Destiny's Squads Are Too Small

Destiny's Squads Are Too Small

Something feels off in Destiny -- and it's not just Peter Dinklage's delivery.

On Wednesday, I started playing Activision's much-hyped new shooter for the first time alongside some co-workers (jazz aficionado Kirk Hamilton and middle-school dropout Sam Biddle). Though I don't normally play a lot of shooters -- as most of you know I'm more of a turn-based kinda guy -- there was just something about Destiny that made me want to go out and use warlock magic on waves of aliens.

So the three of us played, shot through monsters, made fun of what is perhaps the worst writing I've ever seen in a video game, and just generally had a good time for a few hours. Then I asked if we could invite a couple of other friends. "No," Kirk said. Our squad is limited to three people.

Wait, what?

Destiny is, in theory, a cross between a first-person shooter and a large-scale MMORPG. As Bungie described it back when they announced the project in early 2013, it's "the world's first shared world shooter." And in many ways, that's true: as you're traversing planets and shooting up baddies, you'll run into random players often, much like you would in a standard MMORPG. Destiny's world feels shared in a way that most other multiplayer shooters -- like, say, Borderlands 2 -- don't.

So why can I only share it with two other people at a time?

Tina already wrote about how lonely it is to wander the worlds of Destiny when the chat options are so limited, and she's spot on, but I think the three-person squad limit is an even worse problem. How many groups of four or five friends have spent months looking forward to Destiny only to find out they can't actually play together? How many people came into this game expecting to form big teams -- like you can in just about any other MMO -- and use teamwork to take on missions, with players coordinating to do more than just shoot enemies?

Granted, Bungie's got a lot planned for this game, including regular six-player endgame raids, which will start opening up on Tuesday. But it takes a lot of hours to get to the endgame. Why force groups of friends to split up on the way there? I reached out to an Activision rep yesterday for an explanation on why they chose to limit squad size to three, but never heard back. Presumably it's got something to do with difficulty and map design. Still, it's a head-scratcher.

When I was in college, I spent a few months grinding through World of Warcraft. This was not particularly fun. Back then -- during the Vanilla days -- the real game started at level 60, and to get there, you had to take what seemed to be a non-stop series of quests to fetch scalps and hunt down animal pelts. But we could mitigate the grind by teaming up with friends and randoms in groups of five. Five! Not too big -- not too small. Really, the perfect number for random missions and level-grinding.

I expect a lot of Destiny's features to change over the next few weeks and months -- and hopefully one of those changes will be squad sizes. If Bungie really wants this game to feel like a shared multiplayer experience, they need to let us play with more people.


Comments

    Probably because its hard enough getting 2 other people to play with who you know and trying to organise 2 randoms with no voice comms or even two friends with without voice comms is incredibly hard. I tried the heroic weekly strike last night with one guy who had comms one who didnt all of the required level 22 and it was a dismal failure because we couldnt fully coordinate (not to mention my net drooped out and the party disbanded but still).

    Then there is also the issue of no push to talk, it's going to be chaotic at first trying to raid with 6 people who all have completely open mics, its hard enough with P2T (I know from experience). So I for one am seriously glad the party teams are kept low, it's a good size for people who don;t have too many people to play with but also for people who do have a good group of friends to form several parties and interchange when required.

    Had this issue on Day 1. Me and three friends all got the game, booted it up, gathered in the Tower... then had to split into two groups of two. It was painfully frustrating seeing other randoms roaming the world the same world as us when we really wanted to just play together.
    Since then though if we have more than 3 we just play PvP, which is amazing fun. Would definitely have liked parties of 4 though.

      My experience too. We were flabbergasted at the 3 player cap, especially when you're playing alongside 4 other randoms in the world who you don't even know.

    Ues, yes they certainly are. Isn't 4 player co-op the norm?

    whine, whine, whine... is that all people do these days? honestly is nobody actually happy with any games (movie, tv, anything) these days? Everyone is full of "why didnt they do X,Y or Z. Yawn.

    With the amount of games I follow, I realise this blanket negativity is nothing new but gosh it is exhausting. Im sorry but of all the complaints I have read about Destiny this perhaps is the silliest.

    I miss the days where we used to like things, put up with their downsides and focused on the positives but these days, gosh why would anyone actually create anything creative any more. Its all whining. Then those people make me want to whine :p

    Im loving Destiny. I dont pretend it is anything more than it is. If some people are too stupid and bought into the massive hype thats their fault not the devs who spent years building the game. Advertising and hype are created to manipulate and people blame the publisher because they are too silly not to realise the game into going to change the world.

      So.., you're whining about people whining? I can see their point, 3 player 'squads' is rather odd. I'd assume because they think you'd have one of each class? I am not sure.

      Last edited 13/09/14 3:43 pm

        Reminds me of mercenaries : world in flames, three player co-op. Blergh terrible game haha. Four players just seems logical..... who knows they might bump up the fireteam number and add a new possible class in a later update/dlc

      If there was no constructive criticism then we'd all be enjoying sub-par products. Gamers elaborating on the strengths and weaknesses of a game is how the developers target the necessary improvements. Destiny has a lot of room to expand and change - the potential for future patches is rather limitless, so it's a completely worthwhile venture to point out the kind of content most people would prefer to see in the game. 4+ player squads is a decent idea - not my main gripe with the game, but understandable given the MMO nature of the game.

        If people are still around by then. The world moves fast, and though I want bungie to have a win with this game, I just feel like everyone might go "well, that was short" and then ghosts, halo 5, witcher, dragon age, etc all comes out around the corner, aaaaaand everyone's gone.

          I've only recently hit 21 myself, and from here the game seems awfully grindy... Just drawn out boss battles and weekly rewards towards gear to do the same content with a little faster. I'm feeling a sense of "well it was a pretty game, had some decent cooperative moments... Time to go back to one of my more replayable titles."

            Yeah, I'm still on Venus, and I'm almost scared to finish it, cos even though Bungie says the game 'starts at level 20' (which is garbage), I don't want to max out the story yet.

            Unfortunately, I think there's be a mighty glut of Destiny trade ins in a month or 2...

    There's also something a little off in that there is a ginormous amount of auto-aim on npc enemies with no way to lower or turn it off.

    I actually like the 3 player squads, I feel like it's a bit more personal, and there's less chance of having a team full of deadweight.
    If you want bigger parties just wait until endgame, or go play the multiplayer modes.

    Ehh... All of the 'boss battles' from venus onwards consist of spending gratuitous amounts of time whittling down a massive health bar with the off chance that if you cop an unlucky snipe or rocket and die, your group will have to start the encounter over again and repeat until you're either bored of repetitive shooter segments or you actually manage to drop the boss.

    I'm more concerned about the existing cooperative/raid content actually being fun or requiring a unique challenge rather than the same shooter elements than I am about the amount of players who can slog through it together.

    For those complaining about people not in their groups that are 'playing with them' while the rest of their friends can't... News flash, they're not. They just happen to be in a shared area. All that goes away when the actual mission you're on kicks in proper.

    These arguments pop up no matter what anyway, and they're always ridiculous...

    Only 3 people?! Why not more?!
    Only 4?! Why not more?!
    Only 20?! Why not more?!

    I'd love 10-12 player strikes or raids for Destiny.

    Is it just me or do games with mmo elements attract more less-than-relevant criticism? Most of these criticisms are one little thing that take a paragraph to explain. Soon people will be complaining about the end game and game economy like they matter.

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