Destiny 2

A 2,500 word write-up on the State of Gambit and potential Reworks to improve the mode going forward.

destiny2 6 - A 2,500 word write-up on the State of Gambit and potential Reworks to improve the mode going forward.
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I wrote a roughly 2,500 word analysis on the State of Gambit and possible solutions and reworks to improve the mode back around Shadowkeep's launch, but at the time it ended up being drowned out by other posts and was largely ignored. I've touched up on it since then but I still believe all of the points written here are relevant and if several of these changes were implemented it would result in a significant portion of the Destiny community feeling a renewed love for the mode. If you post "Gambit sucks" or "lol who plays Gambit" in a comment then I want you to know you are not unheard, I am deliberately ignoring all of you because I think you're the worst.

When Gambit was first announced in June of 2018 the excitement for the mode in the community was palpable. Streamers and content creators who had traveled to Bungie for a previous community summit praised the mode for it's ingenuity, the strategy, and how fun it was. When the mode was released for players to get into with Forsaken those sentiments rang true, Gambit was a great new addition to Destiny and it felt like it was proper mainstay for the series just like Strikes and Crucible before. However, if you gauge community sentiment now a large portion of the playerbase loathes playing Gambit. The mechanics that made the mode feel unique and fun before had turned repetitive, and team aspects made it feel as though if you weren't trying your hardest to win for your team you were being an active detriment instead.

Let's identify some of the key issues with Gambit that have made it feel so tiresome to the community:

The Matchmaking

Gambit's matchmaking is without a doubt, the worst out of any other matchmaker in this game. There is no balance between premade teams, no balance between player skill, and no balance between loadouts and roles. Every match you play with no person willing to invade for your side against a premade team when you have a new light player on your team is a testament to how bad this matchmaker is.

Direction and Introduction

Gambit has no tutorial whatsoever to ease new players into the mode, you do not receive any sort of tutorial message until you are in the heat of your first match and you get a litany of angry steam comments on your profile about how bad you are at the game. Bungie has attempted to push players into certain actions and strategies with voice lines from the Drifter advising you to bank and bounties requiring specific enemy kills, such as high value targets and Envoys,

Objectives

Gambit has two clear objectives in the match, fill your bank with motes picked up from enemies and defeat the primeval before the enemy team does. The problem with these singular objectives is the method of completing it rarely differs match-to-match, Prime added the draining mechanic which allows you to steal motes from the enemy team but unless the match is a clear stomp it will almost never make an impact on the match.

Rewards and Roles

The rewards in Gambit have never been the focus of the gamemode for it's entire lifespan, besides a few pinnacle weapons or the Reckoner/Dredgen titles you never work towards something when you are playing Gambit. This echoes into the role system introduced in Prime, while a cool mechanic in theory the introduction falls terribly flat as the armor sets required to lean into a roll end up taking precious inventory space for your character and your vault. Nowadays when you load into a Gambit Prime match you'll almost never spot someone playing a specific role unless they're working on Reckoner.

Now that some clear issues have been identified what can be changed to fix them while making the mode fresh and fun for all players?

The solution and rework

Here are some clear goals we want to make the core of the rework to Gambit:

  1. Make the mode fun and fair for all players of every skill level
  2. Make the mode easier to get into and understand
  3. Add incentives to keep players invested in the mode and seek to improve themselves within it
  4. Add variance to the match-to-match gameplay loop
  5. Make the role system more intuitive and buff the underperforming roles

Our result from all of this results in


Gambit 2.0

Gambit Tutorial Quest – Mandatory quest for all new players before being allowed access to any Gambit Classic/Prime match (different tutorial for each mode required). Directs players to Gambit custom game screen where they can launch the tutorial mode at any time. Drifter will direct the player through the basics of the mode with voiceover guiding them to kill a set of enemies in a wave and deliver their motes to the bank, the first wave will yield them 5 motes to send a small blocker. After clearing the next wave the player will have 10 motes and en route to the bank the 'enemy team' will send over a wave of blockers which the player will be required to clear before being allowed to bank their motes. After clearing the bank the player is let known that a High-Value Target has appeared in the area and they will be directed to kill the target, when the target is dead the invader sound and screen effect will appear to the player and Drifter will tell them that this means someone from the enemy team will have come to kill them and deny their motes. While no player will have been sent due to the solo player nature of the tutorial the player will be told it's recommended they hide until the timer runs out for the invader. After they bank their final set of motes the portal will open and the drifter will tell them to invade, Drifter will tell the player that their goal is to seek our players holding motes and kill them to deny them from the enemy bank. When the player returns the Primeval will be spawned with around 1/10th of the normal health but will be immune until the Envoys are killed, when the health is at the halfway point the player will be automatically killed supposedly from an "invader" to demonstrate that invader kills in this stage heal the primeval. When the player kills the primeval the 5 minute tutorial mission will end and the player will be allowed access to Gambit Classic.

