A new Destiny 2 Faction Rally got underway yesterday, and once again an unfathomable decision by Bungie has alienated and angered players. The problem this time is a throttle on faction tokens, the little markers of success that are earned by completing various in-game activities. Tokens are converted to engrams that decrypt into arms, armor, and cosmetics, and also determine the ultimate winner of the rally—whoever collects the most is the best—and Bungie has decided to put a very tight limit on the rate at which they can be earned.
I encountered this issue myself last night: Lost Sector and Public Event chests simply stopped dropping tokens. Naively, I assumed that it was likely the result of servers struggling to keep up with the spike in demand caused by the start of a new rally. But a quick trip to the Bungie website this morning revealed that it's actually intended to be working like that.
"We're aware of player reports about Lost Sectors not granting rewards. There was a throttle added to address an issue in the previous Faction Rallies where players were earning 500 Tokens per hour," an update to the Faction Rally maintenance notification explains.
"Right now if a player opens more than 2 Chests in a 10 minute period they will not receive additional rewards from Lost Sector chests for 10 minutes. This does not prevent players from completing milestones related to Lost Sector chests."
The reaction on Reddit is not what you'd call enthusiastically in favor of the decision. And understandably so: Destiny 2 is a straight-up shoot-and-loot game, and Faction Rallies are designed specifically to leverage that kind of gameplay. A core element of rallies is raiding Lost Sectors to blow up supplies, but they generally only take a couple of minutes to run through for even mid-level players. They're made for quick grinding, in a game that's all about grinding—but now there's no point to it.
Making the matter even more infuriating is that the throttle may be the result of an issue with the previous Faction Rally. A glitch in a Lost Sector in the EDZ enabled players to farm it at a much faster rate than intended, by exiting and then returning through an unprotected passage, which is why players could earn "500 Tokens per hour". If that glitch is the culprit—which we don't know for sure—it's unclear why Bungie would throttle tokens rather than simply putting in a door. As one clever redditor described the situation, "We couldn't fix the door so we demolished the house."
Some players have also claimed that Public Events weren't properly dropping faction tokens either, although Bungie community manager Cozmo23 said in this Reddit thread that the throttle is not being applied to PEs. The number of complaints suggests that something isn't working as it should, but if so then it's apparently a bug.
On top of all that, players are also reporting that a number of Faction Rally weapons aren't dropping, possibly because of a hotfix that went out yesterday that makes Season Two Faction Rally and Iron Banner rewards available to players who don't own the Curse of Osiris expansion. The working theory is that instead of making Osiris faction weapons available to everyone, Bungie has elected to remove them entirely. Again, it could be a bug, or it may be that players are seeing something that's simply not there—but it says something about the state of things that we don't have a reasonable guess as to which it is.
[Bungie has since clarified that Faction Rally weapons are not dropping from engrams, which is also intentional. Details in an update below.]
That speaks to the real problem in all of this, which as we've noted previously is Bungie's astonishing inability to avoid self-inflicted injury. It botched The Dawning and it bungled Xur, and that's just in the month since it admitted mistakes in the Curse of Osiris launch, which itself followed a November apologia about the XP throttle debacle. I could probably go on, but you get the idea: This has been a rough ride, and for all that Bungie keeps promising to do better—most recently, just prior to the kickoff of this Faction Rally—it appears to be almost willfully tromping on every rake it sees.
The one bright spot about this particular stumble is that we're only into the second day of the Faction Rally, which means that there's still time to fix it and let people actually play the game the way they want to. Whether Bungie is inclined to do so is another matter entirely. I've emailed a rep to ask if any such plans are underway, and will update if I receive a reply.
In the future, though, the communication from Bungie has to get better before decisions like this are made. If there really is a good reason to throttle tokens, I'd be happy to hear what it is, but as of now it just looks like a shoddy patch that fixes a glitch by making the game worse. And if it is that, it's another baffling, frustrating decision in an increasingly long line of them. At this rate Bungie should consider hiring a dedicated apology writer.
Update: Somebody apparently went to the store and bought more rakes, because Bungie has somehow managed to find another one to step on. The Curse of Osiris expansion added five new weapons for each faction, the studio confirmed in a forum post, but they will be distributed over the course of the season—not the rally, but the season—and will not drop from Faction Engrams at all in this rally.
"In the first Faction Rally of Season 2 (this week), there is a new Auto Rifle available as the Winner’s Offering. No new Faction Weapons are available through Faction Engrams. In the second Faction Rally of the season, the Winner’s Offering is updated to a new weapon. Additionally, the previous Winner’s offering (Auto Rifles) and an additional weapon are added to Faction Engram rewards," Bungie support rep dmg04 explained.
"The final Faction Rally of the season will follow this functionality: The Winners Offering will be updated to a final weapon that has yet to be featured. The previous Winner’s Offering will be added to the Faction Engram rewards, alongside an additional weapon. This brings the total to four weapons within the Faction Engram, and a final Winner’s Offering for factions to compete for over the course of the event."
What could have prompted Bungie to embrace such a stingy and convoluted strategy instead of just handing over the guns is anybody's guess. Are weapons in such short supply that they have to be rationed? Is it really that difficult to make more? Don't Faction Rallies exist specifically as a conduit through which to give players more and better firepower? Short of EA having slipped some of its people into the Destiny design team to help softening things up for Anthem (which I'm almost ready to start considering as a serious theory), I have no idea why the studio would take this course. But it's clearly another unforced error—and another reason for Bungie to think about that dedicated apologist.