First introduced with The Taken King and reappearing over the weekend, Mayhem is a specialist mode within Destiny’s PvP that basically turns everything up to 11. It’s not available as a permanent game type, but it damn well should be, and every other FPS should have it as well.
The basic idea is this: instead of having to wait half a million years, all your abilities recharge exponentially faster. Special ammo pops up on the map every 30 seconds, while heavy ammo (your rocket launchers and machine guns) respawns every 90 seconds.
And given that most classes have various abilities that will already charge their super faster in certain instances (on melee hits or melee kills, for instance), it basically means you’re guaranteed to use your super at least 6 or 7 times every Mayhem match.
It’s a bit great.
Since I play a Titan, and I have no qualms about being a massive Crucible troll, the above is a pretty good indication of how my nightly games will go. Drop a bubble (that’s the Ward of Dawn protective dome). Wait in the bubble. Fireteam comes and chills in the bubble. Enemy runs at the bubble. Everyone gets a good laugh.
Second bubble goes up while the first bubble is still active. Bubbles everywhere.
It ends up something like this.
But besides the hilarity of how farcical matches become, there’s a genuine benefit to the mode: it’s actually one of the most efficient ways to learn how to play your class.
My partner’s a great example. She plays one thing, and one thing only: a Warlock Stormcaller. Hell, if I could fly around like a Sith Lord lighting everyone up, I’d probably do that too.
And that’s the fun of Mayhem. She gets to pop that ultimate all the time — and subsequently, she’s gotten a quick crash course in the annoying Hunter abilities that counter it.
The flipside is true too. Because I enjoy being a massive dickhead and sitting in my protective bubble waiting for enemies to run at me — or soaking up ultimates that would be one-hitting my teammates — it’s also become clear that my partner can quickly absorb more orbs of light by hanging around me. Stormcallers already have a final ability that powers up their super faster whenever they’re around teammates as well, so it’s a double bonus that just results in chain lightning for everyone, all the time.
Of course, you could learn all this by playing Crucible normally. But since the recharge rates for abilities and supers are, y’know, normal, the opportunities for learning don’t come up quite as fast. (And then there’s argument that says you don’t learn anything when four people are throwing Hammers of Sol at each other at the same time, turning the screen into one giant sunspot.)
It’s not the kind of mode you’d ever want to become a regular thing. But it’s a fun diversion that can weirdly function as live practice, without quite meaning to be. And there’s plenty of other games that could use it.
MOBAs are a great example. Games of Dota 2 live or die on your decision making and skills. Having a compressed, live environment outside of bots that lets you practice all your abilities — along with your positioning, judgement and co-ordination — means you’ll be able to get to grips with actually playing the game much faster, instead of joining real games and copping a serve from your teammates half the time.
Hell, in a lot of ways Battlerite exists for this very reason. It’s basically the team fight, and nothing else. That’s partly an admission that a regular MOBA game takes a lot more time than some people can devote in a single sitting — but also a wilful attempt to break down the immense learning curve that MOBAs have.
Gamers, on average, are getting older. That might mean we have years, if not decades, of accumulated experience. But it also means we have a lot less time, and that’s a problem for the thousands of games that continue to be released year on year.
We don’t have enough time to get to grips with all of them. So there needs to be a way of having balance, complexity and depth in your multiplayer game without dumbing it down or stripping out features to save time.
A mode like Mayhem helps bridge that gap. And it’s just pure, uninhibited fun. More games need a mode like it — and if Bungie could leave Mayhem around permanently, that’d be great too.