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Destiny 2’s Nightfall Change Shows Need For Weapon System Rework

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Yesterday, Destiny 2 received update 1.1.3 which was headlined by the new Nightfall Strike Scoring system. The hard time limit is now gone from the Nightfall, and with it any modifiers are gone from the normal or prestige mode nightfall. To enable modifiers, in prestige mode only, you’ll need a Nightfall Challenge Card which drops from a nightfall completion. This challenge card will allow to set a power handicap to increase your score multiplier, set an optional elemental singe (basically the old arc/solar/void burn as a 25% damage increase from all sources of that element type), and has the old fireteam wipe sends you back to orbit modifier.

Let me say up front that I mostly like this change. I’ve solo’d Nightfalls in Destiny 2 with the time limit in place, and I didn’t like it. I enjoyed soloing Nightfall’s in Destiny 1 right up until The Taken King. I never liked the timer. I like that you don’t need to worry about the timer now, although there’s a trade off in that you can no longer die at boss. If you die at a boss, in normal mode or prestige without the challenge card, you’re starting back at the very beginning of the boss encounter.

I appreciate the difficulty and the challenge, but this change only further amplifies the fundamental issue with Destiny 2; the weapon system is just flat out garbage and so is the ability sandbox.

The Nightfall in vanilla Destiny 1 could be both easy and difficult at the same time. It was never “easy” in the sense that absolutely anyone could do it. If it was The Devil’s Lair with Arc Burn and Lightswitch, you could easily wipe back to orbit in the first room fighting off enemies while waiting on your Ghost to disable the barriers. You could die extremely fast, but you could also take out enemies really fast. There was a fair trade off, and I’d say it was quite well balanced.

On the flip side to some rooms that could be really tough, there were cheeses and mostly safe spots that could make things more manageable. In most of these spots you’d still have to be careful, especially solo because the slightest mistake could’ve easily been a wipe back to orbit (except for Sungsinger Warlocks and their self revive nonsense). There were very few truly safe spots that 100% guaranteed a completion.

Both Destiny and Destiny 2 features strike bosses that have regularly spawning adds based on the bosses health level. Destiny had good modifiers though. With Arc Burn, a vandal sniper could ruin your run very fast, but with an arc sniper you could also make quick work of that vandal. It was fair. You could then use that arc sniper, or a fusion rifle, and unload on the boss for quite a bit of damage. You might follow that up with some good old Thunderlord.  If need be, you could pop a heavy or special synth and get more ammo. Some bosses you could even get away with using a shotgun on in place of a sniper.

In Destiny 2, you don’t have any of that. Sure, if you were soloing in Destiny 1 and you died, you’d wipe back to orbit, and that could be frustrating mostly because you knew you messed up. With the nightfall’s now, because of how Destiny 2 is set up, it’s frustrating for an entirely different reason. It’s no longer frustrating because you know you messed up, it’s frustrating because of an intrinsic unfairness. Your Guardian in no way feels powerful, and a wipe at a boss sets up your next attempt for complete failure to the point where you might as well return to orbit and begin again yourself.

Strike bosses in Destiny 2 feature small enclosed areas with little cover. Using a sniper rifle, solo, is out. You can’t get close enough to the boss to use a shotgun because every boss has to have a stupid knockback mechanic (which Destiny had too, but you’re more likely to die from one shot of it in Destiny 2 because you’re probably going to get flung into some nearby wall). Swords are out. You pretty much just have a rocket launcher as the only viable weapon in the power slot. Except you’re only going to get six rockets. You might get two bricks of power ammo to drop if you’re lucky, which will give you two more rockets. Big whoop. Die, and you’ll restart the encounter with no power ammo if you used it all and in this case you might get two rockets the entire boss fight. Assuming you start with your super, you’re only likely to use your super once in the entire encounter, so you better make it count.

There’s no synths, and even if there were good luck finding cover to go into your menu to use it (why does this still take so long on consoles, even on Pro).

So to recap, we have:

  • Small arenas with little cover.
  • Lots of enemies and a big boss that all do lots of damage when they hit you.
  • Bosses that chase after you instead of staying in a general area.
  • No specials weapons.
  • Very little power ammo, and once you use it it is gone.
  • No synths.
  • Global juggler and trickle modifiers applied to everything.

