What do Monster Hunter World updates do right that Destiny 2’s don’t?
Gather around, children, and listen to the tale of Destiny. It was a horrible game at launch, one with terrible rewards, messed up difficulty, repetitive activities and the lamest encounters this side of The Fourth Kind. However, Bungie stuck by it, arrogance and knowing better than its player base threatening to topple the shared world shooter. The lack of competition allowed for some much-needed breathing room at least. Eventually, core concepts like the tremendous shooting and gear synergies combined with various new features, revamped content and guaranteed rewards to go with the min-maxer’s RNG grind in a fun way. At some point, many believed Destiny to be the greatest game ever made. Even if everyone else didn’t see it, Year 3 post-Festival of the Lost was the best the game would ever be.
"Unlike when Destiny 1 launched, pushing a pseudo-lifestyle game onto its consumers before adding micro-transactions, there are plenty of games that have stolen its audience away."
Destiny’s child – the sequel, Destiny 2, and not the popular pop group that really only served to launch Beyonce’s career – didn’t continue that trend. Instead, it backed up several steps and stripped away several key aspects that players had come to love. Call it development troubles, rebooting the project at the eleventh hour or a simple desire to produce cosmetic grinds for items that weren’t even all that attractive in a looter shooter while pushing its real money cash shop, Destiny 2 was bad. The repetition, horrible RNG and lame missions of Year 1 combined with lacklustre loot, nerfed abilities, boring movement and tons of features outright gone. The above isn’t an exhaustive list by the way but rest assured that there is a lot missing.
“Surely this could all be salvaged and Destiny 1’s features added back in. Right?” the hopeful and naïve fan thought.
That was almost eight months ago (as of the time of this writing). And unlike when Destiny 1 launched, pushing a pseudo-lifestyle game onto its consumers before adding micro-transactions, there are plenty of games that have stolen its audience away.
I’m not here to outline how much Destiny 2 sucks or how it will never improve. If you head over to the Destiny subreddit, you’ll see a number of fans reacting positively to changes that Bungie are making. Exotic weapons are getting a major buff, as evidenced by Graviton Lance, Rat King and Skyburner’s Oath; Iron Banner 6v6 is exciting and fun; and upcoming Power Level progression changes place more impetus on that three digit end-game number actually mattering.
However, this is meant to be an examination of how major companies treat their consumers. This is a look at Bungie’s hubris and unwillingness to see the bigger picture. To illustrate this, I’ll take Monster Hunter World, Capcom’s critically and commercially acclaimed action RPG, as an example and contrast it to Destiny 2’s state, from launch to now.
"The addictive gameplay loop of Monster Hunter World can be described as follows: Kill monsters, make better gear, kill stronger monsters, and so on."
Since launching in January 2018, Monster Hunter World has become the fastest selling game in Capcom history. This isn’t just the first mainline Monster Hunter title to arrive for home consoles in the West since Monster Hunter Tri. In fact, if anything, it’s the broadest appealing Monster Hunter in terms of release platforms. Monster Hunter Tri arrived only for the Nintendo Wii in 2010 while Monster Hunter 4 was a 3DS exclusive that launched in September 2013. The most important aspect of Monster Hunter World is its role as an entry point for new players. We had known about gear grinds, RNG and crafting thanks to Diablo 3, Destiny and Warframe but we hadn’t seen how Monster Hunter did it (even as many on the 3DS and Wii had).
The addictive gameplay loop of Monster Hunter World can be described as follows: Kill monsters, make better gear, kill stronger monsters, and so on. This loop is aided by 14 different weapon types, each with their own nuanced play-styles that can be incredibly strong if you know how to best use them. Each weapon type has several upgrade trees so depending on the materials gathered, your Bone weapon could be converted into a Thunder element or Dragon element weapon down the line. Of course, this feeds into farming certain monsters, strategically breaking off certain parts. There’s also the armour grind for that perfect synergy with a weapon or play-style.
It may sound like it’d get monotonous but the encounters in Monster Hunter World can get very dynamic. Which monster could interfere, thus causing a turf war, where you’ll fight the monster (along with alterations to the environment), the build and weapon used, a monster’s tactics and enraged state, and so on can all affect the outcome of a fight.
