As Season of the Chosen wraps up for Destiny 2, Bungie revealed in one of their weekly update posts details for a long-requested feature: an armor transmog system. As people combed over this new system, the fanbase's reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Worse still, it's a reaction that is warranted, because this system is awful.
As of April 22's This Week At Bungie (or TWAB as the fans call it), the transmog system behaves like this: Players will gain a new currency item called synthstrand as they play the game, either through killing enemies or doing well in PvP. Once enough synthstrand is collected, players must return to The Tower and speak to Ada-1, trading in synthstrand for special bounties. These bounties will task the player with playing more specific activities like Strikes, Gambit, Nightfalls, and even Raids. Completing these bounties will reward the player with synthcord. Once enough synthcord is earned, the player must then return to The Tower and use the synthcord at a new area called The Loom. Once at The Loom can convert the synthcord into another new resource, synthweave, which the player can use to transform almost any piece of armor they have ever picked up in Destiny 2 and can convert that piece of armor into a Universal Armor Ornament, letting them use it cosmetically over whatever armor they have equipped.
Right off the bat, I have concerns regarding the convenience of this system. Without even mentioning this system involves managing three different kinds of resources, you have to break off from your activities to go to The Tower not once, but twice if you want to use this system. Considering how Bungie has been able to streamline this necessary tedium with the introduction of the HELM in Season of the Chosen, this feels like unnecessary busywork. This isn't a major pillar of the game, this is for players that want more freedom in how they look while playing.
Then there are resource caps. According to Bungie, you can only use this system to convert 10 pieces of armor, per class, per season. That amounts to two full sets of armor, for up to three different characters, every three months or so. The only exception to this is the newly announced Season of the Splicer, which will widen this cap to 20 pieces of armor.
Finally, if you don't have the time or patience to go through all of this grind for your sci-fi fashion, you can purchase synthweave from the Eververse store for Silver, Destiny 2's premium currency that costs real-world money. A single synthweave will set you back 300 Silver, about $3, while a pack of five will cost you 1000 silver or $10.
Taken in isolation, these aren't bad ways to handle this system. Destiny 2 is a free-to-play game, and not everyone has the time to grind out the materials needed for armor, so selling shortcuts is to be expected. With some streamlining, the idea of locking the system behind completing bounties can help give players more to do if they are already hitting endgame content. But combined with a hard cap on how much can be earned has made a lot of users vocally outraged. It clashes with how the rest of Destiny 2 rewards you for constantly having more to do.
It feels like an unnecessary bottleneck for players that have been around since launch of the game and have plenty of armor they would love to convert and show off what they have earned over the game's five-year lifespan. Some have even declared that this is Bungie unapologetically becoming greedy, exploiting their free-to-play monetization model in a way that invokes the time the incredibly short-sighted Activision was calling the shots. Even some quick math from some players deduced that if you had obtained every single piece of legendary armor currently in the game and wanted to convert all of it to ornamentation, taking advantage of bulk discounts on Silver, it would cost you at best roughly $6,000, or $12,000 if you go piecemeal. That's not even taking into account non-Legendary armor or the time it would take to grind it out without paying.
While my disappointment with the system doesn't reach that far, this outrage does highlight the reason why players feel so burned. Generally speaking, transmog systems in long-running online games appeal so much to long-term players. They like the look of an item and want to keep wearing it long after it has lost any in-game benefit. Furthermore, the system is not only cosmetic, but the appearances are based off armor any player can theoretically get for themselves. While Destiny 2 has sold cosmetic items for Silver in the past with little to no outrage, it is this selling of a shortcut to a needlessly tedious system for the privilege of personal expression that has led to many players feeling betrayed and burned.
Even knowing this comes from a certain level of entitlement, I am underwhelmed as well. I jumped through all of the hoops and dealt with all of the pitfalls of clearing the Leviathan Raid to get a full set of both regular and Prestige Raid armor for my Warlock. Now I have to be further inconvenienced just to show off that armor again without tanking my Power level and ruining my build? Rationally, this affects only the most ardent of players, but when you're in that group it still hurts nonetheless.
We are a little under a week until the launch of Season of the Splicer, and Bungie has made strides in the past when it comes to listening to player feedback. I certainly hope they find some compromises with this system going forward because right now it seems tailor made to inconvenience the players it was meant to excite the most.