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COMMENT | Destiny's Loot Cave is fixed, but a deeper shame remains

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
Destiny

Destiny's Treasure Cave may be gone, but should not be forgotten.

If it could talk, I think it would sound a lot like Halo 2's Gravemind. "I am a monument to all your sins," it would growl, accusingly and cryptically, before spitting out some more identical mobs to players to grind at. Though now fixed, the very fact that players willingly spent hours shooting at a hole is deeply embarrassing, and more to the point, throws the spotlight on a greater shame and a more fundamental problem that Bungie absolutely has to face up to.

COMMENT | Destiny's Loot Cave is fixed, but a deeper shame remains

I'm not talking about the loot system, flawed and cynical as it is. Yes, the randomisation of Engrams feels deeply unsatisfying. Yes, the Light system is idiotic. Yes, the game revolves around a roulette wheel, even though the raw shooting mechanics are very fine indeed.

But that's all a symptom of a more shameful issue. Consider the basic fact again: players were willingly spending hours shooting at a hole in the ground.

That, in and of itself, is the biggest embarrassment of all. Destiny didn't offer anything else that felt fun, exciting or satisfying enough (both in terms of engaging gameplay, satisfaction and perceived reward) to tempt these players away from a hole in the ground. They weren't getting involved in public events or strikes, because hanging out next to a hole in the ground felt more rewarding.

A hole in the ground. A hole! In the ground!

COMMENT | Destiny's Loot Cave is fixed, but a deeper shame remains

See, when you drill right down to it, Destiny is incredibly light on meaningful content. Progression and loot is not content, no matter what anyone tells you. It provides new ways to enjoy and gate content, typically levels/maps (which are recycled and empty, if gorgeous), enemies (which sorely lack variation and don't feel as if they've been intelligently been placed in the maps), encounters (which are predictable, stodgy and unmemorable beyond the strikes) and story (which is banal when it can actually be bothered to show up) amongst other things.

But Destiny cut content that was present in all their previous games since Marathon, things like interesting set pieces, a engaging universe that's worth being in and worth saving, well-designed levels that you want to replay again and again in different ways, and replaced them with a cynically addictive slot machine that consumes your precious time instead of cold hard currency. Instead of playing because we're invested in the universe or replaying awesome levels, many (not all, but many) of us keep plugging away because maybe I'll just get another piece of armour with a higher Light stat and maybe the next purple engram will be an exotic and maybe I'll get enough Marks for some legendary gear... in a shooter.

COMMENT | Destiny's Loot Cave is fixed, but a deeper shame remains

You can argue that all MMORPGs and RPGs of all kinds have a subset of players who value efficiency over all else, and always take the shortest route to the best gear. You'd be right. But it was Bungie's decision to throw all these systems in in the first place, yet instead of supporting a well-crafted universe with varied and exciting encounters, great characters and well-paced levels, progression and loot overshadowed them, because they were nowhere near strong enough in the first place. And these Vegas-style addictive timesinks add little to the Destiny experience, since it doesn't match the scale and ambition of the even the most basic MMOs out there.

Carl can wax lyrical about World Of Warcraft's story. Guild Wars 2 keeps me dipping in because I love its public events (seriously Bungie, play it and learn) and don't get me started on The Secret World. Or Borderlands 2, with its great bosses, expertly designed levels, memorable brilliant villain and loot that gives us insane new guns with crazy new abilities. Planetside 2, which feels like a genuine war and lets us unlock more situational kit to fight the good fight. All with similar loot and progression mechanics, but better and with benefits.

COMMENT | Destiny's Loot Cave is fixed, but a deeper shame remains

Okay. Should we strike back at the black heart of the Vex? Nah, let's shoot a hole in the ground.

But why not just look back at Bungie's own back catalogue. Consider Pathways Into Darkness, which kept me glued to my godfather's Mac because its ruthlessly tough exploration and storytelling was enough. Or the Marathon Trilogy, that delivered an amazing plot, created a superb universe and a mystery so profound that we're still untangling it to this day, alongside outstanding crafted levels despite its ancient presentation. Seriously, go play them for free thanks to Aleph One. And what about about Halo: Combat Evolved, which we've played time and time and time again because its big organic set pieces and legendary vehicle sections are worth experiencing countless times, no progression necessary. Destiny's loot and grind should have been the icing on the cake. Sadly, it is the cake.

