Destiny and its PVP mode have been a topic of discussion on my blog and YouTube channel with some regularity. I highlighted the infamous pie chart that showed low PVP engagement numbers and confirms what many people have thought about Destiny’s PVP since launch: it’s not very fun, balanced, or worth playing at any length. Then I talked about how Bungie attempted to incentivize higher engagement with the PVP side of the game by putting all of the best weapons in The Trials of Osiris in the House of Wolves. I’m fairly confident that the Trials of Osiris has failed to garner any resurgence or increase level of interest in Destiny’s PVP, and the new game mode Mayhem is likely proof of that. It’s clear that Bungie is trying to appeal to the more casual players by creating a game mode that will be a constant barrage of action with the quick refreshing supers. The danger with this approach is the same misstep that both Call of Duty and Battlefield have made which is an effort to increase accessibility that dilutes your game and makes it unappealing to your most loyal fans. Hardcore fans of Destiny’s PVP will probably find the shrunken skill gap of the Mayhem game mode very unappealing as lesser skilled players will get lots of easy kills, and casual players will probably find it repetitive and boring in light of their lack of engagement with PVP up to this point. So what can Halo 5 teach Destiny?
Will it blend?
I have consistently criticized Destiny for having a split identity and believe it is one of the primary reasons the game feels bland and contradictory in its design. The weapon balancing has also been a point of criticism in my content as I feel it invalidates decision making and time investments of the player base. When thinking about the new game mode, Warzone, coming with Halo 5, I came to a realization: Destiny needs to blend PVP with PVE.
The best way to minimize the imbalance of some of the weapons and skill differences is to open up the game, add AI enemies, vehicles, and more creative objectives. Similar to how Warzone is going to include MOBA elements with leveling up and getting deployable weapons and gear, Destiny could adopt similar mechanics. At one level your special weapon could unlock, then a pike, then heavy ammo and so forth. Fallen walkers, mini-bosses, and similar objectives from The Prison of Elders could be implemented for good tug-of-war elements and ways to earn points. I think the game, weapons, vehicles, and enemies are ripe for a blended version of PVE and PVP. This would be the place and context to let weapons run as they are because the imbalances would be less noticeable and impactful. Then the more serious game modes like Trials of Osiris could work toward being more balanced by either disallowing Exotics, giving pre-set weapons, or nerfing perks and stats to make things more even.
Having a blended PVE and PVP game mode would allow for a variety of game types. There could be something similar to conquest games where you capture points and push forward, and each team could be attempting to take down walkers, mines, or mini-bosses in order to advance. Each team could be pushing toward the center of the map where heavy ammo, scorch cannons, or some type of team perk awaits them for a massive battle or base take down. There could also be similar modes to Warzone where nodes have to be captured, and then move to the next to end up being able to attack a base or player controlled walkers or team bosses. Just picture areas similar to the Cosmodrone full of pikes, walkers, sparrows, and gun fire as two large teams duke it out for victory. These type of game modes would increase accessibility without removing skill from the equation and could channel some of the MOBA interest and elements that many gamers enjoy.
Potential on the table
In a recent interview Luke Smith was pretty candid about how much potential they see in their game. It almost felt like a passive acknowledgment of what many of us have been saying about the disappointing nature of the game since the beginning. Blending PVP and PVE feels like a necessary evolution and logical step in the life of Destiny as it would remedy a lot of the conflicted identity of the game as well as make the community more unified. I have to admit I would thoroughly enjoy a big open engagement with vehicles, objectives, AI and player controlled enemies similar to Attrition in Titanfall or the future game mode Warzone in Halo 5. The core elements of the game are in place and there is enough complexity beneath the simplistic nature of the game to allow for more innovation and creativity. If Bungie wants to capitalize on the potential of their title this would be a good way to strengthen the foundation of the game to build a more united player base and identity.
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