Can the Nightfall be solo’d? Of course. Is it a challenge? Absolutely. Is it a challenge for the right reasons? No. Is it designed to be solo’d? No, and that’s a problem (in Destiny 1, it’d scale based off of how many people were in the fireteam so if you were solo enemies had a little less health and did a little less damage).

This is a problem that largely began, like many of Destiny’s problems, with the release of The Taken King. Certain people in the community whined that folks were soloing the Nightfall’s using cheeses and hanging back with an Icebreaker, and that helped pave the way for bosses like The Shield Brothers… small rooms with no cover, roaming bosses, and tons of adds. Could you solo that? A lot of us did, although admittedly some modifier versions were easier than others. But even then you got abilities back much faster, you could get multiple supers, you had two powerful weapons, ammo actually dropped and you had things like invisibility/barriers and bubbles/self-revive. It was challenging, but your Guardian actually had powers and felt powerful enough to overcome it.

In Destiny 2, you’ve got nothing and this nightfall change just further showcases it. We got our light back like 15 minutes after we lost it, and yet we might as well not even have it. The Traveler is awake for crying out loud, why are we so much weaker?

I don’t think you should be able to steam roll pinnacle end game content, especially solo. But there does need to be a balance that feels somewhat fair. In most strikes in Destiny 2, you’ve got no where to hide, but you have less utility with your abilities and instead of having two powerful weapons you get two primaries. I still don’t understand why anyone greenlit that decision, especially when it was so PvP focused and the game’s player base has always been more PvE focused. Even in PvP it doesn’t make sense because everything has been so neutered that you’re left holding hands and individual skill matters a lot less.

I also believe there should be only one difficulty for the Nightfall, hard (or prestige as it’s called). I don’t like two different options for a Nightfall. However, if you’re going to have a 270 normal mode and a 330 prestige mode, then there should at least be some difference between them. From what I can tell after the update, enemies in the Nightfall now seem to die in the same amount of time and kill you in the same amount of time regardless of whether it’s normal or prestige. Why even bother with a 270 normal if the game is going to act like your 335 character is 270?

“But the Nightfall is a three person activity you’re not supposed to solo,” some people would say. You can solo it. It’s always been soloable, some weeks easier than others. Destiny 1 showed that Bungie knew how to make it an enjoyable experience solo and one that would slightly scale in a fireteam. Why did that balance get lost in Destiny 2? As it is now, it’s just a strike with harder hitting enemies and no modifiers to either hurt or help the player. With no matchmaking for it (and there shouldn’t be unless it was 100% optional) and no in game way of finding someone to do it with (Guided Games doesn’t count), it needs something. It’s not my fault Bungie made a lot of poor decisions to make Destiny 2 worse than Destiny to the point of clan members who played the original for years over hundreds or thousands of hours couldn’t last five months playing Destiny 2.

How many folks even care about the strike’s in Destiny 2? There’s two fun ones in the whole game, The Pyramidion and The Arms Dealer. The Inverted Spire is okay, I suppose. None of these strikes are remotely as memorable or fun as The Devil’s Lair, The Summoning Pits, Winter’s Run, The Nexus, Cerberus Vae III, The Will of Crota, The Dust Palace or The Undying Mind.

Folks can say whatever they want about vanilla Destiny and say it was in a similar bad spot as Destiny 2 is before The Taken King. The first year of Destiny was the best year of Destiny, with aspects of vanilla Destiny being the best. The shooting in Destiny 2 is just as a fun as it was in Destiny, but everything else is lacking. The new Nightfalls, with the Challenge Card, will be fun in a group. On that front, it’s a lot better. But trying to solo the Nightfall going forward, is just going to be frustrating for all the wrong reasons. It’s not “too hard,” but bullet sponges and no powerful weapons or abilities isn’t fun. Tickling a boss to death with two primary weapons also isn’t fun, especially when you’re spending most of your time bunny hoping behind small sections of cover trying to take out the 10 enemies shooting you while also being chased by the boss.

This game has absolutely nothing for solo players, and considering Bungie messed the game up so much that the majority of the player base has abandoned it and moved on to something else, they absolutely need to care more about the folks playing solo. That doesn’t mean make it easy, it means make it fair and balanced like it was in Destiny 1.

The great irony of Destiny 2 is that, when it was first being shown off and the beta hit, a lot of folks where complaining that it was “just more Destiny” and feels like DLC. If only that would’ve been the case.

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