Last night I managed to hit the first soft cap of 345 through doing some of the content that happens immediately following the completion of the main story. I am still a bit dismayed at how short it ended up being. The core problem with the experience is there was a disconnect between how the NPCs were acting and the events that were actually occurring. What I mean by that is when we took down Ghaul… he had done enough to interfere with our lives to make us really hate him by the time we reached the point of final confrontation. With Warmind… they end up treating the Worm God we are fighting with similar contempt… even though we only found out one exists on Mars a few minutes earlier. Sure I get the fact that the Worm Gods are one of the galaxies great sources of evil and they were key in creating the Hive in the first place. I’ve read the Book of Sorrows and understand that all… but the average player has not.
The average player would be going into that scene wondering what in the hell a Worm God is and why these two NPCs seem so freaked about it. The problem being that the game didn’t really give us enough run up to reach this supposedly epic conclusion. It feels a lot like the campaign in Rise of Iron where you have some epic things going on… but nowhere enough lead up to make them feel like that epic nature is earned. Sure taking down a giant SIVA enfused Iron Lord was a slick final fight just like taking down a Worm God was a slick final fight… but in both cases it felt like we lacked significant reason for what we were doing. I mean the “Guardian” is the Deus Ex Machina to fix all problems much like the Warrior of Light is in Final Fantasy XIV. The problem is it feels like that role is earned in FFXIV whereas we sorta just magically are able to best everything in Destiny without really knowing why we are so much better than apparently every other Guardian out there.
Tam and I get into these discussions a lot and he is usually the one raising these points. The funny thing is they generally revolve on why he quit playing a game, and for me this is an annoyance but by no means a game breaker. I feel like there is a magic formula that keeps me engaged in a game. First you have to have a core mechanical loop that I enjoy, for example in Destiny I love the gun play and the movement which makes me feel awesome as I traverse this beautifully rendered world. The second point of that magical formula is that there has to be something in the game that I want to do. There needs to be some objective out there that drives me forward and keeps me engaged with the game when the shiny newness of the mechanical loop wears off.
Please note what I said there… something I want to do. For example in a game like World of Warcraft there can never be a possible way that I would ever run out of things to do and content I have not actually seen. Similarly in Final Fantasy XIV there is just too much content to ever find a true end to it. The problem is in both of those games I have rather regularly reached a point where there is simply nothing left that I care to do. Either the content left involves something I don’t much enjoy like Player versus Player interactions or it feels like it has more stick than carrot attached to it. I reached this point after Trials of Osiris in Destiny 2 where the mechanical loop simply was not enough and the repetitive and unrewarding nature of the Infinite Forest made it so that I just didn’t feel like logging in anymore.
While Warmind is an extremely short expansion… it feels like it might be a fairly intricate one. What I mean by that is there are already a bunch of post credits items that the game is asking me to do that spawn new opportunities to go off on adventures. I am sure there will be an end to this, but in some ways it reminds me of the style of interaction that happened on the Dreadnaught in The Taken King. There are puzzles to be solved and items to interact with in ways that I have not quite figured out. There were weapons to collect that are associated with questing, and others that folks don’t even know how they work as of yet. There are drops that can be used to improve most of the exotic weapons, and in it a bunch of interesting ways to feel like I keep moving forward.
On the other end however the new grind is real. After hitting 345 and finally accepting my Milestones for the week… each one of those rewarded a 351 item… 6 levels of movement off the base whereas before we were regularly getting upwards of 15 levels of movement from the same milestones. This means that journey to 385 is going to be an extremely long one when you have a very finite number of weekly options to give any sense of movement. This means that if I find myself engaged in this game again I will by nature need to push the Hunter and the Warlock through Curse of Osiris so that I can have three sets of weekly upgrade options instead of one. Sure the armor won’t swap over but those weapons can keep pushing up slowly over the course of multiple characters.
The game needed something and in truth at this point I am not sure if this is what that need was. The problem with Destiny 2 is that on paper it looks like the sequel I wanted for Destiny. However in practice it has always felt lacking in part because it felt like we sacrificed so much cool stuff from the first one to get this as a result. Nothing I have seen from this game justifies the reasons why we had to reset back to ground zero. I know they felt like they wanted a fresh start, to shed any bad blood from the first title. However I feel like that plan backfired horribly. I’m interested to see where they can go with Warmind and if they can give us justification going forward to buy the “Comet” expansion that has been looming on the horizon and leaked via the Canadian Walmart website. The one act that would go a long ways to building good will for me personally… would be to port the old patrol zones to Destiny 2 and make it feel like we didn’t abandon half the world to get this game.