Destiny remains far too grind-filled a title for inconsequential rewards to be of any continuing value for Player versus Environment players... House of Wolves pending, of course.

Destiny: I hope you really love Crucible…

Destiny remains far too grind-filled a title for inconsequential rewards to be of any continuing value for Player versus Environment players... House of Wolves pending, of course.

Destiny is a great love and hate of mine. While I really enjoy the shooting and the PvE (well, most of it, anyway), there’s a bunch of stuff that sticks out like a sore thumb, and it drives me crazy. If we cover this list end to end, this article will go on for ages.

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So, just for a start, I want to talk about the in-game factions. Or more properly, the gear factions sell.

The Grind

Anyone who’s played Destiny for more than a day has probably seen the primary faction vendors around the Tower, with New Monarchy, Dead Orbit, and the Future War Cult all peddling their wares at all times, and of course, the ever-present Vanguard residing in the main hall. The Crucible too is treated as something of a faction in-game. There’s also The Queen’s Bounty, and the Iron Banner. We as players are drowning in grinding opportunities in an already excruciatingly grindy game, and each faction holds its own reputation statistics. Also, with the exception of the Vanguard, all factions take almost exclusively Crucible Marks and Commendations to buy their wares. That means if you want some of the best gear that marks can buy, you’re going to be spending a LOT of time in the Crucible, blasting and getting blasted into smithereens by your fellow players.

How much time, you ask? I ran the numbers, privately, for my own level 30 Hunter, who I wished to deck out in some of the most stylish stuff the Future War Cult was selling (I like their colorful stuff, what can I say?).

If we average a Crucible match at 12 minutes each, that’s 38 to 57 hours spent over 6 weeks because of Bungie’s 100 mark per week limit.

Allow me to share a revelation I’ve had as a result. I already had a Heavy Machine Gun by the FWC as a random drop, so I scratched that off the list from the get-go, but that left me with the still unenviable task of grinding the Crucible (my least favorite game mode) for the gear I so desire. Below, I list the gear I am after, and their prices:

The Calling (Scout Rifle) 1 Crucible Commendation, 150 Crucible Marks

  • The Crash (Shotgun) 1 Crucible Commendation, 150 Crucible Marks
  • Cover of No Tomorrows (Helmet) 1 Crucible Commendation, 120 Crucible Marks
  • Astrolord Grips (Gauntlets) 1 Crucible Commendation, 75 Crucible Marks
  • Vest of No Tomorrow (Chest) 1 Crucible Commendation, 75 Crucible Marks
  • Astrolord Boots (Boots) 75 Crucible Marks

Total Price:
6 Crucible Commendations
570 Crucible Marks
 
I daresay that’s a lot of work to get all that. How about the total Crucible matches needed to get what I need?

285, assuming mere participation or loss of all matches (given the PVP skill discrepancies with every game I’ve ever played, ridiculously more than likely). Or maybe, I’ll get lucky and win every single match, in which case I will only need 190 matches. If we average a Crucible match at 12 minutes each, that’s 38 to 57 hours spent over 6 weeks because of Bungie’s 100 mark per week limit.

Either way, this isn’t something I can hammer out over a weekend of really hard work.

The (Bad) Effect

This isn’t friendly to the PvE players of Bungie’s world. In an earlier life on Destiny, a PvE player had access to Material Exchange, trading in our virtually worthless Spinmetals, Helium Coils, Spirit Blooms, and Relic Irons clogging our inventories and vaults. I mean, we use them to level our Legendary and Exotic gear, but that takes pretty paltry amounts of materials. And yet almost every player I have met behaves like a good little RPG player and hoards as much as we can, except now these hoards turn to no purpose. I have over 500 Spinmetals in my vault alone, and occasionally I sigh and delete them. Within a few days, my compulsive Destiny kleptomania has refilled said stash. Once upon a time, I could have cashed those in for Crucible or Vanguard marks. Maybe not many, under the old system, but it’s better than the Jack-nothing I get for deleting them wholesale now, and it lessened the amount of needless grinding I would have done in the Crucible.

I’m no stranger to the argument I’m making here. Often, the response I get is that players unwilling to play in the Crucible shouldn’t get Crucible gear. That’s fine, but there’s entirely too MUCH grinding between players and the high level Crucible gear.

These days, I’ll enter a Control match, help capture that first control point, and then wander aimlessly and then die a lot. After 12 minutes of dying, I get my 2-3 Crucible marks depending on how much my team applied themselves versus the opponents. Sometimes I decide to actually try to have some fun, but the result is never more than 2-3 marks.

Even the daily Crucible match doesn’t offer a great many more marks. And as stated, there’s that 100 mark per week limit, which ensures that I wouldn’t get my gear set any sooner than 6 weeks.

