Destiny is a game that from the get go had fans praising it, as well as many others questioning aspects of the game, from how long it takes to complete, to how little story there was and even the lack of end game content. Destiny is advertised as a FPS set in a massively multiplayer environment, but the world seemed a little scarce. From there two DLC were added to Destiny, The Dark Below and The House of Wolves, and since the release of the last DLC, fans have been satisfied that Destiny now feels like a full game. I want to take a closer look at Destiny's development in the past, and Bungie and Activision's plans for the future. I think that they have started on a path that will end up making the game accessible for new players while also alienating older players.
Before I move too far into details of Destiny's past, I first want to bring up that we at TechRaptor enjoyed the game when we first reviewed it, and I personally am a day one player with a level 34 Titan and countless hours of game time—I'm even that one loser who has read through the Grimoire cards for a deeper understanding of Destiny lore. It's most likely because of these reasons that I am so sad to see the direction that this game seems to be taking. If you want to specifically hear about the future of Destiny then you can skip ahead to The Taken King.
When Destiny first began, the name of the game was grinding, so much so that concept of a loot cave was created along with many not as good replacements after the original was patched out. If you weren't at the loot cave farming for engrams, then it was time for the one and only raid, the Vault of Glass. Still to this day I regard the Vault as the best aspect of Destiny; it took the normal run and gun formula of the game and instead forced players to work as a team, communicate, use stealth and even partake in some mild platforming. This took the monotonous grind of Destiny and gave players something new and fresh—the rewards for completing the vault though could only be gotten once or twice a week depending on what difficulty.
As a whole though, Destiny felt incomplete—there just wasn't enough to do, and yet the artificial lengthening ability of farming loot kept us all going. In terms of a lack of story to accompany the mind numbing grinding, we even got hints by going back through Destiny ViDocs and other sources that the game was reduced in size not only with location, like the Cosmodrone that was meant to be "5 to 10 times bigger," but also characters like the Queen's brother never appearing—even reducing the numbers of starting areas for each race from three to just the one that was originally intended for the Exo.
Just when it wasn't possible for anyone to continue grinding their light level 30 characters anymore, the first DLC was released adding forgettable, non-repeatable, story missions with a raid that pretty much consisted of shooting and running or shooting and hiding, with a little bit of a puzzle in the middle. Already from the base game, the quality of the raid had dropped tremendously.
After Crota had met his end hundreds upon thousands of times, details of The House of Wolves, the next DLC, was announced, and instead of hearing about a new exciting raid, as was detailed in the season pass, it was to be postponed. Instead fans would get two three-man activities, Trials of Osiris and the Prison of Elders, forcing you to break up your raid team. One final addition to the DLC was the new reef social area—the ability to explore the reef had been something guardians had been wanting to do since launch, as before that it was a pointless map location. The reef social area was then noticed to have been present in a video showing off Destiny from before the launch of the game, adding to an idea that these first two expansions were meant to be in the base game.
The release of the House of Wolves continued the trend of lengthening the game by having to grind for resources – Ascendant Materials in the VoG, Radiant Materials at Crota's End, Treasure Keys and chests in the Prison of Elders, or hoping your particular combination of Thorn, a shotgun and Gjallarhorn will make your team victorious in the Trials.
Now that I've covered some issues with Destiny's past, and yes I know I'm missing a couple of things, it's time to take a look at The Taken King and the future of the game. While there was information leaked early, we got the majority of our knowledge about The Taken King earlier this month at E3. At this event, we learned about all of the new features that would be included, such as story missions that seem to be set on Saturn, a new form of enemy called the Taken, the third subclass finally being unlocked for each of the three classes, new strikes and the new raid that was meant to be a part of the House of Wolves.
This is finally DLC that doesn't seem to be making up for what the game is missing but finally adding to it. No longer am I thinking that "this should have been included at launch," but that this will add to Destiny in a positive way. The problem with this DLC is that you have to pay $40 to get access to all the content, which is the same price as was asked for the season pass for the first two pieces of DLC.
