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For the past decade or so, games have effectively copied each other, integrating the best mechanics of certain genres and improving upon them if needed. Now that’s not to say that that’s a bad thing; after all, Halo popularized regenerating health systems that are now almost universal in shooters, leveling and ranking systems are everywhere, and let’s not forget how many games are seemingly inspired by MOBAs and RPGs lately. In theory, this should also mean that developers would learn from each other’s mistakes, but in the case of games like The Division and Destiny, it appears as though they have ignored history and have suffered for it.

At their core, The Division and Destiny are loot based games, much like many games with RPG elements, such as Borderlands and Diablo 3. As you can probably expect, the main allure to these games is the loot; you basically go around, kill some things, get some loot, and then use the new loot to kill some tougher things and get even better loot. Unfortunately, both The Division and Destiny ran into problems with how often loot is distributed to players, which obviously led to some grumblings among their respective communities. 

The only guaranteed loot from beating The Taken King's raid

The only guaranteed loot from beating The Taken King’s raid.

Now let’s pretend that both The Division and Destiny are the first games to ever introduce loot based reward mechanics. If that were the case, it should come as no surprise that they would make the same mistake of not adequately rewarding players for the time they invest into the game, and in all likelihood, they would probably be forgiven for it. However, they are not the first games to feature loot, nor will they be the last to run into problems with an audience that is disgruntled with how meager their in-game rewards are. 

If anything, they fell into the same exact pitfalls that Diablo 3 fell into whereby meaningful loot was initially very sparse, mainly due to the fear that giving players large amounts of good loot at once would lead to them feeling satisfied faster, which could lead to a declining audience once everyone got the items that they are looking for. Needless to say, this actually had the opposite effect of retaining players, and if anything, it damaged their game even more because people were leaving the game out of frustration and anger. The same exact patterns can be seen in Destiny’s audience after the release of The Taken King DLC where people were not happy about having to fight at least three layers of RNG in raids to get good loot, and The Division’s audience after the release of the Incursion update that nerfed crafting and Challenge mode rewards to be a quarter of what people were comfortable with.

Chest

It’s a box that gives you the second most powerful items in the game, and you don’t even have to kill anything!

On the contrary, a game like Borderlands 2 had so much loot that you could always feel comfortable experimenting with different weapons and playstyles. Want to be a glass cannon who mostly uses a certain notorious rocket launcher? No problem. Explosive shotgun wielding tank? Difficult, but somewhat viable. Generic stealthy sniper? Just have to find the sniper rifle first, but at least some decent ones are guaranteed drops from quests and enemies. While it didn’t prevent people from leaving the game, it at least tried to make them leave with fond memories rather than out of anger over having bad luck.

Ultimately, no one is forcing developers like Bungie and Ubisoft Massive to observe what made the audiences of other games happy, but it certainly would help. After all, mistakes are acceptable, but if the mistakes you are making are preventable simply because other people already made similar mistakes in the past, then at the end of the day it just reflects poorly on you. 

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Anson Chan

Staff Writer

You ever wonder why we're here? It's one of life's greatest mysteries, isn't it? Good thing games exist so that we don't have to think about it. Or at least I don't have to think about it. Instead, I'll just play Halo or something.