As part of its updated roadmap for Destiny 2, Bungie officially unveiled its next expansion, Warmind, but didn’t offer too many details about what, exactly, players could expect from it. This week, the developer gave us a better idea of what players can expect when they dive back into Destiny 2 on May 8 – from a leveling perspective, anyway.
Players will find that hitting the new power cap of 385 will be much tougher than getting to 305 or 335 (the caps in Destiny 2 and Curse of Osiris, respectively), that leveling as a whole will be slower. “One of the things we did when Destiny 2 launched was make the climb to the power cap fast and easy for everyone,” said Destiny 2 senior designer Daniel Auchenpaugh. “It didn’t matter who you were or what your play style was; the road to the cap was quick and accessible for everyone. The result was that achieving the cap felt less satisfying: It was easy, and there weren’t any activities that dared to require it.”
Auchenpaugh and Bungie hope to change that in Warmind. They want to make progression feel meaningful, and to give it a real sense of accomplishment. To that end, the team is making public events (which were seen as one of if not the fastest way to grind exotics and up your power level) and weekly clan engrams (which, to many clan members, acted as free boosts in power) less lucrative. Exotics gained from non-weekly sources will drop at the same level as other non-weekly legendary gear, removing their appeal as a way to power up. Clan engrams will help lower-power players hit the “soft cap” of 340 (the easily achievable power level the expansion will push you towards), but won’t help you reach the absolute maximum of 385 much, offering gear only 0-2 points above your power level.
The net effect, is that players will have to rely even more on weekly events. “Our target is that players who participate in all the weekly activities should take several weeks to reach the hard cap,” Auchenbaugh says. “Players who don’t participate in any group weekly activities are unlikely to hit the hard cap before the next release; dedicated omnivore players will hit it before players that just play Raids or Trials exclusively.” The last ten power levels, Auchenbaugh says, will also take longer to grind through, taking as long to get from 340 to 370.
Additionally, players will no longer benefit from having multiple characters as much. One-time quest rewards now cap at the level they were meant to receive, which puts Destiny 2 launch quest rewards at 260, Curse of Osiris at 300, and Warmind at 340. Before, players would often make secondary characters, transfer weapons to that character to boost their power quickly, and then wait until that character was at a high power level to do those one-time quests, netting them rewards that were strong enough to boost their primary character. To compensate, the initial power boost these weapons provide then earned at their appropriate level will be around 15 power.
The end result of all these changes, Bungie hopes, is that players will further gravitate towards weekly activities and be more tempted to tackle endgame challenges like raids more regularly.
I haven’t entirely made up my mind on these changes, but I’m leaning towards not liking them. While hitting the power cap didn’t feel super-rewarding, part of the reason I didn’t care of it was because progress felt allotted, not earned. Doing weeklies was a fun challenge, but towards of the end of the months I was regularly playing Destiny 2, they felt like punch-card markers of progress – I didn’t feel rewarded for playing more of the game than the game told me I should. Farming public events (and multiplayer, to some extent) for random exotics to boost my power level wasn’t fun, but it felt like they only way to extend my time with a game I really liked but consistently told me “Okay, you’re done playing for the week!” when I didn’t want to stop.
These changes feel geared more towards flattening out the progression curve and keeping players around for longer to do the same weekly activities, which still don’t feel as diverse as I’d like them to be. Hopefully the content end of Warmind will change that. But at face value, this feels like Bungie wants players to treat Destiny 2 as a backburner game they return to between other games or hobbies for longer than they have been, but are strong-arming players by slowing their progress rather than compelling them to return.