In a Destiny 2 announcement that was sent out yesterday, Activision CEO, Eric Hirshberg said, "Destiny was the biggest launch of a new console video game franchise ever. Along with our incredibly talented partners at Bungie, we are focusing on making Destiny 2 even better, with state of the art first person action, an awesome new story, great characters, and thoughtful innovations that make the game more accessible to all different kinds of players."
Although it's fairly standard marketing fare, my interest was nevertheless piqued by what Hirshberg said about making Destiny 2 better than the first game. I've certainly put a lot of time into Destiny over the last two-and-a-half years, but have had somewhat of a love-hate relationship with it. I've enjoyed playing through the story missions, engaged in a ton of PvP, and experienced pretty much all content that's playable with pickup groups. But what I didn't ever get into were the Raids. The high-end grinding needed to access them, and the kind of peer organization required to stand a chance of actually making progress through them just didn't appeal to me.
I also didn't find Destiny's story arc particularly compelling, and felt that its endgame was rather repetitive: Once I'd worked through a particular expansion's main missions, and tried out its strikes, my long-term interest rapidly waned. The PvP aspect of the game was the only thing that consistently kept me coming back, and even that eventually became rather tedious due to the painfully slow drip-feed of random rewards.
So with that in mind, I thought I'd propose some ideas that I'd like to see from Destiny 2 that might smooth out the original's rough edges, and make the game a more consistently interesting and compelling experience.
More Effective Storytelling
Maybe it's just me, but despite investing many hours into Destiny, I didn't ever really feel like I was an integral part of its storyline, and only vaguely understood the bigger picture. Characters drifted in and out of the narrative and I wouldn't know who they were, or why I needed to care about them. Cayde-6 was perhaps the exception here – he was smart, funny, and engaging, and I really liked his snappy dialog. But other than that, most characters were oh-so-serious, glorified vendors who'd send you out on a mission without really explaining exactly why you needed to do what you needed to do.
What didn't help is that large chunks of lore were tucked away on Bungie.net, and unless you took the time to log in to Destiny's official website to check your Grimoires, you otherwise missed what they had to say. Here's hoping that Destiny 2 does away with that, and incorporates all its lore into the game so that it's an integral part of its experience, and not some detached database of information.
Make the Grind Feel Less of a Grind
An aspect of Destiny that many players have complained about is that the game can feel like a grind once you've completed its story missions. Speaking as someone who's sunk an absolutely vast amount of his gaming hours into MMOs, I totally understand that the grind is part and parcel of their experience, but there are ways of making this aspect of the game feel a little more palatable, and less of a chore.
Repetition is the most common cause of player dissatisfaction, and early on, Destiny didn't offer much of an endgame beyond replaying the same limited roster of activities. That improved over time, but even so, content updates were rather sporadic, and that led to long droughts where players were faced with a relatively small pool of challenges to keep them entertained for many months on end.
Destiny 2 really needs to ramp up its endgame with more interesting daily challenges, a broader range of strikes, and perhaps a more structured design so that even if players feel like they're having to tackle certain content repeatedly, progression through it feels positive and rewarding. Something that I didn't really enjoy about Destiny was that loot sometimes felt really hard to come by, and trying to earn the different currencies was an often confusing and rather thankless task. Clearer goals and a well-defined path of progression would go a long way to help make working through the endgame and improving your character a more worthwhile experience.
More Varied Missions
Early Destiny featured a selection of very similar-feeling missions that involved shooting bullet sponge bosses, and taking on waves of increasingly challenging enemies. Sure, they could be a lot of fun, but it did sometimes make the action feel relentless and rather repetitive.
Mission design did get a little better over time, and The Taken King offered a more interesting and varied suite of tasks that were entertaining to tackle, but even the best of what Destiny had to offer over its lifespan could still be improved upon. I'd love to see some made-for-multiplayer missions designed for pick-up groups that comprise coordination challenges created to help teach players some of the gameplay mechanics featured in high-end Raids. In other words, present new and unique ways of playing the game that could then be ramped up for Raids, so that players have a chance of learning the basics while leveling up, and be ready for primetime when they reach the point where they can start Raiding.
Another thing I'd love to see is more challenging and sophisticated public events. These can be quite entertaining, and while it might be a tall order to make them procedurally generated so that they offer more variety and replayability, I still think it'd be a really good feature for the game. Diablo 3 does a really good job with its Rifts, and something along those lines for Destiny 2 would be a real boon – especially if these kinds of missions were made challenging and dropped worthwhile rewards.
A Game World that Feels More Alive
I love exploring game worlds, but Destiny's felt a little barren and bare. Sure, there are plenty of enemies patrolling different parts of its landscapes, but for the most part, huge expanses of the game world just felt like there was nothing much going on. Also, having the Tower as the main source of quests made the outside world feel a little disjointed and more like a series of levels, rather than environments through which you’re journeying.
What I'm hoping is that Destiny 2 steps up to a slightly more traditional MMO approach by incorporating central hubs into its maps that feature NPCs and missions. That way you're encouraged to stay in a particular zone while you explore it and complete tasks, making the world feel more than a wasteland filled with enemies. Combine that with more interesting public quests, and that would help Destiny 2 feel more like a living, breathing world where you're working with others to take the fight to the enemy.
Separate Game Balancing for PvP and PvE
Something that seemed to be a constant issue when it came to balancing weapons in Destiny was that changes were universal – affecting how they functioned in both PvE and PvP. This resulted in floods of complaints from the community when sometimes-sweeping changes were introduced to balance weapons in PvP, which then rendered them less-than-optimal in PvE – and vice-versa.
This used to be a major source of irritation for World of Warcraft players too. That was until Blizzard took the step of making both PvE and PvP completely separate from one another, so that each aspect of the game could be fettled and tweaked independently. I think it would definitely be a smart move for Bungie to do the same thing for Destiny 2, so that when you enter the Crucible, weapons, character stats, and abilities are loaded from their own unique PvP stats table, which is tuned specifically for that activity. This would enable the designers to properly manage PvP weapons and abilities balancing without the need to compromise or worry how those changes would affect the PvE side of the game.
Raiding for Everyone
I'm all for exceptionally challenging content that's designed to engage the hardest of hardcore players, but it seems a shame that much of Destiny's Raid content was only enjoyed by a relatively small portion of the game's audience. Something that I really like about World of Warcraft is that its endgame Raids are tiered into different levels of difficulties, with an easier, lower-end Raid designed for pick-up groups, and two more challenging versions designed for organized play.
Rewards scale accordingly, so that the higher-end Raids drop the best and most visually impressive loot, while more standard fare is gleaned from the easier versions. It's a system that I think works well, and creates a win-win situation. While there are always a small group of elitists who believe that Raids should be available only to those who are willing to put the time and effort into organizing themselves and coordinating their efforts, I think most players are in favor of a tiered system that's more accessible. Ultimately, an easy mode Raid would let players enjoy the entire storyline, and experience all the content on offer – and may even inspire them to step up to tackle its more difficult iterations.