Destiny Matchmaking in Taken King

destiny the taken kingDestiny is one of those things that can be more enjoyable after some time apart. With a few weeks since my last heavy dose of Destiny I have found the grind to be a bit more entertaining and fresh. Who I ended up playing with, however, was a very different experience than when I first ventured into the Destiny universe. Most of my friends have moved on to other games, and using LFG sites for runs on The Prison of Elders or a Nightfall just seems like overkill. And especially after reading Paul Tassi’s recent experience with using the LFG sites it’s hard to dive into that pool. My use of the “looking for group” avenues went very similar to what Tassi described, and I really resonated with his conclusion: it’s no different than matchmaking and is actually worse. So is it time for Destiny to get the dreaded m-word added to it? I happen to think so…

Not so lucky

Most people aren’t in a position to just comb through their friends list and have a huge batch of players ready to jump into the exact Destiny activity they’d like to play that day. Thankfully I have an awesome stream community with a rotating door of people willing to jump in and play. But since I’m highly interactive with my stream, talking in-game takes a back seat and I typically mute my headset mic. So we played almost every level of The Prison and even a Nightfall with almost no talking. And every 30 minutes or so someone would have to leave and another person would cycle in. It was surprising how smooth everything went and we didn’t actually run into problems until we tried a raid. I will touch on why I think the raid went so poorly, but you get the point. I was playing with random people, nobody was communicating, and we were able to move fairly seamlessly because of the batch of viewers willing to jump right in. It was essentially how matchmaking would function some of the time. Keep in mind, a lot of people would actually communicate and teach each other better tricks or approaches, so if my example works fine without communication it would work even better for those willing to talk and add to each other’s friends list.

What about the raids?

The big point of contention whenever matchmaking comes up is how poorly it would work in the raids. To a point I think it would be problematic if not done properly, but I have a feeling my group suffered from an entirely different problem. We had players who couldn’t even manage to get passed the second lamp without dying which was almost hard to fathom. Given that I was streaming and wasn’t all that interested in Crota’s raid because I had everything I wanted from it, we stopped after three tries and I went back to running The Prison. The problem with my group wasn’t a lack of knowledge about strategy or puzzle solving, it was inexperience. Most of the people in my group hadn’t run the raid in months or when they did they either cheesed it or sat back while a Hunter solo’d it. While I think matchmaking would come with its own problems and challenges it would at least make the content more accessible and slowly let more players in the community potentially team up with people that know what they are doing. It’s like that catch twenty two when nobody will hire you because you don’t have experience but you can’t get experience because nobody will hire you. How are less experienced or lesser skilled players supposed to find their way if they have to deal with the likes of LFG hurdles and groups that won’t give them the time of day? In matchmaking a group of 4 or 5 may be okay with carrying some lightweights because they are either confident in their own ability or just sick of waiting to play and willing to give it a go.

A new pair of shoes

Destiny is, in my opinion, slowly outgrowing the efficiency and usefulness of the LFG sites. With the Taken King boasting of the largest and longest raid yet in the game, I’m concerned it will see the lowest engagement numbers yet if Bungie doesn’t have accessible in-roads for all of the community. It will be unfortunate to see another piece of content have so much development and creativity poured into it and then be largely ignored and untouched by most of the player base. Ultimately LFG has been a band-aid that has kept the raid engagement numbers where they are, which means without the existence of the LFG sites the percentages for raid completion would be embarrassingly low. It isn’t really a bragging point to say, “Hey this great content we worked really hard on isn’t be played by anyone.” And at the end of the day all LFG sites have done is move the matchmaking process outside of the game. You are still getting connected with random people who may or may not use a mic, know what they are doing, or have any decent gear to speak of. Regardless of how Destiny approaches this, it is time to leave behind the mindset of, “This is how we want our content to be engaged with.”, and just start letting players find their own way. Sure, matchmaking would come with a whole host of frustrations, but at least everyone could engage with the content, and overtime, more people would find groups they gel with and the community would feel more seamlessly linked to the game experience. If players looking for someone to play with are left with choosing between off-site matchmaking or not engaging with the content, I think the numbers show us what most people are choosing, so it’s time to adapt and give the community more empowerment.

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