Destiny’s Crimson Days event (Valentine’s Day) has come and gone, and people were still having a bad taste in their mouths because, pretty decorations in the Tower aside, the event was little more than a two-man variant of the Elimination mode (or the weekend’s Trials of Osiris).
By now you all have probably heard that Destiny, that scy-fy space first person shooter MMO (that refuses to be considered an MMO) which is developed by former Halo developer Bungie, is going through some weird times. Let me put you up to speed with the issues it’s facing:
Lack of content: The game hasn’t seen any substantial content since the big expansion TTK (The Taken King) launched back in September. Since then, we’ve had three events: Festival of the Lost (FotL), Sparrow Racing League (SRL) and Crimson Days. While FotL had a sense of humor and SRL was something fresh, neither presented with enough new content to keep players entertained (SRL only had two tracks!).
Lack of communication: Up until recently Bungie refused to make it clear on just what was coming next for Destiny. This silence had a lot of people feeling unrest, and many even left the game and started to eye another upcoming game that shares some mechanics with Destiny (Ubisoft’s The Division).
Unexpected changes: Alterations are made to matchmaking (PvP) but they’re denied… and later accepted as something that apparently was done without some members of the team knowing. Then more changes are made, and… well, you can’t please everyone.
Insufficient rewards: RNG dominates loot drops, leaving a sense of personal progression stifled. Even doing the Trials of Osiris (arguably the toughest PvP content) rewards stuff that often doesn’t help with personal progression (though Destiny’s horizontal progression method alleviated this a bit).
Shaky model: Destiny switches to a no-mini-expansion model (like year 1’s Dark Below and House of Wolves DLC) with micro transactions to keep the cash flowing in, sprinkled with events (like the aforementioned SRL) to keep players entertained. Problem is that these events are fairly spaced, leaving people with a lot of time with nothing to do but repeat old content (read the previous point about rewards).
Uncertain future: Gone were the days when we had a pretty good idea of the road map this game was gonna take, such a this leaked image of Destiny’s plan for its first two years. Early in the year there were rumors that the next big content (what we call ‘Destiny 2‘) was being delayed* to 2017. With the idea of an “event” model sustaining Destiny until then (the same events that many felt weren’t enough) and Bungie refusing to say anything substantial…
*While never officially “announced”, the previous image – which was accurate regarding timings for stuff up to the TTK expansion – did indicate that after TTK’s 2 mini-expansions (which are now non-existent as such) there must’ve been something else, considering Destiny was touted as a game with a 10 year lifespan (universe itself, not necessarily the base game – hello, sequels).
Change in management: Bungie’s CEO left the company recently. To be fair, this could happen for a multitude of reasons. But when many fans (including Destiny’s loyal Youtube community) start voicing their displeasure with the game and this happens, it just boils down to a perfect storm of negativity.
Persistent issues in a persistent world
Some of these are directly affected by the concept of what Destiny is or isn’t: an MMO. Not because Bungie says so – I believe they have gone on record saying that Destiny isn’t one – but because that’s simply how the game works. Well, to be fair, it’s more of a SoMMO – “Sort of Moderately Multiplayer Online” game.
In Destiny you can explore a persistent universe with big maps on different planets, occasionally meeting other players (and sometimes joining with them) while you kill enemies, farm materials, participate in random world events, while you do daily bounties to get experience or something more tangible. You can also go into strikes with two other teammates where you face powerful enemies and bosses in your search for good drops; or take it up a notch and going with five other people to a raid to face even bigger challenges and stronger bosses for better drops. Or you can just forget about the conflict in the universe and decide to battle against other players in Player versus Player Crucible matches.
Now call me a firestarter, but in World of Warcraft you can explore a persistent world with big maps on different continents, occasionally meeting other players (and sometimes joining with them) while you kill enemies, farm materials, participate in random world events, while you do daily quests to get experience or something more tangible. You can also go into dungeons with four other adventurers where you face powerful enemies and bosses in your search for good drops; or take it up a notch and going with nine/twenty-four other people to a raid to face even bigger challenges and stronger bosses for better drops. Or you can just forget about the conflict in the world and decide to battle against other players in Player versus Player Arenas/Battleground modes.
Sure, there’s much more to these games than what I just wrote but see the similarities? There’s one final similarity that I’d like to mention, as it is very important: people. You need people to inhabit these virtual worlds, be it Azeroth or a post-Collapse galaxy. And this is where I feel Destiny’s true problem lies.
Destiny needs players: It needs blood cells to flow in its veins. Not because they pay a sub (like in other MMOs) but rather because Destiny’s sales – be them the game itself, DLC or even emotes – depend heavily on people (both regular joes and internet sites) spreading the good word and having amazing adventures in its universe. When the vocal part of the internet (Redditors, Youtubers, and even webzines) start saying that they’re leaving Destiny or saying that the game lacks content it puts a big red flag for a potential buyer/customer. As a whole, it seemed Destiny was like a game that was being kept alive by a handful of people in Bungie’s building who didn’t know how to properly communicate just what was going on.
Until they did
Fortunately for Guardians everywhere, a few days ago Bungie broke that silence. They announced that a Destiny 2 (“full Destiny sequel“) was indeed coming in 2017, but we’re gonna get another “large expansion” later in 2016, as well as a “larger update slated for Spring” – this one slated to increase Light levels, offer new gear and new “PvE challenges“. A new raid? New Strikes? New zones? All of these are things Destiny needs right now.
Details are scarce for the moment, but if you follow Destiny you would have seen the relief that was felt in the community when this was announced/mentioned (Destiny’s subReddit had to block new posts from flooding the place). It’s like suddenly a great dark cloud was lifted from player’s heads and the rays of new content shone upon us. A small amount of communication that addressed some of my points up there:
- Lack of content: So, we don’t know what it is, but we ARE getting content. Twice this year, and a big one next year, at least.
- Lack of communication: They finally talked!
- Unexpected changes: They have started to communicate a bit better on matchmaking changes.
- Insufficient rewards: They know. Even Crimson Days touted Valentine themed Ghosts with 320 light, but when the drop rate was so low it seemed they didn’t exist, Bungie changed its stance and is now gonna give away a 320 Ghost to each player that completed 7 matches in Crimson Days – no RNG, just a straight reward.
- Shaky model: While they haven’t said if this coming content will be free or cost money (like year 1’s mini-expansions did) it’s clear that whichever path they chose is gonna keep providing content – the soul of a game with a persistent world.
- Uncertain future: We now have a loose road map. It’s something.
- Change in management: New management can’t be helped – and it could end up being good for the game.
For the future
Things change. While Bungie’s plans have quelled the unrest for the time being, an extended lack of content – or insufficient things to do – can be cataclysmic for your game (ask World of Warcraft). If Bungie can’t keep Destiny’s players entertained, they’ll likely flock to other games – worst case scenario they leave with a forever-marred vision of this galaxy. And it’s going to seriously affect the future of the game and, more importantly (and devastating) of the franchise itself. Destiny, as an universe, is quite the fascinating world to lose oneself in – here’s hoping it doesn’t fall into a Black Hole anytime soon.