Last week, we saw the release of Destiny 2: Forsaken, which in essence fixed almost everything that is wrong with Destiny 2. The game is still not perfect, and there are certainly some things we wouldn’t mind having, but let’s be honest, it has to do something right because there’s a lot of people playing and enjoying it. The biggest problem is that Bungie keeps making silly mistakes, but they do somehow rectify them and all is forgiven. It might seem stupid for those looking on from the sideline, but maybe there are a few lessons other players in the industry can learn from old Bungo:
Don’t fix what ain’t broke
One of the biggest mistakes Bungie made with Destiny 2 was changing the way the game rewards you. They removed the reasons why we wanted to play the game in the first place such as random rolls on weapons and gear, or things like activity grinding for specific loot. They removed group matchmaking, meaning that you no longer continued playing with the same people in strikes or crucible, but instead re-matched at the start of each event. It meant that you no longer started feeling that bond with the person you were playing with, and it removed the chance of making random friends, which was a lot easier in Destiny 1. This was rectified with the Forsaken expansion, and we’re returning to what we know works with Destiny 1. It is why I lot of us Guardians are happy with the new expansion because it is giving us what we loved about the first game back. Why it was removed or changed in the first place is anyone’s guess, but we’re all happy that these fixes are back.
One thing that Destiny 2 has going for it is an incredibly well-populated world. The main reason for this is the way the matchmaking works, and it contributes to the overall experience of sharing the world with others. This is something that always works very well, and how they do this is incredible. Any time you’re in open-world activities, you almost always see others doing their thing. You sometimes join them in their quest to kill a story or quest related boss and it is this sense of comradery that makes the experience of playing the game so much worth it. Everything works seamlessly to a point that you almost never have to think about it and it is something other games can certainly take some pointers on.
An example of some other games where I’ve seen really overly complicated, cumbersome matchmaking include Monster Hunter Worlds and the Soulsborne series. In MHW you have to either decide to answer SOS flares or if you’re playing to play with friends, you need to go to the Gathering Hub, wait for them to go into their story and then you can join. Sure, there might be reasons for it that they don’t want you as a potentially overpowered player to come in and do everything, but it makes it hard and annoying. You can’t just form a party and off you go. This option might be available in endgame activities, but you can’t just go out and play the story with a friend.
Bloodborne and the Souls game have a similarly cumbersome system in that you need to be in the same area as a friend, need to use consumables and you’re also limited to where you can join in and fight together. Yes, I do realise that these things are done for reasons, including the story and the lore, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t slightly annoying to play with and help a friend. The way it works in Destiny is incredibly smooth and some of the other devs making online shared-world games should take note.
Give us a reason to care
One of the biggest flaws that Destiny 2 made was the just make us not care. Sure the Last City fell, but we won the fight and all was fine. There’s no consequence to anything that happens. One of the biggest gripes I had with the campaign that the following DLCs is that is felt like the Saturday morning cartoons we used to watch “Oh no, there is this new super horrible threat and we need to stop it!” No problem, we have it sorted before the end of the episode and be done in time for brunch. It also didn’t help that the Guardian was mute with a little floating robot that doesn’t shut up.
What both Taken King and Forsaken have done is give us a reason to care. in Taken King, we finally had characters we could relate to, and ironically it is the reason we fell in love with Cayde-6, who (spoiler alert) gets killed in Forsaken. So they made us care, and feel invested in what we do. Yes, we might still be a bunch of mindless drones grinding for the never-ending loot, but at least we feel a little bit more emotional about it.
Good marketing always pays off
One of the reasons why Destiny and its sequel is so successful is because of good marketing. Even when things weren’t looking so great, we all still kind of pay attention when Bungie open their mouths. Even when things were at its lowest, they still had a solid marketing campaign that kept people interested. It might sometimes seem like they’re overdoing it, but there is no doubt that they’re fully in control of what gets said, not said and ‘leaked’. Something they’re also very good with it dropping hints and letting people figure out the rest for themselves, sometimes leading to some of the coolest discoveries that draw people back into the game. The recent Whisper of the Worm mission is a good example of this.
Listen to your fans, even if they’re talking with their wallets
A lot of people might think or say that companies like Bungie or Activision don’t care or listen to the fans of their games, but let’s be honest here for a moment, they care a lot. They realise that pissing off a very vocal fanbase could influence their bottom line, and when people start moving away and spending less money, they will take notice. It is because of these reasons that Forsaken had some drastic changes that essentially pleases a lot of the fans. Why Destiny 2 had to go through the same cycle as its predecessor is baffling, but it did, and hopefully Bungie have finally learned what it is that we want.
We don’t want the same thing in all games, but there’s a reason why keep playing certain games. We enjoy what we have, you just want more of it and want it to be better. It brings me back to the very first point I made in this list. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.
So there are some lessons that developers and publisher, including Bungie and Activision can learn from Destiny 2. Let us know what else people might be able to learn from the game, or more interestingly, what Destiny can learn from other games.