The sad fact of the matter is that the loot cave should never have to be fixed. Everything else should be more fun and feel more rewarding.

At least Bungie seems to know that. We have more bounties incoming and a pledge to tweak several facets of the experience - and with luck this early shame will inspire them to push forwards for greater things over the coming months.

Add a comment12 comments
Rbourne  Sep. 26, 2014 at 13:29

Surprised you didn't mention the $500 Million budget for the game, and how this news cannot be good for people considering buying it & the new console. I've always been borderline about games that have mega-hype before launch, boasting money, skills and such. At the end of the day you are right, if people are shooting a hole in the ground over exploring the game then there's a fundamental flaw, and that puts me off buying it.

For the money they had, they didn't have one person ask "what if we gave people a way to grind the loot vs doing missions and exploring?" and see what happened during beta? Makes me wonder what other fundamental flaws exist that are yet to be discovered...

Out of interest (I don't own the game), is loot drops/mission rewards/events the only way to get loot? Is there a risk that they'll introduce a indirect way to increase loot drops? (IE gold membership or something?)

Rousemc  Sep. 26, 2014 at 19:43

You make some awesome great points. I sort of feel ashamed for using that treasure cave exploit, but it was so much easier leveling up my guns and it was exciting to have the potential to get some awesome drops. So far I've been annoyed at the lack of cool stuff available for playing higher level strike missions or repeating missions at a higher difficulty level and I have no desire to play crucible since PVP is not my thing yet it seems that I'll be forced into it eventually. Still love Destiny, but am very disappointed in the game once you hit level 20. It takes way to much time to get reputation with Vanguard to get cool gear. Thought the Queen's Emissary stuff would be cool, but it is just another pull for players to run after bounties and redo regular missions or strike missions and you are forced to play levels over on Very Hard difficulty to get special loot drops. Like Vanguard reputation, it takes too much time. Finally, limiting the amount of Marks people can earn in a week is frustrating. It would be refreshing if they opened up the game a tad more.....

Twitch84327  Sep. 26, 2014 at 22:22

Surprised you didn't mention the $500 Million budget for the game, and how this news cannot be good for people considering buying it & the new console. I've always been borderline about games that have mega-hype before launch, boasting money, skills and such. At the end of the day you are right, if people are shooting a hole in the ground over exploring the game then there's a fundamental flaw, and that puts me off buying it.

For the money they had, they didn't have one person ask "what if we gave people a way to grind the loot vs doing missions and exploring?" and see what happened during beta? Makes me wonder what other fundamental flaws exist that are yet to be discovered...

Out of interest (I don't own the game), is loot drops/mission rewards/events the only way to get loot? Is there a risk that they'll introduce a indirect way to increase loot drops? (IE gold membership or something?)


Both Activision and Bungie have both denied spending $500 million. They said that number is outrageous. I am sure they spent a buttload of cash on the game, but half a billion does sound insane.

Loot in the game is completely random. You can get loot from missions, grinding enemies, and playing in multiplayer. They have quite a few different ways to find loot, the issue is I don't think Bungie expected people to play over 50 hours each in two weeks of the game. People need to understand that most games aren't meant to be finished in a single sit down. I do understand the campaign is crazily short and unexplained but I feel like the game is just beginning and through future events and content that Destiny has a lot more to come.
It does say something when people enjoy the game enough to sit and farm for hours at a time. I really enjoy the game. PvP is fun and fast and even repeating missions is enjoyable. I just hope they keep delivering.

James180612  Sep. 26, 2014 at 23:31

Even with all this games flaws, it's still pretty fun, i'd say its definitely a game for those who come home from work to unwind, group up with randoms(generally get some good groups together when you randomly invite asking to do strikes, bounties etc.) or friends, shoot some alien/machines/space turtles with the epic music and your personalized badass, perfecting your gear and trying to reach that next level.

