In the months following its September launch, Destiny 2 developer Bungie has been in a tight spot trying to keep its community happy. Despite a solid start that showed stronger storytelling, quest variety, and sense of progression compared to the original, the sequel eventually fell into the same pitfall that its predecessor did: there’s just not much to do in Destiny 2 if you’re in it for the long-haul.
During the developer’s recent livestream showcasing many of the points of interest in the upcoming Warmind expansion, they were frank about their attempts to address the problems regarding challenges, content diversity, and the steep grind the Destiny 2 community has been unhappy with–me included. While I really enjoyed Destiny 2 in its early months–even clearing the game’s story and reaching Raid status with three characters–my enthusiasm for the game quickly dropped after Curse of Osiris.
As the May 8 release date for Warmind draws closer, it’s worth considering whether Bungie’s recent seasonal updates and the upcoming expansion can fix the game’s issues relating to its grind and the resulting fatigue.
To start, let’s take a look at the current state of Destiny 2. Since the release of December’s Curse of Osiris DLC, which included forge weapons, new story missions, and a new Raid Lair (an additional area to explore in the Leviathan Raid), Bungie has introduced seasonal updates, offering scheduled tweaks to improve the core game. During the ongoing Season 2, quality-of-life updates such as new Crucible and Nightfall rewards, weapon and class rebalancing, Masterwork weapons, tweaks to Exotic drop rates, and changes to the sandbox exploration were introduced. Destiny 2 is all the better for these additions. However, the game still needs to make larger attempts to figure out how to combat the slump that makes it hard for players who may have fallen out with the game to want to come back.
One of the biggest problems with the original Destiny was that it was easy to exhaust much of the game’s content given its relatively brisk campaign and focus on repeating missions and events. This was a symptom of the original game’s growing identity, which it slowly developed over the course of its first year–resulting in the fantastic, game-changing expansion The Taken King. Destiny 2 has a greater sense of itself and is smart about how it manages to make things interesting during the early months, but it quickly falls victim to the recurring issue of player engagement, along with a series of poor matchmaking, quest design, and shallow endgame content.
One issue that’s arguably worse in the sequel is that it’s difficult to measure progress gained after reaching a certain point after the campaign’s completion. While reaching Raid status was the benchmark, the pursuit of that often forces players to go through a series of hurdles to make it. Players will eventually find themselves having to repeat the same content with continually diminishing returns–made worse by some odd drop-rates and occurrences of repeat loot that Bungie have attempted to address with recent patches. While this is inevitable for many online games focusing on the grind, other titles have made that pursuit of fresh loot engaging in the long-term, but Destiny 2’s approach to the endgame cycle makes for a largely futile and exhausting experience. When your efforts to progress seems to conflict with the game’s grind–which is supposed to fun and challenging, but comes off as taxing–then it creates a sense of angst among the community, making them feel like their time isn’t being well-spent.