What’s going on with the experience grind in Destiny 2? That’s the question a lot of players have been asking over the long holiday weekend. It all kicked off when an armchair investigator dug into how the game throttles the rate of experience gain for players in certain situations. According to the data collected, players that stuck to the seemingly more lucrative XP activities in Destiny 2 may have actually had their XP scaled back by 90% with no notice. Shortly after the publication of the Reddit post, Bungie admitted that there were some shenanigans going on. They did have a system in place that essentially penalized players that stuck to easily repeatable content.
We are not happy with the results, and we’ve heard the same from the community.
It was a stunning turn of events to fans. The speed with which the developer responded to the initial accusations (over a holiday weekend) emphasized the severity of the breach of trust.
But the issue hasn’t ended yet. Further analysis by fans revealed that after the dynamic XP scaling was removed, Bungie increased XP level requirements by 100% across the board. Bungie has also admitted this is accurate. Any way you slice it, you’re going to grind for longer than you thought you were going to before all this came out.
This installment of live-action videogame theater brought to you by Destiny 2 and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Destiny 2 launches on September 6th for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The PC version follows on October 24th.
The PC version of Destiny 2 will be exclusively on Blizzard’s network. For the first time since its inception as Battle.net in 1996, Blizzard’s back end will be used to host a non-Blizzard game. In their statement, Blizzard explained that creating a new networking system for the PC version of Destiny 2 “would needlessly extend the development period” of their sister company’s game. Blizzard noted that they have no plans to add any other Activision titles to their platform, but they are “potentially evaluating” other opportunities for synergy.
In related news, the PC build of Destiny 2 will support an uncapped framerate, 4K resolution, and configurable controls. By being integrated in Blizzard’s network, Destiny 2 players will also have all the cross-game social features people get in titles like Overwatch, StarCraft 2, and World of Warcraft. Plus, they’ll be able to use their Blizzard Balance to purchase Destiny 2, and presumably that will extend to the in-game purchases as well. Destiny 2 will be available worldwide on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 8th.
It’s been a little more than six months since Tom Clancy’s The Division launched and big changes are afoot. Ubisoft has heard the complaints, collected data, and analyzed the information. They agree that The Division needs some attention. The upcoming 1.4 update leans hard into what the developers term “the importance of gunplay” and making progression more intuitive. Character boosting stats like Firearms, Stamina and Electronics, for example, will be on every piece of loot you equip in the endgame tiers, so gear management more closely resembles the journey in the early part of the game. The Division’s all-important firearms are being walloped with the balance stick so oddities like sub-machine guns outperforming assault rifles won’t be as common. There’s a long and detailed set of data the developers have to back up these decisions, including a few charts. Who doesn’t love charts?
Want to build for the highest possible damage? That’s perfectly fine, but you’ll end up with a gun that might have a big recoil or a small magazine. Or if you prefer, you can build a weapon that is incredibly stable and precise, but you’ll have to sacrifice raw damage. It means that there will be more skill involved in using the weapons, just like in a regular shooter and during the level 1-30 experience, and our hope is that it will lead to much more variety and less cookie cutter weapon setups.
The Division’s 1.4 update is supposed to come out in October, and Ubisoft is taking feedback on the announced changes. Players on the PC version will be able to check out the planned changes on the public test server beginning on September 26th.
Meanwhile, Destiny just released Rise of Iron, their latest major expansion since The Taken King. It brings back Gjallarhorn.
It’s microtransaction time for Destiny and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Both games are adding new in-game purchasable items, just in time for Christmas.
In Bungie’s Destiny, players now have the opportunity to buy a consumable that instantly boosts one character to level 25. The Taken King expansion came with one free boost that did the same thing, but now players can apply this level-up to another character for $30 more. Sub-class experience will still need to be earned the old-fashioned way, but with this new offering players can bypass all that pesky low-level stuff and get right to the Taken King content. Who really wants to play through a game anyway?
In Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III, cyber-soldiers can purchase Call of Duty Points a new in-game currency that can be traded for Black Market cosmetics for versus multiplayer and consumable boosts for the cooperative zombie mode. Unfortunately for fans of pay-to-win, it appears that the new system won’t allow you to unlock game-breaking advantages.
