What’s Wrong with Matchmaking?

One day Destiny may have amazing matchmaking, just not anytime soon.

Over the years we’ve seen age-old concepts like playlists and clans take on new and exotic shapes, slowly edging toward the multiplayer climate we see today. So when Destiny hit store shelves in 2014, it was a surprise to see matchmaking take on a diminished role.

Bungie pioneered modern day competitive multiplayer with Halo 2 and 3. So why does Destiny lack a robust matchmaking component?

Bungie wanted the high-risk, high-reward game modes to have a social aesthetic even if doing so meant neglecting other aspects. For instance, Prison of Elders begins as an engaging mode for matchmaking at level 28, but players are left to their own devices level 32 and beyond. This is unconventional and doesn’t fit the FPS mold very well. The decision began as questionable logic but has devolved into a quantifiable weakness.

Halo 3 took advantage of Trueskill matchmaking, which quantified player achievement and made multiplayer a mostly enjoyable experience. Where Halo 3 provided access to all matchmaking elements right out of the gate, Destiny keeps a lot of these features reserved for specific game modes: weekly strikes, regular strikes, Crucible and the entry-level of Prison of Elders.

If you’re on LFG, you’ll notice that very few people are searching for Y1 content like Vault of Glass or PoE. This hurts new players without friends who play Destiny that can help them through this. One reason to “upgrade” Y1 content is to keep it relevant for LFG; if there aren’t better incentives, and/or a better way to find a groups for these old activities, some will miss out.

If you’re in the Crucible, skill-based matchmaking seems to cause horribly laggy games. Being able to choose whether “skill” or “connection” is preferable would be great.

For a game that is marketed to be as much a social experience as it is an action-packed adventure, it pains me to see it’s glory flown half-mast. Luke Smith offered the following explanation in EDGE:

The reason that people quit out of strikes is because there’s no consequence to their departure, just a punishment for that disposable person on the other end of the line. It’s pretty hard for me, emotionally, to want to subject groups of players to that. What’s not hard for me to think about is a version of Destiny that makes it easier to look for and find groups to go engage in difficult content with, a version that helps bring people together in a way that the current software doesn’t.

Releasing an online game with diminished matchmaking capabilities would be like Apple approving a Twitter app without search integration. What we get is a stunted interpretation of what Destiny could be. Hopefully Destiny 2 provides the additional features that we need!

Jim Wallace

If the beach isn’t open, you can find me lifting weights at the local gym. If the gym isn’t open I am known to frequent Starbucks. If Starbucks isn’t open you should be quite worried. I’m unsavory without my fix.

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