Throughout the decades-long history of video games, our expectations of the kinds of features that a “modern” game should possess have gradually evolved. For example, several years ago, it was considered borderline offensive to release a game without a singleplayer component. Of course, the critical and commercial success of games like Overwatch have demonstrated that you can release a game that doesn’t have singleplayer at all and people will still love it, showing that perhaps at the end of the day all people care about is whether or not a game is fun and whether or not the game works.
Now, if the above statement is assumed to be true, that otherwise staple and expected features of games are not as much of a necessity as we currently perceive, then is it not also true that maybe not all games that have competitive multiplayer need competitive multiplayer? Take Destiny as an example: it is a game that had millions of players in its audience at one point, with both a PvE and PvP segment. The PvE portion of the game was somewhat well received, but as time went on, a lot of complaints arose from Bungie’s handling of Destiny’s PvP. Guns were considered to be wildly and inconsistently imbalanced, certain classes had very annoying abilities, early map design encouraged camping, and the fact that literally everyone spawned in with shotguns and sniper rifles meant that primary weapons were hard-pressed to fulfill their intended role—among other issues. With a sequel on the way though, it may be a good idea to examine whether or not one of the largest sources of complaints of the games is more trouble than it’s worth.
Naturally, given that balancing is always an issue in multiplayer games, the removal of PvP would mean that Bungie would be free to create weapons and abilities that give a true sense of power. Destiny’s Vex Mythoclast was a particularly notable victim of this conundrum, until it got nerfed so that it didn’t instantly kill people in PvP. As a result, one of the most difficult to obtain and desirable weapons in the game performed sub-optimally in PvE, often becoming more of a trophy gun than anything else at the height of its impotence. Thorn was also a very unique and annoying weapon to obtain, but it proved to be excessively powerful relative to the other weapons in its class, so it too got nerfed. This meant that a gun that already had questionable performance in PvE became even more useless in the mode, while other guns slowly replaced it in PvP.
Similarly, Destiny’s Supers were, for quite a long time, only useful for clearing out waves of trash mobs in PvE, as they lacked the damage necessary to do any notable damage to higher ranking enemies. They were more or less fine in PvP, but the potential power of the abilities translated very poorly across game modes. It took quite a while for this to be rectified, but at that point Destiny’s audience had already been fractured by a whole host of other issues. Unshackling one of the more unique aspects of Destiny from the constraints and demands of PvP balancing could have then created a gameplay experience where you legitimately felt like the demigods that Guardians were propped up to be in the game’s Grimoire and such, living weapons that are capable of cutting down swathes of hostile aliens with their Traveler-given abilities rather than soldiers with guns who just happen to have powers.
Theoretically, it is also possible that letting you play as a Guardian without limits could lead to more interesting and varied enemies. At the very least, it would help mask the presence of bullet sponge enemies if you could use your abilities to atomize people more frequently, seeing as how people tend to dislike having to shoot something for 10 minutes with little to no noticeable effect. After all, is Destiny’s motto not “Become Legend”? Are Guardians not champions of the Light who, as Destiny 2’s beta shows, are capable of destroying dropships with little more than a thought?
Naturally, these things wouldn’t be issues to begin with if Bungie were more open to balancing and or designing PvP and PvE separately, but as of now, Destiny 2’s beta makes you feel more like Master Chief with weird grenades and even stranger armor abilities than this space wizard who can take on an entire legion at once and win. That your character is seemingly incapable of talking or expressing themselves other than through your Ghosts’ witty quips reinforces this feeling, which hardly helps you “Become Legend.” But, maybe, PvP’s existence, as controversial as some of its aspects are to some, ultimately improves the experience, giving you a chance to feel powerful by besting others who are supposed to be these champions of Light; those who were chosen by the Traveler. Either way, it is rather futile to ask “What if?” at this point, as Bungie has evidently fully committed itself to having PvP and supporting it after launch, and the Destiny that we see is likely the Destiny that we are going to get for years to come.
What did you think of Destiny‘s PvP? What do you think should be done for Destiny 2?