How can Destiny 2 be a scam!?

After reading Isey’s post, I was talking on Twitter about how this passage (which I had to trim down for Twitter) resonated with me:

I know people are enjoying it and I admit that I am too – but the nagging thought that we have all been part of a big scam, a rouse, is hard to ignore when you look at how little content was actually provided with how little change.

My buddy Scopique asked how it could be a scam if I’m enjoying the game, which was a fair point and led to a mini-discussion that I thought I’d summarize and maybe elaborate on a little here.

For me, the shooting mechanics of Destiny 2 are fun. Going from level 1 to level 20 and then gearing up to 260 or so is also pretty fun. And if I were in a more positive head space I could probably say that was enough to justify the purchase, but in a lot of ways I feel like I could have deleted my Destiny 1 characters and re-leveled them and had just as much fun.

And I’m with Isey that this doesn’t feel like a whole new game. There’s some quality of life changes, sure. And there are new areas to explore but for me most of them don’t really feel all that new. Most of your fights will end up being in some kind of natural arena or room that would not feel at all out of place in Destiny 1. The enemies aren’t new. There’s no new class to play.

But what feels the most scam-ish to me is this semi-hard block they’ve put on progression. As readers of this blog know I struggled all weekend trying to make progress. I know it is possible because plenty of people have done it, but for me I was really stuck at a certain power level. Three days of playing netted me a power increase of 1.

Then the weekly reset happened last night. With it came the weekly Flashpoint (a Milestone that asks you to do Public Quests in a certain zone). I did that, it took no more than an hour (4 Heroic Public Quests were enough) and my reward was gear (1 exotic and a high-power legendary) that pushed me from 267 to 272 — 5 points in an hour as opposed to 1 point in 3 days.

On the one hand I was really happy to get my power level moving, but on the other, it just feels wrong. The “right” way for me to play Destiny 2 appears to be to log in for an hour on Tuesday after the reset, do the Flashpoint and then set the game aside for a week. It’s a system the encourages you not to play, which feels odd. (Granted there are other Flashpoints if you’re a PvPer or are confident enough to do the weekly Nightfall Strike).

It feels to me like a system put in to slow people down in order to give Bungie time to slap together more content to keep us occupied. There just doesn’t seem to be enough to do once you churn through the campaign (which I’ve done twice now in the 2 weeks since launch and I’m not a hardcore player). The game feels unfinished when you get to higher power levels.

OK complete honesty: there’s a ton of stuff I haven’t done. Adventures, they’re called, and they are basically side quests. Why haven’t I done these? Because there just doesn’t seem to be a point. The narrative isn’t compelling enough to warrant doing them, and the rewards you get are capped so that they aren’t going to improve your character once you’ve hit 265 or thereabouts. You can earn experience but after level 20 that just gets you Bright Engrams that you turn in for trinkets from the cash shop. Once you’ve had a faster Sparrow and a fancy ship drop (which for me happened very early on) Bright Engrams are pointless (you can get Shaders which are important for some people).

Of course there is a random chance of an Exotic Engram dropping while you are out and about, but those feel infrequent enough that it’s like buying loot boxes in some other game. I guess I just want some reliable way to slowly progress (hoping RNGesus craps out an exotic doesn’t count for me). If I feel like I’ve made some kind of improvement in my character I’m happy. But when I play and play and just feel like a cartoon character churning my legs and not moving, it’s disappointing. Maybe the problem is that getting to 265 is too easy? It’s like Bungie wanted to rush us to an end game that never got made. (I’m not ignoring the raid, but to do the raid you really want to be 280, so how do you get from 265-280… and that’s setting aside the fact that the raid isn’t for everyone.)

So circling back to the “scam” argument, I just don’t feel like Bungie has given us enough to warrant a $60 price tag. What is there is fun for a while, but the game feels unfinished to me. The end game is just way too thin. In fairness, playing a game for 2 weeks means I probably have gotten my value out of it, but I just feel like I’ve hit a dead end before my character is ‘finished.’ Give me some way (other than “wait for the reset on Tuesday) to reliably claw my way forward and I’d be much happier, I think.

2 thoughts on “How can Destiny 2 be a scam!?

  1. I have this working theory that may or may not be correct… but I am thinking this is what happened regardless. It is my belief that more than likely the Destiny 2 decision was made around the time of the release of The Taken King, and a development team was spun off of the main group to create what was functionally a second draft at the original game. Basically knowing what they knew then… how would they recreate the game to learn from the mistakes that were made in year one.

    This team chugged along independently and in the meantime Taken King and Rise of Iron and a bunch of sweeping changes were made in the main branch of the game. What we have is a really good version of Destiny 1 Year One, but it misses all of the nuance that was added in during Year Two and Year Three.

    I think what will happen over the coming months and years is that they will begin to build back up the game from this new strong core and I do feel like the core is really strong. I have been playing every single night since release and looking forward to getting home each evening to play. Sure it is missing a bunch of stuff but I see the potential for where this new seed can grow. Considering how ludicrous it is that we are still only paying $60 for a game… when I was paying $85-100 for some of my Super Nintendo Games… I am completely fine with the price point and the addon DLC. I’ve gotten close to 60 hours of enjoyment out of the game and I am more than happy to have paid a dollar per hour for it.

    All of this said I totally get why folks are disappointed. There is an excellent video from Skill Up that I wanted to dislike at first… but does a great job of laying out all of the pieces that are missing. However much like Skill Up eventually admits at the end… regardless of any shortcomings I love this game and I will be staying with it for the long haul. I played Destiny 1 rabidly during periods of time when it was completely broken and many of the mechanics were legitimately “un-fun” and I am not having that problem now at all. I just wish there was more stuff, and I hope given time they will keep rolling that “more stuff” out.

    1. First, thanks for the comment and the link to the video.

      Actually in the mere two days since I wrote this post I feel like maybe I’m coming around. Rather than playing to get more power as fast as possible (power I honestly don’t need for the kind of playing I do) I’ve just been playing for the fun of shooting things in the face and Destiny has always been great at the core gameplay.

      It would be really really surprising if things DIDN’T change and already since that post we know there’s this Faction Rally coming next week that’ll give us something else to do. I’m not expecting it to be a huge change but it’s something, and the game is only a couple weeks old.

      I just think for me Destiny 2 isn’t a “main game.” It’s not the game I can spent 3-4 hours straight playing. So I need to treat it as it is. A side-game that’s a really fun place to jump in and shoot some stuff and maybe get loot (or not) and then move on to something else.

      And it took me a while to get here, but I think I’m now OK with that.

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