Left Behind: Why These Avid Destiny Players Aren't Making the Jump to Destiny 2

Destiny 2 isn't a silver lining for everyone.

Feature by Caty McCarthy, .

It was early 2013 when Bungie unveiled Destiny, their first venture into a "shared world shooter." It wasn't quite like an MMO; nor was it a new Halo-esque adventure. Instead, Bungie set out to accomplish something wholly new. Something that would live on for an alleged 10 years, like an MMO (which was clarified by Activision as meaning many games and expansions, not a single game). Something that would live in the hearts of many forever.

Its launch was bumpy though. Players complained about the lack of story and content, before Bungie buckled down and reevaluated the shared world shooter. The players who stuck it out through the clutter were doubly rewarded: they ended up with a pretty decent game, a game whose endless grind for loot became a focal point for fans. But after expansions slowed to a stop and the Age of Triumph became the game's final update and last real hurrah earlier this year, everyone knew the end was coming. Destiny 2 was coming.

And sure enough, only a few months later, Destiny 2 was coming. Heck, it was announced for release this very year. Some fans were elated. Some less so. Some, honestly, had known the end was coming for a long while.

"I recognize that Bungie and Destiny needs room to grow, but [kind of dissolving the 10-year-plan] does remove some amount of faith," said Jacob West, a student from Atlanta, Georgia who has spent 500 hours playing Destiny. "I was okay with scrapping my rewards and achievements to start fresh, but [after playing the beta] Destiny 2 does not feel like enough of a departure. Perhaps that's what bothers me the most. I'm left feeling like all of my time and money with Destiny went to waste."

West isn't alone in feeling a bit burned with the arrival of Destiny 2 and the basic shuttering of the first game (though Bungie does plan to have the game's servers live on for the time being, until they eventually pull the plug). It's a sequel where players' progress and all the loot they worked hard for won't carry over, even if their characters can technically travel over to the new game. Destiny 2 is a sequel for people who hopefully didn't feel too attached to the original game. People who don't mind losing that progress, or better yet, never had that rooted progress to begin with.

A lot of players consequently are feeling left behind by Bungie and the incoming Destiny 2. Whether it's feeling burned by a scorned long-term plan, the lack of progress carrying over to the sequel, or changing what they loved about the original game in the first place: players have reasons far and wide as to why they're ignoring Destiny 2. And in most cases, it has nothing to do with feeling burnt out on the grind-heavy formula itself.

Destiny 2, through its marketing, its recent open beta, feels like a ploy to win back a lot of the players who bounced off Destiny 1 at the start. Or alternatively, never even gave it an honest shot. For some veterans, like West, it's only been a road of disappointment.

"I was definitely underwhelmed by beta," said West. For West, the chaos of 6v6 in PvP, the fluidity of movement and combat were all things that brought him back to Destiny over his hundreds of hours spent playing it. Yet from what he played of the beta, Destiny 2 seems to be squashing some of the things he loved about the original. "Things such as player movement, a quality of Destiny that people cherished, [has been] reworked to give a feeling of sluggishness." After three years of nerfs in Destiny proper, this final reworking seems to be the last straw for West. Freelance writer Doc Burford even wrote an extensive piece for us lamenting about Destiny 2's changes as seen in the beta, as well as the lack thereof.

When Destiny first released—whether players' first tries of it were in alpha, beta, or through the game itself—everyone's stories of how they came to it were different. It was also a clear sign of the game's marketing problem: no one knew precisely what it really was, until it was too late. Some players imagined it like a bigger and broader Halo. Some imagined it being like a full-blown MMO-FPS hybrid. Others, like IT systems analyst Robert Driscoll who spent 200 hours in the game, imagined it to be like something totally new. A grand scaled RPG, that was shareable with friends.

"When I first heard about Destiny, I was really intrigued because the way they were talking about it had me envisioning something really special," said Driscoll. "I was imagining something like Mass Effect, but playing with friends. [Like] a grand scale RPG, but the party members are your friends."

