Big changes are incoming for Destiny, if Bungie’s latest Weekly Update is any indication. These include an end to the Skywatch “loot cave,” balance tweaks to numerous weapons, (unspecified) changes to the way the Cryptarch decodes Engrams — that’s Destinyspeak for unidentified gear — and more. We’ll go item by item.
The Cryptarch has been the target of much derision since Destiny‘s launch. Let’s paint a common picture for many late-game Destiny players. You finally score a purple Legendary Engram after hours of grinding. But when you return to the Tower and decode it — identify it — you get a piece of blue rarity gear. That’s not always how things were, according to Bungie, but “end-of-session engram decoding got a lot more exciting and the Cryptarch himself suddenly acquired a personality” when an element of randomness was introduced to the process.
That hasn’t been how players have responded since Destiny‘s release. Just look at examples like the hilarious Legendary Engram Twitter feed. Players are feeling frustration over having spent so much time to get these little, purple jackpot orbs, only to have them turn out to be a piece of underpowered gear. Bungie blames poor communication for not making this aspect of the game clearer, adding “expect to see changes to address this soon.” The particulars aren’t made clear.
The update also addresses the so-called “loot cave” (aka Murdercave), a location in the Skywatch portion of Earth’s open world where a small group of weak Hive enemies can be made to spawn, quickly and infinitely, when players stand and shoot at them from a specific spot. Because of the way Destiny‘s loot drops always scale to the player collecting them, the “loot cave” turned into a popular location for grinding.
Here’s Bungie’s comment on the loot cave, verbatim:
The social experience of a cave farming run is amazing: the herding to get a team of Guardians all behind the line and firing in the right direction, the rush to grab the loot, the scramble when the panic wave starts, the beckoning glow from inside the cave. The speed at which the community organized around this activity was inspiring and humbling to us.
But shooting at a black hole for hours on end isn’t our dream for how Destiny is played. Our hope is that social engagement in public spaces is only one part of the Destiny experience. Expect changes soon which decrease the efficiency of cave farming and correspondingly increase engram drops from completing activities.
The rest of the post goes on to address the fact that in-game rewards aren’t trumpeted as much as they could be, the shortcomings of the game’s current friends-only voice chat and near-term plans for “opt-in voice communication during matchmade activities,” and plans to better balance the way cooperative Strikes and certain weapons (Auto Rifle, Scout Rifle, Shotguns, and Exotics) work. Overall, the post amounts to a thorough rundown of the current state of Destiny post-launch, and it contains some encouraging promises for future changes.
Speaking personally, I’ve got to add … I’d like to see Bungie more directly address questions about Destiny‘s handling of loot within the big picture in a future weekly update. The situation with the loot cave is a perfect example. Players didn’t gather in that location because it was more fun than anything else. They did it because they felt something was lacking elsewhere in the game.
Destiny transforms once you hit level 20 from experience points-based character progression to loot-based progression. The better your armor, the higher your post-20 level is. Bunches of level 20-plus players gathered at the cave because it was the most reliable source of loot in a game that puts a significant premium on it in the late-stage.
Coming changes to the way Strikes work and promises of more robust rewards for various other activities definitely nod in the right direction. A lot of the description here is vague, however, and it’s at a time when new players are still flooding in. The players want answers, but here, they’ve just been told to wait and see, and that’s in the same moment that — thanks to a hotfix update for the loot cave — their favorite toy has been taken away.