We’re not going to dig through the past mistakes of Destiny 2, but when the game launched in September 2017 it brought forth Trials of the Nine.
That was the Destiny 2 version of the popular, at least on Twitch, end-game PvP mode from Destiny, Trials of Osiris. Only Trials of the Nine wasn’t Elimination, and it wasn’t 3v3. Like everything else PvP at the time, Trials of the Nine was 4v4 and the mode alternated between Survival and Countdown.
The mode, and static rewards, wasn’t popular and it went away at the end of Season 3 in late August 2018. From the time Forsaken and Season 4 launched in September 2018 until March 2020, Destiny 2 had no end-game weekly PvP activity.
In its absence, a vocal part of the community and streamers/content creators kept pleading for a return of Trials, and Trials of Osiris in particular.
When 3v3 Elimination Trials of Osiris came to Destiny 2 in March 2020 with Season 10: Season of the Worthy, the mode was initially met with enjoyment from most that partook in it. It brought back some streamers, the numbers were good, but it took just a couple of weeks before the complaints began to get louder.
Now as Season 11: Season of Arrivals nears an end, it’s time for Bungie to look at the numbers and realize that Trials of Osiris isn’t working and isn’t popular. I’m coming at this from the perspective of someone who has played the mode but doesn’t do it regularly or particularly enjoy it.
As such, Bungie needs to rework or retire Trials of Osiris again. There could be changes coming in Beyond Light that we don’t yet know about, but my concern here is that Bungie will think new armor and adept weapons is enough. It’s not.
Also, yes cheating is a huge problem on PC, but this article isn’t going to address that because it isn’t a Trials exclusive issue.
This past weekend, 171,455 people queued up for at least one match of Trials of Osiris across all four platforms. That’s not the lowest the numbers have been, but it’s pretty low. Only 30,229 players went Flawless.
|PLATFORM||# of PLAYERS||# of FLAWLESS|
Why’s the population so low? Why aren’t more players engaging with Trials of Osiris?
As someone who doesn’t play the mode, but would like to have a reason to, it comes down to the fact that the mode isn’t rewarding. I don’t believe most folks aren’t playing because they already have everything and the loot hasn’t refreshed since the mode launched (new loot coming in Beyond Light).
The time spent to reward ratio is way out of balance and that discourages people from playing especially when the loot itself isn’t that good. Bungie tried to address this somewhat this season by introducing the bounty that would give players the reward for getting three wins on a card even if they couldn’t actually get three wins on a card. But that’s not enough.
Players who struggle to get wins have virtually no reason to play, and that automatically makes the majority of the playerbase lose interest. No one wants to play for three hours, and not even get enough tokens to get an additional reward (if it even unlocks if you don’t get three wins, which I don’t believe it does).
If you play Trials and lose, you get nothing and have no chance of getting anything. Most folks aren’t going to keep doing that, not when they can spend less time doing other stuff, that isn’t frustrating, and actually get rewards for doing so.
Reworking Trials To Be A Rewarding Activity
How do you get folks to playing the mode that might not be particularly good at it? You rework it into being a rewarding activity, regardless of how a team does.
I can hear the elitist now whining about how this mode is end-game and shouldn’t hand out participation trophies and how if you can’t win you don’t deserve anything.
To that end, I’d say that’s how you get a very low player population and most of your games are sweaty which you complain about so much.
I do believe that there should be stuff that not every player can get, myself included. We know that Beyond Light is bringing back some version of Adept Weapons for going Flawless, and that’s great. So long as the Adept weapon isn’t vastly superior to other stuff, and thus creating a rich get richer effect, then there should be exclusive stuff for the highest levels.
Beyond Adept Weapons, I’d even argue that there should be a bunch of exclusive rewards for going Flawless and beyond. An exclusive armor set, exclusive armor ornaments, exclusive weapon ornaments, emblems, ships, ghost shells, and sparrows.
