The Festival of the Lost 2022 just ended in Destiny 2. What should be a bittersweet goodbye to an annual seasonal event with cool gear and interesting things to do is instead a sigh of relief.
Relief that you won’t have to log on and see the mounting list of grindy triumphs to complete. Relief that you won’t have to collect any more candy. The relief that you can finally get back to the game without having the paid event card shoved down your throat. Events suck in Destiny and they have done for a while now.
That isn’t a complaint to lay just at the feet of Festival of the Lost, either: all of Destiny 2’s events are pretty lacklustre. Guardian Games earlier this year proved it, the newly rebranded Solstice proved it again and now, Festival of the Lost has come and ushered in a new era of ‘meh’. One can only wonder what manner of disappointing the Dawning will serve up this year.
This all may sound harsh but it comes after several years of erosion and fatigue. Guardians aren’t asking that seasonal events become pinnacle core pillars of the game, with an end-game loop and hundreds of guns to chase. They want it to be something that you actually enjoy coming around, something to look forward to playing outside of getting the inevitably cool ornaments that pop up in Eververse.
We want events to be fun. Can we fix events in Destiny 2?
Want more Destiny 2 content and articles? You can find more here on KeenGamer:
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- Destiny 2: Who is Nezarec?
Why Festival of the Lost (and Other Events) Sucks
First off, let’s go over why these events have been so disappointing as of late.
Same Old, Same Old
One of the major issues with events in Destiny 2 is what Bungie wants you to do during them. Taking Festival of the Lost 2022 as an example, Guardians were asked to spend time in the Haunted Lost Sector playlist (revamped Lost Sectors with spooky enemies and new objectives) to earn new gear like the Mechabre Sniper and the Ghost Writer Seal. However, they were also expected to grind out core playlist activities alongside that to gather Pages that could be used within the Haunted Lost Sectors.
While this varies from Event to Event, the general structure can be pinpointed right here. Instead of creating an event and just allowing players to dedicate their time to it, Bungie wants us to bounce back and forth between things like Strikes and Crucible before we can get down to any holiday fun. Bare in mind that by the time an Event rolls around we’re usually already 6-8 weeks into a season, asking players to go back so they can actually enjoy the new activities is exhausting.
Adding to that is the fact that the events are usually pretty barebones. The Haunted Lost Sectors return from last year but they have only had a single new addition to them. This makes every run feel all the more dated and monotonous. One of the biggest side effects of a good live service is a hungry community of players who are always wanting more – in that regard, Destiny’s player base is especially voracious, wanting new things at a rapid pace. As such, when these holiday events get repeated like this without much care or effort to freshen them up, it feels like a bit of a slap in the face and is a compounding reason for players quickly dropping off.
Of course, it isn’t entirely feasible to ask Bungie to not only make massive compelling activities for the Seasonal Events when they already make an Expansion and 4 fleshed-out seasons in the year but what we usually get is still pretty lacklustre. The most exciting activity was when Strikes got fun modifiers in Guardian Games, but that only amplifies the problem: unlike the days of old with SRL in Destiny 1, Destiny 2 events are lacking that magic that makes them stand out. They’re missing the fun.
On top of pretty lame activities, the holiday Events are very bloated affairs. This bloat is mainly down to how much grinding the game asks you to go through throughout each Event. Once again using Festival of the Lost as our scapegoat, you needed to do an insane amount of activities in order to unlock the full Event Card and get the Ghost Writer Title. This included collecting shedloads of Candy, running many, many of the Haunted Lost Sectors and spending time grinding out the normal playlists (which we do already every week). Paired with an already arduous task and many players just… gave up.
This is a running theme across Destiny 2’s Events. Whether it’s points for your team at Guardian Games or ingredients for cookies at the Dawning these just boil down to a monotonous grind. It is a tad ridiculous to assume that there would be absolutely no grind (Destiny 2 is a looter after all). Yet, when everything is a grind it becomes a lot less tolerable.
With that many layers of tedium to drag you and your fireteam through, holiday events become something to dread rather than something to look forward to. “How many Lost Sectors will I have to run for ingredients this year?” instead of “Oh cool the Dawning is back!” Like with the seasonal activities themselves, the fun is slowly being stripped away, largely because of these arduous tasks that Bungie insist we do.
Excuse for Eververse
One place where there are abounding developments, however, is the Eververse. The cash shop for Destiny 2 is always awash with new glamour and gear to pick up every Event without fail. Of course, Eververse is a core part of the game’s economy and a viable way for Bungie to make money. Seeing it get a new stock of Mech-themed Halloween armour or a Santa Hatted Ghost Shell shouldn’t be surprising.
