Despite the Bumpy Road, I Haven’t Forsaken Destiny 2

Destiny 2, despite the hopeful and positive review I gave it in December, has had some major struggles during its first year. There have been numerous controversies and even damage control didn’t manage to do anything but limit the fallout of the problems. From the numerous bugs breaking the Player versus Player elements of the game that cropped up every time something big came out to the discovery that the game was specifically programmed to rarely drop ammo for the gun you’re using, the first year of the release was a series of ambitious ideas that ultimately fell flat. There were out of control power-balance issues that made it difficult to succeed in PvP unless you did very specific things people shared on the internet so literally everyone could do them. There were frustrating bugs preventing a lot of the more interesting unique armors and weapons from performing as they were supposed to. There were even a few instances were doing events the way you wanted to became impossible because getting kills with your character’s special power (their “Super”) didn’t count toward the goal of getting X kills with your character’s Super. I ran into that one and had to change how my character worked in order to complete the objective. Sure, it was an easy change to make, but it’s so incredibly frustrating to only realize that the game wasn’t counting my kills after getting what should have been half the kills I needed.

I’ve fallen through platforms, used a piece of armor that literally didn’t work the way the description said it would work, had to deal with ineffective grenades because enemies could just run away after they exploded and ignore the secondary damage effects, had a gun whose special effect wouldn’t trigger half the time despite its trigger literally being “is being continuously fired,” and gotten stuck in loading screens for more hours than I’d like to count. The game has crashed at random only to give me reasons that had nothing to do with why the game actually crashed and I’ve had horrible moments where clicking out of the game has caused it to fail to finish loading the activity I’m about to do.

Despite all that incredibly frustrating crap, I’ve continued to play the game. Either my roommate or myself has figured out a way around the bug we encountered and we kept playing. I got better at the game so I could more easily tell when server lag for the PvP matches was to blame for me missing my target and I even helped set up a raid that took forever because some of the mechanics for a particular portion of said raid are incredibly obtuse and stupid. I’ve stuck through it for an entire year, keeping at least one character near the maximum power level so I could stay relevant and it is finally about to pay off.

As is now tradition for a Destiny game, the first year of its release is an absolute train wreck. Once that year is over, the live team takes over and will take care of all development for the game until the next one comes out. In Destiny 1, the live team fixed all the problems, managed to quickly fix most of the problems they introduced, and actually gave the player community what they wanted. By the time Destiny 2 was imminent, Destiny 1 was actually a really fun and successful game. As is evidenced by the announcements we’ve gotten ahead of September 4th’s expansion and the patch notes from the groundwork update we all downloaded today, it is entirely clear that the live team actually took the lessons they learned to heart the first time. It is equally clear the core team did not. To be entirely fair, the core team tried to entirely bypass the issue by doing something new but it ultimately failed. To make matters worse, it often felt like no one had actually tested out the software before they sent it out to the players and the proposed solutions generally felt like someone was pretending to listen to your problems while planning to just do what they want in the end.

Now, the live team is swooping in to give the players what they want, fix the balance of the game, and literally give the protagonist of the voice, The Guardian, their voice back. Seriously, the core team didn’t let the protagonist speak at all, instead using the little magic/holy-powered robot orb that made you into the unkillable killing machine you are as the voice for the protagonist. It was rather frustrating to have the orb, your “ghost,” constantly talking at your character or cracking jokes with other people. In addition to a bunch of quality-of-life updates and fixes, they’re adding a new game mode, a huge new expansion, something they’re calling the biggest raid ever, and a whole host of new weapons, armor, and unique items in order to revitalize the game so that everyone isn’t running around with one of four guns in each of their three gun slots. Hell, now you don’t even need to worry about the gun slots as much because now it’s almost possible to have a gun of any type in any gun slot, with the exception of some of the most powerful ones, like swords and rocket launchers.

While it remains to be seen just how much this power shift breaks the game, I think it’s a far better way of fixing the game than the core team’s strategy of trying to pull back on the power. Just give everyone godly powers and then no one will complain because they’re just as stupidly powerful as everyone else is. To paraphrase the villain from The Incredibles (the first one, not the second one): “If everyone’s super OP, then no one will be.” It’s a good strategy for a game where you’re essentially supposed to play an immortal, god-killing terminator of all that would stand against you. Seriously, your character killed a god-equivalent creature in the first game and I’m pretty sure we killed one of its almost-god children in this one. There’s nothing wrong with being a little OP if everyone else is, too.

It’s really been a mixed bag, this first year of Destiny 2. All signs point toward things improving, but I think I’m going to remain cautiously skeptical for now. I don’t really want to get my hopes up after they were crushed when I moved from playing Destiny 1 on my friend’s PlayStation to playing Destiny 2 on the computer. As much as I’ve enjoyed the game, there’s always been this sense of missed potential hanging over it because of how good the first game was by the time they stopped updating it. Hopefully this new expansion will help it finally reach that potential.

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