It’s a rough simplification but throw in stricter time limits (especially on certain investigations), different fail conditions, fighting multiple monsters in a row (or at once), Arena combat, Decoration farming, Tempered Investigations, Stream Stones, and so on, and you’ve got quite the smorgasbord of things to do at all times. If nothing, it can all get pretty overwhelming but you’re still firmly in control at all times.
"All of Monster Hunter World’s free updates will have been added by the time it’s three months old. Seriously, three months."
Monster Hunter World launched with 31 large monsters to fight, over 100 different armour sets with Alpha and Beta versions considered and more than 200 weapons. As indicated above, these base numbers can’t quantify just how much there is to do in Monster Hunter World, all tracing back to a simple yet addictive gameplay loop. But let’s take a look at what’s been added to Monster Hunter World since it launched on January 28th 2018:
The above doesn’t include tons of different fixes, numerous weapon balance changes (which resulted in almost no nerfs), quality of life improvements and whatnot.
Don’t get me wrong – Monster Hunter World has had its share of major issues. Online matchmaking was a mess at launch and joining friends for sessions is not quite as intuitive as Destiny 2. That being said, all of the above free updates will have been added by the time it’s three months old. Seriously, three months. Most people might not have even tried more than a handful of weapon types and already there’s way too much to do, with more on the way.
"The three Nightfall-exclusive weapons helped provide some variety but it’s extremely telling that in about eight months since the game launched, Bungie has added such paltry rewards to the Nightfall."
Let’s look at what Destiny 2 has added since its launch on September 7th:
Throughout the above points, you’ll notice a few patterns. Along with a focus on PvP, whether it’s new maps or modes, Eververse hogged most of the spotlight until after Crimson Days in February 2018. The main takeaway is that many armour pieces served little purpose other than being cosmetic and the best looking pieces are all in Eververse. Raid mods helped add a bit of uniqueness to builds but they’re viable only in the Leviathan. Loot as a whole, both armour and weapons, are mostly stagnant. The three Nightfall-exclusive weapons helped provide some variety but it’s extremely telling that in about eight months since the game launched, Bungie has added such paltry rewards to the Nightfall.
Many of the problems with Destiny 2 are a lot deeper though. The weapons and armour just aren’t interesting or worthwhile enough to grind for. Power level means nothing and even with Bungie making the hard cap tougher to achieve in the upcoming Warmind DLC, what purpose will it serve? Upcoming PvE scaling changes ensure that unless you’re 50 Power levels apart from enemies, you’ll still deal damage (and that scenario will hardly come up in raids where players are roughly 10 to 20 Power levels away from enemies, at best).
"When players complained about XP throttling, especially since it directly related to earning Bright Engrams for Eververse loot, Bungie removed said throttling but then doubled the XP required to level up."
Even the collection grind is let down by the fact that there’s a limited amount of vault space to store it all. Bungie may have made improvements to the core gameplay but it’s still a notch below Destiny 1 in its prime. The end-game is still pretty much non-existent unless grinding the Nightfall for hours to get that Exotic Ghost or Sparrow is your idea of enjoyment.
Keep in mind that reaching a state where long-term roadmaps were formulated took nearly three months of outrage from fans fed up with the current direction. An enormous campaign to remove Eververse, several loyal streamers and content creators leaving the game or downplaying it significantly (thus ensuring a massively decreased audience on Twitch) and an enormous decrease in player population since launch were only some of the reactions. Bungie wasn’t trying to immediately fix the glaring issues with its game or even outlining steps that it would take to deal with player frustrations. When players complained about shaders being consumable, director Luke Smith said this would be something additional to grind for (while quietly ignoring that many of the best shaders were available in Eververse for real money).
When players complained about XP throttling, especially since it directly related to earning Bright Engrams for Eververse loot, Bungie removed said throttling but then doubled the XP required to level up. When players hated the amount of items added to Eververse with the launch of Curse of Osiris, to say nothing about the horrible rewards and terrible story, Bungie got stingy with The Dawning’s Bright Engram pool. As player complaints escalated, Bungie would take its usual Christmas vacation and only return with new information in the New Year. Director Christopher Barrett did his best to assuage concerns from fans in the meantime but that’s not a proper response to what’s essentially a crisis for your major sequel. The same major sequel that was one of the highest selling games of 2017.
Remember when PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds for Xbox One was effectively busted at launch? PUBG Corp and Microsoft essentially worked through the holidays to get things back on track. You could argue that this was necessary due to contractual reasons and you’d probably be right. But why those same contractual obligations aren’t placed on Bungie by Activision is a mystery. Then again, considering the number of delays, reboots, and changing terms Bungie has brought into its agreement with the publisher, it’s probably not that strange at all.