What brought Driscoll back to Destiny, time and time again as an "in-between game" was the element of companionship. Destiny served as a hub for him to hang out with friends. "I don't regret playing it so much, honestly. But I can't honestly remember a special moment, and I think that is part of my problem with it," said Driscoll. "When I think of my favorite games of all time, I think of very specific scenes. I think Destiny's biggest problem is what they want you to think it is versus what it actually is, where at the end of the day it is just a well playing FPS." Nonetheless, Destiny grabbed hold of Driscoll for 200 hours, which is no small feat.

One of Destiny's biggest controversies upon release were its Grimoire cards—story and lore that were buried away online, unlocked through in-game happenings. Destiny 2 is making an honest effort to shift the story and lore away from prohibitive places outside of the game, but nonetheless, detailed item descriptions in the game were part of the charm of Destiny 1.

Sometimes an item would bear a joke ("Here's my plan to be Kell. Fallen seem to respect violence and big capes. I'm really violent, and I found this cape."), or some tidbit of in-game history ("We tracked the Fallen across the library floor, through drifts of paper and ash. The silence was magnificent."). As Zack Zwiezen, a freelance writer who has played 255 hours of the original game recalled, the items of Destiny told a story on their own.

"Not being able to take any loot from Destiny into Destiny 2 feels really silly," Zwiezen told me. "Bungie talked up the idea that every piece of loot would have a story, and then took all that loot and got rid of it for the sequel. That stings. I am happy that my character will move forward, but without his powers or loot, he's not much of a character."

The lore-riddled gear was part of what endeared Jacob West as well, noting that his goal in playing vastly changed over his long time spent with the game. Where at first, end game weapons and armor were in his line of sight. But as he started getting other gear, and saw the lore hidden in their "flavor text descriptions," his admiration changed: he just wanted more lore. More Grimoire cards. More of that world to wholly absorb through odd means; more of its unexpected space opera.

For Zwiezen, Bungie and Activision's 10 year plan was nothing more than a pipedream. A marketing ploy that he didn't really believe. He foresaw it after seeing the hellish changes the game underwent over just a few years, knowing the game would be a "nightmare" to continue balancing. But for skipping Destiny 2, for Zwiezen and so many others that I spoke to, the honest reason is that Destiny 2 just plainly doesn't feel different enough. It doesn't feel worth scrapping all those hundreds of hours of effort, to rinse and repeat it across a new game all over again.

The most common thread in my conversations weren't just individuals not wanting to leap into Destiny 2, but friend groups, squads, gaming comrades as a whole not feeling like it was worth the leap to a shiny new game—a new game that only feels like a slightly new polished version of the original, just with some new pizazz and no loot or levels carried over thrown into the mix. For a lot of players, put most succinctly, Destiny 2 just isn't in the cards. It's not even the most avid players' destinies anymore.

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Comments 20

  • Avatar for benjaminlu86 #1 benjaminlu86 4 months ago
    I never played Destiny after the beta so I don't really have a horse in this race but this strikes me as a similar situation to the FF14 > FF14ARR relaunch but with massively different approaches. In FF14's case, the devs went to extremes to import all character data, even with full knowledge that 99% of all your old items would be obsolete by the end of the first month playing. Even if they were worthless in terms of stats, they still represented the memory and experience of obtaining it and were worth preserving, if only for transmog purposes. I still have a few items back from 1.0 hanging out in storage just because.

    Also, it seems downright criminal not to port over emotes and dances that people paid money for into Destiny 2. I would certainly be crying foul if there isn't some database check that automatically gives these dances to those players for free as they're released into Destiny 2.
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  • Avatar for pdubb #2 pdubb 4 months ago
    The sad part is that few shooter games feel as good the original Destiny did. The bullet sponge bosses were meh, but moment to moment gunfighting was second to none. That's why I played as much as I did for the first year.

    The idea of a reset does seem like something to bring a player like me back into the fold, but there are too many games that came out since Destiny that have cut in on what Destiny could have cornered the market on it wasnt rushed.
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  • Avatar for Ralek #3 Ralek 4 months ago
    @pdubb I kinda read that as 'they buried a mechanically brilliant shooter under all kinds of rubble' ... and I definitely agree with it, certainly as far as the PvP goes. Unfortunately, much of it that mechanically brilliance was undone by a multitude of issues, small and large, that together always added up to an extremely muddled experience.

