The true endgame of Destiny 2 is not sweating your eyebrows off in Grandmaster Nightfalls or trying to avoid getting Shatterdived into an existential crisis while playing Trials of Osiris. The real challenge is working out which of your god roll Adept weapons to delete in order to preserve the ever-shrinking corner of free vault space you're working with.
A quick glance at Destiny Item Manager, the magnificent third-party app without which our inventories would be entirely unmanageable, reveals that I'm currently at 489/500 slots filled. And reader, let me tell you, that is relatively capacious by my standards. Anything over 490 and I start to panic, because it means another round of Sophie's Choice as I painstakingly pore over weapon perk rolls on light.gg (opens in new tab) in order to decide which of my darlings to delete.
Now at this point, non-Destiny 2 players may well be thinking: "Why would you possibly need more than 500 weapons, when that's enough to stage an effective coup in many countries". The reasons are manifold, but foremost is the fact that weapons no longer expire. For a relatively brief and hugely unpopular period, Bungie experimented with 'sunsetting' weapons, which involved giving them a shelf life, after which they could no longer be infused up to maximum power and therefore effectively became unusable in high tier content.
Rolling back sunsetting was the correct call because it was killing the incentive to chase for perfect perk combinations. Players simply weren't willing to invest as much time grinding for guns they knew weren't going to stick around forever. But the problems sunsetting was designed to address have not gone away.
1) Power Creep. Each new season of Destiny brings with it a suite of new weapons, but with the old ones no longer phasing out of the meta, Bungie's sandbox team has to keep adding desirable new perks to mix it up. They need to ensure there's always a reason to grab a new 140 rpm hand cannon over all the great 140 rpm hand cannons already gathering dust in your vault. Creative perks like Headstone, Tunnel Vision, and Rewind Rounds have done an impressive job of generating that interest without ensuring the new guns are strictly better than the old stuff. How long Bungie can keep it up, only the combat designers know, but so far, so good.
However, it's worth noting that the increased responsiveness of Bungie's sandbox team to making balance changes has been a double-edged sword. Players now don't know which perks might be buffed in the future, so it's tempting to hang onto rolls that might become spicy overnight thanks to a slight balance tweak. Recently, community manager dmg04 revealed that the much-maligned Adrenaline Junkie perk was getting reworked. Good news for lovers of grenade spam builds, bad news for those of us who'd already dismantled literally hundreds of good Adrenaline Junkie guns. Which was just about everyone.
Psst...Hold on to your Adrenaline Junkie rolls.Team has fun good news, coming soon.October 12, 2021
2) Vault Space. Where Bungie has been wildly less successful is in persuading players to delete their old gear. Everyone I speak to is struggling with where to store all this stuff, particularly as your Vault is also used to house ships, armor, sparrows, ghosts and all manner of other tat. With a seasonal model that adds new weapons and armor every three/four months, not including special events, it was always going to become a substantial bottleneck. All my characters are loaded up with as many items as they can carry at all times, and I'm also using their postboxes as an overflow—at the very real risk of things getting forcibly deleted when it fills up.
The last time Bungie increased the size of vaults was back in August 2018, when it added 200 additional slots to bring us to the current cap of 500. 'But if they give you more, won't you just fill it up with crap?' Probably! But the point is, it will take a while. The previous bump just about kept our heads above water over the last three years, but right now we're drowning. I must spend a quarter of my game time playing inventory Jenga, glumly breaking down guns with a ton of potential into a pile of legendary shards. Clearly that isn't ideal. So why isn't Bungie doing anything about it?
What has Bungie said about the problem
In late August, I interviewed game director Joe Blackburn and general manager Justin Truman, and asked them directly if something could be done. Both were very aware of the problem, and sympathetic about the real distress it causes, but it didn't sound like a quick fix was inbound.
"Adding Vault space is meaningfully more technically complex for us, and on our server backend across our entire playerbase, than I think people realize," explained Truman. "So it's not just a button that we press and then, hey, we gave everybody more vault space."
Blackburn followed up: "Bungie problem, imagine that vault space is a highway through a major city. If we're going to expand the highway, we're going to also have to demolish some people's houses. We're going to have to pay for that in a pretty severe way."
I'm absolutely certain that Bungie isn't avoiding adding more space just to be capricious or to teach us some lesson about difficult personal choices. I have no doubt that a major Vault Space expansion would involve substantial time and money investment, but what I am saying is: Let's talk about it. Because I would much rather spend $10 on another 100 slots than another swanky emote in Eververse. If cost is the biggest issue, lay it out for us. You might be surprised by how much people are willing to throw down for this kind of quality of life change. Particularly as, with the release of the next major expansion, The Witch Queen, set to happen on 22 February, another major influx of gear is on the way.
Some potential solutions
One ray of hope is the weapon crafting system that's also coming with The Witch Queen. Though the exact details haven't been revealed, Blackburn told me that players will ultimately be able to craft any version of a gun that is possible according to its perk template. "By the time you're able to make the exact god roll, you will have the ability to make all the versions of that gun that you want," he explained. "So it's really about a long pursuit with a weapon. And we think if you're willing to spend that amount of time with the gun, we're okay with you being able to craft whatever version you want."
We don't know exactly what the resource or time grind involved will look like, but theoretically crafting should take some pressure off our Vaults. You'll no longer need to keep a bunch of different versions of the same gun. You'll just keep your favourite and then craft a different one if you want to experiment. However, crafting it isn't going to be a silver bullet for the problem. At launch, crafting will be restricted to Witch Queen's new raid, seasonal, and Throne World weapons. Older guns will be added later down the line, but it certainly sounds like we'll be hanging onto a lot of our old stuff.
I don't like playing armchair designer, because I have no idea what the exact issues preventing Vault Space expansion are. (Though I suspect ongoing support for the PS4 and Xbox One will be a factor.) But it's easy to identify a couple of potential pain points which, if alleviated, could help the Vault space squeeze. Firstly, please stop over complicating the way elemental armor affinities work. As things stand, we have to keep multiple copies of every armor piece in order to ensure we have access to Solar, Arc, Void and now Stasis mods. This could be solved by making it so that, once masterworked, a piece of armor could be toggled between each element without additional cost.
Building on that, in the absence of an in-game loadout system, please remove the glimmer cost for applying mods. Ideally, this would enable third-party tools to swap out entire builds. I'm talking shaders and ornaments too, for my fashion forward guardians. At a stroke, we'd be able to slash the amount of armor in the cupboard and just keep the stuff with the juiciest stat splits.
We could do this tomorrow. All we need is Bungie to give DIM the same authorization that exists today within the Destiny Companion App. https://t.co/ofZn0Z1KjFOctober 3, 2021
The good news is that I honestly think Bungie gets it. The people at the top play the hell out of the game, and will undoubtedly be running into the same Vault space struggle. Live games are like super tankers in terms of the speed with which they can be course corrected, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's already something on the way to help us hoarders.
Let's hope so, because goddamnit I'm not dismantling any these six Timelost Corrective Measures until I know exactly what the Adrenaline Junkie buff looks like.