"That’s because there are also a number of other lifestyle games that at least try to show they respect players. One could state that Monster Hunter World is an anomaly but look at Tom Clancy’s The Division."
The most important thing to consider from the above isn’t that Capcom is some benevolent developer who loves its consumers. Monster Hunter fans will tell you that this kind of content plan has been the status quo for years now. Games in the franchise have always had free DLC, events and Relic weapons to keep it going (to say nothing of G-Rank that was usually included at launch). It isn’t the amount of content being added – it’s the game’s core gameplay loop, how the developer responds to feedback, the transparency in communication and going above fans’ expectations in the process.
By comparison, Bungie had problems telling its most loyal players anything at all. Things may be picking up these days with the developer more active on the Destiny subreddit (and slightly more so on its official forums). The fact that it’s doing so before the Warmind DLC reveal stream and release should be no coincidence though. It’s painfully obvious that Bungie’s hubris not only brought Destiny 2 to its current state but allowed it to fester more. After all, its loyal fans had taken everything the developer dished out against them. They were addicted. Key emphasis on the word “were”. Many of them, along with the new players garnered through dumbing down systems and neutering the end-game, have left and aren’t ever coming back.
That’s because there are also a number of other lifestyle games that at least try to show they respect players. One could state that Monster Hunter World is an anomaly but look at Tom Clancy’s The Division. Update 1.8 launched in December 2017, bringing a brand new zone with new missions and the new Resistance mode for battling hordes of enemies with some objective twists and bosses thrown in. Major revamps to the Underground for different modifiers and loot opportunities and the Optimization Station which allowed min-maxers to upgrade their gear without having to grind for everything again were also well received.
Then there’s Fortnite: Battle Royale which is updated on a weekly basis. While projects like Paragon effectively died for it, there have been new weapons, limited-time modes, map changes and new additional areas, balance changes and much more added since it launched in September 2017. Epic’s handling of Battle Passes is exemplary (despite a few bumps along the way), telling players exactly what they’d get for each pass level while making it possible to earn premium currency for the pass by through in-game objectives. Let’s not even get into Warframe or Path of Exile, two games which have been killing it in terms of free content while establishing fair monetization methods for a long time now.
"On the other hand, Bungie’s hubris leaves us settling for the bare minimum, hoping that some day, it’ll all be worthwhile. Hopefully, Bungie can turn this all around."
On some innate level, I do feel for the employees at Bungie. They’re split between live updates for the current game, paid DLC – both small and big – and Destiny 3. Given how both Destiny 1 and 2 have been rebooted, who’s to say the third game won’t suffer the same fate in its lifespan? How do you even work under those circumstances? That being said, these people work hard and do their best to deliver in the art and music departments, ensuring the gameplay remains tight and that fans know they actually deeply care about all this.
However, even if the developer’s reach exceeds its grasp in almost every one of its pursuits, its management needs to understand a few things. You could add as much content as possible but if there’s no reason for fans to play it, then you lose that time commitment proposition. Charge for DLC as much as you’d like but if players are getting no value out of their time spent, what’s the point? Dumbing things down while being ignorant of feedback or developing complicated solutions for core problems doesn’t work either. The fans may not be right all the time but when most of them are gone, then it’s time to get off your high horse and do something. Anything.
Monster Hunter World, in the meantime, continues to prosper. Rumours have indicated that more monsters are on the way and if the current schedule continues, we could have near monthly updates with substantial new challenges. One would also think that something special is in development for the PC version, perhaps the return of G-Rank for all platforms to coincide with the PC launch.
Is it too much to ask for a new region to be added, especially since the entire upper left part of the map is available? It may not happen and we may not even receive G-Rank but the commitment and support from the development team along with their clear understanding of why players love their game, even with its ups and downs, makes us believe anything is possible. On the other hand, Bungie’s hubris leaves us settling for the bare minimum, hoping that some day, it’ll all be worthwhile. Hopefully, Bungie can turn this all around. Even if it does and Destiny 2 is pretty much Destiny 1 resurgent, it will have failed to really expand or move the franchise forward in any meaningful way.
Many Destiny fans may be happy with that at the end but maybe, just maybe, they deserve better.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to GamingBolt as an organization.