    The thing is, I didn't bother with the Desinty 2 beta, pretty much because from what I've seen in footage available online, I cannot for the life of me figure out how Destiny 2 will be able to overcome that exact same issues. It strikes me that the underlying problem of being muddled experience is basically by design. As the article states, Destiny is no bigger Halo and it is no WoW shooter - it's both, it's neither and mostly it is something in-between with some elements being completely new altogether, and others being tried and true.

    You mentioned the sponginess of the PvE mobs, which btw really killed most of the joy of the gameplay in PvE for me in the long run, but it was also the first thing that struck about the reveal for Destiny 2. Those cabals guys can take literally whole mags full headshot-crits once more before they dropped. It's just one element of course, albeit a crucial one, but it is still "unfixed". Again, I think it cannot be fixed because the whole game demands for progression esp. in terms of weapons/dps, but that to make any sense, you always need sponges because what is the alternative? Dropping any enemy you previously dropped with a headshot with ... half a headshot? No point in grinding weapons and gears for 100+ hours to that end.

    The sponginess hence seems to be an issue that is married to basic notion of what Destiny is all about. So no, I can't quite imagine how it will manage to pull folks back in that were initially turned off by the symptoms of those same basic notions. They might, you know, do better with storytelling IN game, they actually improved on that with the DLCs already imho, at least a bit, but I think that was really more of marginally aspect - certainly as far as long term motivation goes, as once you played those missions, you just wanted to skip all those cutscenes at any cost anyways ^^
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  • Avatar for Thetick #4 Thetick 4 months ago
    Destiny 2 was the only real option, destiny 1 was a mess on the coding side, making things like balancing a weapon individually next to impossible without breaking some other part. I do agree that emotes and those kind of thing should be available again if they are the same.

    PVP is huge improvement. PVE still is solid. True, it's more of an evolution, but no matter what destiny 2 turned out to be, it would always split fans. Some thinks it is to much of the same, others want exactly that. I do think that they destiny 2 is more or less what they envisioned 1 to be.
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  • Avatar for ilovemesomefire #5 ilovemesomefire 4 months ago
    I just Love how you make all this effort to talk about diehards that are leaving for one pathetic reason or another and you find a guy with 500 hours over 3 years to star as your example? And then go on to say that Destiny 2 is a sequel for people that weren't as connected to Destiny in the first place? Well I have over 6x's the amount of time invested into Destiny as Mr 500 and I am excited as hell for Destiny 2... I understand the reasons for them creating a new and improved version of the game I Love and will enjoy burning another over 3,000 hours into Destiny 2... At first (2 years ago) I was dead set on getting to keep my weapons and gear but after playing with them for 3 years I am actually ready for something new... But I can see how people that barely played the first game would feel differently because they barely had any time spent with what they had...

    In any case all of the whining and crying about "Destiny 2 is too similar to Destiny... But wait it's not similar enough..." back and forth argument is self contradicting and idiotic... If a minority of people don't want to follow the game for the next 10 years (which has not been abandoned they just stuck a number on it moving forward... I don't understand why that's so hard to comprehend) then please just don't play... Nobody cares if you aren't coming over with the rest of us and you will not be missed... Trust me... There's no reason to have to write stories about it... Just go play some lesser version of a game that wishes it could even dream of being anywhere close to as great as Destiny (2)...

    So bugger off with these lame bashing click bait articles by so called "Writers" and go write about something else silly and contradicting and keep this rubbish out of my search results...
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  • Avatar for Thetick #6 Thetick 4 months ago
    @ilovemesomefire you made an account just to write this?
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  • Avatar for catymcc #7 catymcc 4 months ago
    @ilovemesomefire I never say this is representative to all players—or heck, even a majority of them—just that some players that sank hundreds of hours (which is still an insane amount of time! even if it doesn't dip into the thousands) into the game are feeling a bit burned. I'm glad that other players, like yourself, are looking forward to Destiny 2. But your opinion isn't the only one out there, and that's what this article is for: giving a voice to the players who are being overshadowed by all of the incessant hype. Calling them "pathetic" for the reasons they're bummed out by the sequel or alluding that they're not "real" fans because of the time they've played in total is extremely petty.

