When Destiny: The Taken King first released, we praised the game’s revamped loot system for rewarding player effort. By and large, what Bungie had done to the loot system was small, but giving players a gradual increase in light made the experience feel like a genuine progression, rather than a road map with a few distinct “stops.”
However, our praise for Destiny’s revamped loot system only stretched to the main game in The Taken King expansion; it did not factor in the endgame raid, King’s Fall. Which is unfortunate, because it’s in the endgame that Destiny’s new loot system falls apart.
For those who have yet to venture through King’s Fall, we should preface our discussion by saying that the raid is easily the best Destiny has on offer. Not only is the raid genuinely challenging, but also it requires ample fireteam coordination and communication – no soloing here.
But, after spending considerable time grinding through the King’s Fall raid on both Normal and Heroic, it’s become clear that the loot system needs a lot of work. Randomness has always played a part in Destiny’s loot system – some just get luckier than others – but in this raid, the flaws are more glaring.
The Problem With Destiny’s Raid Loot
That main problem with Destiny’s endgame loot is that it’s too compartmentalized. First, players need to hope that they get an actual drop from a boss. Then they need to hope that drop is the item they want. Then they need to hope that the drop has the right light level. And finally, they need to hope that the stat rolls (perks and Intellect/Discipline/Strength distribution) on the weapon or armor piece are good. That’s four RNG-dependent elements that need to align perfectly, or else the drop isn’t worth the effort.
And that’s the biggest problem with Destiny’s endgame loot: it’s rarely worth the effort. Getting a helmet or chest piece should be exciting, but when it drops at 310 light on Heroic, it’s hard not to get frustrated. And even if the item does drop, if it’s not 320 the player will still need to hope for another one.
It’s true that plenty of players have gotten lucky, and seen 320 items drop from the King’s Fall raid, but we’re sure even those players know of at least one friend who is struggling with drops. I’ve been pretty lucky with armor, but have yet to see the Harrowed raid sniper drop even once over the course of 15 hard mode clears. While other fireteams can’t stop getting the sniper, but only at low light levels.
Trials of Osiris’ Lighthouse Loot is Just Infusion Fuel
On the PvP side of things, Destiny has also introduced an endgame loot system with Trials of Osiris. Those players skilled enough to go flawless will earn a unique primary that, again, can be anywhere between 310 and 320 light. The good news is that the Trials weapons all have useful stats, unlike the raid weapons, but few actually use the guns as anything but Infusion fuel.
In Year 1, the Trials gear was useful because it had good stats and it had elemental damage, but this year elemental primaries are gone and with them the need to compete in Trials. Truthfully, most people compete in Trials of Osiris either because they like the challenge, or because they would like a 320 primary to Infuse into their other, more useful PvP primary.
And for those players for whom going Flawless is a legitimate challenge, there’s nothing worse than getting to the Lighthouse and earning a 310 primary. Like with the raid, the effort rarely matches the reward.
Has Destiny’s Endgame Turned More Players Away?
What Bungie has done with Destiny’s endgame loot does increase the shelf life of the raid and Trials of Osiris, but it has also added new levels of disappointment. Whereas before that disappointment was simply in not getting a drop, now there are the added light level and stat roll considerations, both of which can make any piece of loot feel useless. It may have taken a while to get that Vex Mythoclast, but once you got it the work was done. There was no hoping it was the right light level. Now, you’d better cross all fingers and all toes.
Perhaps the new Challenge Modes in King’s Fall will alleviate some of that disappointment – that is, if everything drops at 320 – but as of right now Destiny’s new raid has soured our feelings on loot. What was once a really smart way of handling things, now feels like an RNG nightmare. Bungie said they had implemented a “smart loot” system when The Dark Below released, but this feels like anything but.
How do you feel about Destiny‘s system for raid loot? What are some of your biggest struggles with drops?
Destiny: The Taken King is out now for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.