Outside of the Raid and the Crucible, three is the magic number for your Fireteam. Strikes require three people and you’ll get matchmade into a group of three if you’re playing alone or with just one other person. Public Events (particularly the heroic variants) are a lot easier with a couple buddies. Heck, part of the main story revolves around getting three people together and reform their Fireteam. So, with all the focus on having a group of three, why is the only meaningful endgame activity a six-player Raid?
That’s a realization I came to around my third week with the game. After running through the Strike Playlist a few times and completing all the Public Events on each of the four planets, I wondered why I was still doing it. Within the confines of the game, completing those weekly activities and getting the powerful gear rewards was the easiest way to increase my Power Level so I’d be eligible to do the Raid. However, that particular activity also requires me to have five friends that, one, are also at the correct Power Level, and two, have a few hours free to go through the entire thing. The latter is the catch. As a mid-30s adult with a partner and child, time is at a premium. Most of my friends are in a similar boat and trying to line up all of our schedules where we collectively have four hours free to play a game is almost impossible.
The new “Guided Games” feature is supposed to help with this issue by allowing a group of four (who are all from the same clan) to queue up for the Raid and get match made with individual players that want to experience the content. This is supposed to be beneficial to both parties as the clan gets enough folks to go through and complete the Raid, and the individual players get to learn about and complete the Raid with an experienced group. My experiences with it thus far, however, haven’t been great.
Long wait times usually forced me to abandon the queue before I could get into a group, and those few times when I did get into one, a few of the clans I teamed up with were impatient and unwilling to help me learn the Raid mechanics. There are some serious expectations mismatch with the system, and I can’t tell if that’s the fault of the system itself as Bungie designed it, or with gamers as a whole. Most likely it’s a little bit of both. The Raid is not something you can hop into and expect to be done in an hour or even two as It requires such a precise level of coordination from all the people involved. Even one mistake in a few of the encounters and the group has to wipe (i.e., everyone dies) and start that encounter over again. For clans that have already completed the Raid and have gone through the pains of learning how to do everything, the idea of teaching all of that to a couple “unknowns” probably isn’t that appealing. For the individual players, it can be just as frustrating trying to learn something when you know you’re the only in the group that “doesn’t get it .” This mismatch of expectations leads to no one having very much fun.
To be clear, I don’t fault Bungie for these particular issues around the Raid itself; including a high-level activity that rewards your most fervent players is necessary and that means setting a certain barrier to entry. The real fault lies in the Raid being the ONLY such unique activity available in the base game and it can ONLY be completed (barring exploiting glitches/hacks) with a group of six. Yes, there’s the Nightfall Strike - a harder version of the regular Strikes that imposes a time limit and special modifiers like doing increased melee at the cost of special abilities taking longer to charge - but that’s not exactly unique. The “Curse of Osiris” expansion added the new “Raid Lair,” which requires less time overall but still needs six players to complete it.
That addresses one small part of the problems with the Raid (i.e., the time commitment), but it doesn’t address the core issue of a lack of endgame content for a smaller group of players. Overall, this is a step back from where the original Destiny ended up with activities like the Prison of Elders. While they likely have similar things planned for future expansions, it is disappointing that the sequel appears to be starting off, content-wise, where the first game began rather than where it ended. Much as with the first game, Destiny 2 has potential and promise, and maybe it will run a similar course to the original Destiny where a big expansion will drop next September and shake things up a bit. I can’t help but wonder, though, why it seems to be charting such a similar path instead of starting somewhere familiar and going somewhere new.
Going back to the original question of “is it worth it,” I can only say “yes” with modifiers. If you’re looking for a fun FPS aRPG to hop into with a group of friends for a few hours every week, then, yeah, it’s mostly worth it. In all other cases, though, Destiny 2 has a ways to go.