Guardians Wanted: Why Destiny 2 has Become a Playerless Wasteland

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.

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“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.

voidwalker warlock nathan fillion destiny 2

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.

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“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.

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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.

  • xXTeh CloudzXx

    It is the lack of random rolls for weapons and armor, that’s the problem. Absolutely no reason to grind for the same guns over and over in
    D2. That sucks..

    I miss finding god rolls, now everything is mediocre at best.

    • mcloki

      Part of it. The new Crucible is boring. The fun is gone. It’s become tactical. Team killing ruins any sense of “bad assness” that was present in D1. Single players leave quickly since even a team of 2 can run a map. Then there’s the boring drops. And I don;t really like the shader system. Kind of dull.

  • To me it looks like Bungie rushed the game out. They left out too many good things of D1. Why drop strike-scores – this was one aspect which kept D1 players sticky, especially since D2 only had 4 strikes in rotation.

    The whole game felt like main aspects where forgotten or trimmed. Little quality-of-life aspects such as being able to bulk-delete shaders had not been considered. Or just simple vault-management for the inventory. Dishing out fully upgraded weapons/armour also did not help and it felt that as a D2 player I did not have to particularly work very hard.

    Bungie overhyped the difficulty and depth of Lost Sectors – my Reddit post received a lot of attention over this: https://www.reddit.com/r/DestinyTheGame/comments/70tvf0/bungie_overhyped_difficulty_and_depth_of_lost/

    Pretty much every aspect of the game which has stunning visuals and awesome music, has been slimmed down. PvE gets stale very well and it is puzzling that many QoL aspects have been left out. PvP is worse than D1 ever was. Raid is probably the worst so far (Crota & VoG where great, everything thereafter consisted of complex and meaningless mechanics to pad time to make the raid last).

    I played D1 for a good 2200 hours and climbed out of D2 after about 190. I doubt I will be back till the next DLC.

  • Mike Hennigar

    I’m a hardcore gamer but maybe just shy of hardcore destiny fan. I definitely drifted away from Destiny 2 over the past 2 weeks, and the reason is simply that I don’t know what to work toward. I’m not hungry for exotics or Legendaries and I can’t think of anything I really need to amass currency for. I feel like the missing elements are the lack of randomized versions of the same weapons (the hunt for god roll guns). A lack of armour fine tuning – there just isnt enough depth or tangible gameplay difference to the mod system. The activity rewards just aren’t drawing me in. I’m currently passing my time with Path of Exile and South Park, but I wish I had a reason to play Destiny2!

    • xXTeh CloudzXx

      Tuesday’s you can blow through all of the resets with all three characters, then wait for Xur on Fridays. That is about all you can do that yields anything good.

      Iron banner and even the raid weapons feel meh. The ability to change all sharers ruins the original design concept and makes everything equally boring. They also do not feel mighty and powerful, which sucks.

      Remember the raid guns from D1? That was uniqueness. Where did it go? Why did it all change so much? Questions, questions..

      Played D1 for over 2500 hours, and I am fading at around 300 in D2 :/ The hook line and sinker formula Bungie used is gone. I really hope they make some adjustments quickly, to extend to their hardcore fan base..

      • Lostbytes

        this does not even yield anything good……ANYTHING i do, is just to get another piece of 300 -305 gear that i already have. Nothing to look forward to means, i move on to other games

  • Craig Jackson

    I was a top 1% player in hours played among other things in d1. So you can imagine how much time I put into perfecting the craft of sniping for the highest level of competitive play. Yet apparently players such as myself take a back seat to the preferences of those who “just don’t have that kind of time” or maybe they just aren’t good enough or motivated enough etc. On top of that things like fixed rolls being eliminated gives too much of an indication that the most basic cry babies of D1 had far too much of an impact on the latter game. Losing your hardcore base can start 1 heck of a chain reaction since those are typically your most skilled and influential players. Cry babies will always cry. Sometimes you have to know if it’s worth it to appease them or just let them wine. I for my part have let go of destiny for now. Just not interesting enough for me anymore.

  • adameros

    You don’t even cover the blah that is PvP. In there effort to simplify the game and make it approachable by new players, they have made it boring.

    I know we lost our light and started the game weak, but it’s like we never recovered when we got our light back. Time to kill is glacially slow, as is our cool downs. And when your cooldown finally expires and you have a grenade, unless it pulses, it is effectively worthless. Same for melees.

    Even the scoring is boring. You used to get an extra 50 pts for killing the first place person. Or extra points for a head-shot kill. All that is gone, with no reward for skill.

    To give you a good measurement of of how boring things have gotten, go back and look at how many montage videos people would make in D1 vs what they make now in D2.

    A lot of my friends are no playing Fortnite (though a recent update there has many of them upset on that front as well), and I’ve gone back to playing 6v6 in D1. PvP in D1 is definitely flawed, but it is at least more fun than the “fixed” PvP in D2.

  • Gamer 101

    Game is not even a week old on pc and I’m starting to get bored. I’m bummed that it doesn’t have more to do. That’s what I’ve noticed with open world games they spend their time making the worlds to roam around in and they have a lack of story and gameplay.

  • Gerardo Audelo

    Something I didn’t like about D2 and that nobody seems to be talking about is the guns and armor. D1 had radically different abilities. Refilling ammo, DOT shots, extra grenades.
    D2 guns and armor, you get slightly quicker refills for certain abilities and that’s pretty much about it.
    There’s no reason to switch once you found a setup that works and the few perks that are unique are the same D1 guns (MIDA’s radar or Hard Light’s ricochet bullets).

    At least for me, the reason I don’t go back as often as I did for D1 is that there’s no variety in equipment and no incentive to get stuff suited for other subclasses. Just the same guns with different names and stats.

  • ed anger

    The first Destiny sucked, why would 2 be any different.

  • Evan Kenville

    Loved and addicted to D1. Remember D1 needed growth out of the gate as well, so I hope there are some good changes in store for us over the next few years. That being said, full level end game was reached way too fast. The devs seemed to take the fact that many were teasing the D1 story as a desire to have more story. This I think was a mistake. We weren’t looking for more time to be spent on the first two hours of the game, it is just that in D1 the story was so detached that it deserved to be a topic.

    Light/Power levels are all capable of being fluid, they should have used this to their advantage. There is no reason the power level couldn’t increase each week 3-5 points by completing all/most of the weekly tasks. That would have kept many of us in the grind. If eventually the power level caps at 500, who cares? Imagine the possibilities for scaled up nightfalls, raids and strikes alone.

    Take a little from the the failed but good potential of “The Division” and build out some desireable gear/weapon sets that offer unique set perks. They started down the path with the Mida Mini/Multi type combos, but make it combine all armor and 1 or 2 guns. Make some pieces rare drops on first round of nightfall each week, just anything to have something to play for.

    I loved D2 and I’m not bagging on the game, I’m bummed I’m over it and wished there was more to do so, until December, CoD and Gran Tursimo I guess….