I have a disappointing relationship with the Destiny series. I was excited for the first game; so much so that I bought the collector’s edition. Loved the alpha. Liked the beta. Enjoyed the launch game right up until I completed the story. From there it was a matter of time before the grind wore me out and I quit. I jumped back on after the release of Rise of Iron. It was fun, but I knew the moment I completed the story I’d quit again. Thankfully that was short lived, as Destiny 2 was right around the corner, and I was yet again excited. Everything I saw seemed like an improvement. I even ended up enjoying launch era Crucible for Destiny 2. However, I yet again reached the point where the burnout was too strong. I was mostly out before the release of Curse of Osiris, and unfortunately I was hard out after getting two missions in on that campaign. I thought my time with these style of pseudo-MMO games was coming to an end. Nothing really stood out to me.
Enter Monster Hunter World. I had heard about the Monster Hunter series over the years, and it always seemed to just miss me. But with the next game coming to PS4 I figured I’d look into it. I was impressed with what I saw so I took a chance and bought the game. Nothing could’ve prepared me for how much I would end up loving this game. Even nearly a year later, having not played it in at least 6 months, I’m totally satisfied with my time in that game. I put in nearly 153 hours and it never stopped being enjoyable. Eventually more and more great games started coming out and my time with Monster Hunter ended. Though even as I moved on I couldn’t help but think about the game, but more specifically how the game was different from Destiny.
I never thought too hard about it until last week when Bungie and Activision announced the end of their partnership. Ever since the conflicting views of the Forsaken DLC between the two companies emerged games media have been wondering what can be done to improve the series going forward. To frame it another way: how can Bungie keep their current player base while enticing lapsed players to come back? As a lapsed player I can’t really speak to what the current base wants, but I can certainly breakdown what I didn’t like and what changes I think would work.
I want to make a few things clear. I’m not a game designer. This is undoubtedly a set of imperfect ideas for Destiny 3. Also, I’m obviously going to bring up Monster Hunter World. I understand they’re not 1:1. I want to emphasize again that I’m a lapsed Destiny player. These ideas may not be what current players want, though I do hope to convince you.
To start I want to talk about the things I don’t want to fundamentally change. Much to my surprise the changes Bungie has made between Osiris and Forsaken DLC have fixed a lot of my issues with the base game of Destiny 2. So I won’t be addressing anything in the menus. No changes to clan, collections, triumphs, etc. I think the director menu is fine as it is too. As I said before I actually liked launch era Crucible in Destiny 2, but I’m not going to touch that either. PvP is ever-changing and fluid and Bungie knows how to do that better than anyone. The same can be said for the actual controls, which have always been great.
There are two main problems I have with Destiny as a whole. First, the storytelling. I like the story itself, especially when lore is involved. My issue is with the delivery of it. The base game usually has a few locations, and you’ll bounce around those locations repeatedly before finishing the story. It’s a little jarring touching down on a planet and there’s always a person or two running around grinding for stuff while you’re on a mission to save the universe. The second issue is with the locations themselves. They get old almost immediately. The public events are the same public events that launch and end just about the same way every time. It’s dull and it leads to players choosing to stay about about a 50/50 rate (same as it was in the first game).
What I’m suggesting is a completely new way to experience the locations and story of Destiny. It’s still PvE, but with more of a laser focus on the player experience. I would adopt a Monster Hunter World-like approach. No public events. No wandering guardians. You or your fireteam select the next mission while you’re at the hub and get loaded into a mission specific location once everyone has selected “Ready”. What this does is create a situation where the worlds in this game feel less static. Any story event that seems like it should change the landscape in some way does just that. The actions of the characters in the story have consequences. This also allows Bungie to control and change specific variables on a map to give you compelling side quests as well.
While more unique story and side quests are nice, what shines most in a game like Monster Hunter World is that there’s an element of randomness with NPCs. Enemies may cross paths and attack each other until one is dead. In Destiny terms think of it like the Captain vs. Knight fight during the ‘Chances and Choices’ mission in Destiny 2, but in this case it wouldn’t be scripted to happen every time you load onto a map. Say you have a quest to go hunt down a cloaked Fallen Captain and he flees a lot, OR an Ultra Fallen is hunting you. You may be able to control the flow of combat and maneuver your enemy away from their base and towards areas that may or may not be patrolled by the Hive or Cabal. Not only would this give more life to the worlds you’re dropped into, but it would also present strategic opportunities.
That’s the focal point of what I’d want out of a Destiny 3, but I do also have some quality of life changes. First, no more getting different gear from different people. Banshee-44 should take the role of blacksmith; providing you with menus for all armor sets and weapons, as well as materials needed to craft them (it’s practically crafting now anyway). I’d also make it so you can preview the entire set on your guardian before crafting. The role of the rest of the characters should be to give you story and character development, as well as missions specific to them. And finally, I would make sure the social hubs actually change during critical points in the story. Everyone who completes the campaign is moved to a changed hub, and then I’d likely continue that trend with each major update/DLC release.
With these changes I think people like myself who fell out with Destiny would come back. The amount of grind is the same, but the quality and variety is dramatically different. Add a stronger emphasis on story (my favorite part of every Bungie game) and the perception of the series could very easily change. If you build it they will come back.