10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems
Finlay Cattanach Updated on by

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Destiny 2 is in trouble. That’s not a sentiment likely to shock anyone who’s been burning out on the game in recent months or following game news.

The Final Shape release date is now delayed, the Season of the Wish will be seven months long, and reports still leaking out of Bungie in the wake of unprecedented layoffs indicate that employee morale is almost as low as the game’s player count. For many it’s hard to imagine Destiny bouncing back from such a dire situation; but is it impossible?

It’s time to take a deep dive into Destiny 2’s largest problems, some potential solutions, and how the game might seek to reinvent itself and survive, or even iterate upon the foundations in a future instalment. So here are our 10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems.

10. A new New Light campaign

It’s no secret that one of Destiny’s most serious problems is a terminal decline in player numbers. There are two generally agreed upon reasons for a dwindling player base, and the first of these is an exceptionally poor new player onboarding process.

The game currently boasts a New Light campaign free to all players. Short and underwhelming, it combines with a general lack of direction or introduction to leave many newcomers confused. It’s a confusion then compounded by overarching seasonal narratives and content which new players have little hope of comprehending at a glance. Then add in DLC on top – the true content, the real campaigns – locked behind steep asking prices. It’s easy to see why so many are turned off and drop the game so soon after picking it up, especially those approaching it solo.

We’ve already begun seeing that it doesn’t need to be this way. The legacy missions for bygone campaigns give new players a glance at the story of Destiny so far, and the inclusion of a Timeline is useful for keeping up to date with moments people may have missed out on. Now it’s time to take it further.

What if the New Light campaign instead consisted of a compact, revised version of the key story missions from legacy Destiny 2 campaigns? Three reworked key missions from Red War, two from Curse of Osiris and two from Warmind, and four from Forsaken, for example? Add in the patented formula of ‘Go and complete X activity’ between campaigns and suddenly you’re looking at a brief but still multi-hour experience that properly introduces new light players to Destiny’s roots and gives them a chance to get to grips with the ritual activities at a comfortable pace. Heck, why not add in some unique dialogue lines for their first runs of strikes, gambit, and crucible to give some basic tutorial guidance? An accessible but broad onboarding experience like this would go a long way to bringing new players in and getting them invested.

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems: The Destiny 2 timeline, highlighted on the Red War campaign.
Image by VideoGamer

9. Balance new and reworked content

The second, more challenging reason for Destiny’s shrinking player base is player retention. This is a broader issue than the new player experience, so a good place to begin is a broader fix.

Lightfall’s underwhelming debut reignited discussion around content quantity in Destiny, with plenty of fans fairly pointing to what often feels like neglect for ritual activities in particular, the backbone of the game’s content.

New content alone though is a fairly impractical solution, and I’d argue that it’s more about striking a balance between adding the new and revisiting the old. Let’s look at gambit, and crucible, for example.

Gambit is a great example of a mode in need of more. With only four maps and the removal of Gambit Prime, it’s arguably lost more than it’s gained. Even if only for the sake of appearances, a new map each season for a year could bring Gambit back into the spotlight for many players.

Crucible, at a glance, might seemingly be in the same boat, but the activity has actually got a total of 27 maps, and sees occasional new modes, like Checkpoint. Here, a better approach might be to iterate on what exists already. While there are plenty of maps, many of them are old, and a couple of reworks a season could prove far less of a resource strain while still delivering something valuable. Even map changes as simple as festive decorations during holiday events would add a sense of care and dedication.

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems: Two players meet in a 1-1 encounter in a PvP match on an old Crucible map.
Image by VideoGamer

8. Expand on activity modifiers

Content reworks are great for the broader playerbase, but what about specific groups? As much as there is to do in Destiny 2, a lot of content loses its initial shimmer by the 50th run of a dungeon, raid, or Nightfall. Late and endgame players tend to drop off once they tire of the repetitiveness, but there’s already a solution that could sincerely expand replay value for even the most experienced Guardians.

