Yesterday I briefly mentioned the issue happening right now with Shaders, but I had a few people ask me directly what exactly was going on. So I thought I would take a moment this morning to explain the issue from my perspective. In the original Destiny Shaders were an item that dropped that when applied effected the color scheme and sometimes physical properties of your armor. It was a purely cosmetic system, but one that the players latched onto with both hands. The Shaders themselves dropped from all manner of activities and occasionally were attached to achievements. This happened with enough relative rarity that when you got one… you noticed and immediately started playing with it. Each Guardian could carry a total of nine shaders with them at any given time… and I personally found myself swapping back and forth between shaders on a regular basis to fit my current mood or to coordinate which whatever weapon loadout I happened to be rocking that night. To say I was engaged in the system is probably a bit of an understatement given that I had 103 of them according to the achievement that tracks such progress. I was by no means the most prolific however because there were folks in game who had literally every single one… and you can see in the above photo… the ones that are greyed out are ones I had not found yet. The system itself was pretty limited and some shaders looked good on some armor sets… but absolutely horrible on others. However it was something that gave us some license to stand out in the tower from the other Guardians also wearing Iron Banner gear.
With the lead up to Destiny 2 there was so much talk about how improved the Shader system was going to be. It was announced that we would be able to apply shaders individually to armor pieces and even our weapons. As a long time supporter of cosmetic systems this seemed amazing, because it would finally give us some level of granular control over our appearance. In Destiny 1 it was annoying when your chest-piece looked amazing with a specific shader applied, but your boots or arms looked completely horrible. This was especially true when rocking the various combinations of black and white like I regularly did… and it would have allowed us to swap around until we found a specific shader that worked for each individual item. While playing the “Demo” I found it curiously lacking that they didn’t show off the new shader system, but given this was a build of game originally shown at E3 I thought maybe it was simply left out because the system had not been finished at that point. It was not until launch that we actually saw the system at work… and realized that shaders were not a single use consumable item. The above image is of my shader “collection” in Destiny 2, and all of these so far have come through the starter packages that you keep getting handed by the Eververse vendor at the Farm each time you reach a specific level plateau. Why the community is going to war over this minor point is the fact that Bungie took what used to be a very good but limited system… and turned it into a potential cash grab.
Yesterday Luke Smith released a sequence of statements on his Twitter account talking about the issue… and the answer feels less than satisfactory. Luke is literally the only person who thinks that doing “shader farming” is a good idea. That sounds miserable especially when it means that you now somehow need to rope five of your friends to follow you down a rabbit hole just so you can have pretty armor for the week. It is hard enough to convince people to run old school World of Warcraft raids when only transmog items are on the line… let alone run a 2-3 hour long Destiny raid that never really trivializes… for armor paint. Now up until this statement I was taking a wait and see approach and in part I still am. I noticed that all of the planet faction NPCs had shaders on their loot table that you can get from engrams. Maybe as he says as we start to grind faction we will be swimming in armor spray paint, but more than likely there is still going to be a sizable number of shaders that are only available through bright engrams. Bright engrams for reference are the new RNG loot box that the Eververse sells for Silver. Right now the equivalent conversion rate is $5 to 3 Bright Engrams… and while these drop organically each time you fill up your xp bar again post level 20… that is going to be a less than enjoyable grind to get them. While I have not actually opened an actual Bright Engram, I have been opening the assorted packages that Eververse gives you in the farm and through those I have received a bunch of shaders enough to make me think that this is going to be the easier way to get them.
As of last night I hit 15 and probably will push through to 20 tonight, so I should start to see this supposed increased shader drop rate shortly. What is frustrating to me is that everything else about the game is really amazing. However that amazing is slightly tarnished by the fact that I know one of my favorite systems has turned into something I looked forward to using… to something I will probably hoard and never actually use. You change out gear in Destiny constantly… and even on my maximum light cap 400 characters in the original game… I was regularly tweaking and fiddling with my build out each time I got some new interesting piece of loot. There is never going to be a point where you can set your armor selection in stone, knowing that you will likely never get something that works better for you. Each patch Bungie tweaks this or that making it likely that you are going to be swapping gear our to optimize whatever you happen to be going for this week. There is never going to be a point where you have enough of your favorite shaders… nor will you have the freedom to swap them around at will just to do silly things like have everyone raiding in Glowhoo or that hideous McDonald’s looking shader. Shaders were fun and one of those few non-gear rewards that you loved seeing at the end of a Crucible match or after a strike. Gone are the days when you cannot wait to try on the new shader you just got to see what it looks like. Now instead it is going to be a stack in your inventory that keeps going up in number… but you still feel like you maybe shouldn’t use yet because there is a really awesome item waiting around the corner that you might want it for. So that in a nutshell is the situation with shaders and why the Destiny 1 player base is frustrated by it.