I do wish there was more areas to explore with the worlds being more filled with things to do to make it feel more like a chaotic world and i hope theres more that will be added to the game as this is the type of game to grow as it is out there(not through dlc). I think the loot system is fine if you dont depend on it, grinding to get the currency and reputation is easier and less time consuming than depending on loot.

soulleech  Sep. 28, 2014 at 03:05

I've played an awful lot of this game lately, and I can honestly say that I haven't once used this "loot cave". Sure, I've seen a bunch of people shooting into it, and have done the obligatory stand-in-the-entrance-and-dance to wind them up but I've never felt the need to use the cave. I'm still really enjoying the Strike missions with friends and hitting the bounties.

I also feel that you haven't hit on a key factor here; MMO players grind. Take Guild Wars 2 for example; it had countless different ways to make money and keep mixing thing up and yet, were you to walk into the final map of the game, you'd see a hoard of 50 odd players all sat at the same spot, spamming attacks on the same space of ground where mobs would appear. Grinding comes hand in hand with all MMORPG games so I'm not sure it's fair to flaw Destiny for the fact it's also present there.

Anarchist  Sep. 28, 2014 at 15:11

The roulette wheel of progression has completely put me off this game, I will never play it again.

Both me and a friend have played the exact same content, done the exact same bounties, missions, strikes etc, yet he's currently half way up level 28 with five exotic weapons/armour pieces. I'm 26 and have none (well, one but its for a different class). Five purple engrams yesterday turned into blues. The exotic I bought turned out for a different class. Other than blind luck, I have no way to progress.

Because of this, I'm now stuck behind and have lost all interest in the game.

I never rated Bungie as designers or developers. I'm kind of sad they've proven me right.

James180612  Sep. 28, 2014 at 16:10

The roulette wheel of progression has completely put me off this game, I will never play it again.

Both me and a friend have played the exact same content, done the exact same bounties, missions, strikes etc, yet he's currently half way up level 28 with five exotic weapons/armour pieces. I'm 26 and have none (well, one but its for a different class). Five purple engrams yesterday turned into blues. The exotic I bought turned out for a different class. Other than blind luck, I have no way to progress.

Because of this, I'm now stuck behind and have lost all interest in the game.

I never rated Bungie as designers or developers. I'm kind of sad they've proven me right.


you cant have more than one exotic armor piece equipped or weapon for that matter. you can always just go buy your legendary armor instead of wait around and if you bought something without reading what class it is that is kinda shame on you dont you think?

Anarchist  Sep. 28, 2014 at 17:12

The roulette wheel of progression has completely put me off this game, I will never play it again.

Both me and a friend have played the exact same content, done the exact same bounties, missions, strikes etc, yet he's currently half way up level 28 with five exotic weapons/armour pieces. I'm 26 and have none (well, one but its for a different class). Five purple engrams yesterday turned into blues. The exotic I bought turned out for a different class. Other than blind luck, I have no way to progress.

Because of this, I'm now stuck behind and have lost all interest in the game.

I never rated Bungie as designers or developers. I'm kind of sad they've proven me right.


you cant have more than one exotic armor piece equipped or weapon for that matter. you can always just go buy your legendary armor instead of wait around and if you bought something without reading what class it is that is kinda shame on you dont you think?



Are you completely and utterly retarded?

1) no, you cant have more than one exotic armor piece or weapon equipped. But you CAN swap them around to suit the situation. Different elemental weapons are suitable for different situations (such as solar weapons on solar burn modified strikes), as are different range weapons for different areas. If you don't understand that, then you're either massively retarded or know nothing about gaming in general and shouldn't be commenting here.

2) Legendary gear isn't as good as exotic - and its still far more of a grind to get legendary gear if you have to buy it as opposed to get lucky and find it. And 'wait around'? you're just 100% arguing for my case, that this game is a big roulette wheel. The fact vanguard marks are artificially limited means buying this gear is also slow.

3) "if you bought something without reading what class it is that is kinda shame on you dont you think?" - Do you not understand that the weekend vendor sells exotic engrams, that when decrypted can turn into an exotic for any of the classes completely randomly...? Another big roulette wheel.