A separate Gambit Prime Tutorial should also be added which introduces what each role can do in a match and teaches players about the new mechanics in play. Also a new game mechanic unique to prime should be added where a player can stand in a randomly appearing "Well of Dark" which takes about 10 seconds to fill and will add 10 motes directly to your bank, but will also not send a blocker to the enemy side.

Gambit Classic Balance – In Gambit Classic allow small tier 1 adds to spawn in the zones other than where the main wave is at, but only allow this after 30 motes have been banked and make it detrimental for more than 1 person to be doing this to incentivize the rest of the team to clear the main wave. Additionally to this mechanic change the portal opening at each 30 mote mark so it takes longer for the first invaders to show up in the match. To compensate for this increased mote requirement and the larger amounts of motes generated due to the small waves increase the mote amount from 75->90 motes per round. Matches will still last roughly the same amount of time but this should make the Classic experience much more casual for people to enjoy. When matchmaking players for Classic ensure that premade teams are heavily weighted to match against other premade teams of the same size, this dissuades competitive players from stacking up to stomp more casual players.

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Gambit Prime Balance – Gambit Prime by itself is not in a terrible spot entirely, with the added mechanic of the Well of Dark simply increase the mote requirement for the Primeval to 120 motes (with the same 30 mote portal mark like Classic) but do not include the small extra waves that are active in Gambit Classic. Also lean heavily into Prime being the Competitive equivalent for Gambit, introduce a new ranking system with 2 available options for matchmaking: Freelance and Prime. Much like Survival, Freelance will not allow any premade team to enter while Prime allows matchmaking regardless of team size. Additionally when matchmaking you will only match with players within 3 ranks of the matchmakee or within 3 ranks of the highest ranked person in your premade team. Finally the matchmaker will prioritize finding teammates using a different role than your own so you don't often conflict with your partners.

Prime Role Assignment – When exchanging items to the Drifter for Rewards (see later) you'll rank up your Synthesizer (the same one used for Reckoning, Veteran players won't need to rank it up if their's is already max) at the first rank you'll only be able to infuse the Reckoning armor set and any Gambit armor pieces, at Rank 2 you can infuse any Legendary gear, and at Rank 3 you can infuse Exotic armor. Some things to note about how the synthesizer and the role infusion will work:

  • Tokens introduced in the Reward Changes will be localized into the Synthesizer inventory much like the Chalice or the Dawning Oven so they do not take additional inventory space
  • To avoid clutter you can only infuse armor pieces you have equipped currently, you can select each one within the synthesizer for individual infusion.
  • There should be an infuse all option
  • Armor pieces infused should have their outlines in your inventory changed to the color of their infused role for easy tracking (Sentry color made more Orange to be more noticeable against a gold masterwork border)

To prioritize armor balance and push people into using Gambit and Reckoning armor primarily they will be the cheapest to infuse, only requiring a single (tier 2) Token with other legendary armor needing 1 (tier 3) Token and an Exotic requiring 1 (Ascendant) Token.

Role Changes – Some of the Prime roles are fairly well balanced (Reaper and Invader respectfully) the other roles are lacking in comparison. Here are some changes to compliment those roles and make them more enticing picks:

Collector – Tier 1 perk added functionality of having a Vacuum effect on nearby motes. Tier 4 Giant Blocker health increased by 100%.

Sentry – Tier 1 perk added functionality of adding a stacking damage reduction to your team for each Blocker you kill (Small grants 1 stack, Medium grants 2, Large grants 3, Giant grants 5), increases up to 25% damage reduction until next death. Tier 4 perk added functionality of Increasing individual weapon damage by 30% for 30 seconds after cleansing a Well of Dark.

