Destiny 1 Wasn’t Perfect, but it Ended in a Better Place than Where D2 is Right Now (Opinion)

Destiny 2 is plugging along through Y3, but even now it fails to live up to the successes of its predecessor.

Destiny (2014), Bungie’s first game outside of the Halo franchise, was met with mixed reviews with some major directive blunders, story failures, mismanagement, and all while simultaneously mastering what would become, at the very least, the standard for gunplay and diversity within the first-person shooter genre.

Destiny managed to go through many changes, updates, enhancements, and DLC throughout its 3-year life, ending on an incredible high note with Rise of Iron (RoI). Year 3 (Y3) for Destiny had put the game at an all-time high with every gun and nearly every set of armor having been updated to meet the Y3 standard (Bungie had tweaked leveling, power, and “light” multiple times before Y3 ended). However, Destiny 2 (2017) was a massive dud in the eyes of the community, despite the moderate initial financial and critical success.

Destiny 2 launched with a coherent campaign, something that Destiny 1 lacked due to major shifts in management and control during the story structure and release of the first game. Many fans of D1 will remember that the game shipped with a sort of Frankenstein-like story that was devoid of making more than a little sense, with many campaign missions becoming repackaged and released as future DLC, such as many missions within The Taken King expansion of Year 2 (Y2). And while D2 launched with a story that made sense, it was boring and missed out on delivering any intrigue or mystery that the first game contained at any given point throughout its life cycle.

D2 was met with decent reviews, largely in part of the campaign, but once players beat it (it only took a few hours), they found that the game sort of just stopped dead in its tracks with nothing to do, nothing to chase, and no activities to keep players interested. What made Destiny 1 so great was the chase of ‘Random Rolls’, or guns/weapons that could drop with various perks. This lead many players to grind like mad to find the combination of perks that would best enhance and synergize their gameplay. This feature was abandoned in favor of ‘Static Rolls’ with far less available perks in Year 1 of D2.

The ‘Random Rolls’ that weapons had all throughout D1 were absent during the entire first year of D2, which allegedly lead to the departure of Senior Gameplay Designer Josh Hamrick, who was allegedly responsible for the choice to abandon Random Rolls and move forward with Static Rolls instead. This may have been the single greatest reason behind the massive decline in the player base leading into D2 Y2 with The Forsaken campaign, which boasted its biggest feature- the return of Random Rolls once again.

Already, you can see that Bungie made a massive mistake removing Random Rolls and replacing them with basic weapons that felt, for the most part, objectively boring to use. However, while we highlight the fact that Random Rolls were removed, there were countless other design and gameplay choices that made Destiny 2 objectively far less re-playable.

A recent post over on the /r/DestinyTheGame subreddit focused on how many fans are making it sound like D1 was perfect when it wasn’t. This was met with mixed comments from the community, as the post fails to grasp that the community at large never said D1 was perfect, far from it, in fact, but instead that D1 ended in a better place than D2 finds itself in now, despite having released two major expansions at the start of Y2 and Y3, respectively.

User u/MightyMachin points out some of the most commonly referenced features that were removed from D2 Y1, and have not seen a return in what is now Y3 of D2. We have taken to cleaning up and expanding on u/MightyMachin‘s comment, but we agree that the absence of these features is bizarre, to say the least.

