Update: Destiny 2 director Luke Smith has addressed the single-use shaders controversy on Twitter, though he doesn't indicate whether it'll change or not. "Shaders are earned through gameplay: levelling, chests, engrams, vendors," he wrote. "We expect you’ll be flush w/ Shaders as you continue to play.
"When you reach level 20, Shaders will drop more often: vendor rewards, destination play and endgame activities. Shaders are now an ongoing reward for playing. Customization will inspire gameplay. Each planet has unique armor and Shader rewards.
"With D2, we want statements like 'I want to run the Raid, Trials, or go back to Titan to get more of its Shader' to be possible."
Destiny 2, while so far incrementally improving on the original in almost every way, dropped the ball with its fashion community shortly after its recent console launch. Formerly permanent inventory items you could swap in and out at will to change your guardian's color palette, Destiny 2's shaders disappear after a single use.
It's upset an otherwise enthusiastic community, expressed most visibly on the popular Destiny subreddit. Reddit user WeilageM supports their frustration in a detailed post, with one point in particular standing out: "You're going to be collecting armor and weapons in this game, and you're going to need a shader for each and every piece."
Shaders are applied to individual pieces of armor and weaponry this time around, which is a welcome change, but because players swap between so much gear so often, guardians are going to be a motley mess unless there's an abundance of shader drops. I've only been playing for a few hours, but I've run across dozens of new pieces of gear, but no shaders whatsoever. Tim has been playing the final game for a while now, and while he says that he's not experiencing a shader drought, he frets over using any that he likes for fear of changing his mind or finding a better piece of gear he'd rather apply it to.
Reddit user Skywalker_DSP points to the Eververse, Destiny's in-game loot box shop, as being responsible for the change. "The only possible reason to make them single use is to sell them via Eververse, a step too far in my opinion. Sucks having something we had being taken away!"
While it's common practice for multiplayer games to charge for cosmetic flourishes, none to my knowledge make them one-time-use items. There's reward in assembling a wardrobe of colors and textures. In the original Destiny, I'd swap shaders several times a session, sometimes to express myself, sometimes as a tactical PvP consideration. A bright pink Hunter is a walking target in the Crucible.
It's possible to find shaders in random drops too, but due to their consumable nature and the lack of a dedicated shader vendor, some players will inevitably turn toward the Eververse where it's possible to gamble on a one-time-use item that ties their outfit together.
In the same thread, Reddit user Zentillion expresses fear that Destiny's more difficult-to-obtain items will suffer under the same conditions. "I'm just worried about raid shaders."
Me too! Destiny 1's raids offered up unique shaders that communicated your accomplishments without a word. For some clans, they became something like football uniforms—what you suit up in the day of the big game. If the most hard-earned shaders are consumable too, then the message to players seems to be that their accomplishments are equally as fleeting.
There's no kind reason I can cook up as to why the change was made, other than to force players to consider their fashion choices more carefully, and maybe as a result, to feel more attached to their guardian's style. But all the big neon signs in my mind point to money. No doubt, Bungie has every right to monetize Destiny 2 however they choose. The issue here is that one of the most expressive aspects of character creation is now severely bottlenecked by players' time, and possibly, their wallets.