It's a tale as old as time: Bungie releases a new system designed to be a long term commitment in Destiny 2, and players find a way to exploit the rules of the game to 'complete' it instantly. It's happened before, and now it's happened again.
This time cheesemongers are turning their attention to the new commendations system, introduced with last week's Lightfall expansion. Here's how it's supposed to work: you complete an activity with players, and, at the end screen, you give out little awards to people who did well. The collective sum of the rewards you receive are collected on a new commendations page, which comes with an attached score.
It's all very innocuous, except Bungie has made the decision to tie other forms of progression into commendations. Clan vendor Hawthorne is offering a pinnacle reward for handing out 20 commendations—a fairly benign way to persuade people to be generous with their praise. More relevantly, Bungie has also tied the new Guardian Rank system into commendations. Progressing through the ranks requires not just raising your commendations score but, at higher levels, you'll need to earn a certain number of a particular category of commendation.
For Bungie's part, Guardian Ranks are designed as an at-a-glance summary of a player's experience and investment. They're not really meant to be something you go out of your way to grind—just a signal to other players that, if you're at a relatively high rank, you probably know what you're doing. But Destiny players have never met a progression system they don't want to be the best at, and so the question became: What is the most efficient way to earn a lot of commendation score, fast?
The answer is Last Wish, the raid that launched back in 2018 with Destiny 2's Forsaken expansion. The trick here is that the end-of-activity commendation screen pops up whenever you 'finish' an activity. That means it also appears if you fail an activity that kicks you to orbit when your team wipes—such as Master difficulty Wellspring. Loading into Wellspring, wiping and handing out commendations to the other losers on your team is one method, but it's definitely not the fastest.
A unique feature of Last Wish is the wish wall—a grid that lets you enter a code to enable certain effects. The most common use is to teleport directly to certain bosses, but you can also use it to enable Petra's Run—a special challenge mode of the raid that will kick your fireteam to orbit if even one person dies. This, too, is letting players award commendations, and—because it's from a raid—each one provides a higher commendation score.
The slow bit is simply how long it takes you to shoot a code into a 5x4 grid, but even that is being bypassed thanks to community macros that already exist for the wish wall.
When I checked the Destiny 2 LFG Discord yesterday, the Last Wish LFG page was already flooding with requests for people to come and bring macros to help farm commendations—despite a helpful user patiently replying to every message saying a new commendations channel had been set up specifically for that purpose.
Ultimately there isn't anything to be gained here—Guardian Ranks don't provide any material reward. But it does shift the perception of relevant skill and knowledge of those at higher levels. Certainly if I see any players at levels 10 or 11 in the next few weeks, I'm going to assume they just spent hours throwing themselves off a cliff for clout.
Macros tend to fall in a grey area when it comes to live service games. In 2020, a post to the Bungie forum by the security team had this to say: "Automating trivial tasks (especially for accessibility reasons) is allowed. Players will only punished for automation when it circumvents challenges all players face during gameplay (auto-aim, trigger-bot, etc)". Presuming that still holds true, this doesn't break the letter of the law—even if it arguably stretches its spirit.
Last Wish remains a versatile raid for those looking to grind. Its second encounter, Shuro Chi, is also one of the best spots in the game to farm kills to earn crafted weapon levels. It's no wonder that, in the years since its release, no other raid has featured anything similar to the wish wall.
Despite there being plenty to criticise about its campaign, and a Steam review rating that's still mostly negative, the backlash to Lightfall seems to have softened over the last few days—as players start tackling the post-campaign missions, start the seasonal questline, and get to grips with the new Strand subclasses.