Turns out, I was right in the first place. You ARE a retard. Stop trying to act the big man when you clearly understand nothing about this game.

Last edited by Anarchist, Sep. 28, 2014 at 17:17
James180612  Sep. 28, 2014 at 18:39

The roulette wheel of progression has completely put me off this game, I will never play it again.

Both me and a friend have played the exact same content, done the exact same bounties, missions, strikes etc, yet he's currently half way up level 28 with five exotic weapons/armour pieces. I'm 26 and have none (well, one but its for a different class). Five purple engrams yesterday turned into blues. The exotic I bought turned out for a different class. Other than blind luck, I have no way to progress.

Because of this, I'm now stuck behind and have lost all interest in the game.

I never rated Bungie as designers or developers. I'm kind of sad they've proven me right.


you cant have more than one exotic armor piece equipped or weapon for that matter. you can always just go buy your legendary armor instead of wait around and if you bought something without reading what class it is that is kinda shame on you dont you think?



Are you completely and utterly retarded?

1) no, you cant have more than one exotic armor piece or weapon equipped. But you CAN swap them around to suit the situation. Different elemental weapons are suitable for different situations (such as solar weapons on solar burn modified strikes), as are different range weapons for different areas. If you don't understand that, then you're either massively retarded or know nothing about gaming in general and shouldn't be commenting here.

2) Legendary gear isn't as good as exotic - and its still far more of a grind to get legendary gear if you have to buy it as opposed to get lucky and find it. And 'wait around'? you're just 100% arguing for my case, that this game is a big roulette wheel. The fact vanguard marks are artificially limited means buying this gear is also slow.

3) "if you bought something without reading what class it is that is kinda shame on you dont you think?" - Do you not understand that the weekend vendor sells exotic engrams, that when decrypted can turn into an exotic for any of the classes completely randomly...? Another big roulette wheel.

Turns out, I was right in the first place. You ARE a retard. Stop trying to act the big man when you clearly understand nothing about this game.


im not the one complaining about a roulette system nor was i saying it wasnt one either. no one is acting the big man here, your just making yourself out to be overemotional when all i did was offer solutions to your loot problem.

Jerec  Sep. 28, 2014 at 20:00

"That, in and of itself, is the biggest embarrassment of all. Destiny didn't offer anything else that felt fun, exciting or satisfying enough (both in terms of engaging gameplay, satisfaction and perceived reward) to tempt these players away from a hole in the ground. They weren't getting involved in public events or strikes, because hanging out next to a hole in the ground felt more rewarding."

I don't agree with this statement.

It does offer all that, and the people do play the events, its just the lure of the Purple glow that drew the people to the cave. And it didn't feel rewarding at all, it was just something to do in the game to take a break from the other grind, plus the little events that happened whilst you were there mixed it up a bit.

James180612  Sep. 28, 2014 at 22:42

"That, in and of itself, is the biggest embarrassment of all. Destiny didn't offer anything else that felt fun, exciting or satisfying enough (both in terms of engaging gameplay, satisfaction and perceived reward) to tempt these players away from a hole in the ground. They weren't getting involved in public events or strikes, because hanging out next to a hole in the ground felt more rewarding."

I don't agree with this statement.

It does offer all that, and the people do play the events, its just the lure of the Purple glow that drew the people to the cave. And it didn't feel rewarding at all, it was just something to do in the game to take a break from the other grind, plus the little events that happened whilst you were there mixed it up a bit.


I have to admit shooting in the cave did feel a bit like stress relief in a good way. But i never went to it that often, i think i've been 3 times and i'm still doing the other activities or helping friends with bounties and strikes so i agree with you on your disagreement.

Jerec  Sep. 29, 2014 at 13:25

I went there last night to see what the changes were like and I got this:

Destiny Warzone

Never seen a war with so many high level Majors, I think they've bumped it up to help fight the Cave Looters, because its still a good place to hunt, you just have to be more mobile, put my vid back a minute and you'll see.

Last edited by Jerec, Sep. 29, 2014 at 13:26

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