Greetings, Guardians, and welcome back to another 7 Tower Thoughts where Sam and I talk about all the things that piqued our interest in Destiny 2 over the past week. Some are good, others bad, but one thing they all have in common is that we have thoughts, and we love to share them with other Guardians. Let’s dig in.
Raidin’ is easy
Sam: Master Root of Nightmares is out and it’s pretty easy. In fact, it’s safe to say it’s easier than Contest Mode on Day One. The main hurdle my team encountered was when attempting the Challenge in Cataclysm. Even then, calling it a hurdle is overstating the issue, as we spent about 10 minutes refining out strategy until we found one that worked for us.
For those top tier players, an easy Master mode could be a down point, but I propose the opposite: It’s good. We’ve got King’s Fall and Vow of the Disciple, both of which have (maybe had) brutally difficult Master modes and Challenges. Let’s allow the non-hardcore, non-elite players some time in the sun.
When the next reprised raid rolls around, then we can knuckle down and get back to sweating. I hope Bungie considers the current landscape and really cranks up the difficulty of – I’m presuming – Wrath of the Machine. Because while easy raiding is good sometimes (as it provides another type of raiding experience), these are Pinnacle activities and they should have Pinnacle-level challenge and rewards, especially when we’re approaching the end of the Light and Darkness Saga.
Farming ain’t easy
Bill: After watching an Aztecross video where he was using the Phyllotactic Spiral Legendary Pulse Rifle from Neomuna that can be crafted, I decided I had to have one. Well, I had to craft one, as I already had one. The crafting process obviously involved getting weapon Patterns, and let me tell you, the weapon Pattern grind was, is, and likely always will be real.
It took me about 12 hours to get all the weapon Patterns for the five craftable Neomuna weapons by farming Heroic patrols. Full disclosure: I’m missing a single Round Robin Pattern, but I’ll get that whenever because I have my Phyllotactic Spiral crafted. That’s 12 hours on top of the ones I got from one run of the campaign and the two side quests. It took me 12 hours of doing nothing but farming Heroic patrols to score 18 weapon patterns, which is one and a half per hour.
I’m not really sure what the solution is here, but I don’t think limiting weapon Pattern drop sources is the way to go. Either I had to run three campaigns, rank up Nimbus dozens of times, and farm Heroic patrols, or I wasn’t crafting the one weapon I had the most interest in. Perhaps the idea of getting a guaranteed Pattern needs to spread beyond Dares of Eternity and the War Table. Put me on a five-week plan where, if I really want that nifty weapon Aztecross has, I can get it. I’m not sure what the answer is, but farming Heroic patrols doesn’t feel like it.
Crucible is good again?
Bill: I’ve been outspoken about the Crucible for a long time. For a few years it felt like a place that I never wanted to be. This is why I was such a proponent of SBMM (skill-based matchmaking). For every streamer, YouTuber, or PvP killer who hated it, there were 10 players who were having fun again.
After taking some time off and not playing Destiny 2 at all for a few months, I returned and wasn’t sure what to expect from the Crucible, but so far it’s great! I won 14 of 18 Iron Banner matches on my Hunter, most (if not all) of which were solo queues. I was making plays, doing well on the leaderboards, and for the first time in a long time I actually hopped into the Crucible when I didn't need to just to have some fun. That hasn’t happened for years, Guardians.
It appears that in addition to SBMM, Bungie is using CBMM (connection-based matchmaking) and Fireteam Based Matchmaking (FBMM) to pair you up in the Crucible. So far, it’s been fantastic, and I no longer feel the need to push for SBMM or CBMM, so long as Bungie recognizes that for PvP to thrive the average player has to want to participate. The barrier for entry (being rewarded and not being stomped by PvP sweats every other match) needs to be ideal for average players, not content creators. I’m a bit hesitant to say this, but it feels like we might be there.
Destiny 2 has a points problem
Bill: Sam will recall a few seasons ago when we wanted a 100k Proving Grounds Nightfall, and came up short. We loaded back in and had to make sure not to kill certain enemies that would end encounters, so we could instead farm adds. This has happened to us all at some point.
Last night Sam and I were joined by our friend Dusty and posted up an LFG for a 250k Dares of Eternity run. We got in there and killed lots of adds, farmed lots of orbs, and made sure not to burn bosses and to keep our pace reasonable. The result was a 241,000 run, which meant no Pinnacle and no weapon Pattern. That’s a pretty bad feeling for the amount of time and effort we sunk into that. I can’t help but feel for anyone who has an hour to play, hops into an activity, and is sent packing with nothing to show for their time and effort.
