Published on: Apr 9, 2015 @ 15:14
Contributing authors: Taylor Bair & Christian Maund
Destiny has introduced players to incredible, vibrant worlds, excellent gunplay mechanics and satisfying game modes. The integration of these into a satisfying package has resulted in a product that has hooked many of us from the start.
In spite of this, we feel that there are some obstacles to players taking full advantage of everything Destiny has to offer. We all may dream of grandiose implementations of sparrow racing and flawless Raid matchmaking, but it pays to be a little more realistic.
We also have included suggestions in our article about burnout solutions, so be sure to check that out.
Here are 10 simple things that could make the game better, and ideas for how they could be easily and realistically implemented.
As far as priority goes, this should be way, way up the list. Players who are interested in grinding reputation and experience are constantly bombarded with the same old challenges over and over again.
While they may have once presented an interesting mix of challenge and flavor, it is just impossible to get the same excitement from completing the same 6 Vanguard Bounties after the twentieth time of returning to the tower to hand them in.
Bounties are a feature that have so much flexible potential, and we’ve been stuck with the same ones from the game’s inception. Events such as Queen’s Wrath had introduced new obligations, and although they were much the same style, even these brought a modicum of variety to a ritual that has by now grown undeniably stale.
Eris Morn showed promise with more creative and tricky challenges for specific classes, but as most have long since maxed their reputation with her, our collective enthusiasm for still doing these has been somewhat mollified.
How can bounties be better?
For one, there could be a lot more. Assuming you collectively count “Kill 10 X Majors”, “Kill X Strike Boss” and “Complete 6 X Patrol mission” etc., there are barely 15 different bounties. With the variety of enemies and ways to kill them, Bungie already has a myriad of permutations available for directing our gameplay into new and meaningful avenues.
While adding something simple like “Melee 10 Vex” is basically just a new coat of paint on a tried product, the very introduction of even superficial novelty like this can do wonders for staving off burnout. It’s reasonable to assume Bungie could readily tweak parameters to create different rotations of bounties, and Guardians would be grateful for the change of pace.
Addtionally, Bounties could be giving players a motive to explore the more viscerally and aesthetically pleasing areas of the game. Pointing a weapon and pulling the trigger is all fine and good, but exploration is a facet of gameplay that has been heretofore untapped by Bounties and really Destiny at large.
To take things further, Bounties would do well to focus on a “quest mentality” going forward. Perhaps a “Legendary Bounty” each week? Multi-stage mini-stories in which your Guardian is tasked with disposing of certain enemies, hunting down something valuable, and interacting with known story elements outside of the main quest, would be a welcome diversion that, while certainly taking some work, wouldn’t be wholly unreasonable to expect from a game like Destiny.
Awhile ago we uncovered unfinished Treasure Maps in the game’s database, so perhaps something like this is coming with HoW?
More Vendor Interaction
The NPCs that used to sell us useful gear lose all meaning the moment you outlevel their gear quality. Although we may have benefitted from our relationship with the Shipwright as we progressed through the story, she and other vendors are largely cosmetic in function once a Guardian reaches the endgame.
Having truly useful Vendors that could provide us goods from a constantly changing stock would help keep things interesting, as they could sell to us the items for which we might otherwise scrounge through endless strikes while fiendishly decrypting each and every blue engram that drops.
Many Guardians have problems managing Glimmer too. As it stands, Iron Banner and Heavy Ammo serve as the only real drain on the resource that is ever-accumulating, and having Vendors that sell useful consumables, additional cosmetic options, or any number of modifications to armor/weapons or personal flair could help Bungie find a way to make us willing to spend, spend, spend.
One way to curate this relationship is to have Vendors, in essence, level with the player. Rank up packages could include bulk packages of class-specific upgrade items, or these could also be made available for purchase from otherwise vestigial vendors for a nominal fee. Many players have noted the frustration in amassing enough of these upgrade materials when trying to quickly level a second character, so creating a relationship with a Vendor could be an easy way to remedy this. They could also be guaranteed to include a single cosmetic item or credit towards one, that could then be exchanged with the different factions for one of your choosing.
Better use of the Game’s World
The first time we touched down on Venus and had this massive world to explore, it was truly awesome. It is a well designed environment, and it seems to be practically begging for a reason to be explored. Strangely, outside of a patrol bounty, no such reasons exist!
After completing the appropriate story missions for a Planet, the game casually whisks you off to your next adventure and giving you no reasons to return to discover anything new. This seems an absolute waste for an environment into which so much loving attention to detail has clearly been poured.
