We’ve all played video games which didn’t quite hit the mark. Back in the day, if you purchased a PC game, there were no return options, no take-backs, or exit from a dreadful decision. No, you simply put that game on the shelf next to the other half-dozen games which you’d installed then promptly uninstalled — and went on living your life. Essentially it was akin to lighting $40 on fire!
In the modern gaming experience, either console or PC, there are return options. In console, you can normally sell the game — admittedly for a substantial discount — on Craigslist or the like. Steam allows players to return a game as long as they’ve played less than two hours and owned the title less than two weeks — a policy which is both generous and designed to build loyalty in the community. It is and it has.
And then there’s that decision to buy Destiny 2.
Bungie released the highly anticipated sequel in September 2017, to great excitement but for whatever reason, the game was released with mid- to late-game problems. Combined with some micro-transaction controversy, hidden XP shenanigans, and marketing errors, Destiny 2 has taken a social media beating. After really enjoying the group experience in the original Destiny, our band of merry players (GDSQ) jumped on the new title with exuberance. Initially, version 2 seemed a perfect counterpoint to the original title but substantial time in-game has burned off the honeymoon period and left most of us with a feeling of apathy. It seems the buzz, the juice, the very core of whatever made the original Destiny so special, is missing and players have been vocal about the differences. In a generally toxic diatribe, players blame the lack of options, lament the lack of random elements, bemoan the changes in PVP, and generally react poorly to Bungie’s continual efforts to remedy the issues. Unfortunately, in a strange inability to get out of their own way, Bungie’s responses have been reactionary and filled with unanticipated consequences. But are they doing anything truly wrong?
I’m not so sure.
Unfortunately, the hiccups continue. The most recent January 2018 update from Bungie released what can only be described as a laundry list of items which will “fix” or “improve” the game. That list includes a vague timeline which extends from now well into the fall of 2018. And therein lies the problem — Bungie appear to have missed their chance to lock players into the Destiny 2 amusement ride.
In the modern gaming environment, developers have a narrow window of opportunity to capture the money, time and hearts of players (intentionally listed in that order). For whatever reason, Bungie released a game they thought would be the perfect next chapter in the Destiny experience but apparently missed their mark. Bungie now struggle, trying to stitch the fabric of Destiny 2 into a new but familiar shape.
To their credit, Bungie have often responded to the community; however, each attempted repair seems to either reveal or create another mistake which further frustrates the players. And though I applaud Bungie for releasing the list of fixes, expecting the gaming community to be patient until the fall of 2018 to see all these fixes fully realized just won’t happen. The gaming world moves far too quickly and there are plenty of other titles forthcoming which will capture the attention of most. Additionally, people may just be fatigued with the Destiny mechanic — after all, we’ve been playing the same game for three-plus years and sometimes players just need a change. Case in point: members of my regular group have turned to FIFA, Overwatch, Battle Royale, and even Skyrim for solace.
Bottom line: Bungie have fallen victim to their own success. Ask any film maker and they will tell you it is very difficult to make a sequel. The audience expectation is high and they demand something better. Capturing the elusive something is rarely done well and gaming sequels are no different. Stay to close to the original formula and it’s classified as a DLC. Color outside the lines and its broken the mold which made the game great. Where have Bungie gone off the tracks? Hard to say and I’ll let others fill in the blanks but from where I sit, though I enjoyed the initial experience of Destiny 2, I feel like I’ve been there, done that. It is the same for most of our players: there is no longer any drive to get that next item, or complete that next milestone. Most are asking what’s the point? And when the players are approaching a game from that angle, we’ve truly lost the plot.
I will continue to play Destiny 2 in a group setting but as for solo play? Yeah, let’s see what else is catching my eye in Steam or on Xbox. Oh, did I mention the HTC Vive? Damn, it’s fun playing Fallout 4 VR when you’re IN the dystopian wastelands — but more on that later.