By most players’ accounts, The Taken King expansion for Destiny and the updates to the main game are a success. The game at launch was criticized for its core loot cycle and level progression being obtuse, unfair, and just too grindy. With the 2.0 revamp, Bungie took a hard look at all the systems and addressed many of the complaints people had. In short, a loot-based action game launched with a screwy drop system and level progression that was unsatisfying, but the developers ditched core mechanics that proved troublesome and made the game better. If that story sounds familiar, it’s because it is.
Kotaku reports that in December of last year, members of the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls team met with Bungie to discuss what they had learned after Blizzard launched their loot-driven game. Namely, that people wanted the illusion of random chance, but that rewards needed to be skewed in favor of the players.
People who were at the presentation say it was extraordinarily helpful for Bungie’s team. One source called it “invaluable.” Others said it drove some of the decisions they made for The Taken King. In previous interviews with Kotaku and other sites, director Luke Smith has talked openly about avoiding randomness and designing quests with guaranteed rewards, an approach that has served Destiny well throughout year two so far. Destiny’s meta-narrative has followed the same path as Diablo III’s: It had a rocky launch, then the developers found redemption.
The turnaround on Destiny was successful enough that Bungie was able to approach Activision with the idea that future content could be supported through in-game purchases of optional content like emotes and cosmetic skins.
“There was a bet that was, ‘Hey if we did microtransactions, I bet you we could generate enough revenue to make up for the loss of DLCs,'” said a source. “Instead of it going Destiny, DLC1, DLC2, Comet, DLC1, DLC2, they’re actually just gonna go [big] release and then incremental release. So it’ll just be Destiny, Comet, Destiny, Comet every year. It’s basically just switching the game to an annual model.”
A little loot distribution from Diablo III and a page taken from buy-to-play MMOs gets you the current strategy for Destiny.
Destiny is being retooled. Bungie announced that the level progression system is being overhauled with the September 15th release of The Taken King expansion. Currently, players of the shooter advance their characters by gaining experience from level 1 through 20. After that point, Light Levels are earned by grinding for gear drops that empower the character builds. It’s why you hear Destiny players talking about Crota’s End, or Trials of Osiris armor all the time. If the random number generator doesn’t cooperate during the drop, the unfortunate soul is doomed to try again. The new system will be based on a straight XP progression for levels 1 through 40 just like it is for the first 20 levels now. Gear will unlock as you level up giving more direct progression feedback. While the Light gear system was good for keeping players involved, the random nature of drops made the system frustrating and hard to balance.
The Taken King will also see another big change to the game. Peter Dinklage’s voice will be gone. Bungie has hired veteran performer Nolan North to redub all of Ghost’s dialog and to take the character forward. Lines like “That wizard came from the Moon!” may not have the same pizazz after the expansion is released. Luckily, we’ll always have “I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain.”
Destiny’s second expansion launches on May 19th. The House of Wolves will add a second social hub for players to run around in, so they won’t just be hanging out in The Tower. The expansion from Bungie also adds more “epic” story, another high-level raid, and new Crucible maps. Like The Dark Below expansion, veteran players can expect some nigh-impossible scenarios that will be mastered in a matter of days by the truly hardcore. House of Wolves will be $19.99 on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One if purchased on its own. The expansion is included as part of the expansion pass.
Savvy readers will note that May 19th is also the multi-platform launch date of The Witcher 3 from CD Projekt RED. This sums up my feelings on the potential scheduling conflict. That’s not even figuring in the fact that Grand Theft Auto V for PC launches later tonight with the exclusive cinematic editor.
Update: Bungie has clarified that House of Wolves won’t include a new raid. It will instead add a new battle Arena called The Prison of Elders.
Destiny’s first DLC offered for money, The Dark Below, is coming on December 9th. The DLC is $20 on its own, or included as part of the $35 expansion pass. It will raise the level cap to 32, add more endgame gear, offers new multiplayer arenas, increase bounty slots by five, and buffs the story with missions that will send players back to the Moon.
Through three new story quests, The Will of Crota Strike, and the Crota’s End Raid, players will fight to uncover and eliminate The Hive’s forces and save humanity.
If you’re in the mood to celebrate Halloween in Destiny, you’re in luck. For a limited time, you can get spooky consumable cosmetic items like a Jack o’ Lantern headgear from the in-game postmaster. Trick or treat Ghost!
