At the start of every season (and to a lesser extent, expansion), we enjoy some of the new activities on offer and acquire a powerful drop or two. But after a brief mission and a quick foray into the horde mode of the month, in order to grind, you are then expected to go back and play the same strikes, the same crucible maps, and the same gambit maps all with the same loot pools that have not been updated since Forsaken.
This post is not directed towards endgame activities related to the core activities—such as Trials or Nightfalls. I am not saying those activities are issue free (Trials should have been as close to a minimum 1:1 to what we had in D1, flawless loot and all; cheating needs addressed badly) but I want to focus on the core activities; the core playlists themselves.
Despite being called “the Core Activities” by Bungie, my clan and I refer to them as “the Chore Activities”. I have been burnt out on the core activities for some time (I am sure many have here), but this season more so than ever. For example, I have not stepped into a single normal Strike according to the triumph for the season. I realize this topic is brought up often, but I think it’s important to continue bringing up the conversation since Bungie does lurk in the subreddit, and I’m just talking about DMG or Cosmo.
In September, it will have been 2 years since Forsaken dropped. In 2 years, Zavala and Shaxx in particular have had the same exact loot pool. Vanguard and Crucible tokens are absolutely worthless—I usually turn in a few thousand Crucible tokens at the end of each season to solely replenish my legendary shard stash and still have thousands more in case Shaxx ever gets updated. The Drifter has new items related to the current season, but his Gambit loot pool has remained exactly the same—same armor set and same set of weapons since Forsaken. Gambit Prime is a bit better though, since Season of the Drifter brought us the Gambit Prime/Reckoning set of weapons. Despite this, Season of the Drifter dropped March 5th, 2019–about a year and 5 months ago.
Bungie leans HARD on the core activities. If you think about it, you probably spend well over 60% of your total playtime in one of these activity playlists, perhaps even higher for non-raiders and/or solo players. Every exotic quest and honestly every new season quest at some point has some step that requires you to “calibrate the weapon by defeating guardians in the Crucible” or by “completing 3 fallen strikes with 150 fallen kills” or “power x object or learn about y thing by killing Taken in Gambit”.
Destiny is a video game, and an MMO at that (now claimed by Bungie), so it is no surprise necessarily that grinding is required and that they would leverage/re-use the core activities that make up the bulk of the game. But despite leaning on these activities for so long, even new Shadowkeep players have done every strike probably 1000 times since last fall.
But in this “ever evolving world” of Destiny, things sure feel damn stagnant in the activities we play the most.
We desperately need a vendor refresh, especially for Zavala and Shaxx. The playlists themselves also need some love. Unfortunately, Bungie has said they don’t want to make a bunch of weapons and then have them become irrelevant once players quickly acquire them. Bungie has also said they could do a Season if Strikes for example to bolster them if the players wanted it, but that was over a year ago.
But if Beyond Light drops and Shaxx and Zavala have the same inventory, we will have a huge problem. Bungie can not delay a vendor refresh any longer. Furthermore, the playlists themselves need love.
Luke Smith himself said in the Beyond Light reveal that perhaps they have experimented too much in Destiny’s lifetime. I couldn’t agree more. But there were also several features that have come and gone that players loved and were true innovations, but were cast aside for seemingly no reason.
For Strikes, in order of simple to extreme asks:
-Again, we need a Zavala refresh. Badly. I think if the inventory was refreshed each annual fall expansion, this would be enough.
-In addition, bring back weekly random rolls for Zavala’s inventory.
-Bring back Strike specific loot. Even if we get a new loot pool, no one liked the token system that launched with D2 looking back now. Give me a reason to want to do specific strikes and have the loot drop in game.
-Consider adding Skeleton Keys back into the game. Most people I know loved them. Players love secrets and special keys to those secrets. Helps curb RNG as well. Maybe my recent play through of Warioland is causing this, but I love using a key to access some hidden loot.
-Add some kind of Treasure Goblins to the game. In Diablo 3, a special goblin will randomly appear on occasion. If you can murder them before they escape, they drop glimmer, planetary mats, enhancement cores, extra loot, or very rarely ships and sparrows or other cosmetics. Don’t need a unique model, just make a glowing enemy and make their nameplate have a unique color.
-Rare Spawns. People have been asking for them since D1. Similar to the treasure goblin idea, just make a re-colored enemy (red, house of devils fallen for example or black spider tank from Bergusia), and give them a unique text color (maybe purple) and combatant unique icon. Then put these rare spawns everywhere like Randal the Vandal in Wrath of the Machine. Put them in raids, put them in lost sectors, but most of all, put them in Strikes to make Strikes more exciting.
-Puzzle Ring. Another unique thing I love in Diablo 3. There is a legendary ring that can drop, that upon dismantle, opens a portal for the user and their party to travel into the realm of Greed (the Demon Lord, aspect of greed itself). The area is filled with treasure goblins, glimmer, materials, and a boss fight with Greed herself. Nothing super crazy mostly glimmer and material heavy, but Bungie could give “Greed” a unique loot pool of a couple items or cosmetics. Again, can get by with a underused model (Taken Hydra maybe?) and re-use the same tech made for the whisper mission portal. The Greed area is really small in D3–doesn’t have to be crazy, re-use an ascendant realm area from Forsaken.
For Crucible, in order of simple to extreme asks:
-Shaxx also desperately needs an inventory refresh/new loot pool. Badly. I think if the inventory was refreshed each annual fall expansion, this would be enough.
