Here’s the thing: I’ve come to realize that I’m beyond the point where there is a logical reason for me to continue playing Destiny. I’ve made all the progress I’m going to until the first expansion drops: I’ve completed the story, I’ve played every Strike, I’ve long since maxed both of my subclasses. As of just yesterday I’ve earned the “Suited for War” trophy given for having a legendary or exotic equipped in each slot, which had been my latest completionist goal I had set for myself. I’ve resigned myself that the Vault of Glass raid is beyond my skill and time requirement level, so maxing out all of my gear isn’t really on my agenda. I keep upgrading as I get ascendant materials all the same, but there isn’t anything I’m working on that will require that damage boost I just applied to my scout rifle today. My head knows that there’s no real reason for me to keep returning to the tower.
My heart, however, is another matter. Logic be damned, my heart wants a shiny new purple hand cannon and I’m only 80 Vanguard marks shy of making one my primary weapon again and getting rid of that blue I’ve been keeping as a backup (rare?? yuck.) So I will be playing again next week once the cap on marks clears. My routine over the last few weeks of grinding out Vanguard bounties, public events, patrols, and material turn-ins to the Vanguard quartermaster will continue. But, God, I wish Bungie would up their game on these bounties by patching in some new options to keep things fresh.
Last week during the Queen’s Wrath event, I was complaining to the guys (Nick and Brad) about the sameness of the bounties I was receiving. I must have been tasked with destroying 3 Fallen walkers almost every day for the two weeks of the event. Fortunately, I liked that one. It’s fun, it’s social, we dance afterwards. It’s great. The bounty is achievable but offers a sense of achievement nonetheless. On the other side of the spectrum, the Sepiks Prime bounty must have been available, either as a QW bounty or a Vanguard bounty every single day last week. I just got sick and tired of running that strike. Similarly, the 200 Fallen head shots bounty was up most days. It just got to feeling like a slog: popping fools in the head, turn in bounty, do the same thing again tomorrow. Rinse, repeat.
Well, I didn’t realize how good I had it. At least the QW bounties offered a split of Vanguard and Crucible-style bounties. This week, with the Iron Banner, a full 12 of the 18 bounties available are doing things I’m not interested in doing. I don’t run the Crucible. I keep meaning to dip my toe in the pool, but at this point, I suspect I’d just be so overwhelmed by people that run it all day long that it wouldn’t be a fun experience for me. Maybe one of these days our resident meat-shield Brad (excuse me, he’s made of metal) will go in with me and backpack me long enough for me to get used to it, but until then it’s Vanguard-only for me. That’s fine, but as is, I have six options per day and that’s just not enough.
Bounties are supposed to be your reason to go out into the world, and in some ways they’re done very well. There are bounties to take you to each planet, get you to fight each enemy type, fight their leaders, run each strike and use different weapons. Some of them are inspired. I love Knuckleduster (30 melee kills) and Cleansing Light (3 super use kills x20) because they both drastically change my play style. Good stuff. But there are several issues at play here that limit the overall effectiveness of bounties.
First of all, Bungie needs to deepen the pool. There are 29 Crucible bounties, 27 Vanguard and 12 Queen’s Wrath (yeesh. No wonder I was seeing the same over and over.) There just aren’t enough potential options to keep things fresh over the long-term. X precision shots are great, but how about requiring me to use a sniper rifle for X kills or a shotgun? That’s going to change my approach to be more distant or closeup than I might play otherwise. As a Hunter, I’d be comfortable with either, but for a squishier Warlock like Nick, a bounty like that could offer a different challenge level that he might enjoy (but probably wouldn’t.) What if the bounty made me use multiple weapons in conjunction? Make it Cabal Phalanxes only, so I have to use my more directional primary weapon to hit its gun arm to drop the shield, then switch to a secondary shotgun to get credit for the kill? Give me some bounties that depend on heavy weapon usage, because just keeping ammo stocked adds a challenge level. How about grenade kills? An exercise in cooldown management, just like the super usage bounty. Make me take out five enemies with a single rocket launcher strike, 20 times. Make me farm for materials. Take a page from the exotic bounties. Clearing out the entire Hive fortress on the Moon to power up Thorn was a lot of fun (until I looked up what I was expected to do to finish the bounty chain.) 500x kills would be a good 5000xp bounty. So would requiring special damage to smash through shielded enemies. There’s plenty of opportunity to expand the bounty list.