Modifiers have been a cornerstone of strikes for a long time, and it’s time to take the idea further. While Destiny 2 Champions are a great way to create new challenges, why only three types? Although Surge and Threat mods encourage some build variety, why offer such small incentives?

I feel we’re well overdue for these kinds of activities fully embracing the madness that modifiers could showcase. Let’s bring out 300% grenade recharges, double enemy speeds, and time trials. From basic strikes up to Grandmasters and Raids, this kind of chaos might be challenging to balance, but it’d also be something else much, much more important: fun. It’s time to embrace the real potential for Destiny’s unique mechanics and gameplay, and reinvigorate one playerbase’s investment, while raising the new playerbase’s anticipation.

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems: A fireteam in the boss DPS phase of Warlord's Ruin's second encounter, benefiting from various buffs.
Image by VideoGamer

7. Rework Power Levels

Continuing the reworking theme, let’s look at Power Levels, or Light Levels if you qualify for a Destiny 2 pension account. Another struggle for many players is a pretty messy progression system, and Power Level is the epitome of this.

The system as it currently exists is nearing irrelevance, with Power Level artificially decreased, increased, or capped within most activities. It feels pointless enough that a solid argument exists for scrapping it entirely, but I’d argue a better path is to bring it back to the importance it once held.

First, let’s take that temporary freeze we’ve had on a rising power level and make it permanent. Set maximum Power to 2000, and keep it from ever rising again. Next, let’s lower the minimum power level – a specific number here is only going to determine the length of progression from early to endgame, so 1 or 1000 is mostly a matter of opinion. Last, let’s set every activity at a given Power Level, with the exception of PvP modes like crucible of course.

There’s an obvious counter-argument here: low level players are locked out of high power activities – but arguably, that’s a sacrifice which is more than worth it. Most activities already have difficulty modes – the Weekly Nightfall has four, ranging from Heroic to Grandmaster. By fixing power level requirements in this way the state of challenge only becomes clearer and more defined, while also reinstating purpose to this progression metric. Most crucially of all, it creates a journey for players, a better valued improvement over time, climbing from one achievement to the next. That’s surely a healthier player experience.

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems: A Guardian facing down the first boss of Warlord's Ruin.
Image by VideoGamer

6. Rebalance rarity grades

If Destiny 2 is to really address its problems with progression, reworking Power Levels is only the start. I’d argue that the next step is to revisit the game’s approach to item rarity.

Right now, most players’ experience with rarity grades will go something like this. They’ll start off with common gear equipped for about 20 minutes. Then they’ll keep uncommon gear equipped for maybe as much as an hour. After that, unless their nose is to the grindstone, they’ll have rare equipment on for up to a day or two. Past that and until the day they stop playing it’s legendary gear all the way. In this system, there’s an honest argument to be made that rare grade loot and below might as well not exist at all. I know that I’ve got tenfold as many exotics collecting dust in my vault than I do common gear – that’s not an ideal state for a loot ‘n shoot game.

If we’re reworking progression with a well-balanced Power Level system, it suddenly makes a lot more sense to give rarities the same treatment. And it could be done quite easily, too. First, let’s rework the guns and items in these lower tiers to make them more viable for longer. That means wider perk pools, masterworks at cheaper materials costs, and guns that feel more fun to use at lower levels. For armour, allow higher stat rolls for uncommon and rare gear – this is something we’ll come back to in a later entry. Next, let’s expand those lower tiers with new weapons, as well as taking some of the older legendary gear and moving them into lower tiers. Now not only are there a healthy number of uncommon and rare drops worth having, but a healthy number of players in the early and mid-game are moving up in rarities at a rewarding rate. Legendary gear finally lives up to its name, feeling more valuable than ever.

Upgrade materials will need some rebalancing to work with this, but more Enhancement Cores from easier activities only gives players better reasons to play early content for longer. It could be a risk to try and change progression so radically, but unless they want to wait for Destiny 3, radical is what Destiny 2 needs right now.