Bungie should look into giving more incentives to get out into these environments. Simple consumable, material, or reputation rewards or achievements for exploration would be a good place to start.
These worlds also undeniably lack personality. One could argue this lends each planet a bleak beauty, but this would be missing the point. What are the Cabal up to on Mars when not under siege by the Guardian and his Ghost? What are the Fallen looking for in the Cosmodrome? How do the Vex bury their dead? Do they just take parts and reassemble their brethren? If so, wouldn’t it be interesting to walk into an area and see a few hobgoblins dragging parts around, gathering them in piles or reassembling a unit?
Sure, run in there and gun them down while they’re doing it, but just the fact that they’re doing it fleshes out the world Bungie has built. We hear stories from the Tower and Ghost about the many Guardians before us that have braved these hostile worlds for the good of the Traveler. Why don’t we ever see any of these? Even a simple Easter Egg for dedicated players to track down would go a long way.
Something Destiny seriously lacks is any player character development or attitude. We can attempt to stand out with our unique armor variations and weapons, but the guardians beneath are basically faceless and bland pawns to exploit in order to play the game.
Some simple customization could make our characters truly memorable and reflect how we play the game. Personal touches such as the gait of his walk, or wave or dance variations could add a bit of unique style that doesn’t outright require re-writing or re-recording the entire script of the game.
And while it might be considered a bit too “Bioware”, our characters already speak in cutscenes, so how difficult would it be to have canned responses tailored to a select personality? If you prefer the cocky, finger-on-the-trigger Guardian, why not have a VO shout a witty quip as they shoot all those Fallen in the battlefield? If you’re more the sober-minded vanguard of justice, why not a line or two about how Earth is a safer place without those gross Hive Thralls skulking about?
Admittedly, these changes would be something for content further down the line – it’s not easy to get the cast of a game back together just for some QoL improvements – but it’s definitely something to consider.
For more on the story and how it can be improved in similar ways, see our story analysis article.
Adjusted Loot Drops
Perhaps one of the most complained about mechanics in Destiny is the completely arbitrary RNG loot allocation system. While its completely impartial nature can lead to exciting windfalls of precious loot, it just as often leaves you out in the cold.
Moreover, the inconsistent wait times that you can expect when aiming for your dream weapon or armor is not so much a bug as it is a feature. Anyone who has spent a prolonged period of time looking for a certain weapon has started to wonder at some point if this is truly the best system on which to rely.
Nobody should have to attempt the Vault of Glass ten times and receive no Mythoclast drops. Never should you get the same raid gauntlets five times a row. Never, ever, ever should you play an entire raid and not receive any rewards past increasingly useless Shards/Energy.
There’s something to be said about validating the effort players put into their games. Although the current loot system has the potential to do this, it more likely is going to give you the shaft entirely. This can be disheartening, and is no doubt a tricky tightrope to walk for game designers.
How could loot be better?
For Raids, never give the players nothing or the same item twice. Every Raid could provide at least 2 brand new items, so long as they are available and the player hasn’t been awarded them yet.
That top-dog Raid weapon shouldn’t be guaranteed, but it should get increasingly likely to drop the more you play. The Vex Mythoclast might only be a 20% chance drop, for example, but each Hard Mode completion could add an extra 10% to that rate.
The idea of working towards a goal that becomes increasingly achievable the longer you play is a very solid premise to build on. If players are as unlucky as they could possibly be, they are still eventually guaranteed the drop after completing the encounter enough times.
As for strikes, the loot, experience, and/or reputation could correlate to the kills and damage done to the bosses. It would motivate those end-game players to kill enemies, rather than just run past them, and actually give players that put in the effort a reward to show for it. Assists should count too, just so more casual players could get a fair cut on top.
Again, these are just a few ideas, definitely let us know how you hope to see loot improved in the future!
As for Crucible loot, Bungie has mentioned that they’ll be looking at ways to improve it.
It seems bizarre that the campaign allows for incredibly high level difficulties but no additional rewards for tackling them. A paltry two Ascendant Materials for completing the level 30 Daily Heroic is no longer an adequate incentive for doing so.
While replaying Destiny’s content can be an enjoyable experience with the added challenge of a Heroic & other modifiers, most would agree that there just isn’t enough reason to make the Daily worth doing – well – daily.
Bungie should tailor these level 30 difficulty rewards to things that are constantly appreciable or more relevant for those players who have reached that level. A sizable reputation boost, Radiant Materials, and buckets of Glimmer would go a long way to preventing a Guardian from glancing at The Wakening and simply saying “meh.”
