After unveiling the return of Trials of Osiris last night, Destiny 2 Game Director Luke Smith issued another Director’s Cut article looking at lessons learned from the past and how Bungie plans to grow and evolve Destiny moving forward. These Director’s Cuts are deep and detailed looks at many facets of Destiny 2. I had tentatively planned to do another analysis of this one like I did with the three last year (1, 2, 3), but one particular aspect really stuck out to me. Destiny 2’s legendary weapons are going to be faced with new infusion caps, and I wanted to talk about why gear expiration is a good thing as the game transitions into its fourth year.
Luke Smith first talked about alleviating some of the FOMO due to temporary activities in Destiny 2 Year 3. Year 4 will make an effort to better balance the evolution of the world and the game’s core activities, rather than using development effort on seasonal activities. We won’t see that transition until September (Season 10 and 11 are already basically locked down), but it will present a major shift in the way Destiny 2 is presented across its seasons in Year 4.
Destiny 2 Year 4 will also introduce a major change designed to combat power creep. As more and more weapons are added to Destiny 2’s various loot pools, the meaning of each reward becomes diminished. Luke Smith talked about introducing a change that will effectively cap off the peak infusion power for guns, giving them an efficacy of around 9-15 months before they can no longer reach the new power caps and requiring players to shift to other weapons as old ones reach the end of their individual lifespans. The details on this are fuzzy at the moment, given that it won’t come into play until September, but Smith wants to set our expectations early as Bungie seeks to solve the problem of power creep and an ever-expanding loot pool.
Why Destiny 2 Legendary Weapon Expiration is a Good Thing
There are currently 481 Legendary weapons in Destiny 2. Each season continues to add more and more to that pool. And yet players find a gun they are comfortable with and stick with it. I can’t tell you how long I used my Bygones pulse rifle, immediately casting doubt that any new pulse rifle could feel anywhere near as good. My Nation of Beasts hand cannon became the same for a time. Once I’d found something that I liked, I didn’t want to use anything else, except where content might require me to use a different elemental affinity.
With so many weapons, it became impossible for Bungie to release new weapons and perks that actually felt different without feeling overpowered. It was this very reason they moved away from Pinnacle Weapons like Recluse, and the new “ritual weapons” lack the same kind of staying power for an earnest grind. Most players’ motivation to earn weapons has become one of necessity, checking off little boxes in the collection. It’s not about grinding for a super cool weapon anymore. Weapons now are too easy to earn and effectively useless once we’ve earned them. Not that they are entirely useless, mind, but a vast majority of players—as evidenced by Luke Smith’s assertions and Bungie’s data collection—are sticking to the same few weapons they feel comfortable with.
That makes the grind for new weapons a bit untenable. It removes “aspirations,” as Smith calls them. It reduces Destiny to a chore. Destiny 2 had a kind of “soft reset” with weapons when random rolls were introduced, and it forced players to move away from their comfort zones and find new weapons to use. As more weapons are added though, what’s going to set apart yet another pulse rifle from my perfectly rolled and super stable Bygones? What auto rifle can compete with Breakneck? Can any other hand cannons capture the same or better feelings as Nation of Beasts?
It’s Why the Tower Exploded
Effectively putting lifespans on Destiny 2 legendary weapons is a great middle-ground to address power and gear creep. The last few times Bungie has addressed this problem? It took drastic measures. It capped power for everything at the same time for The Taken King. It blew up the Tower and all of our previous gear leading to Destiny 2. And it added random rolls in Forsaken which killed nearly all of Destiny 2’s year 1 weapons. This solution puts a soft rotation on the life of gear (and remember, Bungie hasn’t finalized its plans for this yet).
Let’s say, for the sake of an example, that gear is capped at planned power levels one year out—or four seasons. So gear earned in Season 8 would be effective until the power increase of Season 12, Season 9 weapons would be usable until Season 13, and so on. That’s a good amount of time to find other weapons that we like and slowly rotate through our inventory. Love a gun from Season 8, but not a fan of anything to replace it from Season 9 or 10? Maybe something in Season 11 catches your attention, and now you have a reason to grind for better rolls. Sure, it may not feel “good” for older weapons to lose efficacy, but that’s the cost of returning the feeling of chasing something worthwhile to Destiny.
