Destiny’s Loot Mistakes

Published on: Jan 25, 2015 @ 7:56

Dreading having to re-level your exotics when House of Wolves rolls out? According to Bungie’s Lead Raid Designer, Luke Smith, you won’t have to.[divider]

Admitted Mistakes

Smith couldn’t discuss specifics, but in a post on NeoGAF, he announced that Bungie recognized their mistakes with The Dark Below. He specifically cited post-DLC vendor gear invalidating Vault of Glass raid gear and Exotics losing their perks after being upgraded.

These mistakes will not be repeated, promises Smith.

He goes on to say that although the team was happy with the increased drop rate for gear in Crota’s End—putting a rest to the “forever 29” limbo some players experienced in VoG—they’ve recognized that earning Radiant materials has become a barrier between players equipping their new raid gear.

It appears that Bungie will be experimenting with another system for gear acquisition and leveling for the next expansion.

We’re not intending to adjust the shard economy for this Tier — we don’t want to invalidate player effort (again). But removing the barrier between that new drop you’re excited to get and actually being able to equip it as a member of your arsenal are something we will do going forward.

dark below loot mistakes

Smith says that Bungie’s goals for armor in Crota’s End was to drop at a higher frequency so that it was less difficult to obtain light level 32 than it was with 30. The team also wanted more variability of perks and stats so that even if leveling up was easier, players would have deeper customization options to explore in finding their perfect build. The problem with this being the aforementioned “Shard economy.”

Luke Smith goes on to say that, [Bungie’s] philosophy about rewards and loot will continue to evolve as we see how players play and react.

What do you think? What could they do to improve the House of Wolves loot system? Were you looking forward to re-leveling your exotics when House of Wolves came out? No, we weren’t either.


That Exotic Feeling

Fighting for hard-to-earn loot, only to watch your weapons and armor slowly degrade in value over time, is something most MMO players are probably used to. With Destiny, earning an Exotic feels like an achievement because it’s immune to the loot treadmill. Most of the Exotics could easily get you through the House of Wolves expansion and Plague of Darkness.

Bungie has already announced plans to bring player’s existing characters into Destiny 2, so we can only assume that includes our Exotics.

Bungie’s proper curation of the Exotic system will be a huge factor in successfully realizing their ten year plan for Destiny. When The Dark Below released, players saw their Vault of Glass gear lose out to vendor gear on day one. It’ll be interesting to see how Bungie will handle vendor gear differently with House of Wolves, but one thing that won’t ever change is that old gear will be outclassed by new gear.

Thankfully, Exotics function as a pressure valve on the system. Knowing that not all of the weapons and armor will become material fodder in a few months is a fantastic way of making the gear ramp less daunting.

If one of the most satisfying moments I’ve had with Destiny was upgrading Thorn, one of the least satisfying was staring at the un-leveled Thorn in my inventory. Currently the price to upgrade Exotics is downright punishing. Having to wait for Xûr to sell the exotic upgrade I’m looking for and spending an exotic shard should be enough. Considering many Exotics don’t feel “exotic” until they unlock their namesake perk, starting with a fresh one when already having used the Exotic at its peak is just frustrating.

xur agent nine destiny exotics


Plenty of community members pose solutions to the Exotic problem. Many of the most reasonable suggestions center around rewarding the player for their previous time spent with their weapons or armor. This could mean anything from only enabling fully maxed Exotic gear to qualify for the Xûr bump, or having Exotics that go through the upgrade have everything up to and including their namesake perk unlocked.

Perhaps the Destiny community has become so pragmatic in their dealings with Bungie that the idea of having all exotics instantly switch over to the appropriate values after an expansion has evaded them. That flag was waved shortly after Vex Mythoclast was buffed to its current value, but the sentiment was thrown to the ether shortly thereafter.

Adjusting Exotics to always meet the maximum light value for gear and damage value for weapons—at first, that sounds crazy, especially in the context of loot-driven games. Exotic gear on the first day of expansions would be equivalent to raid gear with the flick of a switch.

Even before stepping foot in The Arena, the planned House of Wolves raid, players would already have equivalent gear in sitting in their inventory, collecting dust in their bank and already equipped on their characters.

widow's court map house of wolves

Bungie’s pre-existing systems already compliment this, though. Since players can only wear one piece of Exotic armor and weapon, it wouldn’t trivialize the difficulty of future content. This change would also reward the player for their previous time spent with the game, even as they push aside their TDB gear to make room for new House of Wolves toys.

The concept of Exotics being immune to the loot treadmill is fascinating, but Exotics don’t feel mysterious or unique when leveling them a second time.

Thankfully Bungie admitted that upgrading an Exotic, resetting its talents was a mistake.


Contributing PlanetDestiny authors: Ryan Kirby