I'm glad I'm not the only one (Criticism)

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Wednesday, December 05, 2018, 09:56 (865 days ago) @ breitzen

Jumping into the update yesterday was one of those experiences that leaves me utterly confused about what Bungie's plan or thought process is when it comes to their "player experience" or whatever we might call it.

I'll back up a bit: I've been having LOADS of fun since the launch of Forsaken. I think the quality of the content, along with the breadth of the sandbox makes Destiny a lot of fun to play right now. The tangled shore is really cool, and the Dreaming City is spectacular. All the extra story missions and challenges, plus the way the plot is unfolding slowly over time, plus Gambit and the new strikes... it's top-notch Destiny. I love it.

Still, Forsaken is not without its problems. It has become increasingly clear that Bungie's insistence on locking content behind arbitrary level grinds is a big problem for a significant portion of the player base. And let's be realistic... anyone who is still playing Destiny 2 at this point is a big fan of the franchise. We're beyond alienating the "casual" players here... we're at a point where even hardcore fans feel like they can't keep up unless their schedule leaves them room to play for several hours per day, most days of the week.

One thing that has always struck me as strange is the way Bungie appears to be completely tone-deaf when it comes to understanding the experience they've created. I just ranted about how much I love the Dreaming City. But when I first got there, all the wonder and amazement and desire to explore was immediately gut-checked by the realization that I was waaaaaay too under-leveled to do almost anything in that space. And I wasn't under-leveled because of some mistake I'd made. I just played the content that Bungie had put in front of me, and followed the path they laid out. I went to the Dreaming City when their game lead me to it.

It's such a strange 1-2 punch; "here, look at this amazing place that you can't wait to explore, and you just spent all this time working and grinding towards! Now you're finally here! Isn't it great? Well, jokes on you because you can't do any of it yet!" Like... really? Why introduce the player to a new area if that area is still out of their reach? Could you imagine watching a movie, having it build towards the climax, only to have the movie abruptly stop with a message saying "rewatch the first 2/3rds of the film several times over the next 2 weeks and then we will show you the ending"? Ok, I know that isn't a perfect analogy, but you get my point. Why not have the pre-Dreaming City content take you up to the minimum light level of the Dreaming City content... without weeks of repeating the same milestones over and over? It's such an obviously frustrating moment for the player to be lead towards a goal, work towards it, then to feel like they've gotten there only to discover that they can't really experience it yet. It's just so... mean.

This is a pattern that Bungie keeps recreating. We saw it during the Oryx raid (and most raids since that, to varying degrees). We're told "here's the required level to do this activity" only to discover, mid-activity, that the required level isn't actually good enough to finish the activity. We saw it in minor ways during the D2 campaign, where we would run into level gaps between story missions that would prevent us from doing the next mission until we leveled up more. But at least there, we had other Adventures and Patrol activities to facilitate the leveling up process; other new content to bridge the gap. More and more these days, Bungie seems determined to put these gaps in our way, make them increasingly bigger, without providing the right amount of side content to fill those gaps. Escalation Protocol was the flagship endgame activity of Warmind, but completing the Warmind content didn't bring the player anywhere remotely close to the level that would allow them to play EP. EP should have been one of the activities that we could grind in order to level up, rather than making it this totally out of reach activity that we all basically ignored until 2 months after Warmind's release when we were finally leveled up high enough to give it an earnest try.

And now we have Black Armory. I jumped in with my expectations fully in check. I knew we weren't getting a campaign. I knew not to hope for a big story progression or new patrol spaces or a bunch of new activities... But I did expect that when I start the single new quest line provided to me, I would be able to actually do the quest without grinding light levels for a week or two in between quest steps. It's not like the nature of the level grind has changed, either. It is literally the exact same things we've been doing for 3 months now. I hit 600 on all 3 characters weeks ago... this should mean that when a new piece of content is added to the game, my characters will be ready for it. Instead, what Bungie has done is hit the "pause" button on our ability to progress. Why didn't Bungie raise the level cap a week or two ago? If we're just grinding the exact same content anyway, why not let the players make that progression ahead of the new content release, so that when the new content that we've paid for comes out, we can actually play it?

I love Destiny, and I have all the respect in the world for the hard work and talent that goes into creating this game. And I'm equally sure that a few weeks from now, once yet another level grind is partially behind me, I'll be enjoying the new content that Bungie has added. But I feel I need to make this point strongly:


This tradition of keeping the player in a state of feeling perpetually behind, locked out of content that they've paid for due to unnecessary and arbitrary level caps and minimums... it burns people. It makes them feel taken advantage of. It makes them think that you, as a studio, don't value their time.

Obviously, not everyone will feel this way. The super mega hardcore players who burn 10-12 hours per day will crash through the grind so fast that they'll forget all about it in a few days. Other people who just don't care as much or are ultra-zen about everything will wonder what all the fuss is about. I know that tone can be difficult to convey in a post like this, so I'll add that I'm not mad or angry. I just think that this is absolutely not "ok" practice.

I should say one last time, just to be crystal clear, that I think this is a big problem specifically because I think Bungie is doing such great work with a lot of what is going in to Destiny these days, and I worry that the implementation of their progression system/level requirements/grind very well might ruin many players' enjoyment of what is otherwise a fantastic game.

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