The aspiration now becomes chasing down a weapon that feels like a good and solid replacement for the guns you’ve come to love. Instead of lamenting that no other pulse rifles can match my Bygones, now I can focus on finding something that feels as good, experimenting with other weapons, and perhaps paying more attention to what’s being added to the game because I know my Bygones has an expiration date. Just look at Raid gear. None of it has had quite the same exciting nature that Destiny 1 captured. Nobody is out here grinding away Garden of Salvation for the Raid weapons like the old Vault of Glass used to promote. Raid gear is now yet another checkboxes in Destiny 2’s list of checkboxes, rather than aspirational loot that warrants a chase.
I’d bet that a year is plenty of time for most players too. I already try to self-impose trying out new weapons and moving on from old staples. But it’s so easy to fall back into using what I’m familiar with and it creates an air of not caring at all about the new sets of weapons that each season brings or how they play. If Destiny 2 is going to continue to evolve, grow, and have more added to it, it absolutely needs to find a way to retire older content while making new content “aspirational.”
Keeping the Power Spikes
In some ways, this could allow Bungie to maintain certain power spikes too. If certain weapons start to show up in the meta a little bit too much, Bungie doesn’t have to target them with aggressive nerfs. Instead, it can simply let them play out and eventually expire thanks to the infusion cap. Recluse could be the go-to gun for add control for a year, and then quietly fade away once it can no longer reach the Power cap of aspirational endgame activities. This way Bungie knows it doesn’t have to balance new endgame content around all 481+ Legendary weapons in Destiny 2. It just has to balance around what’s come over the past year. The meta for certain activities (looking at you Trials) can naturally evolve with the current weapons, rather than Bungie needing to constantly make balance adjustments to everything for the rest of Destiny 2’s life.
And it’s important to remember that the guns are not going away. They aren’t being deleted or being rendered entirely useless. Bungie is simply looking to add an infusion cap. You can still use them in lower level and non-power-enabled content. But as you play Nightfalls, Raids, Trials, Iron Banner, and other endgame level-enabled pursuits, you’ll need to embrace changing your loadout over time.
Short of a full reset either with a whole new game or rendering every current bit of gear unusable, this is the best middle-ground solution that will allow Bungie to pursue its goals of bringing back meaningful “aspirations” for players, combatting power/gear creep, and promoting natural shifts in the meta without leaning too heavily on balancing every piece of gear in the game. It gives Bungie a specific window of about one year’s worth of “effective” weapons that it can balance endgame activities around, instead of needing to account for literally everything in the game. That allows Bungie to pour more dev and test hours into other content and changes. Just think how much time at Bungie was spent on tweaking, testing, retweaking, and retesting the changes for Recluse. How much time was spent in testing and tweaking new content because of the knowledge that Recluse was a particular power spike?
The Last Word
Of course, Bungie telling you it’s putting an expiration on your gear is going to be a tough pill to swallow. Bungie knows that too, but it also knows that it’s going to have a hard time breathing life into Destiny 2’s new gear if the loot pool keeps getting diluted. It’s going to have a hard time balancing content around well over 500 guns (as more get released). Gear creep is a problem that needs to be solved, and its one of the core reasons players are feeling like Destiny 2 is more “chore” than “hobby” lately. That means letting go of your old Bygones, taking Nation of Beasts out of endgame play, and finding a decent replacement for Breakneck.
Bungie is simply being transparent with us right now. Luke Smith is sitting us down and giving us the real talk that our attachment to years-old weapons is some of what’s creating the very sour feelings we’re having about the game. Bungie wants to give us meaningful new rewards and aspirations to chase, but in doing so, it needs to take make us put down our old familiar guns. It’s not going to be easy, but ultimately it will make for a better and richer Destiny 2 experience.
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