I’ve played hundreds of hours of Destiny since the release of Bungie’s flawed post-Halo game. The gaming experience last night was the proverbial final straw that broke the camel’s back.
As an online MMO/FPS hybrid, Destiny is an ever evolving beast of a game. While there are many fun and enjoyable aspects of the game, the good does not outweigh the bad.
My first area of complaint revolves around the broken Crucible, the PVP arena with a number a game types and maps.
The largest problem with The Crucible is the apparent lack of skill based matchmaking. When you play a PVP game, the system appears to put you in a match with a random handful of other people. The end result is that matches are incredibly unbalanced. You can win by a landslide (which is fun sometimes), you can have a very close match (which is always fun), or you can lose by a landslide (which is never fun). The developers should aim for close matches. The way to do this is to do skill-based matchmaking. All the players have the appropriate per game and per map stats for this. If my K/D/A for a particular map is 1.0, I should be paired with people that are of similar skill levels. This just isn’t happening right now. I’ll play several fun matches, and then for the rest of the evening get stuck playing in unbalanced matches where I get slaughtered along with the rest of my team.
The other major problem is that about half the maps for the Control game type are unbalanced. This means that the map design drastically favors the team that controls a particular respawn area. If you control the favorable respawn area, all you have to do to win is protect not the capture zones, but the respawn area. The other team will consistently spawn at the other end of the map. While technically possible to convince your entire team to hide out and set up a sniper camp the distant zone, I have yet to see a team try this. The reason is that they understand that the team that controls the respawn area will respawn near the two favored zones and be able to capture and control those zones. Or they love throwing themselves in the path of incoming rocket fire and watching their team lose.
Another problem with The Crucible is that all the player level, armour, and weapon stats don’t matter. Supposedly, this was done to level the playing field between new and old players. There is a monthly (thus far) special Crucible game type called ‘Iron Banner’ that brings all of the player stats back into consideration. This is the most enjoyable game type in the Crucible, and Bungie has decided on insanity and only have the best part of the game available 1/4th of the time. The ‘Iron Banner’ rules should be the standard game style. The current regular Crucible match style should be a special game type that rotates through and is available randomly like other game types. The ‘Iron Banner’ should instead be a last week of the month decathlon type tournament with all the game types and maps. The winners of the tournament could be the 12 individuals with the most average per-map wins at the end of the week. At the end of the year, there could be a ‘tournament of champions’ and Bungie could award the best players of the game with some cool swag or a bit of cash.
While The Crucible is the wound that won’t heal, the constant aggressiveness by the developers toward the players is why I’ll find it difficult to go back to playing Destiny. Here is an example. Each Friday and Saturday, there is a special vendor that appears and sells the most-rare type of armor and weapons (Exotics). In weeks previous, the vendor would sell exotic engrams. This is much like playing the lottery and hoping you’ll get something good. Last weekend, and now this weekend, the exotic vendor has stopped selling lottery tickets. This wouldn’t be such a horrible thing, except that there isn’t anything else for me to spend my in-game currency on (Strange Coins). I own all the gear he’s selling for my character. What else was I going to do with these coins? Taking away features is just bad form. Here is another example. In the newest raid, there were large, exploding lanterns that would launch your character across the map in hilarious form. Sometimes you would get closer to the end of the level, sometimes you would get launched straight into a pit and die. This was a fun, exciting feature. It was promptly removed.
As a sidenote: One of the largest missed opportunities has been the lack of non-consequential in-game purchases. There are four things that could have been sold to people that would have made people go wild and love the game even more: armor shaders, ships (and ship shaders), sparrows (and sparrow shaders), and most importantly: dance moves. Everyone loves customizing their characters, ships and sparrows – why not take if further and release weekly sets of shaders for people to purchase? While I understand that the ships are currently random reward drops, I think people would love to buy and customize new ships. Selling new character animations would be such a cash cow that they might drop everything and have the entire team make new character dance moves for the rest of their 10 year deal with Activision.
Hopefully Bungie is able to course correct and fix the huge issues with their game. They are planning to develop and release updates for the game for the next decade – so hopefully the next months and years will see a dramatic improvement. Until then, at least there’s plenty of Pokemon to catch.