    The base line is: their enjoyment and time with the game, and whether they play D2 or not, doesn't impact your experience with the game. Like, at all? You'll continue enjoying the game and its sequel for many more hours, and that's great! Good for you. I don't understand the anger here. Also I definitely note that the 10-year plan accounts for multiple games, which was unclear back when they talked it up at the start of Destiny's announcement, but became clearer in Activision's legally binding agreements, which are hyperlinked in the above article in the first paragraph lol. (I also don't think you understand the phrase clickbait? We as a site do not generate clickbait.)
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  • Avatar for Ilikedags #8 Ilikedags 4 months ago
    This is a brave piece to write. Despite its flaws, destiny has a skinner box loop that people with a certain brain chemistry will devote literally 1000's of hours into, and develop intense emotional reactions to. So, to try and have a healthy dialog on ways it needs to improve, or point out is flaws is putting a target on your back. It isn't a bad game, but talking about why people are ready to jump off, and why, is important. If you're fan of video games. Why even read gaming press and media otherwise?Edited August 2017 by Ilikedags
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  • Avatar for Thetick #9 Thetick 4 months ago
    @Ilikedags A good post i copy pasted:

    If you want to be completely reductive, every activity that humans can do is a Skinner Box.

    Learning to play guitar is a Skinner Box. Resistance training to improve strength is a Skinner Box. Painting a picture is a Skinner Box.

    The greater the depth of complexity and the more nascent the reward there is to said activity just obfuscates how direct the link is.

    The major difference comes in:
    1) the externalities of the reward (what additional benefits are/can be gained from a success state)
    2) the complexity of the system and can it be overcome with intuition rather than repetition
    3) the level of creativity available in the reward structure
    4) the directness of the reward structure

    Games generally have no external rewards to mastery of their systems, so #1 is minimized. So it's 2, 3, and 4 where games can be designed to be less "Skinner Boxy". 2 and 3 are pretty self explanatory but 4 is where people often throw the Skinner Box insult around and that's for games like Diablo and Destiny

    The reward structure for loot based games is built around the secondary testing that Skinner did: that you could condition behavioural response to happen even when there is no reward, but the possibility of the reward (based on previous experience) has conditioned the subject that it could happen. People will endlessly run raids for the rare loot and after getting to the end, receive nothing. Contrast with something like Mario, where a specific set of actions will consistently give the reward.

    Gamey games, the really good ones, come with a reward factor that is inherent to the actual play. No one plays Mario to see the fucking flag pole at the end of the level go down, they play it because the challenge is fun to master. Contrast this with a game that is full of QTEs: performing a QTE isn't fun, there's nothing to master, there's no challenge, it's just hitting a button because you want to see what's next (the pretty movie), not perform the QTE itself. (Games taken to this ridiculous extreme also meander to what some people call "non-games" or "not a game"; narrative heavy experiences reduced to the lowest level of interaction. If we're going to go with "every game is a Skinner Box" then we kind of have to be ready to state that the DVD scene selection menu of Rashomon is the greatest video game narrative of all time.)

    It's why some games get labelled a Skinner Box more than others. For Destiny, firing endlessly at a cave is not fun, but people did it anyway because the reward in that game was the loot, not the playing.