You may have heard that Destiny launched last night. You’ve likely seen advertising that would imply it was nothing short of the best thing ever on PlayStation. It’s on Microsoft’s console as well, but aside from a midnight launch event at some Microsoft stores, and a clever web page for a fake fragrance, there hasn’t been much made of the fact that you can play Bungie’s latest on Xbox.
Sony’s gotten all the good stuff, including a lot of exclusive bits and bobs in the PlayStation version of Destiny. That’s because of co-marketing. Sony helps to advertise the game, saving Activision some money. In return, Sony gets the chance to brand the game as theirs in most gamers’ minds. Sony UK head Fergal Gara told Eurogamer that the game is so important to the company that they are handling it as they would an in-house developed title.
“We’re treating it, for all intents and purposes internally, as if it’s a first-party release. We’re wrapping our arms around it on all levels of the organisation. It’s a special project and an important project and it has the power to launch Christmas. It’s hugely important.”
Will the co-marketing effort pay off for Sony? Probably. These kinds of co-marketing efforts usually do exactly what they’re intended to do. Sony’s console is already in first place as far as sales, so it makes sense for Activision to push that version anyway. (You can see that the majority of Destiny players on Quarter to Three have opted for the PlayStation so far.) Last generation, Microsoft and Activision partnered on Call of Duty installments and both parties benefitted. With Bungie’s ten year strategic plan, it remains to be seen if this generation will be defined by Destiny and Sony.
There will be no trading in Destiny. Bungie confirmed that their big-budget hybrid MMO shooter will not support the trading of loot between players in their latest weekly update. Gamers will be able to swap items between characters on the same account, but if they see a shiny piece of kit on a friend, they’ll just have to be content with looking until they find it for themselves. That nice set of armor you find in the loot chest is for you only.
As for swapping irons in the Tower? Nope. We want you to earn ’em. You should be able to tell a badass story for every sweet jewel in your arsenal.
In the same update, Bungie noted that the orbital loading screen will not be skippable when traveling to a mission location. Destiny launches on September 9th for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
Even though Activision is spending a lot of money on Destiny’s server technology, the shooter with MMO roots won’t have cross-platform play because Bungie doesn’t want players to think one platform has a competitive advantage over the others. Bungie engineer Roger Wolfson spoke to Digital Trends and explained that even though Destiny is coming to the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, none of them will share their worlds because the developers didn’t want a perception of unfairness.
“I’ll speak for the hypothetical player. I have a disadvantage sniping across the map because [my opponent with a next-gen console] is only two pixels on my screen and I’m four pixels on his. You see that in the world of PC gaming, where people are always racing to the best video card to give themselves the advantage.”
“Regardless of where the reality is, there’s definitely a perception among gamers that better hardware means you have an advantage. We don’t want to have to enter that fray, so to create the best, most level playing field, both actually and perceptually, we separated it by platform.”
Bungie claims the gameplay on all four platforms is nearly the same, despite the obvious power differences between last-gen and current consoles. Destiny is meant to be a multi-year franchise, so whichever hardware players use to start, Bungie wants them to have a good technical experience.
If you played the PlayStation 4 preview alpha of Destiny, you may remember an early mission that had a head-scratching bit of dialogue. Much has already been written about Peter Dinklage’s less-than-enthusiastic performance as the player’s A.I. buddy, but the line “That wizard came from the moon!” intoned by the most bored robot to ever be manufactured, has all the inadvertent hilarity of a ready-made meme. Move over “The cake is a lie.” Bungie has jumped on the train early by offering limited edition t-shirts celebrating the clumsiest exposition in a game since Kevin Spacey showed up in a trailer for Call of Duty.
Profits from sales of the Destiny shirt will go to the Bungie Foundation charity organization benefiting children in hospitals.
Activision’s full start-up tab for Destiny is $500 million. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick revealed the full price for Bungie’s next blockbuster video game during a conference in Los Angeles. The record-breaking game budget was mentioned when Kotick was explaining why he signed a ten-year exclusive contract with Bungie for Destiny that gave Activision worldwide distribution rights and a significant say over the franchise’s course of development.
“If you’re making a $500 million bet you can’t take that chance with someone else’s IP. The stakes for us are getting bigger.”
Activision acknowledged the figure was correct to Reuters, but clarified that the humongous price tag included marketing, royalties, and other associated costs. Activision expects to recoup the cost over the course of the series.