Friday, January 1, 2021

My Response To Bungie's "Destiny 2 Dev Update - Rewards" Post

The following post is something a little different than what I have published previously on this site: a post that I made on Reddit about a video game I have spent a decent amount of time on recently, Destiny 2. I have ported it for republishing here with mostly minor changes. By the time this post was prepared, it had 716 upvotes and received numerous awards from the /r/DestinyTheGame community.

Hello all, and hello to any Bungie employee that happens to be reading this. I was originally thinking of writing a post a few weeks ago describing how the loot situation and the sunsetting situation has been completely bungled, but the post from Joe Blackburn was an unexpected surprise that has moved progress forward, at least in some respects. I will be quoting the TWAB extensively throughout the post.

Weapon Sunsetting 

You can search the posts on /r/DestinyTheGame and find post after post after post from concerned community members. Some were more frustrated than others, and some were definitely more “constructive” than others. However, it is feedback all the same, and it all ideally was going to be said anyway, regardless of medium.
It is blatantly obvious from the TWAB that Luke Smith, Joe, or whoever is calling the shots, is intent on doubling-down on weapon sunsetting in the same kind of way that other bad decisions in the game were doubled-down on before being removed in a further expansion. This is the kind of thing that leaves people especially frustrated with the state of the game, it turns into vitriol and eventually quitting the game completely―something that is not good for Bungie. Not good from a financial standpoint as that player (and perhaps their friend group) stops investing any money into game content. It is also not good for community health, for obvious reasons.
“Introducing Infusion Caps is part of addressing this, a way to make sure that the overall number of rewards Guardians need to care about in order to be competitive in Destiny isn’t prohibitive.”

The gun-play of Destiny 2 is often cited as one of its strong points. Not every player in the game uses a weapon purely because of the perks it was curated or rolled with. The way the weapon feels, looks, and sounds are important in making it unique compared to other weapons, even when other weapons are within the same archetype. The mentioning of weapon archetype is intentional and will be addressed later.

From the very first weapon a New Light (or returning) player picks up, they begin building their collection over time. Players, at least previous to the introduction to sunsetting, have probably spent a lot of time grinding weapon rolls to find their “perfect” weapon. This is time spent in the game grinding for something that they intended to keep indefinitely. The introduction of weapon sunsetting has rendered this grind a waste of time, and a slap in the face to the player base. Nobody enjoys wasting their time for nothing. There is a reason why a lot of people in the community see weapon sunsetting as an entirely arbitrary and just an arbitrary way to keep them grinding for the sake of grinding.

The weapon archetype system (all signs point to it being a weapon class system) appears to render the concern of Guardians needing to keep track of so many items to remain competitive as moot. Not all weapons are the same, but I believe that weapons within the same archetype (excluding rituals and pinnacles) should be relatively the same. An example: Lightweight Frame grenade launchers. Not all weapons might have the same perk pools to choose from, but it should not make a drastic difference. Weapons that are no longer in the world loot pool or special activities are a lot less of an issue as long as a weapon within the same archetype and type (kinetic/energy/heavy) is available.

The Militia's Birthright
I will give an example, one where sunsetting has affected me personally: The Militia’s Birthright, compared to Season of Arrivals Truthteller. Militia’s Birthright has fewer perks that it can roll with, but both weapons can roll with “good perks” – Spike Grenades, Blinding Grenades, Quickdraw, Auto-Loading Holster, and so on. Militia’s Birthright is a kinetic weapon, Truthteller is Void. Other than that, their Weapon Stats are relatively the same. You can compare this by opening both of the above links, and switching back and forth to see the difference. So, this begs the following: Why was it necessary to sunset Militia’s Birthright, when the weapon was not over-powered and other weapons of basically identical power are available in the game? It feels arbitrary at this point. By the way, the EDZ is still an in-game destination, Devrim Kay is in the weapon’s quote, so the argument of sunsetting weapons tied to sunset destinations does not apply. Because of Militia’s Birthright being sunset, there is no usable kinetic grenade launcher available in the game, outside of Witherhoard.

My Personal Plea to Reverse Sunsetting

It is my sincere hope that Bungie reverses sunsetting and allows a lot of weapons to be usable again, as it is honestly sad that good weapons are essentially being rendered useless for no real reason. And by reversing sunsetting, I mean allowing existing weapons to be infusible again. Players should not have to re-grind the same (!!!) or similar weapon with basically the same perks, just for them to be usable in the game. Again, nobody likes entirely arbitrary grinding.

