In a nutshell, i see these as your key issues:
[b]- Lifeless npcs. Dont care about story
- Cut up story. Good narrative but spread so thinly it becomes meaningless
- Bungie not communicating meaningfully with community
- Respond quickly to nerfs, agonisingly slow to buffs
- Adversarial grind model; makes players feel the game is actively working against them. Chore rather than fun.[/b]
I see where you were going with it, the lore is all there, the character design and everything. But for so long, they've been unnecessary for the player experience. They stand in one place, they don't move, and after you had to make budget cuts, dialogue sometimes became printed text rather than anything the NPCs actually said.
For years, we as players have had scant interaction with NPCs other than to pick up bounties, which doesn't make us invest in or care about that character; they're just an animated decoration in the way of our bounties. The destination NPCs are even worse hit as some destinations became largely irrelevant.
Now you're going to remove some locations and kill the NPCs with them, you've flooded several lore texts that speak of these grand sacrifices made by these NPCs, but as players we're left thinking; "who?", as we suddenly get a grand story about a character that in game has stood still offering obsolete gear in a place no-one visits.
As per the summary above really. I think Destiny has a GREAT story, but because you've wanted to pad it out to stretch an entire year, it means we go literally months without getting anything meaningful. It would be like asking you to read a book, but you only get to read one page every month.
You can't possibly feel attached to such a story, and your only option would be to read the whole thing again after you got to that last page.
Arguably, to get any player really invested in the story, the best strategy might be to not play at all until the end of a year, just so that you a) care about what's going on, and b) can make sense of it.
I get what you've tried to do with the latest stuff revisiting all the missions where Savathun has had an influence. That's a great compromise to at least try to pull it all together before the big reveal next season, but you only need to do that because it's been so long since anyone last interacted with that story, most people had probably forgotten the significance.
Despite that you had ridealongs once upon a time. Despite the weekly TWABs. Comms feel off.
I think that's because you restrict comms to one or two Bungie reps assigned as community managers, rather than letting all your staff publicly communicate with your playerbase. I'm sure they're present on undeclared accounts, but it'd feel more human and more connected to have a better relationship, rather than having to pass the community and devs through some middle-man filter.
Having said that, even the filter wouldn't be too bad, but it's ruined by that filter giving stifled "we hear your concerns" that then take months sometimes to see more official actions taken as a result, or "tell us what you don't like about that" and then a following wall of silence when we do tell you what we didn't like.
As per summary. You're way too slow to apply balance changes where things could use some love. We could potentially forgive that if that's just the best you could do with the resources you have. But you often prove that it's not the best you can do. Because sometimes there will be nerfs (not even necessarily needed due to game breaking issues) that you suddenly are able to deal with quite quickly.
This sucks. Nerfs are perceived as negative to the player experience, and you're able to deliver.
Buffs are perceived as positive, but you're agonisingly slow. It makes it on to a to do list, and I'm sure "phase 2" only seems like a short time away in project land, but for a user, that's literally weeks or even months. Other games come out in that time, life changes. For players, those weapons we love (for example), or want to love, aren't just stripes on a gantt chart, they're integral to our experience. It doesn't matter there m that there are alternatives out there, because many of us like "that" gun, the one that's ours that we spent ages trying to get, the one that looks cool with that alternative skin; and it sucks that it doesn't work well and that for the next 4 months or so, we can't play the game in the way we want.
You need to be faster. Take more risks with buffs and nerfs. There's no shame in not rigorously testing for weeks to make sure it doesn't upset game balance. We'd much rather have something get buffed out of control one week and nerfed the next in a kind of "whoops....ok we got that wrong!", than a world where it's months of knowing that no change is coming, better or worse.
Because you've built the entire game around grind, with a focus on keeping players online for as long as possible in each individual case, it means as players, most game experiences are chasing a carrot on a stick.
"You like that handcannon? Well we can see from your data that you use handcannons a lot, and you play ~12 hours per week, so how about we just up the chance of an auto rifle to 70% on these engrams until you've played, say, 13 hours?". It's that whole philosophy that says if you give players what they actually want, then they stop playing. I actually agree with the science. But i think we wouldn't stop playing if we had a better delivered story, a more interactive dev community, more agile changes to keep things fresh. You're only having to keep us grinding because you need to string out the content for as long as possible.
And worse, now with "sunsetting", it appears that you want to yank that carrot back out of our guts....
Having the game engine work actively against us to produce grind may be good for player numbers and shareholder reports, but it absolutely sucks as a player experience. It means there's no loyalty built there because there's no player investment. We know that you're just going to take stuff away when it's convenient, or make things harder to obtain in future, and so each time we're less and less likely to come back to play. It's an abusive cycle and isn't fun.
Bit of a long post, but meaning to make it for a while. Hope it all makes sense. Peace out.