Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Prague, and Setting Games in Beloved Cities

The most exciting thing about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is that it takes place in Prague. It is the first time a videogame with such a budget has been set in a place that I know very well. The excitement of to see and inhabit a futuristic, cyberpunk Prague is what compelled me to play the game.

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Grinding Destiny 2 Guns Feels Bad. Does It Have To?

lets talk about guns in destiny 2

Let’s talk about Destiny 2 guns. My favorite guns were The Huckleberry and some random rifle I don’t remember with two mods I liked on it. These took up the first two weapon slots, and the third – the heavy weapon slot – I kept for the Tractor Cannon or the 21% Delerium.

These two guns got me through most PvE content, and when I did PvP, I would switch some of them out. The only thing that made me consistently use other weapons was bounties and quests which required other weapon types. Usually I didn’t mind as it was fun to deviate from my usual arsenal. Over time, it became a point of frustration.

Destiny is a looter shooter (or shlooter?) where the main drive to continue comes from collecting better items and defeating more powerful enemies. Early iterations of similar games include Borderlands and Diablo and to some extent, World of Warcraft (and other MMOs). The main activities in Destiny 2 are to repeat the same or similar content (Strikes, PvP, Patrols, etc.) in hopes of getting a special item. Items are gained either as drops from killed enemies, or fulfilling quests such as “kill 500 of these guys with a sword.”

There are many challenges in making these looter games. One of them is to give the player incentives to progress through similar content over and over. The goal for the player is to make their character stronger and sometimes look awesome. The problem with grinding guns in Destiny 2 is that the large amount of time spent will give few rewards. Your character’s power mainly comes from the level of their weapons. Destiny 2 has a crafting system were you can destroy a high level weapon to make a lower level weapon stronger. Because of this, there was very little incentive for me to change my favored load-out. When a quest required me to use a certain type of weapon that I wasn’t already using, it felt like a chore even though the intent was to force me to experiment.

The Recent Item Update

I haven’t played Destiny 2 in a few months now, but I saw the recent update on sunsetting weapon power. Bungie is trying to accomplish is twofold. They want to create new, powerful weapons without much power creep, and make players use a larger variety of guns. Like me, most players stick to a few guns despite there being a lot of options in the game. This has, naturally, divided fans. One critique is that sunsetting weapons removes the reward of the grind. To get a top level gun in Destiny requires substantial time investment. If the guns become obsolete, players will need to chase the newest guns to be viable in the next season’s content. While this is makes sense from a monetary perspective for Bungie, it may not be the best way to solve these issues.

I haven’t been an avid Destiny player since last year, but this news made me think about one of the reasons I grew tired of the game. Specifically how it handles weapon progression. There are a lot of annoyances with guns in the game, and Bungie can take some inspiration from other games.
The first problem I had with Destiny’s guns is that the actual power is obscured, at least in how it is presented in game. A higher light level gun should be more powerful than a lower light level gun, but what is the difference between two guns at the same light level?

This is mostly dependent on the frame and the perks. The problem is that the frame stats are not communicated in the game, and the perks are usually bland. This makes it hard to tell a good weapon from a less good one. It’s so unclear that there’s even a subreddit just for evaluating guns

Do Other Games Solve This Problem?

To an extent, the game is limited by its first person shooter mechanics and shallow skills. In other looters, like Path of Exile or Diablo, itemization is about increasing numbers and experimenting with a variety of skills. The lack of any meaningful numbers in Destiny means we get weapon perks like faster reload, increased magazine size, and longer range. Not exactly things to get excited about. The shallow skill system also doesn’t give a lot of room for exciting perks. Aside from each class’s super, we are limited to grenades, shields, rifts, and jumps. These skills have their interesting use cases but ultimately don’t have a lot to work with.

Borderlands is a game with a similar approach, as its a first person shooter looter (shlooter?) that makes the wide variety of its guns different through stats. It too, ultimately runs into the same problem. One thing that Borderlands does better is differentiate the look of the guns. Guns are semi-randomly created by joining pieces and these pieces, in turn, affect the stat of the gun. This makes each gun you pick up look unique, whereas in Destiny, you spend most of your time collecting duplicates. In both games you still end up with a lot of garbage.

An alternative to these systems is in Mothergunship, a first person run based shooter. Here you collect pieces of guns and craft them yourself. Depending on what pieces you have and how you assemble the guns, they behave and shoot completely differently. Applying this system to Destiny would mean players would grind for specific parts, and the weapons they create would be unique.

This still wouldn’t solve the garbage problem, but this issue has also been tackled by looters in the past. In Path of Exile, a game where items can drop in such quantities you can no longer see anything else on the screen, garbage items often can be turned into other items which can be used to improve your gear. The game has between ten and twenty forms of currency, and each piece of currency can be used to alter your character or gear in some (random) way. There’s a currency which rerolls stats, another which upgrades an item to the next tier, and so on. The results are often random, and often still result in garbage, but it makes managing your gear much more interesting. The small random chance to get something truly legendary, or roll the specific mod you need, turns garbage into an opportunity. An opportunity to squeeze one more ounce of performance from your gear.

These games attempt to solve the item issues in a few ways. Borderlands allows players to quickly asses differences between guns. Mothergunship makes guns a personal expression of the player as well as allowing them to alter them as they play. Path of Exile tries to make even the most basic items serve some purpose so players don’t feel like all they get is garbag

Guns in Destiny 2 Still Feel Good, At Least

Despite these grievances, shooting things in Destiny is really fun. The guns just feel and look cool, and there are some great moments in the campaign and some of the Nightfalls that are superb. As a standalone experience, its quite good, but that’s not what Destiny is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a game where I continually strive to get better items, cooler armour, and build my character. Unfortunately, that is not really there. It asks its players to repeat the same task over and over to slowly progress towards an item that may or may not be better than what they already have. The season system creates a compulsion to collect items, not to use them to improve your character. Bungie’s decision to phase out guns after every 4 seasons might solve the issue of gear becoming stale, but it feels like a bandaid and not a solution.

I knew I was done with the game after I spent three nights in a row putting in 5+ hours to grind out the last few rewards of the one and only season pass I bought. The reward was a unique hand cannon and its alternate skin that looked really cool. It’s called For Wei. I spent a lot of time getting it, and I never felt like using it.

West of Loathing Review – A Funny Game but That’s It

West of Loathing takes the aesthetics of the Western genre - cowboys, beans, revolvers, bandits and spittoons - and mixes it with absurdist fantasy borrowed from Kingdom of Loathing. West of Loathing is an RPG, in as much an RPG is about making … [Continue reading]

Wolfenstein 2: New Colossus is Best in Baby Mode

Machine Game’s second Wolfenstein game, The New Colossus, is in many ways a subtle departure from their first. Once again, we take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz in an alternate timeline where the Nazis won World War 2. The game starts when B.J. … [Continue reading]

The Magic Circle: Review

The Magic Circle is another game in the growing games about games genre. Whereas games like Beginner's Guide focus on the reception of games, and the Stanley Parable ridicule the illusion of choice that games promise to bring, The Magic Circle is … [Continue reading]