"Our goal from the beginning with Infusion Caps is to improve and keep Destiny 2 fresh over time - what we’re most looking forward to is how this system will introduce innovation to the season-over-season meta, how creative builds from the community will shine, and how we can continue to deliver more unique hand-crafted gear that aligns with the world narrative and where the universe is going."
This is in direct conflict with everything Bungie has stated in the past that points to “play your way.” Yes, it was rather stale to see people running Mountaintop + Recluse + 21% Delirium. Then again, those were “out of the ordinary” weapons. Pinnacle and ritual weapons make more sense to sunset or heavily balance to keep the meta from being just three weapons. Keep in mind that newer players (I joined the game on August 6, 2020) never had Mountaintop, Recluse, or any of these game-breaking weapons anyway.

Last season, my loadout was usually Militia’s Birthright + Hard Light + Falling Guillotine. Sometimes, it was Witherhoard + Gnawing Hunger + Falling Guillotine. Some people like running an auto rifle + grenade launcher + sword. There is no reason why Bungie needs to be actively hostile to the way people play the game.

What to do with Sunset Pinnacles and Ritual Weapons

Consider turning some of these, at least Mountaintop, into exotics. It is a shame I never had a chance to try it because it appears to be a fantastic grenade launcher in PvE. It should have been separately balanced in Crucible anyway.

Keeping them in the kiosk is nice, but asking for Ascendant Shards to purchase sunset weapons is asking a lot. There is no such thing as power-disabled PvE content, so the sunset weapons are pretty much only usable in non-pinnacle Crucible.

Comments Regarding Season 10 and 11 Loot

This falls in weapon sunsetting, but this is more distinct. I am glad that the world loot pool was tweaked to include weapons from previous seasons, but they all still have infusion caps as if they were dropped from that season. That makes them even less viable long-term than weapons that are new to this season and expansion. There is less incentive to have any care in the weapon rolls from especially season 10 weapons as they will be sunset next season. There is far, far less incentive to grind for good weapons when their effectiveness is so short-lived.

It seems that part of this has been recognized already, as season 10 weapons being sunset would destroy a lot of builds involving Warmind Cells. I appreciate that.

Armor Sunsetting

I want to acknowledge and say thank you for realizing that armor sunsetting made no sense when originally announced. Indeed, with transmog in place, armor essentially becomes just stat pieces and players would just need to re-grind their existing rolls. I look forward to hearing what Bungie has in mind in the future, although I think armor sunsetting is still not needed in any capacity at the moment. As shown with Ghost Shell mods, mods themselves can be rotated out of the game independent of the shell.
"The personality of armor comes from mods right now, so gaining a new piece of armor often means just trying to find a piece of armor that replicates the stat allocation you already have on a piece in your vault."
The idea of grinding for similar stat allocation applies to weapons as well. Again, nobody wants to arbitrarily re-grind weapons to get the same perks or grind another weapon with the same archetype to get the same perk.

Closing Remarks

Above all else, Destiny 2 is a video game, and it is a video game with a very large and passionate community. We, community members, rant and rave about the game because we love it, and we want to see it reach its peak potential. Sadly, it always seems just one step away from that.

Bungie, keep in mind that games are supposed to be fun to play. It is not fun to sunset people’s weapons, invaliding hundreds to thousands of hours of grinding. It is not fun to sunset armor in that same respect. Please reverse sunsetting and restore the fun back into playing this game, grinding for weapons that we can reliably sink time into and actually enjoy.

I am not sure what data shows, but while keeping fresh loot is essential for a looter game, not everyone is always chasing new loot. Some people like to keep the stuff they already have. And some, while it might not seem like it, also enjoy just playing the game. Not everything has to be a constant grind.


Regarding Sunset Loot in the Forsaken and Shadowkeep Expansions

This is one of the more frustrating aspects of sunsetting that completely slipped my mind. It makes no sense at all that in-game activities are dropping sunset loot. The loot itself from these activities should not be sunset at all. Bungie, you cited when discussing the Destiny Content Vault that you were vaulting content that very few players actively consumed in the current times. However, this argument becomes less acceptable when it can be seen that you have artificially created the issue by disincentivizing players to actually play the content.
Some are more hostile on this issue. At best, it is really dishonest to sell players yearly expansions where a good chunk of the content is not usable in the game. At worst, some see this as simply a scam. Nobody wants to have a feeling that they have been “ripped off.” When you tried to run a promotional bundle of Forsaken + Shadowkeep + Beyond Light on Steam, the comment section of the event rightly pointed out that it was heavily dishonest to try and sell players expansions with sunset content.