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10/16/2014 5:04:45 PM
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Bungie needs to Quarantine Destiny's Crucible Multiplayer.

Bungie Needs To Quarantine Destiny's Crucible Multiplayer Destiny is quickly learning about something that has plagued MMOs for ages now. Competitive multiplayer and single player/co-op play don’t mix very well. Most games these days have a PvP component, where players can take on other players, and a PvE component, where players can team up to fight against AI enemies in the larger world environment. Most games have a solid wall planted between the two. Multiplayer-focused games like Call of Duty and Halo generally don’t allow what a player does in the story campaign to affect their multiplayer experience. Single player games with a multiplayer component, Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed, do the same thing. But with the “shared world” philosophy of an MMO, games in the genre like to blend the two. As in, items and weapons you find in the wild can be used in competitive play, and vice versa. That creates a very perilous balance problem between the two worlds, and it’s something Destiny has been struggling with since launch. Especially so in recent days. The prime case in point is the tale of the Vex Mythoclast, an Exotic assault rifle given out randomly as a reward for beating the hardest segment of the game, the Vault of Glass raid, on the hardest difficulty. The weapon is godlike, as any weapon awareded for such an achievement should be, but it posed serious balance problems in competitive play. Those players who did own the rifle would slaughter others with ease, and Bungie hit the weapon hard in a recent patch with a nearly 50% damage decrease. That’s well and good for multiplayer, but in turn, the weapon also was rendered more or less useless for PvE as well, and some players are now reducing their once incredible weapon to scrap metal as a result. This kind of thing happens frequently not just with specific weapons, but entire weapon classes. The shotgun, for instance, has had its effectiveness reduced several times already because of its dominance in PvP. Yet the gun is so outrageously bad in PvE, you can barely even use it, and the patches are only making it worse. This isn’t a new problem with Destiny, however, and it’s something I’ve been worried about all the way back since the Alpha and Beta tests. The constant need to balance the game for PvP means that creative itemization is very, very limited. In the current system, the items that truly do unique things to your skills, or have really cool perks, are Exotic. And you can only have one Exotic weapon and piece of armor on at a time to prevent too much synergy. Meanwhile, “Legendary” weapons and armor may have one or two unique perks, but are mostly flat stat boosts. My Legendary boots for example are literally the same as my Rare boots, though they give me a tiny bit more armor and add to my light level. In another game they might grant me bonus sprint speed or the ability to jump higher, but not so in Destiny. The most fun part of any loot-based game is figuring out an awesome gear combination to help boost your favorite skills, and invent new and creative builds. While this is possible to some extent in Destiny in its current form, its hamstrung by the need to keep things toned down enough where PvP isn’t a complete disaster. And yet, it still is, at least in terms of balance. Destiny’s Crucible multiplayer levels out damage and armor across players, yet still allows special weapon and armor perks to exist in that mode, which can often create at least the appearance of unbalance among high and low level players. Having a higher reload speed on your weapon means one player just has a flat advantage over another, holding skill equal, regardless of damage or armor. And yet, to compensate for these differences, Bungie has apparently gone overboard. The recent “Iron Banner” Crucible session claimed that gear armor and damage would not be equalized, and only the best geared players would be able to survive the mode. That was quickly debunked by videos of low level players wearing starting-level gear destroying high level players in full Legendary and Exotic loadouts. Whatever Bungie had planned for balance, or lack thereof, in that mode, it’s clear something went awry. They eventually addressed the issue, but really only said that they were listening to feedback and would tweak things in the future, without explaining how exactly things went so wrong. To me, the solution for all of this is to completely wall off the Crucible from PvE. That may be an unpopular opinion, but it seems like the best solution at present, given what’s happened in the game so far. That would free up itemization in the single player and co-op world to be as crazy and creative as it wants to be, and would restore balance to the competitive mode which so desperately needs it. Normally, trying this hard to balance multiplayer wouldn’t be that big of an issue, but considering this is Bungie and the Halo series contains some of the best competitive shooter multiplayer of all time, it’s important to try and keep that tradition alive. But when was Halo at its best? I think most would argue that was during Halo 2 or 3, when players all had access to equal weapons that did the same damage, and armor wasn’t even a factor. The game relied on map knowledge, teamwork and skill, and it wasn’t even possible to complain that one item was severely unbalanced over others, considering everyone had access to the same arsenal. Eventually Halo started mirroring Call of Duty more and more, allowing players to choose loadouts of different starting guns and armor perks. Now, we arrive at Destiny where you chose an entire skill tree, four pieces of armor and three weapons before heading into battle. Balance, or at the very least the perception of balance, is gone. I would love if the Crucible multiplayer allowed players to return to the golden age of Halo, running around the map, picking up weapons and fighting over chokepoints and rocket launcher respawns. Relying 100% on a preconceived loadout (you can’t even pick up a dead player’s weapon off the ground anymore) has warped PvP into something else entirely. The larger game suffers because items are limited to prevent skill synergy from stacking too high, but balance problems persist regardless. Now, the best weapon in the game has been neutered, sacrificed on the altar of PvP. That’s sad, and should not be the case. Bungie has a rich history of amazing multiplayer, but I question their philosophy of integrating it so heavily into all the other modes of Destiny. Both PvE and PvP suffer because of it, and it’s something to think about for the long term health of the game. Paul Tassi – Forbes.

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