destiny burnout analysis

The Solution to Destiny Burnout

Published on: Feb 20, 2015 @ 0:01

For many Guardians, Destiny is quickly becoming too repetitive. Without fresh content to enjoy, they’re taking a break from the game until House of Wolves.

How much are you guys playing? Are you taking a break? Let us know how you feel about the state of Destiny!


It’s Not You, It’s Me

All people have what I call a kill switch. It’s the point at which you shut down and say, “Yep, no more for me. I’ve had enough.”

The kill switch is a beautiful thing. It’s a clean break – so simple and instantaneous. No hard feelings, no regrets.

But I don’t know many people who have kill-switched Destiny. No, I’ve just seen a lot of bleary-eyed people on the verge of burnout.

They walk through life, as I have, in a strange dance between love and hate. They order another pizza for delivery and remember there was a time when they went out with friends to eat in places called restaurants. They wish, somehow, that life would give them a kill switch on command.

destiny kill switch

Thankfully, there is a solution. But it requires we answer some pressing questions first. Questions like: what is burnout, why is it happening on such a massive scale in the Destiny community, why aren’t some people feeling it, and what is the remedy if you are?

Thankfully, there are answers to all these questions. They lie in understanding the problem, so we turn to look that grisly Hellmouth in the… well… mouth… and dive right in.


What is Burnout?

Burnout is the long, sometimes maddening descent into obsession and revulsion until there’s just not enough energy or willpower to sustain interest, which is why it’s so different from a kill switch.

Kill switches are triggered by things you can take or leave – often because your personal investment is already very low. Burnout happens with something far more valuable: relationships.

Destiny is very much a relationship. It demands our time, commands some level of frenzied devotion – dare I say love? – and has some hideous skeletons in its closet. It’s a relationship because we form social bonds through it.

destiny burned

Whether we have close friends who play, or if we’ve simply walked up to a complete stranger and shot a rocket or melee’d their face, we are interacting with real people.

We share experiences and the thrill of victory together – further deepening that bond. In-jokes, memorable kills, screams of glee when Atheon’s tiny torso evaporates into confetti are ingrained in our social consciousness, and we develop links to the game that are also links to people.

And social links are hard to break. It’s like severing ties with that gorgeous brunette who laughs in just that way – saying to her face, “Yes, we had some terrific times together, but you’ve got some major baggage, I haven’t seen my family in weeks and my work performance is fraying at the edges.”

That’s the key: when things begin to turn sour, burnout begins. When the war is too much trouble to keep fighting, we decide to cast down arms.


Why has it Spread?

The war analogy is useful when considering this question. When we begin to question why a fight is worth waging (and who hasn’t questioned many of Destiny’s flaws?), morale begins to drop.

When morale falls in a social setting, it tends to fall across the entire social circle.

A phenomenon like burnout is never compartmentalized because we as people are not compartmentalized. When one friend says they are taking a break from Vanguard strikes because all they ever get are worthless Rare Engrams, that begins a ripple effect.

Legitimate or not, most people stick with Destiny because of the relationships they maintain through it.

If a friend quits Vanguard strikes, those strikes lose the value they once had: namely the delight of shooting Omnigul’s hideous face with friends. When a game loses that strong hook, it has to have many others to keep people coming back.

destiny omnig

And let’s be honest with ourselves: Destiny is far from perfect. Its failings are well documented, and they impact different people in different ways.

If you are still a relatively new player, then perhaps you’ll not feel them as keenly, but old hands or those who hit the ground running at a ridiculous pace will be all too familiar with the repetitive missions, painful grind of level 31 to 32, and drops that make your blood boil in rage.

There’s an allure to obtaining the next best piece of gear, and it’s exciting to max out, but what happens when you have everything you want?

As with all relationships, this one is a trade off. Either you still enjoy the good times enough to overlook the bad, or you don’t. Which brings us to the big question.


Is It Normal?

Destiny has millions of active players, and we’re certainly not the only ones that are worried about its future.

If you consider yourself a hardcore player and/or have dedicated hundreds of hours to the game, it’s no surprise why you’re feeling the way that you are.

Here’s what some of our forum members think:

The game has some really strong points. It takes a massive hit to quality when it comes to story and content (both quality and quantity). If you want to argue, think about how many story missions and strikes had you wait for dinklebot to open a door. Poor dialogue, zero character development don’t help. Public events and bounties are cool until you do the same one 10 times.

I have over 1,000 hrs in Destiny but I still play even if it isn’t as much as before. Mostly to hang out with some friends that I have made through Destiny and help out newcomers.

