Earlier this year, Bungie announced that it was splitting up with Activision. The move shocked the gaming industry and many eagerly sought out how the split would affect Destiny 2. Since then, Destiny 2 migrated over to Steam and its base game became free-to-play in the process. It goes without saying that lots of fans were excited by the news and what the new expansion, Shadowkeep, would bring. Sadly, barely three months since it launched, we’re now seeing a litany of issues that remain unresolved.
From the lack of meaningful content during Season of Dawn and Iron Banner woes, to problems with Eververse cosmetics and seasonal progression/pinnacle rewards, Destiny 2 has had quite a tumultuous year. With numerous ups and downs, it was a roller coaster ride to see if Bungie had learned from player feedback, or if Guardians were in for yet another disappointing rundown. In this article, I’ll examine the detrimental issues that have become part of the player experience.
Note: For more information, check out our Destiny 2: Season of Dawn guides and features hub.
The power progression system
It’s no secret that I’ve had a genuine distaste of Destiny 2‘s pinnacle rewards system. As someone who often focused on endgame/difficult activities, I felt that the power climb was “too casual” to a fault, one which would simply have you spending extra hours completing bounties and killing dregs. It was an exp grind that slowed you down considerably owing to mundane and “easy mode” tasks.
It took a month after Season of the Undying launched for Bungie to fix the pinnacle rewards system. From +1, we now have +2 power drops for pinnacle rewards. That’s all well and good, and we should give credit where credit is due.
However, the issue nowadays Season of Dawn is that you’re not doing anything new for the pinnacle rewards climb. You’re still redoing the Garden of Salvation raid, the Pit of Heresy dungeon, the Nightfall, Master Nightmare Hunt, and, recently, the Iron Banner bounties (more on these later). Neither the Sundial nor the Obelisk activities provide pinnacle drops, and they’re mostly just there to give you on-level rewards.
That’s understandable given that you only have to go from 960 to 970 base power to reach the cap. But, it’s also fairly telling since we don’t have a single endgame activity that freshens up our routine. I would’ve preferred an increase to the cap (980+) if it meant that Season of Dawn would have new pinnacle activities. Since we’ve been doing the same stuff since October, it gets extremely boring really fast.
Season of Dawn’s artifact progression system and seasonal mods
When Destiny 2: Shadowkeep was originally announced as having progression that reset each season, I was one of those who looked forward to it thinking it’d keep things exciting. Turns out, that the seasonal reset was an exercise in futility. Combined with the above regarding a lack of endgame content, and it becomes a sordid disappointment.
First, your artifact limited your choice of weapon load-outs. That’s due to endgame activities requiring specific weapon types that are strong against certain champions. Second, it also meant that you were redoing the experience points grind to activate artifact unlocks and mods. Imagine having to farm bounties and kills just to earn something such as “Breach Resonator” or “Unstoppable Shot?” It would’ve been better had these mods and perks remained unlocked, or, at the very least, the points you earned from the previous season would remain usable.
At the same time, Destiny 2: Season of Dawn also added a new mechanic: the “Light Charge” mods that come from Obelisks. The downside is that “Light Charge” mods can only be socketed into generic sets (ie. Vigil of Heroes armor for the Vanguard) or seasonal sets (ie. Righteous armor). If you had a collection of god-rolled armor pieces that were masterworked up to level 10, then you can’t place new mods into those.
The funny thing is that the aforementioned pinnacle activities such as the Garden of Salvation raid and Pit of Heresy dungeon do not provide Season of Dawn-type armor pieces as well. Effectively, you won’t be experiencing part of what Season of Dawn is all about unless you pick up the requisite armor. And, oftentimes, these won’t be pinnacle/power-boosting rewards either.
The Iron Banner grind
Without the Trials of Osiris, the Iron Banner tends to be the premier PvP event in Destiny 2 outside of the competitive playlist. It’s also one of the sources of pinnacle loot with its bounties. Even then, it’s also become quite a chore.
In our Iron Banner guide, I outlined the quest steps that were needed just so you could turn in tokens or get armor pieces. Yes, the same process is back for Season of Dawn. In fact, you’ll end up with the same Iron Truage armor set you had back in Season of Opulence — say hello to refurbished old armor.
Although there are tallies that are carried over to successive quest steps, there are still other requirements that don’t. For instance, I chose Randy’s Throwing Knife, Mindbender’s Ambition, and Truth for my loadout. Once I was doing the latter steps, none of the weapon-specific final blows carried over which meant I had to scramble for heavy and rush for shotgun kills once more. It’s aggravated by the fact that the Iron Banner quest is per-character only, so you’ll have to redo the entire grind on your alts if you wish to obtain rewards.
Eververse and the story
Compounding all the above is that Eververse and the cosmetics system has been very stingy when it comes to bright dust. The bright dust economy was once touted as an improvement before Destiny 2: Shadowkeep‘s release. Unfortunately, it has become quite a nuisance. With only a smattering of bright dust to earn by way of bounties and the season pass, you’ll find yourself with very limited resources. The only course of action is to continue devoting more hours just to earn measly amounts of bright dust unless you want to take the plunge and buy silver.
To add to all of these, it’s the fact that Season of Dawn has a threadbare narrative making it seem like Bungie was just throwing ideas out there, hoping something would stick. Your exploits during the Season of the Undying felt as though they were all for naught as the DLC’s plot was left dangling. It was Bungie’s old “wait-and-see” idea, but, six years on, it becomes almost too obnoxious especially when you’re someone who wants to see a conclusion to every plot device that’s been introduced.
Destiny 2: A by the numbers chore
Destiny 2 used to be the game that I could pick up and put down. Each week, my routine consisted of doing endgame activities and waiting until the reset. An unfortunate side effect of Bungie’s decision-making process is that we’re seeing lackluster incentivized means of prolonging your playthroughs and runs. Think of how farming bounties over and over has become more rewarding compared to actual activity completions.
Without a new raid, strike, or engaging endgame, you barely have anything to look forward to each week. Even Season of Dawn-specific exotic weapons (barring Symmetry) won’t be out until early next year. Speaking of the Symmetry exotic, imagine these quest steps:
- 400x playlist activity completions (progress is quadrupled once you level-up a season pass perk). This is just to unlock the catalyst.
- After that, you need 700x kills with the weapon just to activate the said catalyst.
Simply put, Destiny 2 has become a chore. You’ll need to play more to earn more rewards, sure. On paper, there’s nothing wrong with that concept. But, when you have nothing new or refreshing to do, or these restrictive changes aren’t player-friendly at all, then everything becomes moot. It’s a “by the numbers” tally where you’re going through the motions; a mundane and egregiously repetitious cycle at that.
We know that Destiny 2 has a very slow patch cycle — as noted by our sister site Destructoid — so we can never tell when the game’s direction would change for the better. Here’s to hoping that Bungie is, indeed, “listening,” so we can see more improvements to Destiny 2‘s content in 2020. Otherwise, it’s going to be another long and arduous road for Guardians who continue to play the game.