‘Destiny 2’ Issues Driven More By Bungie Design Decisions Than ‘Reboot’ Controversy [Opinion]

Bungie / Activision

A recent Reddit controversy concerning Destiny 2 claims the game’s problems stem from a reboot in early 2016. While an argument can be made that the timeframe between reboot and launch could have caused problems for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC shooter, a realistic examination would point the finger at the many design decisions Bungie made that altered the game away from what players enjoyed in Destiny 1.

First, it is worth pointing out much of the information about the Destiny 2 reboot and how Eververse was introduced in Destiny 1 is old news. We covered Jason Schreier’s original Kotaku report about the reboot when it happened in May 2017.

It is also important to note that while the term “reboot” is used, we do not know the scope of the reboot like we did with Destiny 1. How much of the story and content assets were reworked is completely unknown. We know Luke Smith was installed as Game Director following a Bungie reorganization and that is all.

By comparison, it is a well-known fact that Jason Staten and Martin O’Donnell were let go from Bungie following a demo that disappointed executives. Destiny 1 was then completely taken apart and put back together like a mismatched jigsaw puzzle in a very short timeframe, which is why the campaign was so bereft of content.

Additionally, it is well known that Bungie renegotiated its contract with Activision about Destiny 1 DLC releases for the game after issues generating content with The Dark Below and House of Wolves. This led to the introduction of Eververse to fund free content updates like Festival of the Lost, Sparrow Racing League, The Dawning, and Age of Triumph.

The Issues Caused by Design

Eververse in Destiny 2.
Featured image credit: Bungie/Activision

So, Bungie had approximately 16 months combined with an unclear amount of content already in place for Destiny 2. Unfortunately, the shorter timeframe does not explain the design decisions made by Bungie that have had the game’s community continually up in arms.

Let’s look at an incomplete list of the many common complaints and disappointments Destiny 2 players have voiced since even before it launched:

  • Moved to a two Primary and one Heavy weapon loadout plus moved Sniper Rifles, Fusion Rifles, and Shotguns to Heavy Weapons where they are rarely used.
  • Removed random perk rolls on weapons and armor.
  • The disappointingly limited nature of the mod system.
  • Simplified the character progression tree to the point where there are no choices to make.
  • Reduced the damage of grenades.
  • Reduced character movement speed and removed Titan’s ability to “skate.”
  • Reduced the recharge rate of abilities and supers.
  • Turned Crucible matches into team shooting affairs.
  • Removed Iron Banner and Trials of the Nine/Osiris level advantages.
  • Changed character progression so that Weekly Milestones was the only way to improve Light Level after a certain point.
  • Giving end-game loot to players in clans who never actually completed an end-game activity.
  • The Token economy.
  • Strike Boss mechanics where the boss goes immune, moves or disappears as minions flood in, and then reappears to be damaged again.
  • The hidden cooldown timer on XP that throttled character progression without letting them know.
  • The number of Crucible playlists limited to two.
  • Made Shaders into one-time consumables.
  • Reduced the size of the Vault.
  • Nerfed the distance of the Titan’s shoulder charge in a recent update when nobody was complaining about it.
  • Ignoring many of the improvements introduced after Destiny 1: The Taken King. One could even argue the Destiny 2 story appears to ignore the events in Rise of Iron.
  • Destiny 2 players locked out of existing content when not purchasing Curse of Osiris.

The Big One

Yes, these were design decisions made by Bungie’s leadership team and this list is assuredly longer than my memory allows. However, we can’t forget the number one design decision that has generated the most complaints and had nothing to do with a limited amount of time. That would be moving most of the end-game content behind the microtransaction-stacked wall of Eververse.

The recent The Dawning event is a perfect example the design of the event assures that it will be impossible for players to get a full set of The Dawning armor for just one of their classes without spending money to purchase Dawning Engrams.

A lack of communication from Bungie has also been a much-heated topic since Destiny 2 launched. The developer has promised to do a better job of communicating and Game Director Christopher Barrett did yeoman’s work on Twitter over the holidays while the studio was short staffed.

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Bungie has shown a willingness and ability to course correct with Destiny 1. However, the above list shows the majority of the issues plaguing Destiny 2 come through design decisions and not through a limited amount of time following a reboot during development. Additionally, the time spent coding and testing all these changes instead of simply building off the systems and features players enjoyed in Destiny 1 would have contributed to taking time away from developing new features.

The real matter for Bungie and Destiny 2 is looking forward and not backward. Post-mortems have their time and place to prevent the repeat of past mistakes, but the studio has more pressing matters to attend with a promised list of fixes early in 2018 plus the impending release of the Gods of Mars DLC.