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems: A Titan wearing common, uncommon, and rare grade gear.
Image by VideoGamer

5. Make exotics rarer

For all that talk of rarity, there’s one apparent omission. That’s because exotics deserve a spot of their own. Exotic gear is the highest rarity you can get, representing truly unique loot that’s so powerful you can only have one weapon and one armour piece equipped at once. We’ve covered plenty of exotics in depth, from breaking down our lists of the best Hunter, best Titan, and best Warlock class-specifics, to covering weapons like Wish-keeper and Quicksilver Storm.

All this I say to frame the perceived value of an exotic, versus the disappointing reality of their commonality. It’s easier than ever to pick up exotic gear. They drop frequently in high-end content, from solo Legend Lost Sectors, to random world spawns, to Xur, to simply completing ritual activities. Perhaps it’s time to roll this back.

This doesn’t mean Destiny 1 Year 1 rarity, but certainly a more controlled drop and earning rate. With exotic focusing available to help Guardians aim for specific pieces of gear, there’s less need to make exotic engrams so prevalent. New quests like the Wicked Implement quest or the Starcrossed exotic mission prove how much more rewarding a dedicated challenge for these ultimate rewards can be than random drops, too. A combination of new quests, better focusing incentive, and less common means of dropping could easily reinstate the mythic status this gear deserves, while helping to justify our next suggestion.

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems: A Guardian on Rahool's engrame decoding menu, with two pinnacle and two exotic engrams ready for decrypting.
Image by VideoGamer

4. Revisit and rework armour stats

Buildcrafting is a pillar of the endgame experience, and it’s one under plenty of fire at the moment. Controversy currently rages around changes to Orbs of Power spawn rates, nerfs to Solar and Stasis Titans, and the general restrictions of viable builds in the hardest content of the game. While this conversation will always exist in some form, perhaps the easiest immediate fix comes through revisiting stat rolls.

This starts with the Intellect and Mobility stats. Aside from Hunters, the bonuses these stats offer are so limited that they’re effectively considered worthless. But the same was once true of Resilience, now considered the most important stat to invest in. So why not rework Intellect and Mobility? If both provided more valuable bonuses that could really make an impact, a whole new vector of buildcrafting suddenly becomes worthwhile in the late game.

Next is a revisit of maximum stats. Right now, the highest possible stat roll on a piece of gear is a 70, which only exotics can reach. I’d argue that it’s time for this to increase. Even if we go as extreme as a maximum of 100 on an exotic, players can still only wear one exotic armour piece at a time, and no stat is so powerful at its maximum as to be game-breaking. I can still die in a hit or two quite easily at 100 Resilience in GM’s, much to the bemusement of my fireteam. The point being that even triple or quadruple 100 stats thanks to higher rolls on legendries and exotics wouldn’t necessarily shatter the balance of the late game.

Reworked stats could give a lot of reward for relatively little work. More builds become viable, there’s more reason to invest Enhancement cores and Ascendant Shards in different armour, and lower rarities with higher stat rolls become a better fit for the activities of their levels.

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems: The Eye From Another World exotic, rolled at a maximum stat of 70.
Image by VideoGamer

3. Give origin traits to armour

Let’s keep going and expand the value of earning and investing in different gear even more. Right now, even most legendaries get scrapped upon arrival in the inventory of any late game player. We’ve already reduced this problem with rebalanced rarities and more worth from stats, but why stop there?

Most weapons these days come with an origin trait, depending on which group they belong to. Whether it’s Harmonic Resonance, Dragon’s Vengeance, or Stunning Recovery, every weapon in a group always gets their assigned perk, and they create new incentives beyond god rolls to chase after certain bits of kit.

This is something we’ve already seen start to creep into armour. The Season 23 Wish armour set comes with a trait called Ascendant Protector, which grants bonus progress in seasonal activities. It’s time to go all the way. Why not make every set more relevant with their own origin traits? Suddenly hunting for full sets is a goal, rather than a happy coincidence.

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems: The Wyrmguard robes with their unique armor trait on display.
Image by VideoGamer

2. Reconnect with the themes and story of Destiny

We’ve covered a lot of the ways that Destiny 2 could revitalise its mechanics and gameplay, but for many players their love with this game and this franchise is about the unique story it can tell.

