Destiny 2's weapons and armor won't have random rolls

Earlier this week I wrote a feature outlining the nagging worries I have about Destiny 2’s design, a game I am otherwise almost uncomfortably excited about playing. Clearly inspired by the article, Bungie has decided to pile on a new worry. According to an E3 interview game director Luke Smith gave to Mashable, all the gear in the game—i.e. weapons and armor—will drop with set perk rolls.

Why is that a worry? Well, Destiny is a loot grind game and one of the things that kept players plugging away for three years in the first game, despite some Saharan content droughts, was the flickering hope of getting a god roll on a particularly coveted item. But apparently that’s a situation which the sequel doesn’t want to repeat. 

“There aren't random rolls on weapons anymore,” Smith said. “Better Devils is a Crucible hand cannon [in Destiny 2], and what it has on it is what it has on it. Period." Apparently the reason for the change is to make balancing easier. “It's gonna give us more flexibility to do per-item tuning... [That's] something we haven't had before because of the way we were building the [first] game.” 

Although he doesn’t admit it directly, the frustrating thing here is Smith is pretty clearly referring to PvP balancing, which as I noted in my feature, was a shitshow in Destiny 1. By removing random perk combinations, the sandbox design team will be able to maintain a tighter grip over what weapons Guardians are bringing to bear on each other, but at the substantial expense of weapon diversity in PvE.

So will players still want to grind at all if the pool of possible gear drops is so much more shallow? Well, eagle eyes have already noticed from the promotional footage shown that Destiny 2’s guns appear to have mod slots, which could create some added interest. 

Smith also told Mashable that they’re looking at other systems to generate variance and fun, though couldn’t commit to these being in place at launch.“How can my second, third, and tenth Better Devils hand cannon be interesting? That's a question we should be asking and answering as quickly as we can... We have ideas. While I would like nothing more than to share those ideas with you, we're up against [a deadline]. I don't know if they'll make it for our Sept. 6 [release] date. But we have some ideas that we're pretty excited about.”

What I find especially odd about this is that when I spoke to Smith it was clear he understood the allure of chasing ultra-rare loot. Check out this exchange between Smith and Datto, a prominent Destiny YouTuber, who like Smith played a ton of vanilla WoW. The two of them reminisce about especially hard to get gear, and the emotional pull of chasing a ‘white whale’ item.

I have to say that as design decisions go, this one really worries me—and players on the Destiny subreddit have largely reacted negatively, though there are some optimists. As ever, the proof will be in the playing, but I dearly hope Bungie hasn't shot for a more casual experience with Destiny 2 and ended up hitting its own power-armored foot.