Sometimes playing a multiplayer game purely solo can feel quite lonely. In most first-person shooters, I opt for the non-competitive side of things, throw on a podcast, and stay out of chat as I play through matches. I play them mindlessly. If I feel the need to take the game more "seriously," I'll rope in a band of friends into the mix, and together we work our way towards victory.
But sometimes, that's not an option for players. Some players feel that loneliness throughout their multiplayer experiences, relying solely on random matchmaking and hoping they don't get tied in alongside toxic players (or players who default with their microphone turned off, closed off at times necessary communication).
In the first Destiny, solo players were left out of a whole lot of the fun, most particularly in the game's Raids. Players had to coordinate on forums and Reddit to find other members to squad up with in a Fireteam, rather than finding others in matchmaking proper. Now its sequel Destiny 2 is trying to fix that error, with a little thing called Guided Games.
Currently, players can only use Guided Games 12 times per week via "Guided Games tickets" that players receive upon every weekly refresh. (For the first few weeks, Guided Games was in beta until September 26th.) How it works is relatively simple. Players can use Guided Games tickets in order to essentially matchmake into a Nightfall Strike (Nightfall is a set Strike of the week, with added difficulty and a timer to finish it) or the game's first Raid, Leviathan, as a "Seeker." (The former needs three players, the latter six.) Clans (pre-designated groups formed by players) must opt in to find a substitute for an absent player on their fireteam. As the player looking for a game, that role is subbed in by the seeker, the solo ticket-giver. In theory, Guided Games remedies the problem the first Destiny had where many players without go-to online buddies or set clans couldn't play the Raid.
So far though the Guided Games system is flawed, despite its good intentions of trying to make the end-game content more accessible. The Guided Games system as we know it currently has become notorious for long queue times of around 45 minutes (though less for Strikes than Raids). The long wait time is especially grueling for the player actually looking to join another band of established players in a clan (and doubly if seekers are looking to play the inflated fireteam-sized Raid).
Others are experiencing getting matched up, but receiving no offers to extend chat invites to seekers; or the fact that no one was on microphones at all. In both the Nightfall Strikes and Raids, communication is essential to working together, making some seekers frustrated with the experience, according to Redditors. Of course, there's always the chance of being matched in with toxic players as well. Just the other day, I saw a friend of mine tweet that immediately upon spawning into a Guided Games-amplified Raid, someone called them a homophobic slur.
For the Raid though, there seems to be an even more deafening issue. Unlike the checkpoints you reach when playing in a designated group, if you're playing with Guided Games, there's nothing. You're stuck to run as much of the Raid as you all can in a single sitting, an insane feat considering in all likelihood it will be most matchmaking seekers' first time, given their use of Guided Games in the first place.
For example, my personal group's blind-run of the Raid has taken well over a dozen hours, not counting the final boss that we never got around to beating before the last weekly refresh. In fellow gaming site Giant Bomb's own recent livestreams of it, they've poured nearly 20 hours into it, and haven't overtaken the final boss yet.
Despite the "no checkpoint" warning issued to those using Guided Games, it's still coming as a shock to players. Raids, by their nature, take time and calculated efforts on account of everyone involved. Sometimes that means jetting off to take a break, matching in new players, and so on. With a lack of saving checkpoints, as this particular player on the Bungie forums experienced, all their hard effort to get to the final boss was wholly erased when they went into Orbit after experiencing a spawn-in glitch.
The lengthiness of the Raids does inherently pose a problem for the matchmaking process of Guided Games, but as Redditor beardymcwhisker suggests, perhaps the ability to easily swap in other seekers looking for a Raid group to join would remedy the process if others have to leave. After all, hey, sometimes life happens. Even if players can easily boot a player with no penalty on their behalf if everyone votes at the same time, getting someone to replace them seems to be the real challenge.
The first chunk of Guided Games' issues—of toxic players, microphone-ignoring players—is inherent to any competitive minded, multiplayer game. The latter is trickier, ones embedded more in the system itself. When Destiny 2 was formally detailed at its first event, Guided Games were promoted as a way to bring solo-minded players into the multiplayer fold. But if Guided Games-matchmaking into Raids and Nightfalls are experiencing issues for players, the system might have to be retooled in the future.
The system shows promise: when Guided Games works well, it really works. When I ran a Nightfall with strangers through it, it went swimmingly. With a few tweaks and fixes, the system could easily flourish. Both for the players who happily want to help a newbie through a more difficult Nightfall or Raid run they would never get the chance to see otherwise, or in giving some players a chance to experience content they never would have went through. Who knows, maybe even the players who are better at communicating non-verbally without microphones (or feel anxious when talking to strangers through matchmaking, a relatable issue for me) might find a way to enjoy the content they would have never seen in the original Destiny. As for the Raid though, I can guarantee they wouldn't make it very far.
If you want to learn more about Destiny 2's Guided Games, you can check out our guide here!