TL;DR: New player crucible experience is awful both on PC and console, with console having additional problems due to the extreme importance of mods and stability.
So… I've been introducing my little bro to this game and he wanted Ace of Spades. No problem, I said, let's do this. You get to learn the PVP side of the game. He's not bad at PVP, in duels he is able to beat me, an aggressively average lifetime 1.2 kd player. He knows his stuff with shooters, together we regularly win outright in Fortnite, his favourite game.
After a couple of days, it turned out he had no progress whatsoever on the Ace PVP step. He was getting absolutely slammed every match. So… I did a somewhat naughty thing and played for him (I own his account, btw). Well, I also got hammered and it took me maybe ten matches to get it done with an Overflow/Underpressure Dire Promise… (Should have gotten Rose, I know)
Now, a lot of this has to do with him not knowing the game. This is the whole point. Nobody sane would want to learn given what you get put up against fresh off the boat.
First, you have basically no useful mods. It is extremely time consuming and rng to get them. This is mindbogglingly frustrating on console, where traction is essential, and aim mods are very important.
The best mods are locked behinds light-level gated activities and/or are hellish sweat-fests.
Your weapons are very significantly inferior. This is not so bad with autos and shotguns as it is easy to get a good one. Handcannons though. Ugh.
Your armour is junk.
You have extremely limited options for exotics. The armour side of this is particularly frustrating.
Upgrading armour requires a large amount of grinding, which you likely won't do in PVP. Even the legendary shard economy is extremely stingy when you start.
Now, of course your character is weak when you start a looter shooter. I'm guessing that if you like this game, you want this to be there. A big part of the selling proposition of Crucible 6v6 is the unbalanced chaos. But tell me , what conceivable sense is there in shoving my little bro armed with a, idk, a demolitionist Old Fashioned, across-the-board sub-60s stats and no experience or map knowledge up against a bunch of Flawless' and stacks? And, to make it extra 'fun', let's give my little bro a bigger effective hitbox than his opponents.
Don't get me wrong. I live in Australia and SBMM makes a bad situation worse with our lag. I personally don't want SBMM for my own matchmaking. Bungie's SBMM was ridiculous anyway, and still is hopeless in comp. I'm slightly above average, so I'm not the worst and I am able to learn from people better than me.
But there is no sense whatsoever putting kids who just picked this thing up into a meatgrinder. They will not stick around. It is just extremely unrewarding. Proof of that is that they haven't stuck around. Crucible right now is extremely sweaty. My little case study over here just gave up and asked me to do it.
If you ask me what went wrong here, game design wise, it all boils down to all the effort being in retaining players in-world, increasing the quantity of engagement rather than its quality. This leads to these extraordinary time-sinks which backfire, because yeah, they may keep someone playing, but new players face a just massive barrier to entry. It's not super clear where the entry is, to be honest. I guess you join a clan and practice in private? For casual PVP?
There is a lot that could be done to improve this experience: broad bracket SBMM; more attractive reward structure in comp, rumble and trials; a freelance trials playlist to drain the better player away, maybe; making traction a default mod or moving it to the controller settings; reducing the bullet magnetism benefit of aim assist mods; rethinking PVP requirements on quests. I would go as far as having a kindergarten for guardians to learn PVP with pick-up loadouts, or some kind of gun game type setup. We don't need (or necessarily want) all (or any) of these, but we need a serious rethink of how this game sets up a point of entry for new players.
Or we could do something cool like, idk, making your head smaller the more you lose at crucible. Just an idea. Have an emblem called Microcephalic attached to that. Maybe a triumph if your head vanishes entirely.
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