There just isn’t enough left to hold my interest now. New gun?… Cool, I guess… Raid helmet?… RNG gives to everyone else, so no big deal. I only play now because my clan mates are great to play with and talk to.

I put too much time into the game.. Do I love it? Hell yeah..but now I am starting to wind down and become more casual.. Just got Suros, so all I can think of is “well I guess my primary gun is set for life… until an auto rifle exotic better than Suros comes out”

We are social creatures, we want to game with our friends. All of my friends own Destiny, but very few own other games I may wanna play. This creates a bias where you’re obligated to play Destiny simply to play with your friends. How many times have you heard: “It’s not a fun game unless you play with your friends, then it’s amazing!” Destiny isn’t what’s amazing here, your friends are what’s amazing.


What Should I Do About Burnout?

There are two possible scenarios. Both are perfectly healthy, and you can easily evaluate which scenario is best for you if you feel it coming on. I put the most drastic first.

Take a Break

Are you deriving so little pleasure from the Destiny experience that it feels more like an abusive relationship or a chore? Are your friends all abandoning ship and leaving you grinding for reasons you can’t even recall anymore? Do you feel your life slipping away, walking through the days like an apparition hollower than Eris Morn’s eye sockets?

Perhaps it’s time for a break. No one ever said it had to be goodbye forever, but absence can make the heart grow fonder, and time heals a plethora of wounds. Who knows, Bungie may patch things, add enough content, and win you and your friends back in a few months.

Just remember that all things run their course. There’s nothing at all wrong with that. There are no marriage vows or children holding you to this relationship.

If you wish to walk away, walk away to something that will bring you more joy. But if you wish to stick around, keep reading.

destiny plague of darkness

Get Back The Destiny You Loved

No one wants to be smothered. It isn’t a rewarding or healthy experience for either party. But we often approach Destiny like a man crying to his wife, “I’ll die without you! Don’t ever leave me baby! PLEASE!”

It isn’t good for us, and it certainly isn’t good for the Destiny community at large.

In order to move forward, we’ve got to clean up our act, which means remembering what we first loved in Destiny and partaking in healthy doses.

Here are a few pointers on that road that I’ve begun to apply myself:

Evaluate Your Priorities

Ask yourself what you wanted out of the game to begin with. No one buys an MMO or an RPG with the sole desire to grind Strange Coins and Glimmer till they collapse in exhaustion.

Were you wanting time with friends you don’t see as much anymore? The chance to experience all the raids and Nightfalls? Collect all of the most powerful Exotics? Or did you just want a great multiplayer shooter?

destiny burnout normal

Often an underlying priority is just to get better at a game, which can be especially dangerous with Destiny. There are Exotics and Legendary weapons that everyone wants, but the amount of work you must go through to get them, frankly, isn’t usually worth the time.

We owe it to ourselves to question the motives behind our behavior. If we see the root cause of our burnout is our own skewed desires, then it’s time to re-prioritize what we want out of the game.

Evaluate Your Play Style

I had a Thorn Bounty once. Got all the way up to the Crucible part of it and agonized for two days with the thing clogging up my bounty list. Then I pulled the trigger. Deleted that bounty into oblivion. I just can’t stand the Crucible.

Destiny is really two games in one: PvE and PvP. There are some who enjoy both – many of my friends among them – but very few people enjoy everything about both.

Now, I’m admittedly old school. I still believe you should play a game because you enjoy the experience.

I hate the word grind, largely because I hate the idea that I should have to do it (and boy do I have to do it – the shame! The horror!).

So do yourself a favor: decide which parts of Destiny you enjoy, and avoid everything else like the plague. There’s just no sense in wasting your life farming for something if you’re hating yourself while doing it.

This isn’t always possible, of course. Bungie has made a certain level of grind necessary to the experience – a necessary evil as it were – but if you can partition the game off to only bits that matter to you, the grind won’t be as rough going.

destiny burnout

Evaluate the Best Use of Time

Some things aren’t worth your time in this world, and Destiny is chock-full of time sinks. The best thing you can do, especially if you have multiple characters, is decide which bounties, missions, and weapons are worth bothering with. Do you die a lot? Then don’t mess with those ridiculous “get 9000 experience without dying” bounties – which, by the way, only net you a whopping 2,500 experience: a drop in the bucket.

While on the topic of bounties, how about giving us some Glimmer for completing them? Glimmer is important, and giving us more ways to earn it (see: dying in the Exclusion Zone) would be much appreciated.

Also, if you have a collector’s personality, I’d seriously advise questioning how healthy that is for this game. There are weapons and equipment that require a disproportionate amount of time and effort to acquire relative to their usefulness.

