When my colleague and fellow Destiny 2 veteran Phil Savage wrote about burnout earlier this week, I almost nodded my head clean off. Phil pointed out that the Destiny 2 community tends to be at its most irascible during the final season of each year, when the sameyness of the grind really bites. But he also noted that this time around people really do seem to be over the current model, which tends to lack big secrets and surprises, and that the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.
Honestly, the mood music around Destiny 2 has become increasingly grumpy over the course of 2022 as the glow from The Witch Queen's excellent campaign faded. Aside from the staleness of doing a near-identical power climb every three months, the core playlists are also incredibly stale. PvP in particular seems to be a constant tyre fire of complaints about lack of maps, the perceived injustices of SBMM, and a detested 'aerial effectiveness' system that Bungie remains mind-bogglingly committed to making work.
As much as I still love the game, and let the record state I really do, it's clear from the recent rough player numbers that many are voting with their mouse fingers and staying away. Enter stage left, Joe Blackburn, Destiny 2 game director, who took to Twitter this afternoon to deliver a thread of five messages that can be summarised as: We've heard, we don't disagree, we're working on changes, but they're going to take a while before you feel them.
Here's the whole thing. Make sure you click 'read the whole conversation':
I just wanted to step in and say: Heard loud and clear on the feedback with our current seasonal backbones. The team is excited to put some more creative risk in seasonal progressions, but there will be some time before the feedback catches up with the dev cycle. Preview:December 7, 2022
Probably the most important thing to note is that the seasonal content that's being worked on right now, and can therefore incorporate current player sentiment, won't hit until early summer 2023. That delay is just the nature of making these sorts of games, and also probably why Blackburn didn't opt to write one of his voluminous 'state of the game' blog posts. Bungie knows what it needs to do, the issue is actually getting it done.
Blackburn closed in collegial fashion, saying: "I wanted to make sure everyone knows that your words are not falling on deaf ears." Whilst the phrase 'we're listening' has long since reached meme status among Bungie's detractors, I've interviewed Blackburn and he's always come across as incredibly smart and sincere, so my immediate reaction is that the burnout issue is being taken seriously. Live service games are supertankers and it's incredibly hard to change their direction mid-voyage.
Those looking for the best of what Destiny 2 has to offer right now should direct themselves to the new dungeon, which drops this Friday at reset. Designed for three-player teams, dungeons tend to be some of the coolest challenges in the game. The new one is called Spire of the Watcher and is rumoured to have something of a western theme. Yee, and also, haw.