My seven-year-old son doesn’t care about loot boxes, underperforming DLC, or endgame content. He wants to log in, shoot aliens, get a new gun, and log off. He could, if we let him, play Fortnite Battle Royale for hours without stopping. But put him in front of Destiny 2 and he’s done in ten minutes, off to build legos and get as far away from the game as possible. We were so excited to start playing Destiny together. I even wrote an article on PlayStation Compass to help other parents get the game started. And then it just collapsed and he went back to playing anything else.
It all started with this post on Reddit. I commented about being disappointed in Lawbreakers’ lack of success because we enjoyed playing it. While typing the comment I remembered Destiny 2 was hours away. With some encouragement from other redditors and a quick discussion with my wife, I preordered the digital edition. For us, Destiny 2 wouldn’t begin until the coming Saturday so I made sure everything was ready to go. When I posted my tips on getting started in Destiny video on September 19, I was still optimistic about us playing. Little did I know we would never play again.
The opening mission was not fun for him
I addressed this in that article, but the opening mission was not fun. In particular, the part where you lose your powers and have to walk—slowly—through the destroyed city. I helped him get through that part quickly but it left a negative impression right from the start. He found following mission markers confusing and frustrating. His opinion of the guns was that they all felt exactly the same (SMG, Assault Rifle, sidearm). He compared it to Lawbreakers, where every character has a unique weapon and secondary weapon. I found myself repeatedly saying, “Just wait, it gets better soon.”
Now, I’ll take a moment to note that I recognize Destiny 2 is rated T for Teen by the ESRB and my son is only seven. However, he plays—and enjoys—Grand Theft Auto Online, Dead by Daylight, and Fortnite Battle Royale. We implement rules he needs to follow to limit the violence, language, and voice chat, but this is to illustrate that he doesn’t have an issue with competitive or cooperative multiplayer games.
He doesn’t care about the story
The original Destiny had a notoriously bad story and Destiny 2 tried to bring in a campaign that was engaging and interesting to play. I played through the story in its entirety in both games and have to admit Destiny 2 is certainly better, and perhaps on par with a typical online shooter. But once the story is over what’s left? Diablo III introduces Adventure Mode upon completion of its five acts, enabling players to continue playing the best part of Diablo: fighting demons and looting oranges.
Destiny 2 tries the same thing, but everything is just so slow and boring. After shooting our hundredth Fallen Dreg on Earth we finally got to move on to Titan. Where we shot more Fallen. Again, the lack of variety in enemies was a major complaint in the original Destiny. Enemies never change in Fortnite or Dead by Daylight; there are a finite number of characters and you end up against the same ones many times. How is Destiny 2 different? Its enemies are NPCs, not players, and even a seven-year-old can pick up on the patterns within an hour of playing the game. You don’t need to adapt to on-the-fly tactics changes, you just shoot shoot move on. When the story relies heavily on uninspired shooting segments, the game quickly becomes dry.
Heavy Weapons is a stupid mechanic
“What’s the biggest reason you don’t like Destiny 2?”
“I can’t use a sniper rifle whenever I want. I always have to find the purple box first, and enemies don’t always drop a purple box.”
Balancing heavy weapons by limiting the ammo for them is just not fun gameplay. Especially when some of the coolest weapons are heavy (grenade launcher, shotgun, sniper rifle). Moving snipers and shotguns from Special (in Destiny 1) to Heavy (in Destiny 2) was a terrible move, and only seems to really affect PvP where shotguns and sniper rifles were abundant in Destiny.
The kinetic / energy weapon system is pretty underwhelming too, and is a big part of where my son gets the idea that every weapon feels the same. Because all the fun weapons are “heavy” weapons, and kinetic and energy are the same weapon types, switching weapons doesn’t feel exciting enough. Yeah, you can switch an assault rifle for a fire element hand cannon, but a seven-year-old is interested in bigger numbers first, and if he has two assault rifles with bigger numbers that’s what he’s choosing.
Destiny 2’s PvP is just the worst
My son and I love playing competitive multiplayer games together, but we couldn’t enjoy Destiny 2’s competitive multiplayer.
Bungie made the decision to switch PvP to a 4v4 environment rather than Destiny’s 6v6. You know the last FPS I played with a limit of 4v4 PvP? Killzone Mercenary on the PS Vita. It made sense in Killzone; the hardware needed to limit the player count. The low player count and Bungie’s decision to lock frame rate at 30 FPS leave the PvP feeling like a bad match of Battle Bay, not a tens-of-millions-of-dollars sequel. Fortnite offers 100-player free for all, 2-man squads, and 4-man squads as well as a timed 50v50 event. All modes contain up to 100 players on a map. Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1 both offer 64-player matches, Star Wars Battlefront 2 offers 40-player matches. Call of Duty and Titanfall feature 12-player matches in a fast-paced 60fps environment. Destiny 2’s PvP offers nothing new.
When I ask my son if he wanted to play Destiny 2 PvP with me, his answer is always the same: “Can’t we play Battlefront or Fortnite instead?”
What went wrong?
The question in the title of this article needs a specific answer. Countless sites have long lists of everything wrong with Destiny 2 from the position of old Destiny players, hardcore raiders, or casual players. Big complaints include the Eververse (loot boxes), XP scaling, DLC value for money, and lackluster PvP, but none of those matter to kids. What my son has experienced with Destiny 2 is a game that is so below average in every aspect, he just has no interest in playing it.
Be like my son. Play Battlefront or Fortnite instead.