The crossover. It happens with all your favorite artists. When they’re first starting out, their music seems pure. It’s a mixture of raw talent and ambition and it’s what we come to know the artist for–But at some point, they reach a level of popularity and success and their music begins to change. It feels more mainstream and the characteristics of the music you once knew are no longer there. Sure, they still make music that you like, but it’s not like when they were first starting out; when they were hungry. The transition from unknown to known is gradual, but it always ends up the same way. The artist must now make music for the masses. While they attempt to please their hardcore audience they must make concessions, lest they risk their shot in the limelight. This is what happened with Destiny 2, and it’s the reason why I have to stop playing.
The Story of Mass Effect
When I think of Destiny 2 I’m often reminded of the Mass Effect trilogy. When Bungie released Mass Effect it was a hardcore action RPG. Successful attacks were based on skill and dice rolls, so you had to tactically think out ever encounter because you weren’t guaranteed every attack Shepard initiated would land. Outside of the combat, the game was dialogue heavy, pushing you as a player to make hard decisions that would not only affect the outcome of the game but future releases as well. As the game grew in popularity, Bioware began stripping the game of what I loved about it in order to please the masses. The game became popular and thus it had to conform to those who were not hardcore RPG fans. Future releases would see the dice rolls dropped favor of a more traditional cover-based shooter. The exploration and dialogue of the first game were streamed to get players from A to B. While the first Mass Effect resembled Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic, Mass Effect played more like Gears of War.
Destiny Before The Mainstream…
The original Destiny was like the original Mass Effect. It was the first release and catered more to the hardcore gamer. Through various tweaks to the loot and upgrade system, Destiny became a game of chasing the best loot. You played the same missions and player-versus-player(PvP) matches in a quest for what was known as Tier 12 loot; weapons and armor that maximized damage output, ability regeneration and damage resistance. The game wasn’t easy either. Endgame content like raids, Iron Banner, and Trials of Osiris required the best loot and skill to complete. The only way to get that loot was to play the game. Each time you earned a weapon or armor piece from the end game content you felt proud. You would show off these items in the social spaces and other game modes. The game wasn’t perfect, but the community that was built around it loved it. The game, while popular, didn’t become what we know overnight. It was through steady DLC releases that the game began to make that transition from a game with a hardcore community keeping it going to a ‘game for everyone.’
When Destiny 2 released this September the writing was on the wall. Bungie sacrificed what made the original Destiny such a hit with fans to a game that pleased everyone. It wanted to appease to those who left the first game. And in doing so it started to alienate those who made the game what it was. Like Mass Effect with the combat system, Bungie changed the loot system so that everyone felt like they were winners. Everyone could get something special and in doing so nothing is special. The end game events stopped having meaning and even player vs player stopped being as fun as it once was. The raid, which was once the hardest event in the game felt easy. When I finished the raid I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment instead, I felt like I checked off a box. It was a hollow reminder of what once was. But this was done in favor of the masses. Making the raid easier means more people can complete it.
Last night I tweeted that I was done with Destiny 2. As much as I liked the game initially, the transition from hardcore shooter to ‘everyone’s game’ left me out. I haven’t run strikes in weeks, hell I hardly ran them, to begin with. I’ve run the raid once and collected so many legendary and exotic armor pieces but none of that seems to matter. Nothing seems special in Destiny 2 because making something special would mean making things difficult and for where the company wants to go that isn’t what it’s trying to do. Even the changes in PvP make the game feel less about skill and more about having one of four weapons that dominate the game. It doesn’t make sense to have an abundance of legendary weapons when only four matter.
In the end, I’m not really mad at Bungie. It’s business, and in order for them to make money, they have to crossover. The elements of the game that made them, have been replaced with things that they hope will make everyone love it. Like my favorite artists who make that move, I’ll still check in from time to time. Maybe ask a friend how things are, but it’s time for me to move on because it’s no longer the game I once knew. But that happens, sometimes you just grow apart.