Why do some Destiny 2 fans give Bungie so much bother? It’s a question I’ve been pondering throughout my extensive time with the game because, as far as I can tell, these are people who remain deeply invested. It’s almost like we should exercise some agency over our decisions and step away when something is no longer doing it for us, but – snarkiness aside – we should really delve a little deeper into why the FPS game is proving increasingly polarizing.
There’s been talk of Destiny 2 becoming a ‘microtransaction hell’ of sorts. It’s true that, since the launch of the original Destiny in 2014, the game’s format has shifted to allow for the scale of its offerings, both on a technical level and in terms of its monetization.
The biggest live service games nowadays are free to play, with additional microtransactions, expansions, and DLC allowing for their long-term operation. Destiny 2’s free-to-play content includes a generous selection of activities – you can play as all three classes, and there’s a helpful, overhauled version of the New Light quest for those fresh to the game, which teaches you how to use those classes.
The new Guardian Ranks system is free to everyone, as is the built-in Vanguard Strikes playlist. This means that, even though most strikes are hidden behind paid expansions in the world map, you can still get a taste of them when they roll around into the playlist.
Almost all of the PvP mode, Crucible, is free to everyone, as is the hybrid Gambit mode. The same goes for seasonal events including Guardian Games, Festival of the Lost, Solstice of Heroes, and The Dawning. The Prophecy dungeon is free, as are the Vault of Glass and King’s Fall raids. Patrols, public events, and Lost Sectors? Same again.
2021’s Dares of Eternity, a new event added to the game to celebrate 30 years of Bungie, is now also free. Finally, free players can also access the first campaign missions in full for The Witch Queen and Lightfall campaigns. That’s a hell of a lot of game for the low price of nothing, including a mix of all game modes, the most recent campaign missions, and endgame content. It’s nothing to sniff at, and it’s not as though Bungie has locked all of the best bits of Destiny 2 behind paywalls.
If we look at the new premium currency, Silver, I still struggle to see an issue. You can spend this to unlock the season pass or buy cosmetics in the Eververse store. It’s important to note that buying the Deluxe or Ultimate editions of each year’s expansion also gets you the season pass. Another new addition is the dungeon key, which lets you try out some of the latest content, even if it’s only available to Ultimate edition owners.
So, in short, I can’t see how the problem lies within Bungie’s monetization methods. It might cause frustration in long-time fans who simply must obtain every ornament for every weapon, or the latest emotes and shaders, but I personally just wait until they roll around in the Bright Dust store. Once that’s happened, I can buy them using in-game currency earned by completing activities.
Maybe, then, the issue lies in Bungie’s previous decision to sunset paid-for content, therefore making it unplayable. Yes, this was a huge source of frustration for many, including myself. It didn’t – and still doesn’t – seem fair that content I’ve paid for is no longer accessible, but Bungie has also reversed that decision and vowed to never sunset anything again, going so far as to bring old content out of the vaults and include raids from the original Destiny, such as Vault of Glass and King’s Fall, now featuring improved mechanics and balancing – all for free.
So maybe the issue is the gameplay loop? For a few years now, some have complained about the seasonal model and its storyline, claiming that it’s not fulfilling enough or doesn’t serve up enough to do. Bungie clapped back last season by killing off a core character and providing plenty of context around how, why, and when, as well as linking it to the Lightfall expansion, something it had struggled with before.
It then dropped a shocker of a cutscene that explained everything D2 players had questions about surrounding the origins of The Witness, and the Veil. And it didn’t stop there. Last month, Bungie only went and revealed the resurrection of Savathûn, the Hive goddess of trickery, and the big bad from The Witch Queen. You know, the one everyone loved.
Until relatively recently, seasonal content felt disjointed and irrelevant to each year’s expansion, but with The Witch Queen and Lightfall, there’s been a definite shift towards a more involved narrative.
And yet, even with these myriad improvements, there’s still a portion of the playerbase that appears to expect more – and quicker: a live service game with no sore points, no challenging transition phases, and whose developer spins an ever-increasing number of plates while never adapting the monetization to match.
Some seem to overlook the wonderful narrative that led us into Lightfall, and they forget the strong, revelatory, nail-biting campaign from The Witch Queen. The fact that Bungie is providing a new raid or dungeon every three months, and has done so for over a year now, still doesn’t seem to be enough. The character customization, transmog, weapon crafting, Guardian Ranks, seasonal model, engram focusing, arsenal tuning, and new modes are all grains of sand in a bottomless bucket that will never fill for some. So it then poses the question: if we feel that way, why don’t they just stop playing?
The answer is that, deep down, we Destiny 2 fans know these complaints pale in comparison to the good that Bungie does. We know that Destiny 2 is as massive as it is because the gunplay is unrivaled, the character-building and adventures are deeply engaging, and the sheer amount of looting and shooting on offer is astronomical. As we draw closer to the Final Shape release date, and the end of the Light and Dark saga, we should know how lucky we’ve been to see this sprawling epic through, yet right now some of us just don’t know when to sit back and enjoy it.