Some have said that that's an acceptable price for all of the extra content, but it has also left a lot more questioning whether it's worth it. On top of that you can head over to the Destiny purchase page and find all manners of great deals where new players are able to purchase The Complete Destiny Experience, which has the base game and all DLC for a mere $60; the Digital Collector's Edition for $80 with emotes, shaders and exotic class items; or the Physical Collector's Edition also for $80 that includes everything from the digital edition with even more content, including a steel book case, modified Treasure Island, Strange Coin replica and more.
As someone who has in the past year spent $100 on your game, it is difficult to feel like I have spent my money's worth when not even a year later you are asking for an extra $40 for a grand total of $140, while a new player is able to get all the same content for $60. This issue is even larger in countries like England where the game at release was £40 and the DLC is also being sold for £40—can you really justify this DLC as having as much content as the base game? Maybe in Destiny's case ...
When questioned about pricing points, especially that at the time the extra content from the collector's edition was only available in that bundle, Luke Smith, in his infamous interview with Eurogamer, said that:
It's about value. The player's assessment of the value of the content.
And on top of that, when he was asked if the emotes would be sold separately, as people would like them but don't want to spend $80 to get content they already own again, he replied
If I fired up a video right now and showed you the emotes you would throw money at the screen.
This came across to a lot of the Bungie community not as a company wanting to support their fans, but instead attempting to siphon as much money out of us as possible—maybe more money is needed to hit the production costs of Destiny 2? Obviously with that interview, it was then time for damage control as David Dague, more recognizably known as Deej, Bungie's Community Manager, released a statement to Forbes on the matter of DLC prices and the Eurogamer interview:
Year One players won't get the same perks as people who buy a collector's edition, they'll get something better. Tune into the Weekly Update for more.
It was revealed earlier this week that the reward players will get, or at least what we know so far, is that the extra content (the class items, emotes and shaders) spoken about will be available to veteran guardians for $20. This isn't a discount; this is the same amount of difference between the new version of Destiny being sold and the Collector's Edition, so no real favors there.
Finally, some VIP rewards were announced for early adopters that will consist of a new shader, an emblem and a new sparrow. When trying to decipher all of the different ways that you can purchase The Taken King on the Destiny website, I did notice that this VIP pack is included in all of the different Taken King packages, which leads me to believe that you need to own The Taken King to receive your VIP rewards. I have reached out to Deej, Bungie and various representatives of Activision to attempt to clarify this and will update this when I have news.
What all of this says to me is that Bungie cares, about their public image. They will keep charging us $20 or $40 for content but then add in one or two small items every now and then to stop any controversy. This doesn't seem like we're being rewarded for being early adopters, but instead punished for not waiting over a year to get the game. At this rate, it would be smarter to wait until Bungie's 10 year plan is over and purchase the Super Ultra Collector's Edition of Destiny.
The Bungie.net blog post detailing all of the above news was signed off with a mysterious "and we'll have more fun stuff for you to announce in the very short term future, just for you." Hopefully it's not something else for fans to buy.
One final move that Bungie has confusingly made in regards to their upcoming Taken King DLC is its new partnership with Red Bull. This partnership requires players to purchase specially marked cans of Red Bull, enter that code on their website and you'll not only get consumable XP boosts, available as of the first of July, but when The Taken King comes out, you'll get access to a “never before seen, multi-stage mission in The Taken King that will test the speed and strategic abilities of Destiny players in new ways." This mission will also be exclusive only to those who received the code from drinking Red Bull until it becomes unlocked for all players on the 1st of January 2016.
As a day one player of Destiny, I've enjoyed myself and seen Destiny become the game that it should have been from the start, albeit for $40 more, but with DLC costing this much, content locked out if I'm not a fan of an energy drink or play on the right console, and new players of the game getting even more of a reward for starting playing this September, this this is a point where I don't feel like my time and money invested in this game has become worthy. I feel that the way that the early adopters are being treated is disrespectful and for such a loyal fanbase that I've seen in game and on the Internet it would be a shame to lose that support for your game.
What do you think of the way that Bungie and Activision have been handling the game? Do you feel that this price point is worth the content that they are providing? Do you feel that Destiny has been gutted so as to release almost episodic content to sell to the players?