Destiny 2: The FPS Too Complicated For Its Own Good
Destiny 2 is a more simplified experience than its notoriously convoluted predecessor, but there are still some glaring issues with this new chapter that need to be ironed out.
After fully leveling two characters in Bungie’s latest offering, it’s clear to me that there are three main areas within Destiny 2 that could do with some polish -- the lore, the post-story grind, and the details on where specific pieces of gear can be found.
With all the resources Bungie has at its disposal, these issues can most certainly be addressed and improved for not only veteran Guardians like myself, but for newcomers as well.
The Problem with Destiny’s Story
Something you don’t hear very often is that Destiny actually has a great story. But it’s true. The problem is that it has always been hidden away; in the original Destiny, the Grimoire cards carried the game's lore, whereas in Destiny 2, the lore is attached to gear and subclass descriptions.
The Grimoire, which required you to log into the Bungie website to access, has now been removed from the site. Luckily for us, Destiny has a truly amazing fanbase, many of whom set up websites of their own which compile all of the lore (so far) into elegant and relevant categories. My favorite of these, and a great place to start for the lore-ignorant among us, is the Seraphim Archive, which sorts out all of Destiny's lore into a coherent and readable chronology.
However, Bungie can't seem to effectively parse out Destiny 2's story in an easily digestible fashion. BioWare faced a similar issue with the Mass Effect trilogy, but eventually implemented the Codex, which contained both written and voiced entries and was a delight to peruse. It's Bungie’s failure to implement a similar system that forces fans to consume the game’s story through secondary sources. Because of this, many Guardians will never experience the gripping tale of how Auruash became Oryx or how all the Fallen houses were once at peace with each other.
I've long thought that Bungie should take all of the great lore that they've painstakingly scribed and apply it to comic books, an animated series, or even a live-action film or miniseries. For the sake of reaching as many people as possible, please give us anything but a wall of text.
Wondering where this lovely lady got to in Destiny 2?
This Grimoire Entry from D1 gives us some indication.
How Do I Get Raid-Ready?
So you've beaten the story. Congratulations! The next thing on the menu is the Leviathan raid; but how do you get your Power Level high enough so that you won’t die from a Psion merely glancing in your general direction? Seriously, without looking it up, would you have known? I'm guessing not quite.
Power Level advancement is essentially locked behind Exotics, Clan XP rewards, and weekly Milestones that award Powerful Engrams. It’s never mentioned in-game that these are now your only avenues of going beyond the 265-275 soft Power Level cap. This can be a frustrating fact to learn after hours of needlessly farming faction tokens and legendary engrams that basically get you nowhere. Well, unless you're looking for a particular item, but more on that later.
On top of this, there’s the issue of mods. Every exotic drops with a +5 mod, meaning that every time you receive an exotic, it’s actually 5 levels lower than it says it is. Again, this is never clearly stated and has been a big source of confusion when it comes to maximizing your Power Level.
Let's look at this a little closer. Let’s say an Exotic drops at 290. Soon after, you receive a Powerful Engram that decrypts into a Legendary 289. “Damn!”, you might think, “If only it was a couple of levels higher. Oh well, I guess I’ll chuck it in the vault or dismantle it”.
Stop! Remember that the Exotic is 290 due its intrinsic +5 mod, meaning it’s actually only 285. If you infuse your new Legendary into the Exotic, it will go up to 289 and it will keep the mod, resulting in a 294 Exotic. Incremental level increases like this contribute to the steady crawl up to max Power Level, but the lack of clarity means more casual players will almost always lose out.
It’s also worth noting that Legendary gear has a chance to decrypt with a +5 mod already attached. The lesson here is always inspect your gear to check for mods. In the original Destiny, once you'd leveled up a piece of gear, it's border would change from white to yellow. A similar indication of whether or not gear has mods attached would be a welcome addition to Destiny 2.
Hey, This is Cool, But How Do I Get X?
Destiny 2's armor is a much more cosmetic feature this time around. There's less focus on armor-specific abilities (except for Exotics) and more focus on how badass your Titan looks as a neon-pink space knight.
I'm still not sure how I feel about this change; I like having the choice of multiple, cool abilities on gear. I also like not being restricted to certain bits of gear because of said abilities. We're only three weeks in, so we'll see how that opinion shifts as the game comes into its own.
But as the header suggests, sometimes you'll have a piece of gear that you really like the look of, but are unsure where you got it or how to get the rest of the set. In order to figure out how to get what you're after without turning to Google, which Destiny seems to heavily rely on, you'll have to go around to each planet and social space's vendor to take a look at what their Legendary Engrams can decrypt into. Not only are many Guardians oblivious to this feature because of a lack of clear signposting, but it's also a huge pain in the ass.
Every vendor has an extra set of rewards that you can receive, titled "Additional Rewards". If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the bottom row of gear in the image below. Those bonus rewards are actually on a 5 minute rotation. So for example, if you're looking for the Errant Knight 1.0 Hunter armor set and all you need is the chest piece, if it's not listed in the additional rewards, just wait and it might be in the next rotation. This is another feature Bungie doesn't disclose and I only discovered myself by pure accident.
By the end of the game, there are at least 10 vendors spread across five different spaces, which can get confusing as to who will unlock what gear. It can also take up a bunch of your time going from planet to planet if you're trying to figure out which vendor has that sweet cape you're looking for. I feel that in the advanced universe of Destiny, there would be some kind of wireless-network-type technology, something that would allow the instant exchange of information across vast distances... the internet, they may call it.
Oh, and here's a crazy idea: let us Guardians see what each of the vendors has to offer from an interface in the cockpit of our ships. Such a feature would kill multiple dregs with one stone; it would add a feature to our ships, keeping them from being useless cosmetic items, as well as redefining why you'd ever choose to go to Orbit in Destiny 2, making it relevant again.
A key thing to keep in mind is that Destiny 2 is still in its infancy. Issues like the ones I've raised above are being echoed by the community, and Bungie does listen. But don't expect too much too soon. It's going to be a busy few months for Bungie, so I doubt we'll see the much-needed vendor gear compendium or any other huge changes for a good while yet -- if at all.
That's not to say they won't fix anything, however, and I'm sure Bungie has a long list based on what I've seen of the Destiny sub-Reddit. Much like D1, in a couple of years, we could be looking at a completely different beast with new features that will make us forget all about our month-one gripes. I can't wait until we can poke fun at vanilla Destiny 2 saying, "Hey, remember when we couldn't see which gear had mods equipped?!".
Let me know in the comments below if you agree with me, if you think I'm totally wrong, or if I missed something you think is too complicated in Destiny 2 -- I'd love to discuss it with you. And if you need help with some aspect of the game, check out some of our Destiny 2 Guides!