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Issues With GM Nightfall & Trials Highlights Destiny 2’s Addiction to Superficial Rewards

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Issues With GM Nightfall & Trials Highlights Destiny 2’s Addiction to Superficial Rewards

Season of the Worthy is a fairly light season, content wise. Just about everyone playing Destiny 2 will acknowledge that at this point.

What many people, including myself, were pinning their hopes on though, was that two new pinnacle level activities, Trials of Osiris and Grandmaster Nightfall, would spice up the endgame for the hardcore portion of the player base.

Instead, both have released with significant issues. Trials has serious problems with hackers and cheaters, especially on PC, which has prompted Bungie to consider harsh (but necessary) measures such as banning people who play with cheaters.

They are also considering introducing a paywall (such as owning the latest season/expansion) and/or a 100-hour playtime requirement to participate in Trials of Osiris.

Grandmaster Nightfalls is just not all that exciting. It’s effectively just a sluggish version of the already slow Master Nightfalls. Master Nightfalls require players to play extremely passively and cautiously with long-range weapons to avoid a quick death, and the addition of even more punishing modifiers further encourages that strategy.

While it’s fine to play, it’s not something I’d ever want to watch on Twitch. Bungie stated that they wanted Grandmaster Nightfalls to be watchable but yeah… they’re not quite there yet.

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However, the biggest problem with both of these new activities is the reward structure. Both do have some kind of rewards. For the Grandmaster Nightfalls it’s an increased chance of upgrade materials and exotics, and for Trials of Osiris it’s also upgrade materials and mode-exclusive loot.

The general feeling from the community since the launch of these events is that it’s not enough. Neither activity feels worth the effort for the average player.

The big prizes for both of these events are superficial and cosmetic rewards. Conquering a Grandmaster Nightfall strike only gives you a slightly better chance of getting the best possible rewards that you would get for the Master version. Getting the Conqueror title by clearing each Nightfall in that rotation is supposed to be the main prize.

Trials of Osiris has a similar problem. The optimal way to farm loot is not by going flawless. Instead, it’s actually more efficient for strong teams to stomp weaker teams within the first three wins and then reset their card and rinse and repeat. That’s because the flawless chest just isn’t worth the effort after you’ve done it once.

Bungie was likely hoping that the prestige of having glowing Trials armor for a week and working towards the Flawless title would be enough to incentivize players to consistently go for a flawless card. Once again, that’s not the case.

We’ve been down this road before in Destiny 2. Vanilla Destiny 2 suffered greatly by relying on a cosmetic-based reward system. Bungie hoped that people wouldn’t mind that armor was effectively meaningless, and that players would just go for farming the ones that looked the coolest on them.

Prestige versions of the Leviathan raid, at the time the toughest activity in Destiny 2, also offered cosmetic rewards as its main prize.

When I theorized about what a well-developed PvP reward system should look like shortly before Trials was officially announced, I suggested that a flawless card needs to give players something special, otherwise it’s not going to continue to capture the attention of the average PvP player over a long period of time.

If I’m an average to below-average PvP player, what is the point of getting slaughtered by PvP gods every weekend if all that there is at the end of the chase is bragging rights and some materials?

It’s already possible to get some tokens and gear by just getting to at least three wins each week, and materials are far more easily obtained in Nightfall.

To Bungie’s credit, their suggestions last week for improving the reward structure of Trials of Osiris sounds good on paper. They are considering some version of Adept-like weapons and are adding rewards to cards that get closer to seven wins.

The main point is that there needs to be a reason to chase flawless cards. I suggested an exotic weapon that can only be obtained from the final chest, similar to raid exotics, and also guaranteed ascendant shards. That might be too extreme for some Destiny 2 fans. I’d settle for some version of the Adept weapon that Bungie is suggesting.

It feels like history is repeating itself in Destiny 2. Trinkets, cosmetics, and superficial titles are nice to have, but it has proven itself over and over again to not be enough of an incentive for Destiny 2 players.

It’s hard to stomach seeing Eververse filled to the brim with new items every season – at least, more so than we need – and then seeing no Adept weapons in Trials or unique loot for Grandmaster Nightfall.

The hardest content needs to have rewards that match the time you need to invest to complete it. Clearing Grandmaster Nightfalls are not only difficult and time consuming, but you need to spend many hours grinding your power level up to even attempt it.

Trials of Osiris is dominated by stacked teams of PvP legends. Even getting to three wins and unlocking the ability to turn in tokens can take average players a whole weekend.

If someone actually goes flawless, there should be a huge reward waiting for them, not just another opportunity to get the same stuff they get from their tokens or materials they can get in other modes.

Destiny 2 is a looter-shooter, if players aren’t getting fun loot that makes them feel like they got stronger, especially from the difficult content that they are trying to grind to be able to complete, then Destiny 2 is surrendering half of its identity.

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