If we have learned anything from Battlefront 2’s nightmarish tangle of currencies and crates this week, it is that progression systems in multiplayer have gotten a little out of hand. Push aside the gambling accusations, and you will still find a complex web of coins and credits, parts, loot boxes, and random rolls, all meticulously designed to keep people playing round after round. Accepted logic suggests that a steady drip-feed of upgrades and the ever-tantalising prospect of rising numbers is how you keep people hooked.
Read our Destiny 2 raid guide for more on Bungie's expertly-tuned endgame.
It is surprising to me, then, that despite being a first-person shooter that also takes notes from loot-driven RPGs, Destiny 2’s setup is unashamedly hostile to binge play. In the current climate, that is incredibly refreshing.
I am a fan of both of Destiny 2’s constituent genres, so when Destiny 2 was announced for PC I was quietly excited, but hesitant. I have bounced off so many recent shooters which, while perfectly enjoyable moment-to-moment, ultimately felt weighted towards playing for hours at a time to get my hands on the good stuff. I also can’t count the number of times I have had to take year-long breaks from World of Warcraft after hitting an exhausting endgame, full of thousands of stats to optimise. But in contrast to these, Destiny 2 is pleasantly lightweight - I can get my fill of satisfying gear-collection without having to treat it like a part-time job.
Each week, Destiny 2’s endgame gives you around five activities to perform. Do the Nightfall, do the Raid, run a few rounds of the Crucible, kick around some public events on this week’s hot planet. There are dozens of other activities beyond these core endeavours, of course, but these milestones are the only way to make your numbers go up.
By giving you a short, simple list of everything you need to do, Bungie make it easier to plan out your week. The progress from each activity feels more significant compared to other games - at the end of each week, there’s a distinct power increase, and you feel like what little time you spent with the game’s systems was worthwhile.
Bungie appear to be particularly keen on making sure that you don’t end up spending entire nights grinding out gear and XP. Standard vendors will never grant gear of a higher level than what you currently own; players are given a boost to XP gain for the first three Bright Engrams a week, discouraging grinding past that point; and on top of that, testers over on the Destiny 2 subreddit have worked out that XP rewards are slashed if you earn them too quickly.
During events like the faction rally, I found that grinding caves for loot still wasn’t a foolproof way to guarantee a neat faction cloak to drop - those vendors capping out at 30 engrams. Though initially infuriating, in hindsight I appreciated not having been coerced into spending my entire week chasing after random loot coins.
It feels safe to say that Bungie’s want Destiny 2’s players to tackle the game in regular, relatively short sessions over the course of months and years. A cynical reading of this would point to the fact that it helps make the most out of the relatively sparse amount of content in the game, or that burnt-out players are harder to sell expansions to. But I would much rather have the game as it is now - a fun shooter that I can jump into maybe once or twice a week, running my errands - than as some time-consuming behemoth. Destiny is still a Bungie shooter, and it feels great to play it back on keyboard, but I appreciate it all the more for its modest footprint on my time.