Casual Vs. Hardcore: Destiny 2's Identity Crisis

Published: September 28, 2017 11:00 AM /


Destiny 2 Launch Trailer Cinemagraph

It should come as no real surprise that Destiny 2 is a game that tries to reach many kinds of demographics. From casual to hardcore, from story-aficionados to competitive multiplayer lovers, there is a game mode or activity for just about everyone. Of course, by attempting to appeal to so many people, there had to be some rather drastic changes to how things like vendors worked, but for the most part it would be fair to say that Bungie did a reasonably decent job at finding a middle ground. If, for example, you're the kind of person who plays for an hour or two a day, you can still eventually get up to the point where your weapons and armor are just as effective as any hardcore grinder's, but perhaps your gear is a bit less optimized for Raids or the Crucible or whatnot. It may seem rather unfair for someone who plays the game for five or six hours a day, but as the original Destiny proved, Destiny 2 simply cannot afford to lose the casual crowd.

That being said, in their attempts to make Destiny 2 a more inclusive game, it appears as though Bungie will end up pleasing no one in the long run, as there is a point where, casual or not, you will run out of things to do, or more accurately, you will run out of rewarding activities to play. Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal, but Destiny 2 is a game that requires some kind of carrot on a stick to encourage people to play, because if we're being honest, no one is going to say that the game has some kind of amazing single-player experience or award winning multiplayer mechanics compared to what's available on the market right now; quantity over quality is what keeps games like Destiny 2 alive, and what is quantity if not an ever-diminishing quality?

The most obvious warning sign that Destiny 2 may run out of carrots sooner rather than later is the new loot system. The removal of randomized perks on weapons is a very healthy change that benefits casual players more than anyone else, but will this keep people playing months from now once everyone more or less has the same weapons in both performance and aesthetics? It would be naive to say that hardcore players wouldn't appreciate the fact that they won't receive utter trash after hours of grinding, since Bungie did a fair job of making sure that there is no blatantly terrible weapons, but surely there is a middle ground between every weapon acting like a carbon copy of each other and luck deciding whether or not that fancy new shotgun of yours actually has less range than if it never had any perks at all.

Perhaps, to encourage people to play through certain activities and to give their favorite guns a more unique feeling, weapons should have one or two empty mod slots that can be filled by unique mods, much like how armor functions in Destiny 2. Sure, your Nameless Midnight will still have the same core perks as someone else's Nameless Midnight, but maybe yours has a unique scope that you got from a Strike boss that you really like or a unique aesthetic bullet impact effect from Trials, or an alternative and entirely new weapon model from the Crucible—anything to help differentiate your weapon from some other random guy's weapon. That way, if you want to grind for such things, you can, but it's not going to turn your weapon into some kind of overpowered death ray. Otherwise, as it stands now, the only potential difference between weapons of the same name is whether or not someone put a Shader on it, and even then it's not like most of the Shaders in the game are unique enough to inspire conversation, much less admiration.


Destiny 2 Shaders
No, Luke Smith, no one in their right mind would ever consider Shader grinding to be a real endgame activity.


Similarly, Destiny 2's Strike playlist could offer at least one additional difficulty setting for those who want a challenge and a higher chance at rewards. The enemies in the game are, for the most part, almost depressingly easy to fight otherwise, which only leads to a more monotonous feeling and boredom, and no game can survive when its audience feels bored. Needless to say, this doesn't mean that every enemy should be an insta-killing bullet sponge, but even the most casual of casual players will eventually develop better game-playing abilities (presumably), especially if the only barrier to better and better loot is time. If nothing else, such a change would give people an obstacle to conquer, which in itself is a form of content.

It would be utterly unfair to pin Destiny 2's shortcomings on casual players, but at the same time, Bungie has to ask themselves whether they want the game to be a walk in the park or an experience where people actively want to come back, not for the loot per se, but because they have these personal goals that they want to achieve. Exclusively targeting the casual crowd may net Bungie a quick dollar or two, but it is only through a dedicated playerbase that the Destiny series will have a chance of maintaining its relevance. After all, the only thing that separates a casual player from a hardcore player is the dedication they have to a game, and dedication to a game only comes through the active desire to play it.


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More Info About This Game
Learn more about Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
Release Date
February 22, 2022 (Calendar)
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