Yesterday with the weekly reset in Destiny, Bungie started rolling out the new Challenge mode bosses in King’s Fall. And with that came a whole hell of a thing in the online community. So I thought I’d offer up my thoughts on everything that’s gone down in the last 24 hours or so.
We’ll start with the actual challenge mode Warpriest fight. I’m not exactly the most dedicated raider anymore – I’ve only actually ran King’s Fall once, mainly because my play group has dwindled with Halo, Fallout and Battlefront. But now knowing what the actual challenge is for Warpriest, I totally get why the more dedicated PvE players are maybe a little disappointed with it. That challenge – having multiple players gain the aura during the damage phase – is probably something that a lot of raid groups already do. That, to me, kinda defeats the idea of it being a challenge. And here’s where I think the issue lies – it’s not so much that it’s an elitist mentality, I think it’s more that Bungie just chose the wrong word to describe the new fights. I think a lot of streamers and YouTubers were going in expecting challenge to mean difficult – not specific circumstances in a fight. That’s not on the community, or even Bungie, I just think it’s an unfortunate poor choice of wording.
Now, what I do like with the challenge mode is that it does exactly what we’ve been asking for from a loot standpoint. It gives us a direct path to specific loot – in this case 320 Light artifacts and weapons. It doesn’t totally move away from RNG though, there’s still the actual talent grid to roll. That is what we’ve been wanting from the end-game loot table for a while. The previous raids kinda had it, with each boss dropping specific gear – but were a little too RNG based. The problem now is that now top Light level gear is tied to a rotational boss mode – it’s Prison of Elders bosses, in Raid form. What I actually would have preferred is Bungie put that top level artifact into Oryx’s Hard Mode fight as a possible drop. Then the challenge mode fights should just have dropped cosmetic gear – emblems, shaders, ships that sort of thing. That keeps the loot progression in the “normal” raid runs, and would have opened Challenge mode to be more of actual difficulty boosted fights, with loot that is more of a status-shower-offer.
Which now brings me to the whole hullabaloo that showed up yesterday. In the greater community, there seems to be this notion that because the players who play Destiny for a living took issue with Challenge Mode, they were attacking the “normal” community. And the “normal” community responded with some pretty nasty comments and Reddit posts. What I think is more accurate here is that because of the semantics of the new fights, the “hardcore” community was expecting true difficult fights. And because the fight wasn’t really that different from normal, they were let down. Unfortunately, the wider community took that to mean that they didn’t want that loot out there. It became a “elitist V. casual” fight. The problem I have with that idea is that if you’re on Reddit checking out posts every day, watching streams and YouTubes – you aren’t a casual player. There’s been a pretty major disconnect between play-dedication and skill, and how they “classify” you as a player. Casual isn’t skill related – it’s time dedication. If you only play Destiny a few hours a week – that’s Casual. You can be a really skilled player and still be casual. Elite is a little trickier, but with this whole nonsense, they’re more talking about players who play for pretty sizable chunks of time every week. That only has bearing on skill in that if you play a ton, you should naturally get better thumbskill and decisions in-game.
I’ve written a few times in the past about player entitlement and community frustration based around it. Just because we buy a game doesn’t entitle us to complain and shout into the void about every little perceived slight. Instead we need to take advantage of the fact that we can so much more easily communicate with developers now to provide actual constructive comments. With Destiny, it shouldn’t be us just bitching on Twitter about a bad loot drop to Bungie. It should be us reinforcing the things we like, while telling Bungie about the issues that the game definitely had – story, progression and connection issues. It’s a wider problem than just in Destiny too – I see a lot of it with Call of Duty, and somewhat with Fallout even. That said, there is one thing about this whole Challenge mode nonsense that I think is a good thing is just how much I’ve seen the community as a whole react. That to me shows off that the Destiny community is still really strong, even though every couple weeks I see a comment or post about how the game is dying. Is Challenge mode good? Sure. Is it what I think the Raid needed? Not really. I find myself more in the “I’d like harder fights for personal gratitude” camp. I like hard games that push execution and punish poor decision, not arbitrary silliness. Maybe we’ll see it still – we’ll wait and see.