Additionally, loot tables should reflect what players are likely to want from certain activities. If someone is doing a Nightfall, it’s unlikely they’re desperate for Materials anymore, and can feel like a slap in the face at times when receiving them.
Certainly, there are those players who are exceptions and still can make use of Ascendant materials, but their number must be becoming increasingly thin.
We’ve talked about it before, but it’s still always good to bring it up again. Destiny’s Crucible has such strong foundation at its core. It’s enjoyable from a pure gameplay perspective, and is itching to break out among competitive players in a big way.
Still, we know there are a few things holding the Crucible back, and Destiny could not possibly go wrong in bringing these issues to the forefront of what Bungie hopes to accomplish in making this game accessible to the widest possible demographic range.
Update: Bungie’s making positive steps towards balance as outlined in the latest weekly update.
Players have come to rely on Xûr’s weekly visits for their one chance at the Exotic they’ve been craving. Xûr’s stock has seen almost every Exotic available sold at one point or another, and the proliferation of random Exotic rewards in Nightfalls and the Raids means plenty of people have gotten duplicates without getting the one or two weapons they still actually crave.
To remedy this, how about a much slower but 100% reliable method of getting the Exotic that a Guardian still specifically wants?
Taxing Exotic missive bounties already provide a barrier to instantly getting powerhouse weapons like the Thorn or Invective, and many people find these requirements to be simultaneously the most challenging and rewarding segments of their Destiny experience. Adding another means to work towards an Exotic would help to soften the inevitable whiplash of Xûr’s cruel irony.
We’ve all finally gotten that one weapon we’d been craving in Xûr’s inventory only to have it drop in our Nightfall the next week. This new way of getting that Exotic – that could easily require Xûr to complete – could require a hefty quest of tricky objectives or the dedication to grind reputation or any other number of time-gated currencies.
However, when a Guardian finally reaches the finish line, they could be assured their long-awaited Exotic would be patiently waiting for them; “I’ve earned it!” they’ll scream. RNG would still be the most frequent way of hearing that Exotic ping, but having something concrete to work for would keep players invested at a much higher rate.
Although Destiny has a host of ways to get a more unique weapon, again very few of these come down to any personal player choice. A randomly-rolled Badger CCL might come with Firefly and Outlaw, but it could just as easily be stuck with Rangefinder and Rodeo. To top it off, every Badger CCL looks identical, no matter what roll it has, and this is a reality across all weapons.
We don’t suggest allowing for Guardians to straight-up select their perks and create their dream killing machine; this would be cool, but it would eliminate the need to hope for luck – the axis on which Destiny turns. No, we think it’d be incredible if we could just customize the look of our weapons. A slick paint job, custom sights, and maybe a little perk leeway would mean eventually using a weapon that is distinctly personalized.
You can bet you’re going to feel more attached to your hot pink Universal Remote that has seen you through thick and thin over the boring, standard version. It would be very easy to create different requirements to unlock these custom tweaks, such as requiring X amount of kills with the weapon or other challenges of varying difficulty.
Weapon customization has been universally well-received in other shooters, and Destiny would no doubt love the same treatment.
The Vault’s design is somewhat of a pain. Even once Bungie expands the space we’ve been allocated, for which we will certainly be grateful, and even with that nifty vault-accessing option from our phones or computers, there’s still so much time to be wasted pulling guns and crafting materials between characters.
The website functionality is interesting, but sometimes cumbersome and slow in practice. If we are given access to the vault from our inventory screen, we wouldn’t have this issue. Or how about even limited storage on our ships? The massive floating sky fortresses have to be good for something other than ferrying us from Earth to Mars, right?
What’s more, the Vault and Inventory system could stand to get a UI overhaul. As it stands, it’s simply a collection of squares in which items from a broad swath of categories are thrown in helter skelter. There is no auto-sorting mechanism, and collectible consumables are stacked with arbitrary cap numbers.
Bungie needs to give us a reason to amass collections of all the hard work that we put in. They probably have some big plans in store for inventory management, but the multitude of 3rd party apps is a mark of how desperate the community is for these changes.
That’s Where You Come In
The above suggestions may be wishful thinking in some instances, but for the most part we feel they address issues that the much of the Destiny community has agreed need some attention.
The successful integration of even one or two of these ideas would go a long way to both improving the overall quality of Destiny and assuaging doubts that Bungie ever is sitting back on an unfinished product.
We know that Destiny is an ever-evolving game, and it’s looking at ideas like these with a critical but open mind that leads to some of the best innovations in game design. We look forward to hearing your ideas for simple and doable improvements that Destiny can offer you!