Getting Vanguard gear is a little faster, if for no other reason than access to the Vanguard Strike Playlists, which also provides a dependable and reliable return of loot to tide players over in the meantime, as well as higher mark payouts, but there’s still that cap, forcing an arbitrary barrier between gamers and that stuff they really want to have.

There’s a lot to like about Destiny. It looks great, moves nearly flawlessly in gameplay, and the shared-world aspect makes for several frantic and epic battles. But, as anyone who plays will tell you, the game does just as much wrong, and the grind barriers are just a tad beyond what many, I feel, would prefer to deal with.

I’m no stranger to the argument I’m making here. Often, the response I get is that players unwilling to play in the Crucible shouldn’t get Crucible gear. That’s fine, but there’s entirely too MUCH grinding between players and the high level Crucible gear.

Imagine for a moment that you were reading a really good book. You can’t wait to see how the story wraps up. Will the dashing hero emerge from that death trap and save the day? Except as you are about to turn the page to the next chapter, the author walks up, takes the book, and flips it back to a chapter he or she has chosen and tells you “To get to the next chapter, you must read nothing but this earlier chapter I have chosen. Every time you read it, I will give you a token. When you have 50 tokens, you may read the chapter you desire. However, you may not earn more than 5 tokens per week.” How important is that next chapter to you?

Judging by the amount of complete Faction gear sets I have seen while playing, it’s pretty darn important. But would that “victory” really have been cheapened by being even half as long winded? Should you really have had to grind a mode you may not enjoy for hours on end for six weeks just to complete your collection? And that’s just one faction. What exactly is the amount of time and effort it would take to repeat this process among even just New Monarchy and Dead Orbit along with the Future War Cult? I don’t want to run that set of numbers. I genuinely do not want to know—I only need to know that I don’t have that kind of time.

The Issues

Destiny was advertised as sort of an “ultimate Player vs Environment” shooter, like a slightly more “serious business” version of Borderlands with a more high science fiction aesthetic. In Borderlands, there is Player versus Player gameplay, but it’s meant to be a fun aside from the PvE. No huge emphasis is put on the PvP—it’s a fun, competitive distraction from the main event, which is a great world to blow things up in, with engaging characters and a pretty fun (if not world class) story. Destiny puts almost all the emphasis on the PvP. The PvE that was so often ballyhooed during the press circuit pre-release turned out to be a few dozen story missions, less than ten strikes, and (now) two large scale raids that are practically required for the best non-Crucible gear in the game.

For a game that was advertised almost like the game that would dethrone Borderlands as the shining example of what PvE could be, Destiny does an amazing job of shoving players away from the PvE.

The story is weak and practically absent, the characters might as well be ATMs built into the walls of the tower and the main story comes in at under half an hour of content.

For a game that was advertised almost like the game that would dethrone Borderlands as the shining example of what PvE could be, Destiny does an amazing job of shoving players away from the PvE and into a PvP arena, which isn’t what many of us (including myself) thought we were signing up for when we bought the game.

We hoped and believed we’d be getting into a game that was a team-heavy co-op shooter with some great pvp as an aside, but really, we got the opposite. We got another “competitive multiplayer game with an excuse plot to justify all those hours you’ll be spending in the Crucible” kind of game. Destiny is just Call of Duty, wearing a sci-fi skin, in the end. But then again, this is a Cracktivision Activision game, after all. Bungie was just a selling point, it seems. Shame on us for believing.

What can be done?

Now, in an age of DLC and Expanisions, constant updates and practically assured sequels, Destiny doesn’t have to languish as the failure-to-launch-as-advertised game it is forever. To make one final Borderlands comparison, the very first Borderlands game launched with a lackluster and disappointing (if longer than Destiny’s) main story, and a heavy reliance on grinding. However, that story became amusing, and the world more compelling, as the DLC chapters released, and Borderlands 2 was virtually top of the class upon release as a result of Borderlands 1’s initial failures, and Borderlands 2 continued to get even bigger, better, and more expansive as more content was added post-release (I love my Mechromancer!). It’s not beyond reason or hope that this could also happen with Destiny.

Bungie is capable of great stories and meaningful co-op gameplay—just look at their entries in the Halo series.I think that Destiny’s future as a great co-op title rests firmly in Bungie telling Activision “no, this is how WE are making OUR game. You just market the thing like a good little publisher.”

Unless this was all secretly Bungie’s fault to begin with. In which case we’re probably screwed.

House of Wolves is going to face an uphill battle, and an all-or-nothing one at that. Given the numbers of players who are tiring of doing the same old thing over and over and subsequently leaving (either for good or until the next expansions hit), HoW is going to have to knock the ball out of the park if Destiny‘s troubled first installment is going to stand a chance of remaining a valid choice for gamers.


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Author
Drew Foster
is a heavy gamer, writer, reader. and general layabout who dreams of one day becoming a published author and video game journalist.