Destiny PVP is changing for the better

destiny pvp mayhem riftI recently wrote about and made a video entitled, “Destiny PVP is finally fun”, and after another fun day in the two new game modes, Rift and Mayhem, I started to see the writing on the wall: Destiny PVP is changing. For many players this is a welcome change as virtually every person I’ve talked to or played with has unanimously said this is the most fun they have had in Destiny PVP. And a lot of these players are like me and have been pretty unenthused and uninterested in Destiny PVP, especially Trials of Osiris and The Iron Banner. This is when I realized why the player versus player side of Destiny was changing and why I think it will help player engagement.

Give me a break

At this point it is readily accepted that Destiny is a bit of a grind. Bosses, strikes, and raids can take a lot of time to pay off and the bosses and missions can be repetitious and a bit exhausting. Now, the Taken King looks to improve a lot of the problems with vanilla Destiny, but Bungie has been pretty transparent about how much repetition will still exist in their game. I have already said that I think the repetition woven into year 2 of the game sounds far more organic and sensible, but the nature of Destiny gameplay is still going to be repetitious. This type of gameplay makes the nature of PVP pretty unappealing up to this point. If you spend a few minutes on the Bungie forums or browse most Destiny Twitch streamers it becomes apparent that players tend to gravitate to one side of the game. This is where I think the new game modes are going to change the way current and new Destiny players see PVP. Rather than feeling like I have to choose between grinding through PVE activities or slamming against the hardcore player wall in Trials or Iron Banner, PVP can now be more like recess. Take all the amazing things you can do as a guardian and condense it down into intense moments of action in short ten minute games, and that’s what Destiny PVP has needed. When you combine this with more attainable Crucible bounties it makes playing PVP both fun and meaningful. I have to admit, it was pretty satisfying when I completed all but one Crucible bounty in just one game of Rift.

Competition can kill

If there is something I have learned in all my experience of playing competitive shooters like Call of Duty, Titanfall, Battlefield, and even Destiny it’s that competing against other players is only fun if I’m winning. This is one of the reasons so many players abandoned the idea of placing importance on winning as they work on achievements, protecting their kill death ratio, and getting kill streaks. Given that Destiny didn’t really sell itself on being a big PVP game, most of the people that bought it for that aspect were looking for a Halo replacement. And, quite logically, these players found similarities to the movement and rhythms of Halo and started to dominate. The portion of the Destiny community that I still claim is the largest, the PVE side, didn’t have much motivation to keep jumping into the PVP pool after losing became the expectation. The famous pie chart that Bungie showed at the GDC 2015 gets referenced often in my commentary because it clearly showed how poor the PVP engagement was. Now, to be fair, the problems plaguing Destiny’s PVP in Trials and Iron Banner are not unique to Destiny. Every game struggles with accessibility after enough people dedicate themselves to not just being the best, but joining forces with other players that are trying to be the best. This tends to push the majority of players to the fringes of a good experience as they don’t have time to form a deep roster of skilled players, but would just like to sit down and enjoy a few good games. Rather than make things easy on everyone, Bungie tried a few different solutions to motivate engagement…

Come out and play

So, first Bungie tried to fix PVP engagement with event specific loot and cool cosmetics in the Iron Banner along with the perks and bonuses of being higher level and having better gear (something they admittedly bumbled the first few outings but later rectified). Then they tried to win people over with Trials of Osiris by putting most of the best rewards in the House of Wolves DLC behind a 9-0 wall that quickly seemed insurmountable to a lot of players. Now, in a way, the new game modes, Rift and Mayhem, are Bungie’s attempt at, “third time’s a charm”, as they hope to give space to new players and current players who feel they have no in-roads to Destiny’s PVP. And if my experience is any indication, most players are going to find vanilla Crucible modes to be pretty boring after the high octane experience of Mayhem or intense team work of Rift. Team Deathmatch, Control, and Skirmish simply cannot compete with how entertaining and fun the action and gameplay is in these new modes. Even the new mode Zone Control may struggle to get much attention as Rift offers the best team based objective mode I have played in a long time. This is why I believe Destiny PVP is changing, quite dramatically, and for the better. To the really competitive Destiny players who bagged countless flawless runs in Trials, you will probably find your favorite arenas to be pretty barren or only full of other players just like you. And if we are honest, this the best path for Destiny to take PVP because too many titles are coming out that will offer far better competitive PVP experiences. Black Ops 3, Halo, Star Wars Battlefront, and even Gears 4 will pull a significant number of Destiny players over out of the competitive realm, especially the new Halo. Now I’m on a weekly podcast where the guys who enjoyed Trials and Iron Banner said they enjoy Rift and see massive potential for the competitive side of Destiny to flourish in that game mode. That gives me a lot of hope for Destiny’s future engagement if the accessibility can be maintained with mercy rule and the matchmaking shake up. If it quickly turns into an arena dominated by the competitive players it will be soon be vacated the same way Trials of Osiris was. Either way it is still good to see Destiny continuing to find its way, and hopefully rooting its PVP identity in a more fun and laid back environment as the highly competitive identity not only isn’t in line with the rest of the game, but also hasn’t been good for the community.

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