Bungie has at last posted its big blog update to address the state of Destiny 2, after a bruising few days where fan anger at both long-term problems and last weekend's huge XP controversy boiled over.
In short, the post promises a push towards greater transparency. But, in effect, it serves as a patch note preview for long-awaited improvements due to go live within the next few weeks.
"Our team has been reading feedback and working on updates to improve the game," Bungie's blog post began, in an introduction attributed to both Luke Smith, Destiny 2's game director, and Chris Barrett, lead for the game's live service team. "We've also been reading some tough criticism about our lack of communication, and we agree we need to be more open.
"Going forward, Destiny 2's post-launch game systems, features, and updates are being designed specifically to focus on and support players who want Destiny to be their hobby - the game they return to, and a game where friendships are made. We want Destiny to be a game that fits into your life, providing you with reasons to log in and play with your friends, clans, and families. We want Destiny to be a world you want to be a part of.
"We know it's frustrating when there isn't enough of a dialog with the development team. You have our commitment that we're going to do a better job going forward."
With that said, it was on to details of the game's December changes. There are some welcome improvements coming - some already announced, such as the ability to buy specific weapons from vendors rather than rely on Destiny 2's despised token economy, and some a complete surprise, such as a new tier of Legendary weapons titled Masterworks with re-rollable stat bonuses and stat tracking.
On the recent furore over Bungie's now-disabled system which curtailed quick XP grinding from activities such as Public Events, the developer was slightly less forthcoming.
"Last weekend, we disabled a scaling mechanism that adjusted XP gains up and down without reflecting those adjustments in the UI," another section of the blog post explained, one which was this time simply attributed to the studio at large. "Our intention was to keep slower-paced activities as rewarding as high intensity grinding without confusing variations in displayed XP values, but the silent nature of the mechanic betrayed the expectation of transparency that you have for Destiny 2."
Let's unpack that. What Bungie says is simply what fans had discovered already - there's no new information here - although the studio does admit the hidden (silent is a nice way of putting it) nature of it was shady.
The current replacement system (where the XP requirement to level up has been doubled, according to fans - Bungie does not go into detail itself) will continue to be tweaked, the studio said, as it is now too slow for other activities. And, Bungie concluded, what players see on screen will - eventually - reflect what is going on behind the scenes.
But while it's good this is now the goal - as it should be - there's no deeper discussion of why this hasn't always been the case. Bungie does not talk about the elephant in the room - that this system is tied into the game's purchaseble Bright Engrams, which are the reward for levelling up, or why this system was ever allowed to operate in a way which misled players grinding the game for free Bright Engrams and receiving them at a slower rate.
The one topic Bungie does comment on is XP boosts, another paid-for item. These "were always applied after this system and never resulted in early slowing of XP".
"Expect to see a lot of conversation from our team on this front, as XP rewards are updated and brought back in-line with player expectations," Bungie concluded.
December's list of updates are detailed below. Looking beyond that, 2018 will bring other changes - mostly already announced: better rewards for Prestige activities, Adventures and Lost Sectors, while Crucible will get an "early quitter" penalty system and, further ahead, private matches.
Masterworks [DEC 12]
- Legendary Weapons will drop as or be upgraded to become Masterworks versions
- Masterworks will have a few advantages over the baseline Legendary weapon:
- Track and display the number of kills with that weapon (with choice between total count or Crucible-only count)
- Generate orbs for you and your allies on multi-kills
- Add weapon stat bonuses that are selected randomly from a small pool and are re-rollable
- Masterworks drop from any source of Legendary weapons for characters above 250 Power
- Unwanted Masterworks can be dismantled into materials that can upgrade an existing Legendary Weapon into a Masterwork
- Raid and Trials of the Nine Weapons will have a very high chance to be Masterworks
- We have future plans to extend Masterworks to other gear and expose your kill counts in more places (e.g. Crucible kill screen)
Armour Ornaments [DEC 5]
- Armor Ornaments will be added to some existing Armor sets for more visual customization without losing your Shaders or Mods
- These ornaments will be unlocked by completing objectives specific to each set, and are permanently unlocked account-wide, just like Exotic Weapon ornaments
- They will be applied to the base pieces that you may already have collected, and can now unlock on Vendors if not
- In Season 2, the following sets have ornaments unlocked in their respective activities: Vanguard Faction Armor, Crucible Faction Armor, Trials of the Nine Armor, Iron Banner Armor, Dead Orbit Armor, Future War Cult Armor, New Monarchy Armor, Eater of Worlds Raid Lair Armor
Faction Armour and Weapons [DEC 12]
- Faction Armor and Weapons will be unlocked for purchase for Legendary Shards and Faction Tokens on most Faction Vendors
- All five Armor Slots will always be present, and Weapons will rotate weekly on Factions that have them
- Slots will be unlocked by claiming Reward Engrams from the respective Faction
- You will get credit for engrams you may have already claimed since launch
Xur [DEC 12]
- Xur has some new offerings for players collecting Exotics:
- Every week, you'll be able to acquire one of the new Fated Engrams using Legendary Shards that will decrypt as Exotics that aren't already in your collection
- A simpler Three of Coins that boosts Exotic drop rates from any source for 4 hours
- No obscure stacking mechanics or need to re-apply before every boss
- These cost Legendary Shards and you can have as many as you like
- [DEC 5] Banshee has some updates on the Weapon and Armor Mod front:
- For players wanting to clear some Mod inventory space, Rare quality Mods will dismantle into Gunsmith Materials and have a chance to produce Legendary quality Mod Components
- For players chasing specific Legendary Mods (including Legendary Kinetic Mods), Banshee will offer a selection of specific Legendary Mods for direct purchase, with a selection that will rotate daily and cost Legendary Shards and Mod Components
- [DEC 5] For players chasing a world Legendary or looking for Masterworks, Master Rahool will sell some of his rumored hoard of Legendary Engrams for Legendary Shards
- [DEC 12] Commander Zavala and Lord Shaxx will sell Gift consumables for Legendary Shards that can be used during a Strike or Crucible Match that will serve the following functions:
- Grant bonus rewards to everyone in that activity upon completion, friend or foe alike
- Award anything from Faction Tokens to a round of Exotics for everyone in the match
- [DEC 12] Exploit safeguards on Chests and Resource Nodes are greatly relaxed and players should encounter them less frequently
- Even if they do, drop rates for Tokens is only reduced to 30% instead of 0%, and Glimmer will be unaffected
- We want to associate a visual indicator with this in a future update, but we weren't able to pull that off in this update (but we hear you!)
- [DEC 12] Vendors will now beckon you to hand in your Reputation Tokens only when you're carrying enough to earn a Reward Engram
- [DEC 5] Changes affecting Reputation Tokens:
- Daily Challenges will have Reputation Token awards increased across the board
- Cayde's Treasure Chests still offer variable rewards, but now guarantee (at minimum) a payout of destination appropriate Reputation Tokens
- Strikes will drop a larger number of Vanguard Reputation Tokens
- Common quality Destination Resource Tokens will have their drop rates increased to 100%, and values per Token increased as well (by 50% for common quality Tokens and 250% for rare quality Tokens)
- On the balance, Reputation required per Reward Engram will increase for Destination Factions (+37%) and Gunsmith (+50%)
- Leviathan Raid Tokens will be redeemed at Benedict immediately upon obtaining a Token, instead of requiring a full clear before unlocking