paying customers. After all, Bungie is already asking for another 60 to 80 dollars for the Forsaken expansion, and we still haven’t seen the actual details of any of the promised changes.
So, how about it Bungie? Show us the goods and save the hype. Destiny 2’s future hangs in the balance.