This week, Destiny 2 players experienced their first Clarion Call, a weekend event in the game that is meant to offer players a chance to earn Bright Engrams at the end of each Season. However, what these players also discovered is that Destiny 2 has an XP cooldown that limits how much experience they can earn in a given period, not unlike the chest cooldown in the game. If they do something too fast, Destiny 2 punishes them by offering fewer rewards.
While the XP cooldown is not anything game-breaking it is symptomatic of a larger problem in Destiny 2, specifically the game’s dislike for people playing too much. Anywhere you turn Destiny 2 seems to want to limit how much players can earn, which is counterintuitive to its main appeal as an online multiplayer game.
There are numerous areas that Destiny 2 limits players – keeps them from leveling up too fast, or earning too many items, or getting the most out of an event. Take, for example, the Faction Rally event, which just concluded its second run about a week ago.
In theory, the Faction Rally event is supposed to be an opportunity for players to represent their favorite faction and earn gear in the process. But, players can only earn a total of 30 Faction engrams before they stop dropping gear. Any engrams after 30 will only contain shaders.
Bungie has yet to acknowledge the 30-engram limit or explain why it is even in the game. If a player wants to collect all of a Faction’s gear in a single event, why can’t they? How does someone getting all of the Dead Orbit gear hurt Destiny 2?
The obvious answer is that it doesn’t hurt Destiny 2 directly, but it does hurt the longevity of the game. If a player gets all of the gear during the first event, then they are unlikely to come back for the second one. Now, Bungie is smart in that they add new items for each consecutive Faction Rally, but that only increases the loot pool and decreases the chances of a player getting everything they want within 30 engrams. And that’s assuming a player even has the time to earn 30 engrams once per month.
Similarly, it’s hard not to wonder why is there a limit on how fast a player can earn XP in Destiny 2? And if there is a limit, why is there an event focused on giving players extra experience so that they can level up faster, when they really can’t? Bungie wants players to earn as many Bright Engrams as they can, but only within the parameters that they deem acceptable. Anything above that is considered too fast, and so those players need to be literally slowed down by the game.
There are other ways the game discourages playing fast or too often as well. When Destiny 2 first launched, players discovered that there was a weekly lockout on Powerful Gear rewards for players using two (or three) of the same class. So a player with two Warlocks would only see an increase in Power Level from their first Powerful Gear drops and not their second.
Again, this seemed to be a way to prevent players from hitting the Power Level cap too fast. Why that mattered is anyone’s guess, but the system is put there to halt that progress.
At the end of Destiny 1, Bungie had seemingly found the key to making players happy: give them what they want. Overwhelm them with rewards and let players simply play. Iron Banner rewards were coming out of our ears. Each raid encounter had numerous ways to earn drops. And Three of Coins made it so if you wanted an exotic you could grind and get it.
But somewhere Bungie lost that thread in the development of Destiny 2, and reverted back to a system that gates players at far too many turns. Iron Banner went from being a source of endless to gear to one of the stingiest events in the entire game. The raid, once the pinnacle of Destiny’s endgame, is so unrewarding that many have no interest in completing it and are perfectly okay with that. It’s better to avoid the activity then take on the challenge and only get tokens. That, in turn, has soured the Guided Games feature, which was supposed to help players complete endgame experiences, but instead, these players would rather wait to see what Bungie does to make things better.
And to Bungie’s credit, the developer has acknowledged some of these issues and teased potential changes. But it doesn’t explain why there are so many punishments for playing too much of the game. Yes, there is always going to be a fear of players moving on, but as the Diablo 3 devs learned, it’s better to have players digest your content and leave happy, than to be stingy and have players leave mad. Those players that left with a positive outlook are more likely to come back when new content releases, like the Curse of Osiris DLC.
At the very least, Curse of Osiris presents an opportunity to correct the problems of Destiny 2, which we’ll admit only apply to the most dedicated players. For many players, gating or cooldowns are a non-issue because they only hop on for an hour or so each week. But for the hardcore, there is a general sense that Bungie doesn’t want them to reach a point where they are bored.
However, there is an important distinction to be made between being “bored” with something and being “done” with something. Being done means you are satisfied with your accomplishments and waiting for the next thing. Being bored means you don’t want to accomplish everything and you would rather move on to something else.
Destiny 2 is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.