After weeks of criticism and controversy in Destiny 2, Bungie has announced a laundry list of changes coming throughout December and January that aim to improve rewards, the Crucible competitive mode, and the overall economy of the game.
In a lengthy blog post (in place of a cancelled livestream for the upcoming Curse of Osiris expansion), Bungie acknowledges the key criticisms of the game: there simply isn’t enough of it, and it’s incredibly stingy with rewarding the player. It claims its goal for the next few months of updates is to “focus on and support players who want Destiny to be their hobby – the game they return to, and a game where friendships are made.”
The first significant change is the introduction of the Masterworks weaponry tier on December 12, making Legendary guns more useful for those with a power level higher than 250. Masterworks weapons will have a few advantages, such as tracking kills, dropping orbs of light during multi-kills, and adding random, re-rollable weapon stat bonuses.
Masterworks will drop anywhere normal Legendary weapons do for those over 250 power, and can also be deconstructed to boost any other legendary weapon into the Masterworks tier. Overall, it seems like this is Bungie attempting to improve character specialisation, with the added bonus of making grinding for gear a bit more worthwhile. Bungie has stated that weapons are only the beginning, and other gear slots will get Masterworks tiers in later updates.
Armour ornaments will drop on December 5. Each of the main faction leaders at the Traveller will offer permanent, account-wide, unique cosmetic items in exchange for completing a series of objectives. These add extra flair to your gear, such as pauldrons and uh… cod-pieces… without eating up your consumable shaders and mods.
On December 12, you’ll finally be able to buy faction armour and weapons with legendary shards and faction tokens directly from their respective leaders. This is a huge change from the current system, which relies on randomised engrams. All armour will be available from the start, however the weapons will cycle weekly, so you’ll want to check in occasionally.
At the same time, the tentacle-faced merchant Xur is getting his own kind of engram. Fated Engrams can be purchased with legendary shards, and will grant you random, unowned Exotic equipment. Fancy.
The last significant change is to Reputation Tokens, the currency for unlocking engrams from faction leaders. All daily challenges and Strikes will drop more tokens than before, potentially making them actually worthwhile to do. Destination tokens (the ones you hand into each planet’s NPC, like Failsafe on Nessus or Asher on Io) are also being tweaked to make how many you get over time more consistent, but the amount of them needed to unlock an engram is also being boosted by 37%.
There are a lot of minor changes, particularly to the Gunsmith at the Traveller (the big thing is he’ll require 50% more reputation before dropping an engram…). It’s mainly focused around improving how equipment mods work, as well as getting more Legendary equipment for those hunting out Masterworks gear.
Finally, Bungie discusses the ongoing problems with XP in Destiny 2. A few weeks ago, it was caught scaling XP without informing the player, reducing how much is earned from the quicker, repeatable activities such as world events. Following this, XP scaling was removed, but then how much is required to earn a Bright Engram (the cosmetic loot boxes that can be purchased with real-world money) was increased, meaning the net change made was minimal at best.
Bungie admits this new XP system makes levelling (and, by extension, earning Bright Engrams) far too slow, and the whole affair has highlighted how opaque Destiny 2’s behind-the-scenes number crunching is, and will be “collecting data and recalibrating XP earn rates to improve them as quickly as possible”. I’d have much rather preferred specifics, but it’s a start, I suppose.
Overall, I like these changes. It’s not exactly new content, and essential changes to the Crucible mode like private matchmaking and a ranked mode are still in the vague “early next year” window, but it shows Bungie generally know the direction players have been wanting it to take since launch. A commitment on making Destiny 2 something players can spend more time in, instead of just dropping in to complete a few quick missions, is fantastic, and disconnecting faction rewards from randomised engrams is an incredibly welcome change.
Destiny 2’s really dug its claws into me since the PC version launched. It looks like I’ll still be exploring the solar system for at least a couple more months, and I’m a-ok with that.