Thursday, July 23, 2015

By nerfing Destiny's popular weapons, Bungie shows contempt for gamers

The weakening or nerfing of videogame Destiny's favorite weapons by Bungie stinks. It's a middle finger to the fans of the game. I'll discuss some of the nerfs to some of the weapons below. Here's a link to Bungie's future changes. And let me quickly define a couple of terms for you non-gamers. PvP means player versus player. PvE means player versus environment, i.e. fighting against computer controlled enemies.

1. The Thorn

The Thorn is an exotic hand cannon. It's obtained as a special exotic bounty and the process to get it is onerous. The worse part of this seven part bounty is killing fellow Guardians in the Crucible with Void damage for 500 points. Five points per kill but minus two for getting killed. I must have screamed at the television multiple times when I got set back doing the Crucible.

The reward for your hard work is a hand canon with a great perk. It's called the Mark of the Devourer. What happens is when you hit a target, it will suffer damage over time. It's kind of like poisoning it. Think Dark Channel from Mass Effect 3. In the Crucible, it is the dominant weapon because you got cheap kills with it. Hit a guy, run away and he dies from the poison. I got cheap kills with it.

But did it need nerfing? Yes. Too many cheap kills and way too many people using them in the Crucible. Okay, here's where I agree with Bungie but only for PvP, i.e. the Crucible. But you should get a special weapon for your trouble. Instead of weakening it for all phases of the game, Bungie should have made it stronger In PvE. How about making it cut through all elemental shields? Yeah, fat chance. Now, the Thorn will probably sit in everybody's vault.

2. Pulse rifles

If you read Bungie's post, you are going to see a pattern. They are going after weapons that are popular in the Crucible. And when it comes to pulse rifles, we're talking about The Red Death. I use it because it's accurate, got great range, and has nice damage. It's a cross between a scout rifle and auto rifle. That being said, you still need skill to use it.

Bungie's nerf here is to make then less accurate. Base stability is being reduced. They admit it will require more skill to land head shots. Good bye Red Death. Looks like the Oversoul Edict will collect dust.

3. The Gjallarhorn.

The Gjallarhorn is the best rocket launcher in the game. It is because of one thing. The perk called Wolfpack rounds. First, the rocket fired homes in on the target. Then after initial detonation, there is a second round of cluster bombs that track the target and hit it again. Yes, it's a superweapon. However, it is not easy to get. It's obtained as a random drop in Raids, and Nightfall strikes.

Bungie wants to weaken it by reducing the damage of the Wolfpack rounds. I'm going to print their rationale because it demonstrates the ridiculous logic of all the nerfing.

"We definitely intended to have a high damage Heavy Weapon that was ideal for PvE destruction. What we did not intend, and what we unfortunately saw, was pick up Raid and Nightfall groups gating participation based on whether or not players had this weapon. Gjallarhorn was so strong that for many people it had become the only answer to getting through tough encounters, and therefore they were less willing to spend time with other players that didn’t have it. We strive for Destiny to be a place where a single weapon or strategy does not dictate how, or with whom, you spend your time. In the new world Gjallarhorn is still worthy of its legacy as an exotic Heavy Weapon, but we hope it promotes inclusive behavior rather than exclusivity."

Okay, this is just spurious. I've played over a hundred or so Raids and Nightfall strikes. And yes, I've seen people demand Gjllarhorns. However, it was about two times! And all my Destiny friends will say you don't need Gjallarhons to bring down Crota's shields. Now, does it make bringing down bosses easier? Of course. But do we require our Raid or Nightfall squad members to all have the Gjallarhorn? No. That's type of thinking comes from noobs. (rookie players)

4. Ice Breaker.

The Ice Breaker is a fantastic sniper rifle. Easy to use. Quick target acquisition. High impact damage. Solar damage but so powerful it does a pretty good job cutting through Void and Arc shields. But here's the great perk. Does not require ammo drops. Every five seconds or so the magazine adds one bullet for up to six shots. Well, now Bungie wants to make the time for each bullet to eight seconds. And the rationale is absolutely ludicrous. Jon Weisnewski of Bungie who wrote the post should stop working for them and go into comedy. Here's what he says about the nerfing of the Ice Breaker.

"We’ve all done it. Hunker down in the back of the map with your lunch box, picnic table, a sci-fi paperback, and Ice Breaker. Kill all the enemies, wait for more to show up, kill those ones too, put a few shots on the boss, make a sandwich, finish the strike, and then collect your reward-that-isn’t-Hawkmoon and move on. The recharging ammo of Ice Breaker has become a staple for the PvE game. We don’t want to completely destroy that, because a really great thing happens when all of a sudden you need Ice Breaker and you’re still waiting on that next round to show up. In that moment there is an interesting tension at play; you need to think about how you spend your next few seconds while it recharges. We are going to amplify that tension by increasing the recharge duration by a few seconds."

WTF? He's actually saying you're going to have more fun when the game is harder. Yeah, I'm sure we're going to be saying after failing a Prion of Elders game, that was fun waiting for my Ice Breaker to replenish its ammo.

5. Conclusion

There are more nerfs. but it's not all bad. Auto rifles, the Hard Light, and No Land Beyond receive buffs. But the nerfs are plenty bad. Still, it begs the question, "Why weaken so many popular and hard to get weapons?"

Here's my opinion. Destiny is planned to last for ten years. We don't know when Destiny 2 comes out. So, Bungie has to stretch out Destiny 1. What other way to do so but to slow the progress of players trying to get Etheric Light to level up their gear. Make the game harder. Instead of succeeding at Prison of Elders, level 35, you fail. Try again next time. Sorry, you can't get a squad together because there's no matchmaking for that level. It might take days, weeks. Are you having fun yet?

Destiny gamers should answer the following question.


And the answer should be obvious. It is "no." Bungie's plan to weaken guns does not make the gamer's life easier. It makes Destiny harder and more stressful. Look we can't help it if Bungie made an uninteresting game but don't take it out on the gamers. Next time, don't dumb it down. Don't phone it in when it comes to game design. Because of Bungie's disrespect, I will wait for what the critics say about Destiny 2 before buying it. This fall, I can only hope for Master Chief to save us.