    A rat isn't pressing the lever because it's fun, it's pressing a lever because it likes food.
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  • Avatar for Ilikedags #10 Ilikedags 4 months ago
    @Thetick I agree with everything you are saying here.
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  • Avatar for Zebetite #11 Zebetite 4 months ago
    Very well written. I'm having similar feelings about Splatoon 2. Game's great and all, but I've kind of done all this already.
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  • Avatar for AgentDaleCooper #12 AgentDaleCooper 4 months ago
    What a strange piece. It's a like somebody collected a bunch of forum posts, wrote a narrative around them, and then put it out as an article. Made for some especially sloppy reading.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #13 chaoticBeat 4 months ago
    @AgentDaleCooper It's not strange, people have strong opinions around destiny. To me, it's interesting to hear a slice of what some players feelings are.
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  • Avatar for johnnynitross #14 johnnynitross 4 months ago
    I agree on all counts with everything stated in the article. I have logged thousands of hours into the original Destiny. We all know the details behind the development of Destiny with firings, rewrites, hack and slashing of content and trying to sew it back together into a coherent story, which failed miserably. But there was one thing that always brought me back, and that was the social aspect. I have made friends with plenty of people, helped many people through the content and just being a shoulder to friends who well, just need someone to talk to. The community is 2nd to none, and have raised millions for charities, and am proud to be a part of it. But...playing the beta, and I know it's a beta, I was indeed underwhelmed. Kinda wished they concentrated a little more on the PVE aspect, mind you I play the PvP alot, and just found alot of teamshotting, if you didn't have a squad of 4 friends you are guaranteed a loss. Now it's a beta and an old build, I am sure or at least hope adjustments are made. When it comes to the whole start fresh thing, I don't mind, by the end of D1 they made it so easy to get exotics and legendaries that the attachment wears off. I admit, the struggle was real in Year 1, and everyone was like....that's it !? Including me. But it just feels so good punching Fallen in the face, the mechanics and gunplay feel amazing. Yes I will be getting D2, I see alot of improvement PVE wise, with patrols and events, but until the final product comes in September I guess we will never really know. Guess I will be seeing you starside guardians....hopefully.
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  • Avatar for Ac9im11 #15 Ac9im11 4 months ago
    Ok, you're using people who put 200 or 500 hours into the game and calling them avid or veterans while in truth those are just people who play the game casually maybe 1hr or 2 a week. I'm at 3600 now and can't wait for the restart in D2. There was something the beginning of D1 provided that couldnt be replicated with expansions, something a new game could only do, thats why I cant wait for D2.
    Thing is though games will always have those people who don't like it and those who do, its just the way it is and there's nothing wrong with that but I can assure you there are many of us who are at 3k+ and can't wait for more.
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  • Avatar for orphanofkosm #16 orphanofkosm 4 months ago
    I have a revolutionary idea to solve this argument. Wait till the damm game releases to decide if you're gonna buy it or not. Its been stated multiple times that the beta was a months old build so why not wait and see. Also who is upset of having to lose your D1 loot. Yes my vault is full of godroll and raid weps but guess what none of it gets used anymore since ive sunk 1000s of our into the game and completed everything.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #17 chaoticBeat 4 months ago
    @goboyghost You are every 10 year old with a mic on xbox live.
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  • Avatar for Drachmalius #18 Drachmalius 4 months ago
    While I sympathize with the people discussed in this article, I'm looking forward to getting back into Destiny. I stopped playing after a few weeks because it was just lackluster at the time, but hoping they've learned since then and can keep me interested for a few months at least. From what I've played of the Beta, it's promising. But I wish there was a way to make everyone happy, I don't envy the people at Bungie working on this.
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  • Avatar for Broen13 #19 Broen13 4 months ago
    @johnnynitross This is well said, D1Y1 was a gut punch that not many people I know can appreciate. Having to redo EVERYTHING really sucked. Where D1Y2 and Y3 really got me was oddly with the swordplay. So many times on PvE I'd run in and clear full rooms with the swords and it felt awesome.

    They have my attention with D2, I owe them at least that much. D1 was an awful boring game that became one of my most memorable gaming experiences of all time with nothing but a great group of constant friends being the added change. Those friends are moving to D2 and here's hoping it does not disappoint us completely.

    Shout out to my the100 group BecauseReasons They made D1 amazing
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #20 Roto13 4 months ago
    Even if Destiny 2 is just Destiny 1 without all the bullshit that drags down Destiny 1, it's still well worth doing.
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