Reaper – Tier 1 perk added functionality by marking High Value Targets when they appear in the arena.

Reward Changes – As an incentivization to urge players into Prime the reward system will be completely overhauled. Losing a match in Gambit Classic will grant 1-3 (tier 1) Item Referral Token which will give the player a blue-quality item, while winning a Gambit Classic match will grant the player 5-10 (tier 1) Item Referral Tokens. 5 of these (tier 1) Tokens can be traded in for a (tier 2) Token which will grant the player a random legendary open world item, as such 5 (tier 2) Tokens can be traded for a (tier 3) Token which can be exchanged directly with the Drifter for a specific random rolled Gambit or Gambit Prime weapon. Finally 5 (tier 3) Tokens can be traded for a single (Ascendant) Token that can be traded for a curated version of any Gambit or Gambit Prime weapon (minus a few exceptions) and 3 of these (Ascendant) Tokens can be traded for an Enhancement Shard further tying players into the item endgame by playing Gambit 2.0 matches.

This system works like:

(All Gambit Prime synths are converted to Tokens)

  • 1 (tier 1) Token – Blue item
  • 5 (tier 1) Tokens – Legendary gear – 1 (tier 2) Token
  • 25 (tier 1) Tokens – Guaranteed Gambit weapon – 1 (tier 3) Token
  • 125 (tier 1) Tokens – Guaranteed Curated Gambit weapon – 1 (Ascendant) Token
  • 375 (tier 1) Tokens – 1 Enhancement Shard – 3 (Ascendant) Tokens

I can already hear the keyboard warriors typing "But that's 37 winning matches of Classic for a single Ascendant Shard!" Yes, that is the point. If you want to get these rewards much faster you must play Gambit Prime and advance in the rankings. Winning matches in each rank will have a high chance of awarding Tokens of an equal level. At the lowest rank you'll have an extremely low chance of getting an (Ascendant) Token, but if you play at the highest possible rank each win will guarantee a drop of an (Ascendant) Token.

Match end rewards (Weapons and Armor) would remain untouched. These tokens would be located directly in the player's Synthesizer to reduce inventory clutter, you would only need to speak with Drifter in order to redeem the tokens for upgrade materials and your choice of weapons/armor.

Make Gambit Fun (Arcadey modes) – While all these changes are good and all Gambit might still feel very sweaty even in low ranks of Prime and in Classic matches. Now there should be a weekly featured arcade mode with wacky premises to the match.

  1. Crowded – Both teams play on the same arena but cannot attack each other or their Primevals (Primeval spawns on Left and Right wave sides respectively) but general enemies, ammo boxes, and Envoy kills can be taken by either team.
  2. Minion mode – Medium Blockers are replaced by Taken Wizards which do not attack but instead spawn several shadow thrall that have 200% increased melee damage.
  3. Architect Paradise – Every blocker is a Taken Phalanx with different health and knockback effects based on their level
  4. King of the Hill – Similar to Crowded where both teams play on the same arena except you can only kill the enemy team while you and them are in a 15m proximity to the Bank

In Summary

Please do something like this Bungie, I'm the best Gambit player in my clan and for a period was one of the best PC gambit players yet I hate playing Gambit. If a player like me hates playing Gambit then how does the average player feel about it?

Also any Content Creators or Community Influences reading this, if you get the chance to speak with people working at Bungie directly about player feedback please reference changes like these proposed.

If you have any suggestions to add

Edit to original post: I left out one small aspect that I believe should also be added to further incentivize players to equip their armor with the roles. Instead of getting the curated weapon drop from doing certain actions in the match reward players with a Role Reward Token which can be given to Drifter to obtain the curated Prime weapon of that role, or can be broken down in your Synth to give you enhancement shards and very rarely enhancement prisms.

Player Suggestions from previous post

  • Instead of a forced tutorial introduce the tutorial mode in the custom game area and give out an optional quest that rewards upgrade materials so new players have a reason to do it
  • Role tutorial quest that rewards players with a piece of armor for that role for each step completed
  • Remove randomly spawning Heavy Ammo (including from perks like Taken Armaments) and replace them with several (lower ammo) heavy ammo crates near the bank that can only be picked up by a single person each. Removes the RNG factor from the match, and levies a degree of Strategy that can further influence the match.

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