Destiny 2’s Eververse Store Is Getting Out Of Hand

Destiny 2’s Eververse Store Is Getting Out Of Hand
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One of the quintessential Destiny experiences is logging onto the game, dropping into a familiar activity and encountering a stranger who looks badass. Maybe they bailed you out of a tough fight, or out-gunned you in a Crucible match, or just have armour that looks light years better than what you’re wearing. You click over to their character to see what weapons and gear they’re sporting. In the past I’d wonder which activity or questline they’d completed to get their awesome-looking gear, but increasingly the more accurate question is: how much did they spend in the Eververse Store?

Destiny 2’s microtransaction shop used to feel entirely optional but as more stuff has been added in recent seasons it’s become harder to ignore. While the game’s developers at Bungie continue to add new content each season, some of which can still be earned just by playing the game a bunch of it is ending up in the Eververse Store. Many new armour and gun ornaments have to be bought, rather than earned. Some of these items bear price tags that feel out of whack with the cost of new DLC and Season Passes. 

In other words, Destiny 2 doesn’t have loot boxes and it isn’t pay-to-win, but it does increasingly feel pay-to-look-cool. It wasn’t always like this.

The game’s economy has been changing since last year, as it shifted from the release of occasional expansions to a continuous flow of 10-week seasons. Each season introduces new guns, armour, cosmetics, and story-based quests, as well as special new activities like the current season’s Sundial, a multi-part, time-travelling boss rush. Seasons also come with battle passes—free and paid versions—that players can rank up to level 100 to earn rewards like new gear and cosmetics. Some of each new season’s loot can be earned by grinding through the battle pass and new activities, but many higher-end cosmetics that get introduced are only available through Eververse.

Season of Dawn, which started on December 10, brought three new sets of armour, only one of which could be earned in the base game. The second required buying and ranking up the season’s $US10 ($14) battle pass, while a third is locked behind the Eververse store for $US15 ($22). Meanwhile the Dawning holiday event added a fourth set which is also currently only available through Eververse. Outside of just armour sets, the majority of new ornaments (read: alternate looks) for exotic gear, sparrows, and ships, can also only be bought. Only one out of the eight new Ghost Shells added this season can be earned outside of the store.

Things only got worse when this year’s annual Dawning event started in late December. Unlike last year, all of the new Dawning armour sets and most of the other cosmetics associated with it had to be bought up front. As PC Gamer pointed out, buying all of the new loot would cost upwards of $US200 ($287). While a few of the Dawning items can be bought for Bright Dust, the game’s non-premium currency that can be earned by completing bounties, good luck doing that. Even the most efficient players would struggle to grind more than 200 bright dust per hour, making purchasing something like the 6000 dust Northern Light Warlock bundle a 30-hour affair.

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Though complaints about Destiny 2’s cosmetic shop are eternal, the cup has runneth over in the last month, with posts decrying the growing commodification of loot blowing up across the game’s subreddit. This is in part due to Shadowkeep, the major expansion that kicked off Destiny 2 year three, feeling so meager compared to 2018’s spectacular (and more expensive) Forsaken DLC. With the launch of Shadowkeep and the accompanying Season of Undying season, the grind to get new legendary and exotic loot had been stretched out, while story beats have become shorter and choppier. In the case of the portal the Vanguard Warlock Ikora Rey was building throughout the Season of Undying, the new story stuff was just anticlimactic. Many important character vendors, meanwhile, have gone more than a year without seeing their merchandise overhauled. It’s in the context of this general slowdown that Eververse’s ever-growing inventory started to grate.

Destiny 2’s recent push of its players toward purchasable cosmetics rather than ones earned through exploring the game has also been compounded by two major changes to how Destiny 2. Coinciding with the launch of Shadowkeep, Bungie overhauled how armour ornaments work. Instead of custom ones to augment specific pieces of armour, ornaments became universal. Similarly, armour perks became customisable in the form of mods, rather than locking in random rolls after dropping. The net result is that players now have more freedom over how they look without needing to worry about whether their preferred style will hurt them in a Raid or Iron Banner matches. .

It’s a major quality of life improvement overall, but it’s also made Eververse gear even more important since the ornaments you can buy each season are often responsible for the more interesting and extravagant outfits. I’d argue that Season of Undying’s Empyrean Cartographer set in Eververse—what with its lion-faced Titan gauntlets and red-tassel Warlock robes—looked way better than the Substitutional Alloy or Dreambane sets that were part of playing the game. Similarly, while I really like Season of Dawn’s Righteous Armour set—an elegant mix of glistening steel and silky cloth—the paid Northlight set is far more ornate and detailed. In a forever game where not every season gets a new raid with new armour, Eververse sets become the de facto gold standard of Guardian fashion.

