Destiny 2

I often hesistate to openly describe how I prefer to play certain kinds of games, because the way I play these games could suggest a certain disrespect for certain elements of a game. These are elements of a game which many people have often put a lot of time, effort and care into designing and implementing.

The elements I'm mostly describing are story, narrative, voice acting, sound design and music. These are all elements I care a lot about in games, but certain games are designed in such a way that some of these become secondary and they can be safely tuned out. So I do, these are games which I look forward to having in my current 'rotation' because they're games I can do other things whilst playing.

I can listen to podcasts, watch/listen to tv shows, audiobooks or even just my own music. The game sound will be turned down - not to silent - I can still hear it, but the primary sound will be this secondary media I'm listening to whilst playing the game.

The games I do this with often have a lot in common with each other, they involve repetitive tasks or they're purely mechanical. Some examples include racing games (Forza, Gran Turismo, F1), dungeon crawlers (e.g. Diablo) and strategy games (Civilization). I really look forward to these games, they may not demand 100% of my attention whilst I'm playing them, but they're just as valued as ones that do.

Whilst I did not play the original Destiny (I logged into the beta on PS4, used the dance emote and logged off), I long suspected that it would fit into this category of games and so my excitement for the Destiny 2 PC release was primarily based on this. My expectations for the game, then, was something that I could fire up at any time, start a podcast and start grinding away for some loot on.

For a game to fit into this category, it needs to have longevity in one way or another. Diablo - I can grind away for better and better loot, the ceiling is high and difficulty scales even higher. Forza, there are plenty of races for me to complete, challenges to attempt or simply repeat races to beat my times. Civilisation, well... there's always one more turn.

How is Destiny 2 doing then? It has been three and a half weeks since the PC release and it doesn't seem to be doing terribly well. Now - I wanted to describe my criteria for this game above because I think it's important to emphasise how specific they are, and therefore how potentially unfair my criticism of it is.

I feel like I'm beginning to hit the limit of the base game. I can go days before I get a bit of gear that will marginally increase my damage or defence and as such, the loot grind isn't satisfying enough. Part of this problem is perhaps that I don't do the Raids or Nightfall strikes. These are events which require you to team up and talk with other people, they offer no matchmaking to just get playing, it requires some organisation.

This obviously violates my criteria for the game, I don't want to listen to other team members.. or even talk to them.. I want that in other games (e.g. CSGO), but for this - I just want to mindlessly grind. Therefore, I only really have access to the daily challenges on public events and strikes to complete, which don't offer good loot with any real frequency.

The high level content is seemingly restricted to players who want to organise with other players to do raids, there's no real option for us mindlessly grinding solo players, am I justified in criticising the game for that? I'm not sure.

The side of me which thinks I am justified looks at the amount of content in the base game. It feels as if the game has been designed to incentivise you aggressively towards buying the expansions and to feel that barely a few weeks after the game release isn't great. Diablo 3, a game with a similar loot-oriented gameplay loop, launched in a pretty poor state. It was heavily criticised for failing to offer longevity to players - but I feel Destiny 2 is significantly worse than Diablo 3 was even in its worse state.

Diablo 3 also managed to significantly improve the base game by rebalancing difficulty and loot over the following year for free. Where Diablo 3 and Destiny 2 differ is in their approach to expansions, however - there seems to be an acceptance that the expansions for Destiny are just a necessary component of the game. Diablo 3 didn't have that reliance on a future expansion and I think it really shows in the longevity each of these two offered in the base game.

That is my primary disappointment with the game, so let me finally get on to what I like.

It's highly polished, it feels high quality, with an interesting universe and fundamentally solid mechanics. It feels good to play, it's smooth, it performs very well on PC and it looks good. The story was more motivating and compelling than I expected, given the framework in which these games usually develop stories within (i.e. not a tight, highly focused linear package). There's a reason why I have actually played so much of it in the past 3.5 weeks and it is because they do get a lot right.

It's just let down in the medium to long term by the content strategy and reliance on expansions. I'm not sure if I'll buy the expansions, it'll depend on whether or not another game can enter my games rotation and fill the need games like this usually do before the expansions release.