After nearly 1,000 hours spent playing Destiny 1 and 2 I have fallen out of love with the series. It pains me to admit that, but my faith in the future of Bungie’s loot-driven shooter has faded drastically.
Destiny 2 is a game caught in a tussle between its developers and community - each side trying to find a reason for players to return to it. There is no denying that the original game suffered from issues, but it is the first in this series, and therefore it is understandable that the huge ambitions behind it would undergo growing pains.
However, by the end of Destiny’s lifespan, it offered a plethora of engaging activities, strong post-game pursuits, and refined mechanics. Jump forward to months after Destiny 2’s release and it is clear that, unlike its predecessor, it has taken multiple steps back.
Much has already been said about the microtransactions that infest the sequel. While there is no denying the gatekeeping of loot has been a major deterrent for players, it is not the biggest issue with the game. Destiny 2 lacks a sense of exploration and wonder. In the original, it was possible to stumble upon a hidden quest inside of a mission. The most famous example involves the Black Spindle sniper rifle which is part of a secret quest hidden within a Heroic campaign mission. It was a huge surprise when first found and from it a great moment for the community was born.
That kind of thing does not happen in the current version of Destiny 2. Quests lack that sense of discovery and, instead, lock their greatest rewards behind tons of needless grinding. Saint-14 is one of Destiny’s greatest Guardians but you have to go through an abysmal slog before you can eventually see him. Other Exotic quests follow a predictable formula of finishing a few missions to unlock a secondary quest - where is the surprise? Bungie have crafted a gorgeous world, it is just a shame we have no good reason to explore it. Thankfully, Bungie is actively seeking to include more hidden collectibles which will help give players a reason to explore the various planets.
A sheer lack of personalisation is Destiny 2’s second major downfall. The new Forge weapons are cool on paper, but the only way to obtain them is via farming for dozens of hours. Exhaustion overtakes any sense of accomplishment. In fact, most of the weapons simply blend together, depriving you of any personal attachment you may have with them. That, in turn, means weapon choice fails to mark your Guardian out as any different to the others - yes, Masterwork weapons give minor buffs, but it is not enough to make your galactic hero feel any different than the hundreds of others.
Armour is even worse than before with mods replacing randomly-rolled perks. At best, you can tweak the mods to slightly increase the regeneration rate or capabilities for specific abilities or weapons. Otherwise, you are stuck with simply buffing one of three base traits - none of which are terribly exciting. Even the Exotics disappoint, with most of them failing to offer an ample reason to be used. These are the rarest items in all of Destiny 2 and so you should feel driven to construct Guardian builds around them. Yet, you are so limited in what can be altered that the Exotics end up being minor situational boosts, nothing more.
Looking to the future, it is important to understand that Bungie are not miracle workers. Many of the problems with Destiny 2 are woven into the very core of the game. No amount of yelling on forums or Reddit will solve these issues - demanding the world will only leave you with disappointment. It is important to instead focus on aspects that can be shifted in small ways that will at least keep the game worth playing once again.
What can and should be looked at is how customisation works. Masterworks are a step in the right direction, but I would like to see Bungie expand on this idea more. Allow for unique perk combinations or the ability to reroll all aspects of a weapon or armour piece. It is time for Bungie to take the training wheels off and let the community construct the character of their choosing. Let Titan players build a real frontline tank or Hunters a stealthy killer. Give us a reason to fall in love with our Guardian and see them progress as more expansions release.