Where Have All The Guardians Gone? The Erratic Pattern Of Destiny 2 Gamers
It’s hard to imagine a game that has had such a back and forth in the news in recent months as Destiny 2. First was its announcement, which received a mixed response. After that, the official trailers hit and it was explosive. Following that, the gaming community was divided on the future of Destiny 2 as a whole. Once the game launched, those who played it fell in love and those who were skeptics peeked over the fence to see if it was any good. Now, it seems, the game has pissed off its hardcore community and the player base has dropped off, drastically.
Destiny 2 made headlines recently as the best selling game of 2017 in the span of a month, beating out titles such as Horizon Zero Dawn and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Yet, in that same time frame, Destiny 2’s player base has gone from 3.5 million players down to 1.5 million. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive reason for the loss in player count, but still, the game trudges along as the best selling title. Destiny 2 also made headlines when it was called out for not being grindy enough, a complaint we never thought we would see out of a first-person shooter where grinding is the name of the game.
So what really happened? How is it a game with a score of 87/100 from COGconnected can perch so finely on the line between what seems to be complaints of being nearly unplayable and losing its fan base, yet still be considered one of the biggest games of the year, and for many is a staple of daily gaming? It’s my opinion that fans of Destiny got exactly what they had hoped for in the sequel, and therein lies the problem: Bungie created a game for experienced players and newcomers alike and painted themselves into the corner with a title that seemingly works too well for the beginners but leaves those used to handling a pulse rifle in the dust.
“I believe the problem lies in the veiled grind, and the lack of reward for completing it.”
When Destiny 2 launched players were clawing to get onto the servers and take up the mantle of guardian again. The single player campaign was a healthy length to offer a movie quality story – It might not have been a compelling and thought-provoking narrative, but as a summer blockbuster-esque story it was more fun than an unlimited ammo golden gun. Clearly, the story was not the problem for the game, so what is? The technical aspect of the game runs perfectly: every possible game mode will see you improve and find better loot, clans function great, and there is a real sense of earning your progression. As a level 20 hunter, I find I can earn at least two bright engrams per session and it’s a nice sense of accomplishment.
So what is it that has led players away from Destiny 2? For one, let us not forget that the game only just released on PC where many gamers prefer to go online over consoles. Let us not also forget the ridiculously outstanding lineup of games that have launched this year to pull the attention of gamers away. So why hasn’t Destiny 2 been holding everyone’s attention? I believe the problem lies in the veiled grind and the lack of reward for completing it.
“When people complain about a lack of grind its about the lack of the right kind of grind.”
Making the game more accessible, Bungie has developed Destiny 2 to let players continually level up and grow more powerful no matter what game mode you play. Raids and Strikes are not necessary to get late and post-game content, just the drive to keep playing will get you the same gear. There has also been a lack of special incentive to try the harder game modes, and some even believe the Raids and Strikes are only marginally more difficult and as such, the challenge is gone. Bungie created these semi-open world planets with so much going on, each one feels like a war zone, but the payoff for overcoming it is meager.
While the missions can get repetitive, the game is still peppered with adventures, patrols, and any number of grind-like side quests that just try to feel less grindy by adding a sub-plot or quick-witted banter. Why is this a problem? Because the motivation to keep playing is gone. When Factions returned to Destiny 2, players found a new purpose and objective. I for one wanted to get as many tokens as I could for my Faction and it became a daily obsession, and then it was over and it was back to random daily quests. In truth, the drive to keep playing sits in the back of my mind, but having grinded out hours upon hours nonstop and with little new content, the motivation to keep playing starts to dwindle. When people complain about a lack of grind it’s about the lack of the right kind of grind: players want to grind towards better, special, rare, and exclusive gear as a reward for their efforts. Why bother with a strike if I can get the same gear wandering around EDZ?
The game itself isn’t flawed, it handles fantastic, the graphics are gorgeous, and fights can be overwhelming and thrilling. I refrain from saying the game is too easy, but it’s more that it’s overly accessible. If I want to play some mindless shooter for a few hours, then Destiny 2 works. Once you reach the end game, however, it’s hard to keep positive motivation, and if you are one of the gamers who find themselves resenting Destiny 2 right now, here is my advice to you: Take a breather. 2017 has been an explosive year for gaming, with Super Mario Odyssey, Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, Shadow of War, the list goes on for miles.
Bungie has already let us know that we should expect a lot of content for Destiny 2, and if you feel like the game has lost you, give yourself a chance to miss playing and come back as the DLC gets closer. Maybe that’s where all the players went, to get some downtime after their 50th raid, the point is Destiny 2 is a phenomenal game that got everything right from the first one and listened to the community for what it wanted. We just need to tough it out until our next fix.