Update: As expected, Bungie has made adjustments to speed up The Lie's progress:
We have made adjustments to “The Lie” Quest and Seraph Tower Difficulty.💠 Champions have reduced power level and event progression has been slightly tuned.💠 Effective immediately, quest progression has been given a 5x multiplier which will be increased to 10x on weekends. pic.twitter.com/Z0aHldhbe3May 13, 2020
That's a big boost to event progression, and means that the quest step will almost certainly complete before the end of the season (it's already jumped up to 10% total completion). It remains, however, a disappointing way to cap off the season. Here's hoping subsequent quest steps have something more interesting to chew on.
Original story: A new quest has appeared in Destiny 2, and… oh boy… here we go again. It's called 'The Lie', and it's asking players to come together as a community to complete Seraph Tower public events en masse. Regular players of this season will remember Seraph Towers as the thing they got bored of weeks ago. Now, Bungie is asking its players to grind it out nine million more times, spread across three locations. It is—and perhaps you'll detect the theme of this season here—a mess.
To help make the number not sound quite as intimidating, Bungie is tracking individual guardian completions. If the maximum of nine players participate in and complete a Seraph Tower, that's counted as nine completions. So just 8,999,991 to go.
The greater problem isn't in the structure of the quest, though, it's the event itself.
I quite enjoyed the Seraph Towers at first, although quickly grew tired due to an inherent frustration with the way they work. The objective is to defend a series of plates. Keep enemies off an active plate and it will spew balls—er, I mean Polarity Charges—that you throw at a thing. Y'know, like what you do in most Destiny 2 activities. Whether or not you successfully defend a plate is based on whether it's clear of enemies at the moment it's finished charging. Has a Cabal dog put a foot on it at the exact moment of activation? Unsuccessful. Has an invisible Fallen snuck onto there? Unsuccessful. Has a boss immediately jumped halfway across the map to it? Unsuccessful.
In the original version of the event, this wasn't a big deal. You could eat a couple of failed activations and still complete the event with time to spare. In the more recent heroic (ie hard mode) version, you're pretty much screwed. The new version is brutal, in part because of the way Destiny 2 handles its public zones. A maximum of nine players can be in a public instance at one time, but you can only travel to them in pre-made teams of three. But three players is not enough to complete a heroic Seraph Tower, because part way through the event you have to deal with multiple activations at once.
Why incentivize players to play the activity at the end of the season instead of towards the beginning when it’s fresh? Makes no sense to meMay 12, 2020
I have just a couple of successful completions of the more difficult version under my belt, and each required at least five people actively participating. Even getting that meant spending nearly half an hour of trying. Once I finally loaded into an undermanned active event, I had to pray more people would show up, and wouldn't then instantly leave before the event inevitably failed and we got a chance to try again. It's miserable. Even with a decently populated instance, you can still fail. There's a level of coordination and precision involved that doesn't always come together when you're playing in matchmade spaces.
To be clear, I'm not arguing that challenging events shouldn't be held in public zones, just that Destiny 2 is currently unsuited for the job. Much of my time playing Guild Wars 2 is spent doing public meta events—large, sometimes complex chains that can span an entire map. But Guild Wars 2 lets players group up in squads of 50, and lets players tag up as commanders to help organise randoms that are along for the ride. It's built to handle this stuff. Destiny 2 isn't.
Both of my heroic Seraph Tower completions so far were on the EDZ, which is arguably one of the easier ones to get a team for. The Tower is located in a location with an existing fast travel point, and that, crucially, doesn't contain anything else of note. While it's also likely that EDZ currently has the most completions because it's the 'active' bunker for this week, I still suspect the other maps will have a much harder time.
The pain of actually completing the event is only part of the problem. On a wider level, the rewards for this season have been lame, and—true to form—the loot you receive for completing a Seraph Tower is not worth the time and effort it takes. You get some tokens that players were already encouraged to grind for earlier in the season, a handful of blue loot to be insta-sharded, and, occasionally, a seasonal gun that you probably don't want. I didn't feel well rewarded for doing even one, let alone the nine million the community is now expected to achieve.
The Fractaline donation event of last season may have been simplistic, but at least it was tied to a set of interesting (if not best-in-class) new weapons, along with a handful of returning favourites. I gladly donated to that, not because I cared about unlocking Trials, but because I wanted a good Bygones role. (My bad life choices are not on trial here, OK?) Plus, Fractaline was a consumable earned from various sources, and generously awarded on each weekly reset during the event's run. If there's a common misstep that's been made throughout the year, it's restricting what activities reward players' time. Now we're down to just one event. If you don't like it, tough.
As I write this, The Lie quest has been active for a day. According to DIM (which, per the API, is showing specific numbers for the quest, rather than the in-game percentages), just over 191,000 completions have been achieved across all three towers. Extrapolating out, it would take nearly 47 days to complete the goal. There are only 27 days left this season. These are rough numbers of course—maybe the community will rally behind the event and push for completion; maybe they'll be dispirited and effectively give up; maybe the spikes in difficulty between the varying locations mean that my napkin maths is meaningless. Nevertheless, there's a good chance that it won't happen.
To an extent, that's an interesting proposition. What if the community fails? Perhaps Bungie has a plan in place; one tied to the ongoing story that threatens the destruction of the tower. But even that is muddied by the event's many problems. If the quest step doesn't complete in time, it won't be because the community failed. It will simply be that the community rejected a bad quest. For once I'm in agreement with the many Reddit threads on the topic: I'm not going to bother trying, because even the idea of actively taking part in this is exhausting.
It also seems inconceivable that the quest reward won't be given. The Lie is a reference to Felwinter's Lie, a shotgun that first appeared as an Iron Banner reward in Destiny 1. The Destiny 2 version has been made—it's been datamined. It has an ornament scheduled to be sold through the Eververse store. The lore you earn for getting kills with the gun has already been written. As have future quest steps, containing references to story beats that are likely tied to future seasons.
What seems more likely? That the community never earns the gun that's already been made, or that Bungie will capitulate and lower the demand. If the latter happens, arguably it'll be the perfect encapsulation of both the season and the year so far.