Lightfall was rough, Season of Defiance under-delivered, and Season of the Deep highlighted that even good narrative isn’t enough if the way players engage with it remains repetitive or uninteresting. That’s not to totally dismiss what we’ve had then and since. Riven’s backstory through the Starcrossed quest has been a fascinating exploration, many characters have developed and grown, and all of that should be cherished. But any story that goes on for as long as Destiny without stopping and reflecting is bound to start tripping over itself.

First and foremost, Bungie needs to take the extra time that The Final Shape delay has bought them and reassess what approaches work and what don’t. Which missions from seasons Forge to Wish did the community love? What got people talking most? With the transition to Episodes looming, now’s the perfect time for those questions.

Secondly, Bungie needs to reverse course on the long-term disaster their layoffs will cause. In the eyes of depressingly mundane executives, creativity is worthless – that’s the very attitude that doesn’t just destroy a game, but a whole franchise.

My advice would be pretty simple. Bring back your writers, musicians, and artists, invest in your storytelling, and apply lessons learnt throughout the last few years to improve how it’s conveyed. Listen to Journey, a track iconic to the franchise, and from that starting point understand why Destiny’s world resonates with so many people.

Capturing the magic is always easier said than done. But Destiny did it once before long ago, and even disregarding nostalgia’s role, many remember its history fondly for good reason. If the game, or the franchise, is to return as a tour de force at any point, it first needs to find how to tell its story impactfully, and maintain deep ties to the people who can make that happen.

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems: A sketch cutscene image of The Black Fleet.
Image by VideoGamer

1. Reassess the current approach to monetisation

Of all Destiny 2’s problems, arguably none compare to its spiralling costs. If you were to buy all current DLC, the 30th Anniversary pack, and enough Silver for the dungeon keys and current season pass while not on sale from Steam right now, you’d be looking at an eye watering total cost of £175/|$223. Most people probably wouldn’t argue though that you’ll find three AAA game’s worth of content in the Last City.

It’s costs like these that are proving deadly to Destiny 2, as ever-mounting microtransactions turn long-time fans away from the game, reducing sales, leading to more microtransactions and higher prices, creating a vicious cycle. We’ve got two realistic options to fix this.

The first and most obvious is to lower prices. Less costs could mean higher player retention and better player onboarding, but with the game’s revenue as tenuous as it is, there’s an understandable risk here, and a very fine balance that needs to be walked.

The second is to find creative revenue expansions. One example we’ve already seen is the introduction of the Legacy Pack. Similar to the pretty popular Taken King pack from Destiny 1, this Legacy Pack bundles some of the older DLC content together into a significantly more cost effective package. Why stop there?

Instead of increasing Silver prices in the weekly Eververse store again, why not introduce the ability for Guardians to gift cosmetics and ornaments to one another? I’ve a friend who holds a personal vendetta against the Rat King sidearm, and I’d love nothing more than to give them the Catacombs ornament. Ideas like this generate less of the controversy while still creating ways for the game to stay profitable. Or they could dump a few of those cost-inefficient execs to streamline operating expenses, too.

10 ways Destiny 2 can fix its biggest problems: The Rat King Catacombs ornament.
Image by VideoGamer

Can Destiny 2 be saved?

Taken together, these suggestions would create some fundamental shifts in Destiny 2 at every level. New players would see a completely different and engaging introduction. Progression would take longer, but feel more organic and thoughtful. Players in the late game would have more to do and more reason than ever to keep playing. The story could reach new heights, and the price to play new lows. But would it be enough?

Every game has its time eventually, and that will ultimately prove true for Destiny 2 as well. But it hurts to watch a game which means so much to all of us die so slowly. I’d ultimately argue that it doesn’t matter whether or not these 10 ways Destiny 2 could fix its biggest problems would be enough. The threat of extinction demands radical and passionate action, and that’s a theme very close to Destiny’s heart anyway. If Destiny is going to resurrect, then what matters most is that we put aside anxieties about the future and try anyway.