Sure, Truth might be considered inferior to Gjallarhorn in PvE, but it’s still pretty fantastic. Weigh the benefit of such things against what you give up to get them. Don’t gain the whole world but find you forfeited your soul in the process.

Which, incidentally, is also true for our friends at Bungie.


What Should Bungie Do About Burnout?

As with all relationships, this one is a two-way street. Bungie has a certain responsibility just as we do, which means there are things the developer can easily do to help halt the tide of burnout.

Here are just a few that come to mind, though if people want to sound off in the comments with others, keep them coming!

Reconsider Crucible Bounties

Sure, when I enter a Control match and do an all around terrible job, that’s on me. But when I enter a Control match and do a terrible job because my bounties encourage me to ignore Control points and just headshot everything that moves, that’s Bungie’s fault.

Bounties shouldn’t break the experience, they should complement it, but so many of the Crucible bounties only encourage behavior that counteracts match styles.

destiny burned out

Not only does that rob the Crucible of much of the enjoyment, it sucks out the very essence of what the Crucible is. More bounties would probably be easy to add, and they should be.

Furthermore, Iron Banner has had the same bounties for awhile now. Why…? 

Stop Encouraging the Grind

Am I the only one who slapped my forehead when I saw the rank level I’d need to simply buy a Runed Core from Eris Morn? Murmur’s great and all, but it isn’t THAT great. Speaking of Eris Morn, rank 4 offers little more than some cosmetic upgrades.

The system, unfortunately, pushes players to spend their time in agonizing ways, often for hours on end, to get the things they want. Much of burnout stems from feeling like our time isn’t being valued – and if we’re honest with ourselves, it isn’t.

Bungie’s statistics must look fantastic. I’m sure we collectively spend billions of hours in this game over any given week, but what is that worth when the turnover of frustrated players is equally high?

Grinding is one thing, and for many it’s not even a big deal, but there needs to be better and more consistent rewards for ranking up and completing challenges.

house of wolves comet

Increase Content

This is a difficult one, largely because Destiny is not a subscription-based game. How much content can we reasonably expect when there’s quite a lot there for a standalone game?

But that doesn’t change facts: if Bungie wants to maintain ‘MMO’ retention rates, there’s got to be more to do.

The same strikes and story missions drag quickly, and motivation wanes when you begin going through the motions and running through all the enemies just to send a rocket into the Nexus Mind’s face and be done with it.

Expansions help, but it will be interesting to see how many players stick around long enough to care about House of Wolves.

So much of Destiny’s future seems to hang on HoW’s shoulders, so let’s just hope Bungie can sustain the weight.

Add Meaningful Customization Choices

Anyone with a Light Level over 30 basically looks identical.

We look the same because gear is what affects level and stats, and everyone knows the best gear (for now) is from Crota’s End. This means that the only variations will be with a Shader, Emblem, class item, and maybe an Exotic.

There’s no easy solution for this, but more cosmetic items or a “Transmogrification” system could help. Customization is a huge part of Destiny that unfortunately still needs a lot of work.

Guardians need more options and freedom to look how they’d like. With so many armor choices, if only a handful are logical because of Light level, what’s the point?

Quality of Life Changes

There’s so many small things, that would improve the experience as a whole. Here are just five changes that would enhance Destiny:

  1. Vote to kick (AFK) players in matchmade activities.
  2. An option to skip cutscenes.
  3. Ability to Reforge Crucible/Vanguard Legendary gear.
  4. More Glimmer from completing any activity.
  5. Repeating the same Crucible map or Vanguard Strike in a row shouldn’t ever happen.

These changes, while seemingly unimportant, would make a big difference in the long run. Think of how many times you wished to skip a cutscene, remove AFK Guardians, or wanted new perks to choose from. It’s safe to say that everyone would appreciate these changes if implemented correctly.


An Enduring Relationship

There’s no doubt that burnout is curable, even if Bungie chooses not to implement all or some of the suggestions listed above. That’s because Destiny should be, at its heart, a social experience.

If we can learn to love it for what it offers: a stellar multiplayer shooter that connects disparate people, then I think there is much hope for a relationship that endures.

But in the end, we have a responsibility to fight those tendencies that entangle us in an experience we aren’t happy with. Which is why, if you feel yourself burning out on Destiny, take a step back and re-evaluate. You will be glad you did, regardless of where it leads.

And if you do step away, you might just find that you bump into Destiny again. You admit past wrongs, confess your failings, pick up where you left off so many months ago and discover, though you never looked for it, a way to start again.

Destiny will obviously continue to evolve over time, and we look forward to its growth.