Destiny 2, Bungie’s popular online looter-shooter can be, for lack of a better description, one of the grindiest games around. Indeed, almost every Guardian knows that putting in the time is a given. It’s something that we all signed up for. Unfortunately, it seems Destiny 2: Beyond Light, the latest expansion, has done more harm than good.
The grind has become unbearably tedious. It’s as though Bungie decided to double-down on the facets that’d make players spend more time than necessary on an activity. It’s also why I was highly critical of the core gameplay loop, among other things, in our official review. Several activities in the game currently require you to re-run the same playlists. In effect, you’re looking at progression with a lot of artificial padding.
From Empire grunts
This became noticeable fairly early on in Destiny 2: Beyond Light. While completing the campaign on Europa, players are tasked with various “bounty-like” activities to unlock Empire Hunts. Here are some steps:
- Kill a number of mobs in a zone (i.e., kill 35 Fallen in Eventide Ruins in a single life or kill the Fallen patrols in Asterion Abyss).
- Complete a mini-event in a zone (i.e., disable the Praxis conflux or free the fleeing ketch).
- This finally unlocks the Empire Hunt, a short mission where you’ll eliminate a lieutenant of Eramis, the “big bad” of the campaign.
You follow these steps until the campaign and some post-campaign missions are cleared. Then, Variks the Loyal finally grants you access to Sabotage quests and repeatable Empire Hunt activities. What do these entail? Well, the former has more “bounty-like” tallies before you obtain a perk. As for the latter, you’ll redo those objectives above.
Sometimes, they might be randomized too. If RNG hates you, you could get something like “collect 20 planetary materials from chests and nodes.” Ultimately, you’re looking at a time-consuming grind just to unlock the Empire Hunt itself. Can you imagine if Destiny 2: Shadowkeep had every single Nightmare Hunt locked behind this concept?
To Stasis stunts
While you’re doing Destiny 2: Beyond Light‘s campaign, your Guardian becomes more familiar with the Stasis element. Stasis, a form of the Darkness, allows you to freeze and slow down enemies. It might as well freeze and slow down your progress due to the associated tasks.
The Exo Stranger, a returning character, has you doing the Born in Darkness quest chain to unlock your Stasis subclass’ grenades. Now, this really isn’t an issue. On paper, unlocking subclasses in Destiny 1 and Destiny 2 via quests or activities has been the norm. The problem is that this entire quest chain leads you back to playlist activities such as Vanguard strikes and Gambit. Oftentimes, you’re competing against other randoms while trying to get your Stasis kills. Next, you’ll be traversing through lost sectors and zones that you’ve visited before (the same places where you previously had “go ham with your super” moments).
Later, you’ll need to unlock your Stasis fragments too. Just to be clear, you can select the activities you want. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, these are still “bounty-like” tallies and tasks. It’s a far cry from what we’ve seen in Destiny 2: Forsaken. Back then, we unlocked subclasses after completing Blind Well – Tier II or defeating Kalli in the Last Wish raid. Now, this is what we have.
And Wrathborn chumps
If the first week of Destiny 2: Beyond Light already had you exasperated, then the second week might have you groan and shake your head in disbelief. This time, the Crow, a reanimated, “Guardianized” Uldren Sov, returns. He has you finishing Wrathborn Hunts by using the Cryptolith Lure. You’ll gain rewards at the end.
Again, on paper, there’s nothing wrong with this concept. Players will be reminded of the Chalice of Opulence from Penumbra/Season of Opulence in that you’re able to select a type of reward based on configurations. Likewise, you might even remember the Prismatic Recaster from the Season of Arrivals. That allowed you to exchange your Umbral Engrams for specific item types.
The issue, however, is when you take note of the gameplay loop involving Wrathborn Hunts. Not counting bonus progress, players will have to complete roughly three playlist runs (Vanguard strikes, Gambit, or Crucible) to gain a charge. Upon gaining said charge, that’s the only time that you can start a Wrathborn Hunt. In fact, similar to Empire Hunts, the process to gain a charge takes longer than the actual mission. Oh, and if you didn’t like the randomized rewards pool, you’ll need to waste an entire charge, because the rewards only change after finishing one.
Compare this to the Chalice of Opulence and you’ll recall having the Menagerie as an amazing destination that truly wowed you. In Wrathborn Hunts, you’re just roaming around the same patrol locations you’ve been to such as the Tangled Shore and the Dreaming City. Also, unlike Umbral Engrams and Chalice Runes that dropped from almost any activity in the game, Wrathborn Hunt charges just take you through the same Destiny 2 playlist activities that you’ve experienced for the past three years.
Sunsetting and vaulting
Focusing on the core playlist activities isn’t a bad thing. Players have been asking for changes that’d make these runs matter. Sadly, Bungie’s decision to shelve a ton of stuff in the Destiny Content Vault also meant losing seven strikes and 11 Crucible maps. Heck, while The Glassway strike is decent, it really doesn’t excuse the fact that we’re down half a dozen strikes. And, no, I’m not counting The Disgraced as a “new” strike since that’s basically the Omnigul strike from Destiny 1. We already saw an Omnigul Nightmare in Shadowkeep, so that’s enough nostalgia.
Worse, when you consider how many weapons and armor sets were shafted due to item sunsetting, you’re looking at a loot pool with almost nothing to chase for. No strike-specific rewards; hardly any ritual/pinnacle weapons other than the Adored sniper rifle (which you can practically cheese in a couple of hours).
Yes, Destiny 2: Beyond Light has a stronger focus on the playlist grind. However, a lot of items, strikes, and maps are also gone. Imagine that, eh? It’s a situation that’s so flabbergasting that it really boggles the mind.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light or just Beyond Lite?
To be fair, Bungie did promise that the studio is listening to feedback. Indeed, we’re going to see some changes in a hotfix scheduled for November 24 — that’ll add the Seventh Seraph weapons from Season of Dawn as well as the weapons from Season of Arrivals. Moreover, we’ve seen some decent improvements such as anti-champion mods that are socketed in your gloves instead of weapons (they work on exotics too).
Sadly, this ordeal is yet another example of Destiny 2‘s ups and downs. Someone makes a questionable decision and players criticize that decision. Then, it’s only acted on after reception has soured or once the next season has begun. Next, we’ll see another round of feedback.
Ultimately, we don’t know if Bungie will make the grind for these activities less tedious or time-consuming; only time will tell. Unfortunately, time is not on the studio’s side when there are already players who are looking forward to fixes, tweaks, and improvements more than a smattering of content.