Should all Destiny events have some form of guaranteed loot?

It isn’t so much Crimson Days that prompted this as much as a Nightfall and a couple of Crucible matches that I played a week or two ago, just before the reset.

Destiny’s post-game loot drops, which are entirely RNG-based (unless there’s something I am not aware of) are notoriously annoying. I’ve had some incredible matches – recently in Iron Banner and before that in Crimson Days – in which I actually played a decent game and then got a boatload of nothing, or something so pointless that it might as well have been nothing.

But there were two times, recently, that made me think about how different Destiny would be if something was done to the post-match/post-game drops.

I finally hit 300, goddammit

First, the Nightfall. It was last week or the week before, when The Undying Mind was on. I got the chance to play it just before the reset, joined a game with two fine gentlemen on The 100 and we ran through it relatively smoothly. After a rather tense fight with the Undying Mind, we finally shot the thing down, grabbed our loot and waited for the end-of-match screen to show up.

And then, one of the guys said, “Strange coins! Who wants to bet?” We laughed. I don’t think anyone – myself included – really expected anything decent. For the most part I wasn’t expecting anything at all, which would have been properly in line with my end-of-match experience thus far.

The rewards screen showed up, and then there was silence. I was so busy staring that I forgot to take a screenshot, sadly. Our fireteam leader got an exotic Suros Regime. “Okay…” he said, slowly. “Yeah. I’ll take that.” I don’t remember what the other guy got, but it was a legendary. And I got a 310 An Answering Chord.

destiny 22 feb screen 9

Now, that may seem like a not-very-impressive drop, but I was stoked. For one, An Answering Chord was the first legendary item I ever got, way back when, so I have a rather soft spot for it and for auto rifles in general. Second, it was my first 310 drop. My only non-raid loot that had ever dropped at anything upwards of 300. For the most part, I had been picking up stuff in the 285 to 295 range and I had been stuck at 290-ish light for several months.

No longer. With that drop, I was a 300-goddamn-Light Warlock.

For the first time in a good while, it felt as though I had crossed some sort of milestone. As if I had actually made some sort of real progress in Destiny. It felt good in a way that the game just wouldn’t if I hadn’t gotten the 310.

Fast forward a day or two and I decided to hit up some Clash for a few Crucible bounties. Mostly to get myself in shape for Iron Banner. As with PvE, in PvP I tend to take satisfaction in my score, in whatever assistance I’ve been able to provide to a victory when it happens, as opposed to the end of match drops because they really are garbage.

Then, er, this happened.

destiny 22 feb screen 7

First, everyone got something. Second, everyone got something that wasn’t half bad. I was honestly expecting to see one person (two at most), getting either a weapon or an armour piece, while the rest got either Strange Coins or Motes of Light – if they were lucky. But here, everyone got something. I got my second legendary pulse rifle, Spare Change.25.

And although it dropped at 283 attack, I was still pretty happy. For one, it felt like I got something a little extra for my time in the Crucible. Second, it was nice to be able to add another legendary to my collection, either to infuse later, or to use as infusion fodder.

But above everything else, it made me want to play more.

Bungie, make me want to play more

That is something Destiny’s been missing for a while now. The reason I’m still playing so much Destiny is because a) A lot of it is still new to me, and b) I’ve had a blast playing with groups on The 100. All of the people I’ve met are very good folks, and their presence has been a fairly impressive distraction from the lack of solid rewards – in everything but the Raids – and the relatively few Strikes that there are to get through.

To some extent, for me at least, Crimson Days alleviated that. I was playing it to try out the new game mode, to see if I could get a little better at PvP, and honestly just to have fun. My luck with drops has been such complete and utter crap, that I wasn’t expecting to get the 320 Ghost.

But there were people playing only for the 320 Ghost. And, as they played match after match after match and wound up with nothing of use, you could see the frustration mounting online. I remember poking around Bungie’s forums and the Destiny subreddit, and everyone who went in for the Ghost was incredibly frustrated with their experience. Hell, players were jumping off cliffs and shooting rockets at their own feet just to end matches and hope – hope! – that the ghost would drop.

The moment the 320 Ghost was guaranteed, everything changed. People played their 7 matches, and – from what I could tell – the tone of the discussion changed significantly. People were actually able to play the game for the game, because they’d get the 320 ghost just for having fun.

destiny screen 25 feb 2016 9

Heck, even the way games were put up on The 100 changed. It went from ‘Gotta grind some Crimson Days for that 320 Ghost’ to ‘Let’s go get that ghost!’ And all because the drop was guaranteed.

In my opinion, it’s something that bears consideration. It may not be possible to guarantee drops for everything, post game – and guaranteeing a legendary or exotic drop all the time would severely diminish the value of the drops themselves.

One thing I have enjoyed – tremendously – about the experience of getting loot in Destiny is that when a purple or golden engram drops, goddamn does it feel good. Better than, in my experience, a Diablo 3, where I found uniques so easy to come by that by level 40ish I was ho-huming all of my drops. In Diablo 3, I valued my loot a heck of a lot less than I do in Destiny. I have stories for how I got each of the legendary or exotic weapons and armour I have in my vault. And I’m proud of each piece, because of what it took to get there.

What, if anything can/should Bungie do?

But Destiny can try different ways to offer players guaranteed drops. Right now, for example, after you play 3 Heroic Strikes on each character and get your legendary marks, there’s little incentive to continue. Bungie could add a reward ladder, perhaps. Up the difficulty of the Year 1 strikes to Heroic, shove them into the playlist, and offer rewards for every 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 strikes.

A Nightfall playlist could be introduced, too. Three different Nightfalls for the week, with a guaranteed drop after all three.

They could add a challenge mode to the Year 1 strikes. You drop into the Strike with your Level 40 character and all your equipment is randomized. Meaning you could drop from 310+ to sub-100 and then have to play the strike. Complete the run – or a series of runs – and you get a guaranteed drop again.

There are plenty of ways in which Bungie can use all of the content they’ve created and pair them with guaranteed drops – guaranteed useful drops, let me emphasize – to keep players coming back for more. And I’m honestly beginning to think it’s past time they did.

The way Destiny trickles loot out is good – but, by god, they need to open up the taps a little.

Trevor Coelho
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