The latest DLC from Destiny, The House of Wolves, offers a completely new format and approach to their PVP side of the game in The Trials of Osiris. After playing it and getting an 8-1 on my fist run, I have some thoughts about how antithetical this content is with respect to competition. While I can appreciate the approach and idea, the entire setup runs against what most people would consider a fair competition. I’ve already talked about how the rewards aren’t allocated well, making PVE players feel forced to play a game mode they don’t enjoy. But there are factors that make it feel backwards within the idea of PVP. My experience with The Trials of Osiris actually made me sort of shrug at all the hardcore PVP players because I just wasn’t impressed. Yes, the guys helping me were obviously beasts who could rush teams that didn’t know what they were doing and lay waste to them with shotguns. But when we went up against more skilled teams it just became a boring waiting game of camping corners. That just doesn’t seem all that thrilling to me and it really isn’t that impressive when one team comes out on top.
First, I want to say that I had a great discussion on my stream yesterday about this. One of the best points raised was that the good gear and experience of veteran PVP players needs a context to shine. I completely agree with this and think that the Iron Banner should serve this purpose and add more things and methods similar to the way Trials of Osiris works. This post is about how I think charging people money for DLC and then basically holding a lot of the new gear hostage due to narrow accessibility is a bad business decision by Bungie.
It’s Too Dependent on Gear
Regardless of what anyone tries to say, there are weapons that are factually and at this point even statistically proven to be better than the rest. It is basically an objective and undeniable reality that the Thorn is arguably the best PVP weapon. Yes, there are instances where it isn’t the best, like on last week’s sniper heavy map, but for the most part it is the most effective weapon of choice by the majority of the PVP community that has it. This is, in my opinion, part of a larger problem, and within the realm of the Trials of Osiris it creates a significant slant on the battlefield. Now, I’m not against having a context and a place for players to take their best gear and shred the competition to the best of their ability as I already said above. But when you take new content that people paid for, hold most of the new rewards hostage within it, and then allow a percentage of the community to have a significant advantage, that is completely contradictory to the idea of competition. I told someone on my stream today that slanting the battlefield in the favor of people with stronger guns is, by definition, unfair. Now, this doesn’t guarantee people with good gear will win, and it certainly doesn’t take skill out of the equation. However, when a gun’s TTK (time to kill) is significantly faster than others it can actually make a mediocre player far better because they need to land less shots in order to bag a kill. The real problem I have with this is that you are charging people for content and then making the entry points to the new gear unfair and slanted.
The Difference between challenging and inaccessible
The big point of disagreement on my stream yesterday was that making good gear challenging to get is a good thing, which I completely agree with. My point has been that the Trials of Osiris has numerous mechanics that make it inaccessible. For example, the Prison of Elders 34 and 35 boss fights are challenging when you are in them, and that’s appropriate. But the lack of matchmaking and checkpoints hurts its accessibility. So a way to look at it in the Trials of Osiris is that going up against a good team is challenging, but the slanted landscape due to gear makes it less accessible. This is why I recommended on my stream that there be two versions of the Trials of Osiris that they could alternate between. One week could be the same gear for everyone, no level advantages, and let’s see who’s the best. Then the next week you could let all the hardcore PVP’ers duke it out while the rest of us avoid it. In a way that would narrow the landscape and the hardcore players would be more likely matched up to people at their skill level as the rest of us non-PVP players would be less likely to play during that week. Again the issue here is that many in the community experienced something that feels inaccessible to them. This is why I think Destiny’s future is in trouble, which leads to my next point about this being exactly like the problem with the Raids.
Raids all over again
One of the problem with the raids was that so many players never played them, even more never managed to beat them, and an even larger percentage never beat them on hard. This creates a significant problem for your end game when so many players can’t get access to the best gear to level up and effectively kill hard enemies with. The raids were difficult to beat with a full team once inside, but beyond that, they are difficult to even attempt due to no matchmaking or even social spaces to help people group together. People on my stream kept mentioning the LFG sites, but those were created by the community in the absence of ground level features you would expect for content like the raids. And the Trials of Osiris is creating a similar problem by narrowing the entry point and holding new gear hostage. If you want a very narrow community with far more hours of play time and good gear than everyone else, than by all means, continue doing what you’re doing. But the problem for Destiny as a ten year game will be that this type of content will continually narrow the landscape of dedicated players as the lion share of the casual gamers feel pushed to the side and left out.
It’s all about the money
My point when I debated this on my stream and with this post is about future sales and engagement levels. This DLC was supposed to be a huge step forward for the game, and in many ways it is. But as it stands we have yet another piece of content that people have paid for that narrows the ability of the community to get access to certain pieces of gear. I’m not saying everyone should get awesome gear like candy handed out at a parade, but it needs to be much more accessible. And we can debate about how good the gear is, or how it compares to raid gear, but that isn’t helpful as the people with raid gear aren’t those I’m concerned with. I’m concerned about the casual gamers who will start walking away from the franchise as they feel more and more content narrows the playing field of Destiny, and only those with the most time and best gear will continue to get the best stuff. The irony here is that the rich keep getting richer in Destiny, and it may be the cause of Destiny getting poorer and poorer.
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