Shadowkeep also changed how Bright Engrams work. These loot boxes give players random pieces of Eververse loot ranging from common emotes to extremely rare exotic weapon ornaments. Players used to be able to earn them simply by levelling up every 100,000 experience points. Now that grind has been replaced by the seasonal battle pass, which rewards continued play with a preset number of Bright Engrams that only bestow older cosmetics from earlier seasons.

This change felt especially stingy in last fall’s Season of Undying when only some items in the Eververse shop could be purchased for Bright Dust. Based on negative player feedback, Bungie made sure to change that for Season of Dawn, ensuring that around 80 per cent of new gear added to the store would be purchasable with Bright Dust. Some of the most coveted items, like the Black Death ornament for the exotic hand cannon Crimson, are still Silver-only though. Rather than being unlocked through a new questline or completing a particular Season of Dawn triumph, the only way to get it is to cough up $US7 ($10).

And that gets at the the larger way in which it feels like Eververse is slowly eating away at the core of Destiny 2. Once upon a time the flashiest rewards might have been earned through excelling at a particular activity like PVP, committing to a certain grind like weekly Nightfall strikes or ranking up reputation with a particular character. While I wouldn’t go so far as to defend the intimidating time commitment Destiny 2 demands of even casual players, the satisfaction of exploring and existing in a strange and beautiful world full of arcane mysteries is eroded when the loot that anchors that comes off a shelf.

The peak for fashion in Destiny 2 was arguably during its first year when, in addition to new vendors and raid sets being introduced on a continuous basis, Faction Rallies provided a way for players to express themselves through pledging allegiance to certain characters and repping their colours and styles in the world. Want to be a space goth? Pledge Dead Orbit and go get some precision kills with a scout rifle. Have a fetish for powerful guns and weird colours? Pledge Future War Cult and mow down Vex with an assault rifle. There were three base armour sets and six sets of unique armour ornaments across eight Faction Rallies, all of which were earned in the game through a friendly meta competition with other players. The activity’s been on hiatus for over a year. My only hope is that if and when it does return, its best looking gear doesn’t show up in Eververse.

Games as services are expensive to maintain, and a year ago Bungie parted ways with publisher Activision to try and continue developing one on its own. It has clearly tried to fund some of that development through paid access to seasonal content but also through the sale of cosmetic items. Emotes, emblems, and even finishing moves feel like a fun indulgence that’s fine to charge extra for, but the rags to riches progression underpinning a player’s journey through Destiny 2 is a much more delicate thing to preserve. It’s always been part of the journey, but it’s never been so dependent on buying your way to the best outfit. Retooling the game’s conspicuous consumption around real dollars may not completely break it, but it certainly tarnishes it.

Comments

  • You know, you don’t have to buy anything with either Bright Dust or Silver from the store right? As you pointed out, it’s purely cosmetic and there is plenty of cosmetics you can earn through regular play. There is no game play benefit from the store.

    There is a reason I have 120K Bright Dust, I have only used it to get what I really want. If it’s anything that isn’t 100% going to be used often, then it’s not worth it.

    • To be fair, I believe the argument is that in the case of Destiny 2 a lot more of the unique or ‘cool’ looking cosmetics are being locked behind the paywall now.

      While stuff being added that is able to be earned for free is more and more turning out to be cheap reskins of previous content.

      It’s a complaint I’ve seen in more than one place recently.

        • Yeah, I’m always seeing new comments about Destiny 2 questioning just how much of the ‘bad’ was Activision’s doing after all.

          So stuff like newer raid armor being reskins of old Eververse armor and such really doesn’t help Bungie’s case.

  • I honestly don’t think its getting out of hand at all. It’s all cosmetic stuff. It directly goes to towards the devs and not lining Activision’s pockets. Bungie previous said that sales of cosmetics allowed them to produce extra content for us.

    Im more than willing to pay for these cosmetics knowing its supporting the game i love and the devs behind it.

    • Bungie previous said that sales of cosmetics allowed them to produce extra content for us.
      And the people paying money for the expansions? Are they expected to just accept reskins as new content in these new expansions they pay money for?

      It’d be a different story if it was a completely free-to-play title and cosmetics were the only thing funding it, but it is simply not the case at all.

      Rehashing old content and then charging people for it is questionable no matter what way you slice it. Not sure why Bungie should be given a pass for it.

      • I found the dev post. Here is what the devs said:

        “As some folks have smartly pointed out, MTX is a big part of our business being a live game,” the post reads. “I’m not going to say ‘MTX funds the studio’ or ‘pays for projects like Shadowkeep’ — it doesn’t wholly fund either of those things. But it does help fund ongoing development of Destiny 2, and allows us to fund creative efforts we otherwise couldn’t afford.”