Bungie has already solved this with Nightfall scores being accumulative to earn your Pinnacle, and that thinking needs to spread throughout the game. Nobody should feel the need to stand in one spot and farm adds to hit 250k in a Dares of Eternity. If you can successfully complete the content, and do so while playing the way the activity is intended, and that’s still not enough, the requirements are busted.
No Power grind next season
Sam: Power and the grind for more. Love it or hate it, it’s been a cornerstone of Destiny 2. In fact, it’s been in Destiny since it first kicked off in 2014, though it went by the term “Light Level” back then. For years, players have been chasing Power, hitting the cap, and then doing it all over again when the next season started. But it looks like that might be changing and I’m excited but also there’s some trepidation.
Starting in May with Season of the Deep, Bungie will not be raising the Power cap. “When Lightfall launches, we will have a Power climb that is very similar to that in The Witch Queen, but later in Season of the Deep, we don’t plan to raise the Power or pinnacle cap at all,” Destiny 2 Game Director Joe Blackburn wrote in the Lightfall and The Year Ahead blog post. This will be the first time players won’t need to grind for Power at the beginning of a new season.
We’re far from the original way Power or Light Level functioned. No longer are players solely responsible for their ability to engage with content. Bungie has now limited players to a certain Power in a bid to curate the difficulty. The Power system has become obsolete through Bungie’s actions, which has now aligned with the general consensus in the community that the Power grind is a tiresome mechanic.
The question is: What system of progression will keep players hooked? After all, an RPG or MMO with no leveling system is a strange idea. Guardian Ranks resets each season (more on that below), is that enough to draw players back? What about the chase for god rolls, patterns, and armor with decent stat distribution?
It’s an exciting time, purely because Bungie has to cook up something new. The team has to work out a way to bring players back each season, hook us in, and provide a reason to continue playing other than pushing a little number higher and higher. The trepidation comes in the handling of new systems. Bungie has missed the mark out the gate with Commendations and, to a lesser extent, Guardian Ranks. The challenge will be to provide something meaningful that also works.
Guardian Ranks resetting is a bad idea
Bill: Any time you eliminate someone’s investment, wholly or partially, it’s a bad idea. I thought that Guardian Ranks were a great idea, until I realized I had to grind them again next season just to get back to where I ended this season. That’s a terrible idea.
When I wake up on May 23, 2023, let’s say I’m Rank 7, which is Elite. I eat some breakfast or my lunch, throw the cat’s tinfoil for it to chase, then log into the new season of Destiny 2 only to be Rank 6, which is a Veteran. How do I become Elite again? Oh, you know, commend folks, and grind for War Table upgrades. Things that truly prove how Elite I am.
I’m going to give Bungie some slack here because this is a new system and where it is now isn’t likely where it will be in the future. But this is me shouting from the Tower that this system should never go backwards. I totally understand the idea of recertification, much the same way I need to guild a title, but I don’t lose a title when I don’t guild it, and I shouldn’t lose my Elite status when a new season begins.
He is a (Well)Sk8er Boi
Sam: I love Well skating. For those not in the know, Well skating it the process of moving extremely quickly, across huge gaps, by inputting a series of button presses. The trick is you must enter the button presses in a specific order, within a few frames of one another. While there’s not much control over movement once you get going, it excels at getting you to a distant location faster than any other method.
Ever since I decided to learn it, I’m always using it. I look for long distances where I can employ my Well skate. I stand up on ledges and let her rip. I eye off things like the jumping puzzle in King’s Fall, the flower road sections in Root of Nightmares, and even shortcutting my way to the end of Ascendant Challenges.
I’m not harming anyone using this glitch. Neither is anyone else who employs it liberally. Even the World First team for Root of Nightmares had some players Well skating to victory. But I can’t help by feel worried about my beloved glitch. I hope Bungie doesn’t drop a patch to fix it like they did with Sparrow breaching back in Destiny 1. Please, Bungie. Leave all forms of Well skating alone.
There you have it, Guardians, our thoughts on and around Destiny 2 at the moment. Do you agree with our sentiments on these topics? We’d love to hear your take on what we’ve discussed, so join us in the Chatty thread below. See you all starside.
Bill Lavoy and Sam Chandler posted a new article, 7 Tower Thoughts: Points, Power and Patterns