While both of these live-service games share a space magic fantasy, Sci-Fi aesthetic, the two games couldn’t be more different. With that quickly established, here’s 4 things Bungie could learn from Digital Extreme’s Warframe.
Embrace Randomly Generated Content
One of the downsides of Destiny 2’s completely hand-crafted content is that, eventually, you run into the issue of the content needing to eventually be vaulted.
Without at least some randomly generated assets and missions, each hand-crafted mission takes up valuable space. It’s why Destiny 2 had to have a massive content vaulting spree with the Forsaken expansion and Tangled Shore Destination. Stories and content old and new players alike held dear disappeared in an instant.
Such a scenario isn’t an issue that crops up a lot in Warframe outside of vaulted prime items and prime Warframes. This is thanks to a lot of the game’s missions being pieced together from a wide variety of small hand-crafted chunks of content.
Sure, Digital Extremes has incorporated large, Destination-like open worlds into Warframe, but with everything else being randomly pieced together, they can keep the size of the game down. As such, it makes sense to point toward this model as something that Bungie should start doing, and soon. For me, what this would look like in Destiny 2 is that Bungie would keep Destinations largely the same. However, the randomly generated missions would be accessible from Orbit or within the Destinations themselves.
These missions would still need the voice work, encounters, and boss rooms one would expect, but most sections that don’t revolve around these set pieces could be randomly merged together. So, while the story delivery in these missions wouldn’t change, a lot of the manual labor of creating room after room could be replaced by these randomly generated chunks.
Lastly, incorporating elements of randomization into the encounters, like random layouts of units that spawn in different locations, would be nice. Everyone hates repetition, so Bungie leaning into more varied design elements would only improve their standing with players.
More New Subclasses Can Help Generate Revenue
Imagine you’re playing Destiny 2, but each class gets a guaranteed new subclass once per year. The only downside is you would have to pay for it. So, would you? I think I personally would, because that’s Warframe’s business model, and I salivate at the thought of there eventually being a dozen subclasses to choose from per class in Destiny 2.
It could be easy for Bungie to potentially make lots of revenue from paid Season passes that come with access to one or two new Subclasses. Ideally, a new Season could include a new subclass for every class, but the work it would take to make 12 subclasses in one year is much more than the three to four Warframes Digital Extremes creatively pumps out.
Still, one new subclass a year for each class is much more doable and help to build hype among the community when a new Season rolls around, and their class gets the new subclass.
Provide More Completely New Ways to Play
I recently really got into the Railjack system in Warframe after many years away. The mode has you and an AI NPC crew, or friends, fly a giant ship in outer space. It is complete with you being able to actually fly the ship, shoot down enemy ships from multiple different turrets, and even invade other ships on foot. I was floored when I discovered I could have my AI crew handle flying the ship, manning the turrets and repairing it while I faff about outside the ship and do the objectives.
In its brilliance, this mode expands upon the Warframe gameplay formula with something that feels really fresh. Additionally, the Destiny community has long been clamoring for space combat, and if Bungie ever decides to do it, they should take some notes on how to make it feel fresh. Likewise, Warframe’s The Duviri Paradox is a new way to play that combines Warframe’s openworld gameplay with Roguelike mechanics that works startlingly well.
Even better is that the currencies you earn from Duviri Paradox can be used to buy weapons, mods, and Warframes for use in the rest of the game. It’s smart how Digital Extremes blends the two ways to play together where progress in either mode helps benefit the other.
This is where Destiny 2 needs to takes some risks and make some big changes. They need to explore new ways for players to interact with the game outside of a new Dungeon or Raid or new Gambit-like mode, as all of those game modes still rely on the same magically bombastic gameplay Destiny 2 is known for. It might take a Destiny 3 for Bungie to be able to make something on par with Duviri Paradox, but they should if they can.
New Player Acquisition Is Key to Success
Speaking of the Duviri Paradox in Warframe, it also acts as an alternate way to start playing Warframe.
Since the raw gameplay is somewhat similar to the planet-hopping you’ll do in the main part of Warframe, Digital Extremes was able to craft a whole new path for new players to slowly become integrated into Warframe’s most important systems and unlock the game’s many Warframes. And yet, because the game’s quests aren’t vaulted, all of its story content remains available for players to organically discover and complete.
This is not a luxury that Bungie can currently afford to do. Even Destiny 2’s base game story back in 2017 explored a world full of enemies and allies that were already established in Destiny 1. New players trying to play today have to start with so many already-established story threads, settings, and pivotal moments that it’s difficult for them to grasp it all unless they watch lore dissection videos a la My Name is Byf on YouTube.
I can’t see Destiny 2 being able to earn hordes of new players unless they take the time to deliberately add more playable missions that explain more of what has happened over the past six years. I made a new character in Destiny 2 to see what it was like, and it’s hard to imagine new players enjoy being pushed into the Lightfall campaign so early into their New Light experience.