Notice all of that, besides the Adept Weapons, is cosmetic and doesn’t make the Flawless players better. It’s just cool looking stuff. Some of that cosmetic stuff would be super exclusive for getting wins on a flawless passage at different thresholds (10 game win-streak, 14 game win-streak, etc.) as that would both give good players something to chase beyond the Flawless drop and also encourage them not to reset their passage.
Likewise, there needs to be cool stuff for everyone else. You can continue to guarantee a specific weapon or armor piece at 3, 5 and 7 wins. That’s fine. Keep the bounty so that players can get that guaranteed three win item just for playing and completing the bounty.
But each game should have a chance at dropping a Trials weapon, armor piece, or some legendary cosmetic item with a higher drop chance for a win.
You see, that’s rewards for playing the game. I didn’t say anything about getting a token or two for a loss. I hate the Token system. Let the rewards drop from doing the activity and don’t make the drop rate be absurdly low. The idea is to keep people engaged in the mode even if they are losing every game.
Of course the not as good players don’t like losing all the time, and for that reason I don’t believe Trials should be a farmable activity. I think each character should be able to get Flawless rewards once a week and I don’t think it should be a set drop. After that, the top tier players would be encouraged to keep playing by seeing how many wins they can get on their passage before they lose three (or four with the mercy) games. That would be cosmetic rewards at different win thresholds.
That would be to try and prevent top teams from plowing through the not as good population to try and farm Ascendant Shards by going flawless over and over (for the record, I think Prisms/Shards overall need guaranteed sources weekly in the form of bounties and also the ability to be RNG drops from completing any activity and not just be a Trials/Nightfall currency).
If the weapons are good and the roll possibility is strong, and the armor and cosmetics look cool enough, players will play the activity to try and acquire them even if they’re losing most of their games so long as they have a decent chance of having their time be respected by actually getting drops.
Retiring Trials and Ditching A Competitive PvP Experience
While I prefer reworking Trials to be a rewarding activity for everyone, I wouldn’t be sad to see the mode go away again and stay away.
We’re less than four weeks away from the launch of Beyond Light now. We’ve got a new subclass coming with some interesting and powerful abilities and ways to customize them. We’ve seen the new exotic weapons and armor, and we know that on paper they appear to be pretty powerful.
If you look at reactions from players on the subclass reveals and the that exotic trailer and breakdown, some of the most repeated thoughts was “that’s gonna break crucible,” “crucible’s gonna be a trainwreck,” “crucible’s definitely gonna get that nerfed,” etc.
Six years of Destiny has shown us that almost everything that is fun and powerful will be whined about in crucible until it is nerfed. When it’s nerfed, the PvE portion will then whine about the nerf and how crucible takes away the power fantasy and renders whatever it is useless. It happens every time.
After six years of it, you’d think the community would come to the understanding that Destiny is not, and cannot be, a competitive experience. There’s always going to be something that’s “broke,” “over powered,” “easy mode,” “cheesy,” or any other terminology that you can come up with. There’s always going to be that moment where you did everything right and still lost to a less skilled player because of something they had that’s cheap.
To balance this game, truly balance it, would be to not make it Destiny anymore. There’s a lot of that stuff that I would be perfectly fine with, but understand most of the community probably wouldn’t. Things like making ability cooldowns be universal, super energy gained only for final blows, no orbs of light in PvP, and so on.
I would like to add much less special and heavy ammo to that list, and no one hit kill abilities… but I remember Destiny 2’s first two seasons of PvP in a 4v4 environment. It was fairly balanced, certainly not perfectly balanced by any means, and it was terribly unfun. The time to kill was slow enough where 1v1’s were easy to escape and 1v2’s meant you always died without even securing a trade. It resulted in entire teams holding hands to the extreme and everything involved team shooting. There was very little an individual could do.
Even then, the community complained. Uriel’s Gift is too powerful. Antiope is too powerful. Last Hope is too powerful. Laning and team shooting with a MIDA Multi-Tool is too powerful.
I don’t want to see cool new stuff neutered and nerfed in PvE because it was deemed to be too strong in PvP.
