I've written at some length about how Destiny 2 strayed from the light in terms of its design choices, and more recently we've covered Bungie's planned improvements for the troubled looter shooter. Those were further detailed last week in the form of a roadmap showing when specific changes are due, which was expanded on a day later by the sandbox design lead who talked about how the team is testing an update designed to make guardians "go fast". It sounds welcome but, as someone still playing the game, I can't help but think what's really needed is for Bungie to implement some risky changes right now.
Last week's introduction of Masterwork Armor was a classic example of an addition that's both welcome and too conservative. I've already crafted a couple of sets, and while being able to reroll stats is handy, it's not going to draw back lapsed players. More problematically, the signature damage reduction perk is barely noticeable compared to the much sexier orb generation granted by Masterwork weapons. So, for this piece, I want to throw out some ideas which (to my inexpert mind) could be implemented relatively quickly, and might encourage those who've abandoned the game to pick it up again.
1. Unlock the subclass skill trees immediately
Limiting players to a binary choice between the top and bottom node clusters in each subclass always seemed like a baffling design decision that would choke build creativity for no real benefit, and so it's proved. Bungie should unlock the nodes so that players can pick any combination of four perks. As I've noted before, even if the community comes up with some OP builds, everyone will have fun in the process—and it's not like the Hive are going to start writing Reddit posts bitching about imbalance. If needs be, Bungie could still prevent these custom builds from being used in PvP by locking them out, but my gut feeling is that even that wouldn't be unnecessary. And god knows PvP could use an injection of creativity.
2. Add 'hybrid' shotguns, sniper & fusions to the energy slot
Even if you like the current kinetic/energy/power weapon loadout—and it's fair to say many don't—there's no denying that the system has rendered fusion rifles, shotguns and especially snipers all but obsolete, with rocket launchers completely dominant. It's unlikely Bungie will revert to Destiny 1's primary/special/heavy loadout—although judging by Hamrick's post, that isn't totally off the table—but the developer could experiment with putting a limited number of those underused weapons into the energy slot. There's precedent for this in Destiny 1, where Exotics like the Universal Remote shotgun and the No Land Beyond sniper sat in the primary rather than special slot. Obviously there are balance concerns, but I think this would be a more interesting way to freshen up the Crucible beyond simply lowering the TTK on all weapons (though that wouldn't hurt either).
3. Bring back every old Exotic in the next patch
I know this will be a shock, but it's starting to look like that whole 'oops your stuff got destroyed' thing was just a convenient way to reset the inventories of Destiny 1 players. Bungie clearly has no intention of ditching the old exotics, and plans to slowly release them back to us. Well, fine I guess, but let's turn the drip feed into a deluge. As things stand, I'm willing to bet that the majority of us still playing have all the current Exotics, which has rendered getting those golden engrams absolutely meaningless. They don't even break down into anything interesting. Adding all the old Exotics into the loot table would fix the problem for a while, buying Bungie more time to work on its other improvements. And look, I get that it takes a lot of work to make new Exotics—but reheating old content really shouldn't be a selling point of future expansions anyway. If that gear was added as a free update, we'd at least have some new stuff to grind for without a huge investment on the studio's part.
4. Free dust for everyone
No doubt this will be anathema to the business intelligence analysts who seem to hold too much sway at Bungie these days, but a freebie would go some distance to fostering goodwill amongst a community that has come to despise the Eververse microtransaction store. And if nothing else, a login reward of a couple of thousand Bright Dust (which, incredibly, wouldn't even buy you this week's Exotic mic drop emote) might at least get some players to boot the game up again. Crucially, a guaranteed amount of Dust to spend—rather than having us rely on getting good RNG from Bright Engrams—would enable players to pick and choose from cosmetic items they actually want.
5. Have Tess sell all the shaders, all the time
That Bungie managed to mess up a system as seemingly innocuous as applying colour schemes to your gear sums up how baffling some of Destiny 2's design decisions were. Right now, if you want to deck yourself out in a sweet shader like Metro Shift, you need to either pray for it to drop from Bright Engrams (unlikely, given how many shaders are in the pool) or wait for Tess to sell it as part of the hated MTX store's rotation, which may literally take weeks. As I think we're almost unanimously agreed that this kind of grind is no fun, there's no reason why the Eververse shaders couldn't live in a separate sub-menu and be available all the time. Bungie is supposedly working on deeper shader solutions but says these are long way off. Fashion matters, particularly when there's not much else to do, and this is a fix that ought to be implemented fast.
6. Reduce the cooldowns (seriously, all of them)
One of the chief criticisms back in the beta was that our supers and abilities took too long to charge, sucking the fun out of a game that has always been about unleashing space magic. Those complaints were partly addressed before launch, but again the changes didn't go far enough. In his post, Hamrick says Bungie plans to use the revamped mod system "to buff ability cooldowns", but there's nothing to stop them implementing a flat reduction across the board right now. Seriously, they could slice 10% off all cooldowns with the next hotfix and see what happens. Live a little! Rather than testing a change like this for months on end—and lest we forget, it will be the best part of seven months with no balance changes by the time the first sandbox balance update lands—why not use the current players as your PTS? If something winds up being broken, or less fun, we'll be fine with you rolling it back. Excitement over regular changes is preferable to control freakery leading to nothing.