  • Faction Loot: D1 had three major factions (New Monarchy, Dead Orbit, and Future War Cult) that each offered a variety of obtainable loot, rank-up progress, and exotic class items to earn if you ranked high enough. In addition to this unique Faction loot, all the Vendors had a rotating and changing stock of weapons that altered each and every week. This not only included DO, FWC, and NM, but it also included loot from the Vanguard and Crucible as well. None of this has found its way in D2 at any point in time, despite the community constantly asking for it.
  • Rank-Up Packages: In D1, you could rank-up by donating planetary materials and ammo synths (something that was also abandoned into D2 and has not returned), and the rank-ups actually counted and kept track of your progress. Not only do rank-ups not keep track of your levels for anything meaningful (you get triumphs for going high enough), you can also only rank-up by donating tokens to the Vanguard and Crucible only through playing Vanguard Strikes and Crucible matches. This makes some sense, but it sucks because the other factions were abandoned completely for no apparent reason. You would also have the choice between a weapon or a piece of armor that allowed you to complete a set you were pursuing more easily, which made everyone happy. This quality of life feature too was abandoned.
  • Factions: Future War Cult, New Monarchy, and Dead Orbit only had a couple notable presences throughout D2 Y1 during the ‘Faction Rally’ events. These were half-assed events that required the player base to continue playing the same activities that were available since launch, with no alterations or enhancements for the event itself. Playing a Vanguard Strike, for example, would award you with Vanguard Tokens like normal, but it also awarded you tokens for the Faction you pledged allegiance to, which could then be used to rank-up for Faction gear, which was just a bunch of reskinned items that were available from the Vanguard and Crucible anyway, albeit with a DO, NM, or FWC logo stamped on it somewhere. Bungie has removed these factions entirely, meaning that one can’t get their loot, can’t pledge to them, can’t rank-up with them, but also has made mention of no foreseeable return in the near future. Meaning that while the rallies were a sorry excuse for a weekly event when they were available, now they are just pretty much dead forever.

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  • Vendor Resets: During D1’s lifetime, every Vendor that sold anything, armor or weapons, had a reset at some point to keep things fresh. Now, we have a variety of planetary vendors that sell subjectively hideous looking armor and reskinned weapons, but there is no weekly reset that would refresh their inventory. This means that the same items with the same perks are always being sold. So visiting them is only useful if you want to donate the planetary materials to the Vendor in hopes of getting the item you want with the right perks.
  • Raids: D1 had some incredible Raids and more of them. It is true, we have ‘Raid Lairs’ now, but these are pretty much just Nightfall Strikes that Bungie has released in place of full-fledged Raids in the hopes that it would be enough to pacify the community. Not only do these Raid Lairs fail in comparison to D1 Raids, but they also don’t reward the same useful weapons and glowing ornaments that D1 Y3 introduced that made replaying the same Raids far more uniquely rewarding.
  • Strike Specific Loot: D2 shipped with no Strike loot. Something that made all the D1 Strikes fun to grind for hours with your friends in hopes of getting the unique items to drop with their unique perks. Grasp of Malok, Imago Loop, two of the most popular guns from D1, for example, were so fun to go after and when you finally got one, the anticipation towards getting the perks you got just seems completely absent from D2. That is because there is no Strike loot at all, save for three static-rolled weapons from D2 Y1 that don’t even contain any style themes that match the Strikes they come from (Grasp of Malok had a Hive theme from a Hive Strike while Imago had a Vex theme from a Vex Strike). As it stands, no Strike specific loot exists, although a handful of Ships, Sparrows, and Ghosts that look like they belong to Strikes exist in the game, but are only available through the microtransactions of the Eververse store.

