While leaks dropped in the preceding weeks stole some of Bungie’s thunder at E3, the upcoming content that was shown by the developer for their FPS-MMO-shared world-thing was certainly exciting for fans (myself included). The new subclasses, while expected, looked awesome in motion. The army of the Taken King, called (you guessed it) the Taken, were pretty much exactly what Reddit and other forums predicted: re-skinned foes we’ve already defeated countless times. Still, the behavioral changes in combat look interesting and Bungie definitely looks to be upping the ante somewhat in the glimpses of boss design we saw in the trailers, ViDocs posted by Bungie, and interviews at E3.
Stories from E3 of time spent with the actual game report a more cinematic mission structure, attention to building up established characters and lore, and for once there is actually some sort of dialogue with the big foe (even if he is just yelling at you for murdering his son), all things that probably excite me the most. Overall, Destiny fans seemed to have had a good week, and there is more to come. Already we are seeing shreds of what may be being sprinkled across the internet. Just take a look at this Reddit thread that teases Saturn as a new location in addition to the already mentioned Mercury, Phobos and Dreadnought (the giant enemy command ship). How will we fight on a giant ball of gas, you say? Space magic is a beautiful thing.
Despite how good this sounds in theory, however, I’m left with a sense of almost…indifference. I mean, wasn’t the lack of content the vanilla game’s core problem? This sounds like it will be shoveling just as much if not more on top of that and the expansions/updates we’ve already received (for the sake of narrowing down the conversation, let’s forget the whole $40 price tag controversy for a moment).
Having played the game as much as I have, at this point I feel this content will mean nothing to the evolution of the game without fixes to some deeply flawed core systems and design choices. Granted, it’s pretty clear what we have seen is a first glimpse. But why would I care about a new raid when I’ve yet to beat an existing one due to a lack of in-game matchmaking? Why would the other 80.8 percent of Guardians with the same problem care? I remember watching the hilarious Bungie Twitch stream of the Prison of Elders reveal (where Bungie couldn’t beat their own game), being so excited to see the level 28 include matchmaking, only to see it taken away at the higher ranks that actually matter as far as progression in the game is concerned.
Let me put it to you this way: I am one Etheric Light away from level 34, the current cap. But the only way I can hope to cross that threshold is to wait for the next Iron Banner PVP tournament where I can definitely get one in a match-made game mode. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Iron Banner and PVP generally, but many don’t and have extreme difficulty grinding out enough victories to rank up over the week-long event (it takes long enough even if you’re good). At the same time, it’s the only content guaranteed to get you an Etheric Light that doesn’t require you to go outside of the game if you don’t have friends who play. Thus, I haven’t been playing, well, at all really since the last Iron Banner.
This is simply one example (and my biggest issue personally), but it speaks volumes that a video clip of players matchmaking into a raid would have gotten me infinitely more pumped than even new subclasses. I would hope this doesn’t come across as an angry rant, of which this game spawns many, because I do enjoy this game and I love the world Bungie is trying to establish. The launch of the recent House of Wolves expansion was a success and I was happy that they put such a high value on user feedback when approaching it, but at the same time so much of what they fixed seemed to be targeted at the failures of the previous expansion rather than core issues, like the fact that a majority of players never saw that content to begin with.
Time will tell, but hopefully Bungie puts their money where their mouth is when they say “they’re listening.” Because the bottom line is that the past two expansions, by many players, had already been purchased in the form of the Season Pass with the original game. This is where Bungie has to really prove Destiny is worth shelling out more money (again, we won’t touch on the $40 issue). If they are looking to continue their success, expanding the player base and making content more accessible will be key. There are numerous problems in addition to the lack of matchmaking (for example, the fact that an exotic hand cannon is almost a requirement to be competitive in PVP). These changes will be just as important as, if not more than, going to Saturn.