I think most of us can already see the post Beyond Light screams for nerfs to Icefall Mantle, the Mask of Bakris, and probably Precious Scars as well. Cloudstrike also a probability. And that’s just stuff we know is coming and doesn’t even touch on any of the new subclass supers or abilities or any mods.
A lot of it will be Trials players crying about it. “This is ruining Trials” they’ll say. Because some will realize that the balance shouldn’t be a priority in quickplay because it’s “casual and fun,” but they’ll whine about it in Trials and even Comp to a degree because “those matter.”
I don’t want to see stuff nerfed because of a playlist that has a low amount of players. The PvE side of Destiny 2 is the largest side, it’s what most folks are actively engaged with and play. I would rather have unique and powerful stuff to use in PvE, regardless of how cheesy it may be in Quick Play, than not have it be worth using because a small but loud portion of the playerbase complained about it being used in a mode that relatively few people overall bother with.
If the choice came down to having really strong and powerful items or having mediocre items but also having a so-called competitive PvP end-game activity, I’d take the strong and powerful stuff any day of the week. The majority of the player base would. I’d rather have all that and have Quick Play be the wild west than continue the status quo of seeing most things nerfed (sometimes repeatedly) because the item was deemed problematic in Trials or Comp (or even in Quick Play).
Some would say to just nerf the item or ability in PvP and don’t touch it in PvE, but that rarely happens. It’s the nature of Destiny. Weapons, armor, abilities operate the same in PvE and PvP. This build your character and take him anywhere aspect has always been one of the strong suits of Destiny, but also the thing that keeps it from ever being a competitive experience. There’s no way to retain the core of Destiny’s identity while putting everyone on a level playing field in PvP.
Rework or Retire, What Should Happen To Trials of Osiris?
At the end of the day, I would prefer that Trials stay and be reworked into a rewarding activity.
More people would play the mode if they felt their time was being respected. Speaking from experience, playing Trials for three hours and getting nothing for it isn’t fun. The nature of the mode itself makes most matches a slow slog of seeing who will pop their head into a lane to be sniped first.
If you could find a way to make the matches faster paced and more frantic, and thus less encouraging of hand holding and sniping attempts, then it would be more tolerable for most players. That is if it’s rewarding anyway. I’m not saying you should get a drop every game, but if you sink three hours into it you should come away with a decent amount of rewards.
It’s a looter shooter. Developers of these kinds of games need to understand that people want loot. Very few people would complain about getting too much loot, especially from playing the game and not just standing in the tower slamming some seasonal currency. It’s why Double Ordeal Nightfall Rewards generate so much hype and enthusiasm.
With a rewarding and more populated Trials experience, the issues would remain of people complaining about something being broken or too powerful, and it would get nerfed and that would again lead to PvE players complaining about it. But if it was reworked into a rewarding activity AND retained a large player population then I would say some nerfs would be justifiable.
If no matter what you did to make it rewarding people still didn’t play the mode, and the population for it remained low, then I would suggest no priority be given towards its consideration in regards to balance. One could even argue that any time spent towards development of it, for a low playerbase, would be not exactly worth the resources and thus the mode should be removed and that time and energy put into activities that people would engage with.
To that last point, you can already hear the Trials diehards screaming back that raids have very lower player counts as well and that most of the playerbase doesn’t engage with raids either. And that’s true. But the amount of people that would cry for a nerf because something made a raid too easy would be limited to just a handful of blowhard content creators. It doesn’t negatively affect the larger percentage of the players. There’s also no expectation of raid loot refreshes, so once the yearly new raid is out that’s the only loot it’s ever going to have; they’re not continuously putting resources into new armor or weapons for folks to get in an old raid.
Again, it’s a loot game. People want loot. Let them get it and not have it be pulling teeth.
Do you play Trials of Osiris? If so, what do you think should happen to the mode? If you don’t play it, what would it take to get you to form a team and get in there? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think.
Gary is Owner and Editor-in-Chief of Vortainment. He’s usually posting news and reviews, and doing all the back end stuff as well. He likes to play video games, watch movies, wrestling and college football (Roll Tide Roll).