With the release of Destiny’s newest expansion, The Rise of Iron (which Gamer Pros contributor Drew Hernandez wrote a stellar review of) we saw a decent amount of new story content, but more noticably, a new coat of paint. What makes this interesting is despite the number of gamers announcing their discontent, Destiny still holds an incredibly massive playerbase. So why is that? Why are their players who log onto the Destiny Forums to complain nearly as much as they log onto the game itself?
One major ailment contributing to players irritation on the game is that there isn’t enough being introduced to keep the game feeling fresh. As I mentioned, with Rise of Iron there were story elements added that were interesting, and I felt invested in seeing how they play out over the course of the story. Truthfully, I thought the idea of SIVA was fascinating, and the role of the Iron Lords throughout the conflict was a great addition.
Unfortunately, that story only accounts for 2 hours out of the 244 hours I’ve put into this game. Had this story been longer and more realized (because there could have been so much more to the story), it might have helped cure the franchise fatigue that, in this humble writer’s opinion, plagues this game. The real root of that fatigue is the fact that there isn’t enough gameplay variety that makes the game enticing to play. The gameplay is so grind-y in nature, that it eventually becomes routine, and nothing in Rise of Iron helps Destiny escape that dynamic. And while there are a fair amount of players who enjoy that type of gameplay, there is a comparable amount of them who have voiced concern about it.
What makes this such a double-edged sword is that the real lure of Destiny is the grind (which can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your preferences) and the rewards that comes from Guardians so diligently grinding. Grinding through the Strike Playlist, Crucible Matches, Bounties, or whatever you prefer, not only reward you with better equipment, it also allows you access to different parts of the game. After you reach a light level of 365, you have access to a whole other part of the game: the Wrath of the Machine raid. So, at this point, you’re not just endlessly grinding for gear, you’re preparing to take on an extremely tough challenge (unless you plan on exploiting the raid to get to the end and easily claim the gear, of course). Then after you’ve beaten the raid, you can focus on reaching the max light level. But after that, what keeps players engaged? There really isn’t a lot else left to achieve in the game.
Another series of event that troubled Destiny players was, and arguably still is, Bungie‘s lack of communication with players. To quote Redditor henrybddf: “Communication between Bungie and the community has, as of late, been abysmal“. While this was mostly common around the launch of The Taken King expansion, and shortly after, Bungie still keeps information close to their chest that is highly relevant to the Destiny community. For the record, Bungie has every right to not disclose aspects of the game and it’s development to fans. Yet when players actively pursue mastery in the game and are eager to understand the future of the game (both the short-term future and long-term), it would benefit everyone involved the most to keep a clear and consistent flow of communication between the developer and their fanbase.
Interestingly, when developer Niantic released Pokémon Go, the lack of communication from Niantic was one of the contributing reasons that the game lost 15 million active users between July and August. Whereas when Bungie had keep Destiny players in the dark, community members took up arms, but returned to the game (in similar quantities as before the issue) nearly without hesitation. What accounts for the different responses from gamers?
For me, personally, the social element in Destiny was enough to keep me engaged for many hours. Building a network of other Guardians to run raids and strikes with (or jointly rage-quit a Crucible after being killed by someone using Thorn) gave the routine aspects of the game enough of a buffer that I could enjoy my time with it. And while describing what is wrong with Destiny might make me sound like I dislike the game, I don’t regret a single hour I’ve spent in the game. When thinking about why people play games, I tend to play Devil’s Advocate. I ask questions that put some gamers on the offensive, yet provoke thought in other open-minded individuals. I love hearing opinions that differ from my own, and so I encourage you to share them (which you can do in the comments). I am genuinely curious as to why Destiny players keep coming back to the some old grind day after day. Because after a the launch of Rise of Iron and the additional content that comes with it, it’s really just the same old game.
I put down the game just a few weeks before The Take King expansion was released. Then later, I picked it up about a week before Rise of Iron was release. Essentially, I skipped over a year’s worth of content, and came back to a game that had enough new stuff that I can easily justify the 50 hours I have put into it since returning. Yet when I’ve finished Wrath of the Machine and there is nothing else worthwhile to do, I will keep logging in, day-after-day, and resuming my role as a Guardian. And so will many of you.
Why is that?
Leave your thoughts in the comments!