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  • Cosmetics: Most cosmetics to enhance the style and appearance of your Guardian in D1 were available just by playing the game and not paying more out of pocket. You could get them from Raids and Iron Banner and they were beautiful. All of these concepts were abandoned in favor of Bungie’s Eververse which has been the primary source for the best-looking cosmetics in D2. Initially thought to be the work of the villainous Activision, it was clear that Bungie was behind the aggressive microtransaction system from the beginning. Whether it be greed or desperation due to the dwindling player base, it has become apparent that these predatory practices were Bungie’s doing all along.
  • Armsday: In D1, the Gunsmith would allow you to buy a package for Glimmer that would turn into the gun you would want with random perks. You could easily see what the perks were for the gun pack you picked up before claiming it, which would allow you to wait for however many weeks were necessary to get the roll you wanted. This too was completely abandoned and has not made its way to D2.
  • Sparrow Racing League: SRL was a fun event where players would race with their Sparrows through obstacles that would reward neat armor and beautiful cosmetics. Just like Factions, SRL was abandoned and never made its way into D2.
  • Trials of Osiris: ToO was a weekend-long 3v3 PvP event that recurred every week and was likely the source for D1’s sustained popularity throughout all three years and its watchability on Competitive players would gather together and practice before entering the most sweaty and painful comp tournament Destiny ever had. Winning 9 times in a row would reward you with unique loot and trip to the mysterious lighthouse on Mercury. Only the best players made it there and showed off their earnings. In D2, Trials of Osiris was replaced with Trials of the Nine, which altered the game structure drastically with the 4v4 model. This proved wildly unpopularly and, with the assistance of Static Rolls, practically killed the endgame of D2 Y1. Bungie, instead of retooling Trials to what it was in D1, scrapped the whole thing and removed it completely with no signs of it returning this year.

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  • Activities: Destiny 2 has a lot of things to do. The problem is, no matter what planet or moon you are on, no matter what Class/Subclass you play as the experience is the same. Same activities, same mechanics (slam the charge/throw the charge), and no variety beyond the scenery. Destiny 2 had all the tools and resources to become great, but instead, it abandoned all the best activities, the best loot sources/Vendors, all for the sake of… we don’t actually know. Bungie scrapped them all and brought many of these concepts back in a poor way through paid DLC or seasonal content, but D2 is simply not at a place where it can boast that it is outdoing its predecessor in terms of things to do. Arguably, there is always something to do. There is always a bounty to take, and always a gun to shoot. But that is a poor excuse for an argument. Yeah, you can sit outside an enemy spawn location and shoot them every few minutes when they appear, but this isn’t a selling point to a player when you are trying to explain how endless the gameplay is.
  • Fashion: Destiny 1 had objectively better designs. Browse /r/DestinyTheGame any hour of any day of the week, and you will likely find a post about this with plenty of supporting comments and upvotes. The armor in D2 is not fashionable, and in many cases is nothing more than a reskin from a previous season or alternative activity.

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Destiny 2 has a handful of interesting locations, but once again, there is nothing to explore with nothing to do. The game is hardly an RPG when compared to titles like The Witcher or Elder Scrolls. The scenery is gorgeous, something Destiny as a franchise always had going for it. But unfortunately, none of these locations offered any mystery or uniqueness to it. Instead, the same handful of enemies will always be found in the exact same spots with nothing rewarding to offer when they are defeated. There are a few missions that D2 has, such as the Whisper and Outbreak missions that were incredible accomplishments, but those two missions aside are not enough to make D2 better than D1.

Recently this season, Bungie added in a Battle Pass (just like Fortnite’s) where players can grind through 100 levels to earn various materials, consumables, and a few other items along the way. This costs extra, and only adds to give players visibility on what they are working towards. Unfortunately, not much is worth it, but this is sort of left at the perspective of the individual player. I don’t hate this addition, but it’s just not done in a way that I feel is all that rewarding. However, it is the only activity in the game that guarantees the respect of the player’s time and dedication towards an otherwise fruitless grind, but that is sort of all that Destiny 2 has become.

The only thing new that D2 added were new locations to shoot things and a handy ledge-grab mechanic, and coming to PC for better performance. Beyond that, Destiny 2 suffered just as much, if not more than D1. And while you are probably thinking that this isn’t exactly true, I would say that it is on the account that Bungie had all the opportunity to learn from D1 but still made the same mistakes. They shouldn’t have happened in D2. Static Rolls and the overwhelming abandonment of features and activities that players loved is baffling. And at this pace, I think I have once again given up on Bungie and Destiny 2 as neither will be the developer/publisher or the game that I want them to be. Maybe in D3…

I prefer Crocs for their style over their comfort.