12. Fix the clash between Exotic drop-rate and Power level
In the early days of Destiny 2, Exotic weapons and armour were thrown at players like overstocked sandwiches with an imminent sell-by date. The once holy grail of Destiny’s gear drops (in terms of both cool functionality and those all-important high levelling numbers) was made far too available. Top-tier gear, by and large, became rather disposable.
With Warmind, the drop-rate has been drastically decreased, which happily solves the problem of overabundance. But, outside of special, weekly Milestone rewards, the Power level of Exotics has been reduced as well. That’s a double-nerf where only a single nerf (or rather, a return to normal) was needed. Exotics should be rare, yes, but they should be rare because they have a lot of value. Bump the base power back up at the point of drop, and we’re all good.
13. Add high-challenge, co-operative endgame content outside of Raids
Warmind’s new, wave-based challenge mode, Escalation Protocol is intended for high-level Fireteams of three to take on during the upper reaches of the expansion’s level cap. But it's possible to complete it at a much, much lower Power level than that if you can get a bigger group together. A friend and I did that over the weekend, starting nine levels lower than the starting recommendation, and finishing 25 below the end-wave difficulty. It took every bit of strategy, support, coordination, improvisation, and resilience my group had to beat those granite-hard enemies and unforgiving time-limits, but upon succeeding, I realised that I think I prefer it this way.
It reminded me that Destiny is often at its best when it’s forcing you to use every tool at your disposal with your back resolutely against the wall. Between the additional power we can squeeze out of strategic planning, and the scope for glorious clutch-saves in Destiny’s fantastically malleable combat, hard Destiny is often the greatest, purest, and most deeply gratifying Destiny. Escalation Protocol became an accidental example of this, but I’m hoping for a lot more of it in Year Two.
Narrative and storytelling
14. Pull the tone back in line with the scenario
The Destiny world is a post-apocalyptic galaxy of ancient, cosmic threats, in which the last scrap of Humanity is huddled in a single city, eternally besieged by everything the universe can puke up. The first game’s writing served its tone flawlessly, delivering hundreds of pages of deep, beautifully crafted, weighty lore and mood while ensuring that the game never became a drag. It was a serious world that took itself seriously, but still knew how to be fun.
By contrast, much of Destiny 2 has the vibe of a Saturday morning cartoon. This is a game with not one but four wacky robot sidekicks, one of whom – the player’s omnipresent Ghost - has had a near total personality transplant since the first game. It’s all very discordant with the scenario. Warmind presents big steps back in the right direction, but this really needs to continue. And on the subject of Warmind, Year Two needs to remember that…
15. Not every story needs an apocalyptic, god-level threat
Destiny needs weighty, cosmic adversaries. Some of its greatest stories and most captivating lore involves Cthulhu-level space-horrors whose stories span tens of millennia, before even the appearance of Humanity. But not every expansion needs one of those. Over-exposure, particularly in the short campaigns of Destiny 2’s smaller expansions, serves none of these entities or ideas well, and only devalues the weight of the grand narrative. In the generally excellent Warmind, we face off against one of the inconceivably powerful creators of the near-immortal necro-god-king we battled in the first game, as well as said god-king’s narratively significant, disowned son. Their appearances come and go in the space of one medium-scale boss fight each, and their stories are barely touched upon. Save this stuff for the big stories. It’s wasted without a major treatment.
16. Our Guardian needs voice acting
Seriously, it’s getting weird now. I’m generally in favour of silent protagonists when it comes to player-created characters. My Guardian is mine, and I certainly don’t want her quipping away during missions with a strange and alien personality that is not the one inside my head. But having her stand, wide-eyed and silent, during pivotal cutscenes, while her Ghost does the talking for her? That makes her look increasingly goofy and out of place. She only needs a couple of simple lines from time to time, to acknowledge that she is a sentient entity and involved in the events around her. But she does need to say something.
Inevitably, the Eververse
17. No more special event items in the Eververse
No excuses, no exceptions. If a cosmetic item – be that a shader, an emote, a piece of armour, or an ornament – is tied to a special, limited-time gameplay event such as the Iron Banner or Faction Rally, it cannot appear exclusively as a paid-for item in the Eververse. The idea of commemorating special community moments with in-game memorabilia is wonderful, and one of the things that makes Destiny a joy. The idea of locking some of it behind a mandatory paywall or lootbox gamble, rather than allowing it to also be won by participating in said event? That’s not okay. Bungie was already called out hard over this, when the Christmas Dawning event came with a big push toward lootboxes. February’s Valentine’s Crimson Days was much better handled as a result. But now Iron Banner and (according to datamining) Faction Rally content has started turning up as $10 purchase-only content. That shouldn’t continue.
18. No more lore items in the Eververse
A lesser problem, but could we please stop attaching background game lore to seasonal Eververse items? Bungie’s move to add fuller lore content to in-game items in Destiny 2 has been a good one, and the depth and tone of the writing has really improved since Warmind. But to allow us to lose that material when the Eververse cycles its stock between seasons would be a major oversight. In future, lore needs to be attached to permanent items only, or unlocked to an in-game Grimoire. Ideally both.
19. Create a greater value distinction between cosmetic Eververse loot and ‘real’ loot
The Eververse backlash wouldn’t have been half as severe if Guardians had felt like the really exciting loot was coming from elsewhere. But between early Destiny 2’s underwhelming, watered down weaponry, purely cosmetic armour, and the lack of excitement surrounding in-world loot drops (exacerbated by the slow, drawn-out process of cashing in Tokens), the pop of an Eververse engram has felt on far too equal an excitement footing with the arrival of ‘proper’ loot. Return the Eververse to feeling like a fun sideshow to the main event - rather than a fundamental pillar of the Destiny 2 loot experience - and the anti-Tess heat will drop off rather quickly.
Oh, and one more thing…
20. Let us mass delete our hundreds of shaders
It should not have come to this.