In many ways, Destiny 2 is the game we should’ve gotten when the original launched a few years back. Gone are the awful hassles of having to return to orbit every time players want to go somewhere. Now, Guardians are even given their very own maps, and we can quickly travel to another planet or moon without having to exit to orbit, and then select a new destination from the director. Destiny 2’s quality-of-life improvements are really nice, but it also leads to a new problem: a diminished sense of progression.
At the moment, the Power level cap is 300. If this were Destiny 1, with the exception of the Rise of Iron expansion, you’d normally expect to have to attempt the raid in order to get the absolute best and most powerful gear in the game to hit that 300 cap. With the recommended Power level at 260, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that perhaps the maximum level you could hit would be around the 280 range, with the raid gear dropping at 281 and above to help you reach the cap. However, that isn’t the case at all. Within the first few days of Destiny 2’s launch, players had already surpassed the 280 threshold and were steadily making their way up to the cap.
The reason for this is the multitude of ways and ease with which it is to get gear in Destiny 2. Each week, you’re given refreshed Milestones that reward you with Powerful engrams that will drop gear above your Power level. You have clan engrams that give you better rewards as well. And even after you’ve exhausted all your weekly options, you can still go hunting for Exotic engrams by doing Heroic Public Events and opening chests in the game. In a way, this is a refreshing change to Destiny 2. There are a lot of ways you can go about collecting Exotic gear and increasing your Power level without having to resort to a tedious loot cave grind. The problem is that the game’s streamlined systems are making it far too easy for players to level up at the moment.
Right now, the best way to level up is by completing Heroic Public Events. Completing one of these gives you a high chance of receiving an Exotic engram from the loot chest. But even if you fail the event (Heroic or not), you still have a chance of getting the Exotic anyway. Couple that with the effects of a Fireteam Medallion, and you could technically just hit up every Public Event in the area, and you’ll be rewarded for your ‘effort’ whether you choose to participate or not. If you’re still trying to hit 265, every chest will give you better Rare gear or a token at the very least. And if you’re lucky, you’ll even get an Exotic. Having all these Public Events indicated on the in-game map is a wonderful improvement to the game, but it’s also easily exploited.
And if you’re not grinding Public Events, Cayde sells weekly treasure maps as well, which also gives you a chance at nabbing an Exotic in addition to regular chests you find around the world. Oh, and these are marked on your planetary maps, too.
Look, I’m not saying Bungie should cut off all our means of getting better gear, because everyone plays Destiny for that satisfying sense of progression each time you see that brilliant yellow engram pop up. With Bungie laying out roadmaps for their plans for the game, it’s clear that they’re planning on releasing more events and updates, which would explain why they don’t want to wall off progression too much. But if Destiny 2 continues down this route, it isn’t going to be long before we see a repeat of the mistake made in its predecessor. With weekly Milestones, clan rewards, treasure chests, and Heroic Public Events, hitting 300 isn’t that tough at all. If it’s too easy to hit the level cap, it’s very likely that players will quickly get bored with the game’s lack of content.
The biggest issue right now is the drop rate for Exotic engrams. While it’s nice to be able to earn them no matter what activities you choose to pursue in the game, the drop rate needs to be lowered a little bit. At the very least, players shouldn’t be rewarded with Exotics if they’re unable to clear a Public Event. With how easy it is to find chests with Cayde’s treasure maps, perhaps it would be a good idea to lower the Exotic drop rate from that as well. To make the nerfed drop rate sting a little less, maybe Bungie could adjust the Exotic drops so that players won’t keep getting duplicates. This way, every Exotic drop feels far more satisfying because you know you’d be getting something new each time.
At any rate, while I am a huge fan of Destiny 2’s little gameplay improvements, the game seems to be suffering from a case of wanting to reward players far too much. The grind up to the Power cap can’t be too smooth, or it won’t feel satisfying. For now, players should be satisfied with the amount of available content to keep them occupied for the next few weeks, but it won’t be long before the player base starts to feel restless as we await the new expansion.