Hey ho, the token system has got to go
Today marks the launch of Destiny 2‘s “Prestige” mode for its sole raid — Leviathan. If you’re confused it’s because this new hard version was delayed for a week and a day due to exploits, and it lives up to its namesake.
It’s definitely tougher and more fun for those who are seeking a bigger challenge, but there’s one major problem: the rewards are still unsatisfying.
Prestige Leviathan asks for a recommended 300 power level, which is no problem for my 305 Warlock/Titan/Hunter lineup. Naturally everything is spongier so you’ll need to bring quality weapons in (I used MIDA/an AR/the raid rocket), but in no time we were onto Gauntlet after earning a trio of new prestige-exclusive shaders (they’re ugly and gold, just how Calus likes it).
As soon as I jumped into Gauntlet I noticed how much harder everything hit, and a slight difference when it comes to resurrection capabilities. In Prestige you can still res (something that wasn’t possible in Destiny 1 hard modes), but you’ll be expending your res if you get picked up. So in essence, a death counts twice. You really don’t want to die in Prestige, it sucks.
So how was Gauntlet with that caveat in mind? Not bad, actually, at least for a group who has the encounter down. Now everyone has to run (so if you haven’t practiced that yet, do it), but that’s kind of it. We figured this out quickly and immediately ran a triangle rotation, where one person was on dog plate, one was running at dog, and the other was at sun (same for the other side with axes and cup). When the first runner comes out and dunks, dog plate swapped to runner, runner swapped to sun, and sun swapped to dog (same for the other side) — rinse and repeat one more time and you’re good. Other than grabbing an extra Psionic projection and having three orbs at the end for each section it’s basically the same, but a lot more fun now that all six players have to do an important/different job.
Pleasure Gardens — the area most people hate but I feel is the easiest — has been adjusted slightly as well. There’s now eight dogs, and the two new ones patrol in the middle. It makes it a little harder to get x48 stacks of pollen to blast everyone away (you need to sneak around the outsides now rather than abuse the mid) but we managed to get the patterns down and clear it after the third try. The secret? We follow the same normal mode strategy of “everyone gets a dog,” but when you kill your dog you also go get the “common dog” on your side. Given that most of my crew obliterates their dog in a few seconds (hint: use cluster rockets) we had no issue here.
Baths is pretty much the same, things just do more damage so you have to be on point and not die. Well that, and if you fail to one-cycle the middle phase you have to go to a specific plate and reset the process (it’s a lot like Calus’ symbols; players will just need to know where each plate is, a process that takes 10 seconds of running around the arena). My group had to take a break right before Calus, but so far we found Prestige to be a lot of fun, and we agreed that it’s challenging enough without feeling insane or unfair.
While the quality of these fights is up for debate, it’s the loot that’s the problem. You can go through an entire raid with very little to show for it — and I mean literally no loot outside of tokens until Calus. To recap, I got up to the last boss in Prestige mode with my group and I had enough tokens to turn in for one low-end piece of normal gear. After going back to the tower I assumed the vendor would maybe upgrade to spit out hard mode items, but alas, I was greeted by a poor man’s slot machine yet again.
For comparison’s sake, let’s look at how a lot of other MMOs handle high-end loot. Tokens were basically taken wholesale from games like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV. The idea is that if you do a piece of endgame content enough, you’ll eventually be able to accrue enough tokens to buy a piece of gear you need. In Final Fantasy, they’re currently called “books,” and you can turn them in for specific body parts based on how many fights you’ve cleared (it’s four for the current raid tier, the same as Destiny 2‘s raid). Here, you’re at the mercy of pulling a slot machine using tokens for what now amounts to randomized trash.
All of Prestige’s rewards are confirmed to be cosmetic so far (gear is a sidegrade with no new statlines), including the exotic shotgun quest, which just issues an ornament instead of any new perks. As several people in my group exclaimed after also coming up with nothing for their efforts, “Why would anyone even run this again?”
I put in the time to find and teach five other people the encounters to get this far on the first day, and I know that almost saturating the highest challenge in the game right when it launches is not the typical experience. But Prestige raids are built for these types of players, and there needs to be more of a draw if Bungie wants anyone actually playing until the next expansion drops. Most of my group had no desire in running it weekly, which is a problem if even your top veterans are getting tired of slot-machine rewards.