The Ultra Knight
Last night while making yet another trip to the Dreadnaught just to kill the Ultra Knight, I started thinking about what a glorious debacle the situation of exotic drop rates are in Destiny. Don’t get me wrong, I love this game… and they have made so many great strides over the last year into truly making it an amazing place to be. The problem is… they are seemingly inches away from landing on the target but nonetheless not quite there. The problem currently centers around making doing content feel rewarding. I completely blame the recent Iron Banner for giving me more hope than I probably should have had. During that weekend I had a single activity that I wanted to be doing, as often as I could… and that was queuing for more Iron Banner. During the weekend I managed to make it to Rank 5 on all three of my characters, and the primary motivation was the acquisition of loot. Sitting in queue and playing a match felt like quite literally the best use of my time because I knew that every four or five matches I would be rewarded with some shiny bauble that either would replace my current item in that slot or serve as infusion fodder.
Once that weekend ended however it feels like I simply don’t have an activity like that that is equally rewarding. There is of course Challenge of Elders, but the Challenge requires you to gather together a fireteam to really have a chance at completing it. We have absolutely made a date on Thursday nights to try and get our various characters through CoE but the problem is… what do I do with the rest of my time in game. I am largely a soloist, and it feels like I don’t have a similarly valuable activity that feels like I am spending my time wisely. So as a result that activity ends up being heading to the Dreadnaught every 10-15 minutes to kill the Ultra Knight, so that I can consume yet another Three of Coins buff… and every fifth kill or so get an Exotic Engram, which may or may not decode to 335 light and help me push the goal forward. In fact there are so many times that I will be playing another game like Diablo or last night World of Warcraft… where I take a break every 15 minutes or so and log into my PS4 via the Remote Play app with the sole purpose of rushing to the Ultra Knight and attempting to get that exotic engram.
Lies of Xur
The problem is that this isn’t really an enjoyable feedback loop and feels like a hacked workaround to solve core problems in the actual gameplay. In theory that default thing I could be doing with my time should be either the Crucible or Vanguard play lists. Those are activities that need players doing them to keep the game thriving. However instead of getting interesting things while doing these activities, it feels like they solely serve the purpose of being a vehicle for me to spend Three of Coins buffs. Then there is the problem of strikes like Dust Palace and Omnigul not actually removing the buff and triggering the potential of an exotic drop. Then there is also the problem of Xur, where he is supposed to be this trader that sometimes brings us amazing things. However for most of us, Friday is simply the occasional that finally allows us to restock our Three of Coins and nothing he has to offer is actually interesting. This is because it feels like if you are doing any activity in this game, and you don’t have the Three of Coins buff active, you are playing the game completely wrong.
There is a lot of talk about Bungie summoning the Diablo developers to talk about the lessons they learned with the “Loot 2.0” patch. One of the key lessons seems to have been lost in translation. Diablo currently has a Three of Coins like effect when it comes to Legendary drops, but the difference is… it is always active. In theory if you are actively playing the game you should be seeing a Legendary drop at least every 10-15 minutes with the chance going up significantly based on the difficulty of the activity you are tackling. This means that doing literally anything from killing a level 1 mob to killing a boss has a chance of summoning a Legendary drop. This is how things should ultimately work inside of Destiny, because going out into the world and doing activities should feel like the most rewarding activity. You remember every time you get a drop from a boss, but no one remembers that one time the Cryptarch happened to give them something interesting. It feels like Destiny needs to reconsider the way loot works in the game, and make it so that Strikes, Crucible, Nightfall, Prison of Elders, and Raids are the default thing that players want to go and do, rather than simply finding any vehicle for flipping that Ultra kill switch. I also think there should be that random snowballs chance in hell of quite literally ANY mob out in the world dropping a super rare Exotic Engram, or even one of the good Legendaries at a decent light level. Bungie needs to drive players into the feedback loop of doing group activities, because the activities are fun but also the best possible way for them to get rewards.