-Rewards for commitment and mastery. It’s harder to add loot or loot incentives to the crucible, since the fun of playing against human players is often enough. But, the rewards and dedication available to especially less skilled players is pitiful at best. Since launch, the only rewards available from regular Crucible come from Shaxx’s loot pool. We got pinnacle and ritual weapons, but those are all being retired and Bungie said they could make Trials weapons or ritual weapons, but both. What? How can that be. Come fall, without a vendor refresh there will be no reason to play regular Crucible. The one and only Title available for normal Crucible players is Unbroken, which came in Forsaken. Add some triumphs that grant special shaders or armor glows for people who earn x total kills in Crucible or have 10000 pulse rifle kills. Have a title for the casual players work towards by spending their dedicated time and not necessarily skill. For the skilled players, grant ornaments for the PVP gear that is triumph based.
-Add rare loot and possibly the end game rewards screen back. While these are two different things technically, they existed together in D1. Red Spectre was a legendary auto rifle that was just put into the loot pool one day. While it wasn’t the best weapon, it was the auto rifle frame that Red Death (exotic D1 pulse) was modified from. In addition to a refresh, it couldn’t hurt for Bungie to maybe once a season or every other season to ghost drop a single new weapon as a surprise into the loot pool. And, if the reward screen returned, people would lose their minds if a new weapon appeared there for all to see.
-More frequent balance updates. My god. Technically not loot or content related like the rest of this post, but it needs to happen. We cannot go on with annual weapon tunings. To be fair, Bungie has been better lately about this, but the rate of balance changes needs to accelerate, not become stagnant again.
-Cheaters. You may think this only applies to Trials, but you will find cheaters in Comp as well as Iron Banner or even Quickplay. Doesn’t matter what loot gets added or if they add Rift back—the Crucible will at best always have an * next to it and at worst be unplayable if this does not get at least talked about and mitigated as much as possible ASAP.
From easiest to hardest again:
-The Drifter also needs an inventory refresh. Again, I think if the inventory was refreshed each annual fall expansion, this would be enough. However, the Drifter has also been involved with the story quiet frequently as of late, so it doesn’t feel as bad. But again, Gambit got new weapons with Gambit Prime in March 2019, a year and 5 months ago.
-Invader tuning/weapon balancing. Very tricky, I will admit. Bungie can barely balance PVE and PVP, I doubt they can balance Gambit invasion on top of that. But Sleeper Simulant died because of Gambit. Queen Breakers to a lesser extent. With Gambit and Prime becoming one mode, maybe they can tune the frequency of invasions a smidge, make heavy NOT drop or drop evenly, or make invading more risky. In my opinion, the main reason people hate Gambit is dying to Xenophage/Sleeper/Etc. from across the map with 15 motes and the inconsistent amount of heavy ammo drops.
-Rare Gambit bosses. The Meatball was really cool and unexpected for the Malfeasance quest. While it is frustrating to not get the kill, I want to see them expand on this concept. Maybe occasionally a special boss spawns (rare spawn!) that drops a masterwork weapon with a special shader or a new drop entirely.
-More Maps. There are only 6 Gambit maps, 4 of which are exclusive to Gambit Prime. I don’t think you can spawn in on the Dreaming City map anymore—at least I haven’t in ages when I occasionally play normal Gambit. Despite being a core activity, there are only 5 Gambit maps in rotation. We have not received any since Forsaken for normal Gambit and then of course we got the other ones in March 2019 with Gambit Prime. If Gambit is going to be a core activity, we need more maps.
MASTERWORK DROPS/CURATED ROLLS
I am putting this in its own section, since this could apply to any activity, including non-core activities.
With the loss of Pinnacle Weapons and Ritual Weapons, there is a hole in the game in terms of rare, droppable loot.
Masterwork Drops, and more importantly Curated Drops have been criminally underused as a feature in my opinion. Forsaken had a lot of rare curated drops, some heavily sought after (Nation of Beasts, Twilight Oath). Not all were “good”, but it felt amazing to get a special drop. Curated rolls are still in the game, but I think the last activity to feature them was Scourge of the Past. Garden did not have any, nor did any season offer curated roles in any form to my knowledge. But even if I forgot about a curated roll, we need more of them in the game. Make a special black and red version of the Crucible loot pool, and “reprise the loot” using these rare special drops. If strike specific loot is brought back, throw an even rarer version on top of the normal drop version that has a unique shader and is curated. I really like the concept of Ancient and Primal gear in Diablo 3. Ancient Gear is just legendary gear with guaranteed higher base stats (masterwork) and primal gear has perfect stats for every slot (not sure how this would work in D2, but maybe just an extra perk like full auto and a unique shader). No new weapons necessarily need to be made—just deepen the existing loot (ideally new weapons, but baby steps). They filtered with this idea already—we have Prime Engrams that glow with extra lightning and we have Umbral Engrams that exude darkness. I don’t understand why we do not have an orange/purple engram for masterwork drops and maybe add a red engram for D2s “rare/primal” ultra special cosmetic drops that just add free full auto or some other perk like celerity (and a unique shader or glow).
We have been grinding the same strike playlist for years with only a couple of new strikes and the same loot pool. We “power” our exotic weapons via their quests by murdering guardians in the Crucible over and over each season while getting nothing else for it. We all suffer through Gambit even though none of us really want to (RIP Reckoners, not me you guys are crazy).
We just need some love given to the core activities we spend a bulk of our time in. An annual loot pool refresh doesn’t seem unreasonable. A few more strikes and a map every other season for Crucible seems fair. Give Gambit some more maps, please. Maybe implement some of the stuff above to make activities and loot more interesting—most of what I suggested are classic game development tricks anyway (re-colors, more perceived tiers of loot, rare enemies)!
I am all for new stuff, but if we are also going be to forced to play the “old stuff” aka the core activities, and you want your game to feel like an “evolving, living world” and like an MMO, then please at the very least be sure to evolve and expand the core activities as well.
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