'Destiny 2,' 'Anthem' and the annoying trend of the never-ending video game
I've probably played 50 hours to 75 hours of Destiny that I straight up didn't enjoy. I also did the same with Dragon Ball Xenoverse and, once upon a time, World of Warcraft. Now I'm worried the same thing will happen with Destiny 2.
These games prey upon my worst impulses. It's fun to get good loot, but all of them made it more difficult than necessary in order to squeeze as much time out of me as possible.
That makes sense for a game with a monthly fee like Blizzard's WoW, but I really wish video games would stop asking me to build my lifestyle around them.
Not everyone has hundreds of hours of free time
What do I mean by building a lifestyle around a video game? Let's look at Destiny, which is the worst offenders in this regard. Though it's been refined a bit at this point, it still asks so much of players who just want to see all of the content in the game.
The carrot at the end of the stick in Destiny is whichever raid is currently relevant. In order to get your light level up high enough to access the raid, you have to endlessly grind for loot that often has frustratingly low drop rates. While the game's combat is undeniably its strong suit, its missions tend to be generic and the co-op strikes get old after a while. Unfortunately, if you're like me and you don't like player vs. player, those are your options.
Once you're able to actually do the raid, you have to find five other people and clear out a few hours or more to get it done. For anyone with a job, friends and responsibilities, this isn't easy. Once you do manage to complete the raid, all there it to do is just do the raid over and over again until there's more content. Great.
After spending a ton of time grinding out missions that weren't fun, I ended up completing the game's first raid once and quitting. It was a profound waste of an evening and all I got for my efforts was a shader. I know you're probably asking why I even bother. Patrick Klepek put it succinctly at Giant Bomb back in 2014, writing about Destiny, and other social games', FOMO sensation.
When Destiny came out, my first weekend was already booked up. So was the next weekend. My nights have been full of social, work and familiar engagements. I've been able to squeeze in a few nights when my wife has gone to bed, but when I'm looking for someone to mess around with for an hour or two, my lowly level 17 warlock just can't hang. That's what matchmaking is around for, but matchmaking in Destiny is there as an alternative. It's a second-class experience.
Thankfully, Destiny 2 is taking some steps to alleviate this with its "guided games" feature. This will theoretically help more casual players experience endgame content by grouping them with more dedicated players, with both parties knowing what they're getting into. It's a nice idea that could potentially be undone by the nature of people who play video games online. We'll see how it pans out.
Still, it feels like Bungie is putting a band-aid on a bullet hole. For guided games to work, some players will still need to put lots of time into the game to be in a position to act as guides for people like me. Hopefully it's easier to get geared up for raids in Destiny 2 than it was when I played the first game.
It feels like Bungie is putting a band-aid on a bullet hole
Who even has 10 years to devote to a game?
The problem is that EA is talking about Anthem using the same intimidating language Bungie used in the early days of Destiny. Anthem is being called a "10-year journey," which theoretically means one could buy the game at launch and devote themselves to it for a decade if things pan out for EA and BioWare.
On some level, I get the appeal of a single game that you can give yourself to for months or even years at a time. Video games are expensive and it would be a lot easier if we could all just buy one and play that forever. It's also utopian to think about one video game satisfying all of our gaming needs for us, in a sense.
Where does that leave those of us who just want to play a game for a few weeks and put it down? Will Anthem be satisfying if played that way? With the exception of "the Taken King," I don't think Destiny ever was. It's not really possible for these games to have unlimited amounts of good content, so you inevitably end up repeating things with the hope of finding a slightly better shotgun or whatever.
As I said earlier, it makes sense for a game with a monthly fee to get you to play as long as possible. I don't think Destiny or Anthem have that excuse. I think it's important for games to let players enter and leave on their own terms while feeling satisfied. There's a big difference between spending 100 hours on something because you earnestly wanted to and spending 100 hours on something because that was the only way to see all of it.
More Destiny 2 news and updates
If you can’t wait to get back out on patrol with your Fireteam, check out the rest of our coverage for Destiny 2. We’ve got coverage about why Bungie opted not to use dedicated servers for the sequel, why there won’t be cross-play and cross-saves for PC and what you can expect from the game’s PC specs and Battle.net partnership. Additionally, you can check out the new Supers being added to the game, some details behind guided games and the new Crucible changes as well. Finally, you can check out our ongoing coverage of the beta here.