Second, there needs to be a better way to distribute these than ‘random.’ ‘Random’ means that if I’m being particularly cursed by the RNG god, I can keep seeing the same things come up over and over again (as I have been.) As frustrated as I’ve been with the Vanguard bounties, there has to be a hardcore Crucible player out there that keeps going, “Ugh. Guess I’m focusing on Hunters again today.” There has to be a way to track which bounties you’ve done lately and lock them out for a few days so you can get some more variety. With a larger bounty pool, this step becomes a realistic possibility. Maybe.
Now as much as I’d like to see this, it’s probably not possible. As far as I can tell, bounties are the same for everyone each day. At least, that’s what it seems like judging by the player density at some of the major/ultra farming spots I use (I won’t be divulging said farming spots here. They’re crowded enough already.) I need to compare notes with Nick and Brad on this one. If it were possible to offer individualized bounty offerings, that would open up some great new possibilities. In addition to building in a lockout to keep the same bounties from getting stale, what if we could vote for our favorites and up the likelihood of getting them? Lots of people would love being able to up the frequency of the fusion rifle bounty since it’s fairly popular.
So, if I can’t get a personalized bounty list each day, how about at least offering me more than six choices of each bounty type per day? Give me the ability to pick and choose. Right now its a matter of, “Well, these are the only ones I’ll get today, so I’d better take them all.”
While we’re at it, why can’t I have more inventory space for these? If I pick up an exotic bounty (that, maybe I’ll work on later, maybe I won’t) I’m down to four slots. This leaves me running back to Xander all day. One of the great things about bounties as they currently are is that they stack pretty well. (100 kills without dying), (100 precision kills) and (9000xp without dying) overlap perfectly. Add in (30 melee kills), (collect 200 of X) and a patrol mission, and baby, you got a stew going. A highly efficient stew. If you have enough space to have all of those bounties ticking and the same time. Just add an extra inventory slot or two.
For that matter, and what the hey, let’s get crazy here: What if Bungie took a look at what the rest of the industry is doing? Yeah, we get it, Destiny is not an MMO. It’s a “Shared-world Shooter.” Tomato, tomahto. Blast processing, First-Person Adventure. Whatever. No matter what marketing buzzword you want to use, Destiny should be informed by MMO best practices, because there is sufficient overlap in the game design of both. Blizzard lets you get and turn in quests while you’re in the field (in a limited fashion.) Blizzard and Square both let you queue for dungeons from anywhere. Do I really have to keep loading in to the Tower or to orbit in order to manage my bounty list or head out to a strike? Especially since loading into the Tower means I have to load into orbit first. Won’t somebody please think of the load times!? I should be able to manage these things through my menu. Why? Because others game with similar systems have been allowing me to do so for years. It’s not about copying what the other guys are doing; it’s about giving gamers what they expect in a modern game, or risk being seen as ‘behind the times’.
So those are my grievances for this week. Like I’ve said on the podcast, I still love Destiny. But, the more time I spend with it, the easier it is to see where there’s room for improvement. Many of Destiny’s problems, whether it be story quality, loot availability or bounty options, come down to the same thing: a lack of scope. Things need to be bigger to match the promise of the epic world Bungie wants to build. Fortunately, since it’s a persistent game, things can get there in time. They continue to offer tweaks each and every Tuesday (along with a brand new animal-coded connection problem once the servers go back up.) The real test is going to be the Dark Below expansion, since it will be the first major revision since launch and will reflect Bungie’s acceptance or dismissal of the feedback it has recieved from the fan base. Fingers crossed.