ThinkBoxly is the personal developer blog of Lucas Chasteen, author, programmer, artist, and always learning. Read more

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Three Things Destiny 2 Desperately Needs

It's May 19, Guardians. You know what that means: Destiny's second expansion, 'The House of Wolves', is finally here. You also probably know by now to expect it to stir up a lot of controversy amongst the gaming community, mixed with avowed professions of dropping the game altogether in protest of one thing or another and those who excitedly took off at least one day of work just to blow through all the new content the expansion offers. Meanwhile, a significant portion of Destiny's reported 16 million registered players continue to log in daily and spend an average 3 hours per session regardless of all the debate. Destiny is nothing if not addicting, even if it isn't really a very good game at its core. It gets a few things really right, like the base gunplay mechanics and atmospheric environments, and it's enough to keep players coming back and even shell out $20 for a package of a little bit more of the same every few months. Destiny is Bungie's first go at something like it, and really there isn't any alternative MMO-shooter mashup out there at all, so we're willing to forgive rookie mistakes for the time being. We all know Destiny is broken and DLC is only a bandaid, not a real solution, but if Bungie moves in the right direction for the rest of Destiny 1's lifespan and then rights its wrongs with Destiny 2, the young series could still be redeemed. So while you're out enjoying either playing The House of Wolves or boycotting it, here are three things Bungie absolutely must get right next time around.

Current-gen Exclusivity

Bungie has admitted the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 are holding Destiny back, and it's only getting worse with time. The greatest weakness of last generation's consoles was a serious shortage of memory, a limitation that has affected how large, open, and populated Destiny's areas can be. By now the situation is so bad that Bungie has had to resort to disabling making equipment comparisons in the Vault on older consoles just to keep the game from exceeding memory usage. They've squeezed every last ounce of power out of these machines, and it's time to move on for the sake of Destiny as a product. Destiny 2 absolutely needs to leave last-gen consoles behind and never look back. It's not just about better graphics (though that certainly would be a plus), it's about the fundamental gameplay elements of Destiny that ought to be there but right now simply can't be. Destiny 2 has a lot to live up to, and it can't afford to be hampered by old hardware.

A Story

Alternatively titled 'Drop the Grimoire Card System'. Destiny's current method of storytelling is basically the worst imaginable, requiring players to go outside the game and read piles of infodumps to gain context for all the disconnected events personality-less NPCs request you to go through. It's basically the same as a movie only giving you the action sequences and hinting you should read about the connecting events online. Only in Destiny's case it's worse, because even the Grimoire Cards don't provide any real answers. Who's the villain in Destiny? We still don't know. The Fallen, the Vex, the Hive—all merely exist and don't get along for unknown reasons, while 'the Darkness'—whatever that is—apparently draws ever nearer, which is, you know, bad for the Traveler—whatever that is. It's all every bit as nebulous as it sounds, so much so that I doubt Destiny 2 can even act as a sequel. It needs to take place more alongside than after Destiny 1, essentially re-telling its 'story' from another perspective that, you know, is an actual story. However it does it, Destiny 2 had better pick up the slack in one way or another and deliver a proper campaign this time around. Destiny 1's campaign isn't merely shallow, it's basically the story of how Destiny was rushed to market far too early—as in, before a proper script could be written. Gamers may be able to wink at it once, but if Bungie pulls the same sort of move twice, it will be a product quality issue truly worthy of protesting.

Actual Social Features

As it stands, Destiny's so-called 'social areas' aren't really very social. In fact, much of Destiny 1 is just a single-player game where you happen to be able to see other people playing alone in the same space at the same time. Sure, you can bring friends along if you want to, but if you bump into a random stranger the most you can do is point, wave, and dance. For a game that is supposedly about teamwork, it doesn't foster communication between players. There's a reason text chat has been a part of online games since the dawn of online games, and it's a feature sorely missing from Destiny that absolutely needs to be in Destiny 2. This simple addition would enable players to coordinate at a moment's notice, calling for help, requesting backup for an incoming public event, and forming fireteams to take on the series' bigger challenges. That being said, despite Bungie's strong feelings on the subject, matchmaking for Raids and special events should be a feature in Destiny 2 as well. Strangers are already teaming up with strangers anyhow, they're just using third-party services to find teammates since Bungie doesn't offer the functionality in-game. With the purpose for no matchmaking already defeated, the feature should just be added in. It's also worth mentioning that matchmaking in Destiny 2 needs to be a bit more balanced, and not put level 5 players with or against level 30 players. Keeping things fair keeps things friendly. With everyone on roughly the same level, more teamwork will naturally happen—especially if they can communicate in text chat.

What about you? Do you agree with this list, or do you feel the House of Wolves completes Destiny for the time being? What other features do you want to see in Destiny's inevitable sequel, whenever it arrives? Are you done with the game entirely? Sound off in the comments below!