The issue comes when it feels like Eververse is the only thing being updated. With Haunted Lost Sectors this year, we only got a single new one and one brand-new gun to farm. Meanwhile, not only did Eververse get 3 really nice sets of themed armour, but it also got a bunch of Ghosts, Sparrows and even some ornaments. There is a surplus of stuff to buy but not even a fraction of it feels earnable.
It has only grown worse since the introduction of the Event Card. Honestly, the free track is a great addition for allowing players to get a Seal, Title and some nice goodies. On the other hand, the paid track is insultingly empty. Especially for the proposed price and when it is being advertised nearly everywhere you look. When the game is suffering from stale content, yet you are being bombarded by cool new armour to buy or a new paid pass to try out, players quickly begin to lose their patience.
Can Events Be Fixed?
I believe that events can return to the level of enjoyment and excitement that they once were. Whether that is an easy fix or not is a separate quandary. I do honestly believe (and earnestly want) seasonal events can be exciting again.
Focus on Fun
First, we need to put the focus back on fun above the grind. Festival of the Lost 2022 has reinforced how much people hate the endless grind. From candy into pages into triumphs for the Seal, it has sucked all the life out of the event. We already grind Destiny 2 every time we log on. So, when a fresh seasonal event rolls around it would be nice to do something other than grind.
I want to lay back and go wild on some Strikes with stupid modifiers. Or play a Crucible mode where a super-powered Guardian hunts down the other players. Or Gambit to have… something. It is unlikely that players will stick around solely for event content for 3 weeks but even if they only spend a day or two engaging with that content, you want them to come away actually enjoying it and looking forward to next time.
Strip out the grind, and make the event loop something players actively want to engage with outside of just getting loot. Seasonal events should be a break from the normal in Destiny 2, not a doubling down on it.
More Meaningful Rewards
Look, it’s a moot point to try and ask for the Eververse Ornaments to be put in activities. As Datto famously put it, ‘Eververse is non-negotiable’.
However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have something else. Weapons for most events are honestly in a pretty decent spot. Especially now that they are rolling out with new event Origin Traits. Masks in Festival of the Lost are a good start for other meaningful rewards (as are the ornaments that you can collect for them). Although, outside of the event, these become worthless: you can’t even use them as universal ornaments. There’s also the odd Exotic Ghost shell, ship or sparrow but they pale in comparison to something like armour.
Even a single good reward will be enough to get people to engage with content. Take the Tiger Head Ornament from Dares of Eternity. For many, this is what they farmed and continued to play Dares for, even when it got a bit stale. Imagine if each class got even a single cool helmet ornament that people could earn through the Dawning. Something cool, attainable and worth chasing. Other things of this nature could include a nice shader that’s different from anything else in the game. The frenzy around Superblack and the small hunt for it come to mind, making this omission even more baffling.
Whatever the case, having rewards that only matter during the Event leads to a lot of feeling like their time isn’t valid. Why grind out an ornament for the Mask when it’ll just be pointless in a week? We need more meaningful and enticing rewards for Destiny 2 seasonal events.
Will They Be Fixed?
It’s hard to say whether or not these events will be fixed, to be honest.
Based on how Bungie has been handling events for the past year or so, they seem rather content. Granted, they did try and mix up the EAZ this year, but that was only a marginal change. Meanwhile, Solstice itself was still amuck with the same issues listed above.
When Eververse continues to sell, players keep coming back to grind the titles and some even consider picking up the new Event Card, it’s hard to argue why they would change. However, the community sentiment has been growing louder and louder with every passing Event. With every cookie, every new set of Solstice armour, every bag of candy and every point on the podium, people are growing tired.
Many Destiny 1 players look back on the excitement that many felt during the Events back then with bitter nostalgia. There was something more to them back then, an earnest joy that made people happier than the community currently seems. Whether it was the presents we could open each day leading up to Christmas or the return of SRL, holiday Events were some of the highlights of Destiny.
Obviously, Destiny 2 and Bungie are in a very different place now. Back then, holiday Events were practically the only updates we got outside of Expansions or the odd sandbox fix. As a result, they had the benefit of being far grander. Even at the beginning of Destiny 2 with Solstice of Heroes, Bungie had two other studios to back them up. Now, though, Bungie has to make these Events while prioritising the new seasonal model and the yearly expansions.
I don’t think we’ll ever recapture the magic of how Events used to be – how audacious they were, how momentous they felt. I do believe that if enough pain points are addressed, then we could reach a new type of magic. Maybe then, we could finally have fun with Destiny 2’s holiday Events again.