        An example pointed to the Zero Hour mission becoming a reality due to funds from Whisper of the Worm’s ornaments.

        https://au.ign.com/articles/2019/08/13/destiny-2-devs-on-positive-impact-of-microtransactions

        https://www.bungie.net/en/Explore/Detail/News/48058

        Rehashing old content and then charging people for it is questionable no matter what way you slice it.

        Do you even play destiny 2?

        • Nothing in your comment changes anything I’ve said.

          I asked about people paying for expansions getting reskinned content sold to them, while Eververse gets the new content that is thrown behind another paywall. I did so because you seem intent on ignoring that. I mean does the expansion cash not have the same value to the studio as the MTX cash? Last I checked it all spends the same.

          I actually quite enjoy the game, for me it’s a very zen shooter due to mostly stellar controls so it is a great deal of fun to jump into for a few hours here and there… Even if just mindlessly grinding out some bounties. But you’ll just have to excuse that I don’t feel like Bungie should be immune to criticism though.

          It’s definitely not something new as far as rehashing/reskinning/repackaging content for Destiny in general either, the only difference is now Activision isn’t around to take every single bit of the blame for it. On top of that, just because they’ve done it before doesn’t mean it should be accepted now.

          • The battlepass is a perfect example of your argument. By purchasing the battlepass you get the privilege of grinding with continued play to get a limited amount of engrams that only reward older season gear! This is still essentially gambling on stuff that couldn’t be obtained during the season period because they make it impossible to get all the gear in the season pass even though that’s what you’ve paid for. It’s rigged so the house always wins, and it’s been happening since the beginning of introducing seasons to D2.

            I don’t mind companies charging straight up for cosmetics but the way Bungie are going about this still has elements of chance that are designed to keep people playing and spending money without any guarantee they get what they’ve paid for.

            This vid sums up my thoughts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGmXPk5MhuU

          • Battlepasses are weird, mostly something I disagree with for similar reasons. I appreciate that most let you decide to buy them AFTER you’ve gained ranks, so you can decide if what you may have earned is worth the price. Though then most do go and lock the Battlepass XP boosts behind buying the pass, go figure, and ruin that appreciation.

            Then you have weird edge cases where one company’s implementation is vastly different to another, and its incredibly easy to get all the rewards, or even completely free.

            Rockstar’s latest Red Dead Online battlepass was one of the most ridiculously easy to complete that I have ever seen… It took me less than a week to get all 100 ranks done, and there’s still months to go for completing it so any remotely consistent casual player will likely get it done almost through idle play. But that coming from the kings of finding ways to annoy and manipulate people into buying Shark cards on GTA Online absolutely blew my mind.

            Then you have Warframe. Which in my opinion remains to date the single most fair free-to-play model I’ve seen, by an incredibly large margin. Their interpretation of a ‘battlepass’ so far hasn’t even been something you had to pay anything at all for, it basically just gives you a goal by giving you ranks to grind out with rewards to earn. It gets you on and playing their game, and in effect increases the chance you might buy other things they’re selling, or that you might sell items you earned while playing to other people who pay money for the shop currency, etc.

  • I really don’t get the complaint here at all. Destiny 2 isn’t a perfect game, but it’s a pretty generous game for something that costs nothing.

    Yes, there’s a grind. Yes, the paid content is usually cooler (why would anybody ever spend money if it wasn’t??). But there are many existing players with obscene amounts of silver stashed up, and it’s not even that tough for new/returning players (like myself) to get their hands on good gear and awesome looking cosmetics without spending a penny. And they’ll play hundreds of hours of high quality content for free while doing so.

    Also, could you imagine spending a bunch of cash on in-game stuff to just see everyone walking around with it for free? Or to have all of that cool stuff locked behind a grind wall most people don’t have enough time to climb over? Nothing can be perfect.

    For the people who can afford, and want, to pay for all cosmetics then go for it and enjoy it. And the people who can’t or won’t afford that, they should see the game as a huge ROI for the actual gaming content itself (and also get cosmetics, just not as many).

  • I think they’re only getting out of hand because there isn’t enough transparency around additional costs upon release.

    I’d like to see some sort of classification system for additional costs, I.e. if there’s going to be DLC how many and how much will they cost?

    Season/battle passes cost announced, and if there’s cosmetics you can pay for, or only get by spending money.

    If all this info is freely available at launch then it will let players make a much more informed decision about their purchase and be less likely to complain or caught by surprise by stuff like this.

    • there is no suprise though?

      They make you well aware what it costs to buy the DLC. They don’t hide prices at all. I dont think you understand what people are taking issue with.

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