Over the course of Destiny’s life a lot of its praise and criticisms have centered on how the game rewarded players. One of the first massive gripes levied against the title revolved around the Cryptarch and how engrams would sometimes decrypt as a lower rarity or you wouldn’t see any increase in Light. Another major issue was addressed around the time of Rise of Iron, where Bungie provided more options for players to reach that pinnacle Light Level without being restricted to just one or two game modes. Yet, even with all the fixes, things still aren’t as rewarding as they could have been in Destiny 1. Yet, from what we’ve played of Destiny 2 thus far, the developers seem to finally be tackling this issue head on in a way that is a definite plus for the player.
First is the amount of loot you get while playing. You’ll get some type of reward from every single thing you do, though it’s not always necessarily weapons or armor. Things like Tokens (which are used to level up specific vendors), consumables, and more are common rewards for your efforts. And while they may not be gear you can equip then and there, a lot of what you find, especially Tokens, help contribute to your endgame gear acquisition overall. Collect enough Tokens and you can get a legendary package from its respective vendor. Even loot you find but can’t use can be broken down and used to level up the Gunsmith who will give you exotics with each new milestone.
How the loot is managed stood out as well. In the first game, engrams took up gear slots, which you only had nine of for each type. So if you had too many engrams, and there was a sweet piece of gear that dropped that you wanted then and there, you had to get rid of the engram. You could send it to your vault if you had room, or destroy it, or just avoid picking up engrams altogether and pick them up at the postmaster later, but none of these were perfect solutions.
In Destiny 2, engrams are actually separate from your gear. You can carry 10 while still keeping all of your other slots free for new drops that you may come across. Decrypting them is a bit less of frustrating mystery as well. Destiny 2’s project lead, Mark Noseworthy, tweeted about how you don’t need to constantly equip your best gear to get better gear. Destiny 2 will take stock of everything you own and decide what Power Level to drop loot at based on that. You can also see what level your engrams will decrypt to simply by highlighting them.
There’s a constant progression of sorts where players can feel like they’re always moving forward and not endlessly grinding in the hopes of obtaining what they want or need. Gear doesn’t even need to be upgraded anymore, nor are there random rolls. I remember grinding forever for a Grasp of Malok (before they added keys and loot chests) and when I finally got one it paled in comparison to others I’d seen and was hardly worthy of sharing the same name.
Now if two players find something like the Scathelock (a legendary auto rifle, as well as a personal fave for killing enemies), you both have a true Scathelock. You can alter how it performs with mods, which allows for some personalization, and you can even change its appearance with shaders. But you can rest assured knowing that you got the weapon your friend was telling you about or that you read about on Reddit or some other forum. No more guessing.
For players who are more into the aesthetic side of things (ornaments, ships, sparrows, and, most importantly, emotes), you’ll be happy to know that they can all be earned in game. Yes, microtransactions are still a thing, but you don’t need to feel left out because you’re short on funds or you missed some special event. A new type of engram, called Bright engrams, are tied to Eververse and lets you earn all of the special loot that would normally cost Silver (a premium currency obtained with real-world cash). Seeing an exotic emote pop for me (yes, there are exotic emotes) was exciting, as was grabbing a cool legendary shader and some other sweet rewards. Oh, and these engrams are not too difficult to obtain since they are now your over-leveling rewards (taking the place of the five Motes of Light you used to earn in the first game).
What Bungie has done has not only upped the number of rewards that players get, but made it so it all feels more worthwhile. While you are still grinding for that perfect loadout or resources to get even more loot, it feels much less like a chore since you’re actually getting things that you can use. Even having the aesthetic items easily obtainable in-game without having to break out your wallet shows that Destiny 2 is geared more towards the player experience. It’s a large step forward from the system that slowly evolved in Destiny 1, and I personally can’t wait to see how it grows even more.