Destiny 2’s Root Cause Problem?

I’ve been a casual (and not so casual) Destiny player since shortly after the initial release of Destiny 1. It has certainly been a wild and bumpy rollercoaster of bugs, nerfs, cool lore, occasionally “lost in the action” storytelling, and fun to use/not fun to get killed by weapons (looking back at you, Destiny 1’s Thorn).

The recent decision to sunset a very considerable chunk of the game — namely a swath of hard-fought for gear as well as dozens of activities across multiple playlists — has caused a very negative outcry from millions of players around the world and across platforms that Bungie has went too far. To make it worse, Bungie recently said they would re-add some gear back, but the caveat is you would have to re-grind for it again.

And no, you can’t just upgrade the same exact piece of gear you stuck in your vault. You literally have to re-get that exact iteration.
So, if you ground out the perfect rolled sniper for 100 hours and it was sunset and then Bungie decided to bring it back, well … you would have to do that 100 hours, potentially, again.

Players aren’t happy about that. I can’t blame them. We spend myriad hours working for a single, perfect piece of gear to min-max our character … having it robbed from us only to get replaced feels bad.

However, let’s get out our “why” shovel and dig down to a root cause of a majority of Destiny’s problems. Why changes take months. Why gun A gets nerfed into the ground for everyone when it’s just a problem in Crucible. Why the grind takes so damn long for a perfect roll for your perfect experience. Et cetera.
Fortunately, a recent Reddit post in the “Destinythegame” subreddit was penned by a game designer, essentially saying:

  1. It’s a game produced by a company and companies operate for as much profit as possible. This is very true and a fair statement and, arguably, we can’t do anything about that aside from boycotting.
  2. One of the main issues is trying to balance a piece of gear between the PVE and PVP experience.

With 2 I think we might have dug down far enough in root cause analysis to perhaps do something!

My next question is “Why are we trying to balance the same piece of gear between the PVE and PVP experience?”

And so, with that question, let’s posit a solution that might alleviate a great deal of the development woe as well as the fanbase issues:

Stop with the balancing.

I’m not saying to “stop balancing” in the way that is to say we just give up on one experience or the other (which is what it feels like they’ve actually done in the Crucible, now, to be honest), but I’m saying either

  1. Delegate gear A to one activity and B to another
  2. (the better solution) make gear innately switch perks and stats from one activity to the next.

In essence, what this might look like is:

I get an legendary hand cannon drop with PVE perks 1, 7, and 13 from the PVE perk pool associated with this gun, and then press some button to display the PVP perks 4, 7, and 11 from the PVP pool. These perk pools would be totally distinct from one another. Some perks could overlap, I suppose, but they could be nuanced versions of each other to be more appropriate to their associated gamemode.
So, I decide to do a few strikes and patrol and it operates with the PVE appropriate perks. I go have a sandwich, come back and decide I want to be wrecked and shamed in crucible, so I load in and the hand cannon operates with its associated PVP perks.

No more trying to determine which perks on which gear would be “too OP” for one gamemode or the other and certainly far less instances of “unexpected” OPness from a piece of gear (which then inevitably will get brutally nerfed into obsoleteness about 8 months too late).

Would this be time consuming? Absolutely — at least for Bungie on the front side of things as setting this all up would be a challenge. Would it reduce a lot of their time spent focusing on balancing gear between the different gamemodes? 100%, but they wouldn’t see an immediate return on this investment.

One of the single best things that we could see come out of this is some truly exotic exotics (or even regular perks!) crafted specifically for one gamemode or the other with absolutely wild perks that we may not otherwise see due to trying to balance between the modes.

Heck, I’d bet Bungie probably already has dozens of scrapped perks and guns they whipped up that were shelved due to inability to balance them appropriately.

Destiny is and will continue to be a fun, time devouring, AAA title for many more years and will certainly keep boasting incredible counts of players. Does it have imperfections? Absolutely — any MMO does. Especially with such a massive and vocal playerbase living in a time period where message boards and forums live on little tablets in our pockets. That doesn’t mean it is going to collapse, however, as the team at Bungie will continue to produce quality content and I’m certain they will come to some sort of solution that doesn’t require compromising fun for players in one activity or another for the sake of balance — which is their very root cause issue.

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Lucas A. Davidson

Lucas A. Davidson

Born and raised a Yooper, I write daily philosophical meditations on Eudaimonia. These are distillations from my book on the topic!