It’s time for Bungie to stop pretending that Destiny 2 is a free-to-play game

The problem with setting unrealistic expectations.

Image via Bungie

Destiny 2 is known for its one-of-a-kind FPS RPG mesh that players have fallen in love with. Many different studios have attempted to replicate the success that has been Destiny, but most have fallen short, failing to capture that secret formula that keeps the replayability and fun of the Destiny universe alive. That said, Destiny 2 is facing a major issue that could impact both the community relationship with Bungie and the longevity of the game itself. Despite what you may see on any given games marketplace, Destiny 2 is not a free-to-play game. It is time to stop pretending like it is. 

Back in 2019, with the reveal of Shadowkeep, the community learned about Destiny 2: New Light, a free-to-play version of Destiny 2 that would allow players to experience a variety of unique gameplay experiences both alone and with friends. While this sounds fantastic on paper, the free-to-play portion of Destiny 2 is more of a demo to the full game, allowing players to do a boring quest and shoot some underwhelming guns. 

What to do?

Image via Bungie

Let’s make it very clear — Destiny 2 is free to start, not free-to-play. In order to play and enjoy Destiny 2, you need the yearly expansion and seasonal content. While you certainly can play without these, there will be practically nothing for you to do. If, however, you do manage to power through the free-to-play option, there is little to no endgame content for you to play and what is available is far too difficult for most free players.

A good example of this would be the recent release of the fan-favorite Vault of Glass raid, which was exciting due to its availability for free-to-play players. While the hype generated around this release was huge for both paid and unpaid players, the actual launch of the raid was troublesome. The recommended power for the raid was really difficult for free-to-play players to meet. Maybe they could play the raid a couple of weeks or months after the launch, but the first week was a no-go for free-to-play, meaning most would miss out on the limited rewards such as the raid ring and jacket. 

Another issue with the current state of Destiny 2 free-to-play is the method of unlocking other planets for you to explore. Instead of a story and world-building quest, you unlock the other planets and destinations by gathering enough XP. This means that players are forced to run around the cosmodrome doing some of the most notorious activities in Destiny 2 — patrols and bounties. There isn’t really a quest progression system in the current free-to-play version aside from the intro quest. After you finish the introductory quest, you are told to explore and unlock new places to go and new weapons to try, but you will probably be interrupted by a purchase screen every time you try and do something that looks fun.

What’s going on?

Image via Bungie

The story is undeniably difficult to follow in free-to-play, often throwing loads of information into players’ ears by means of monotone dialogue from Shaw Han. While it is particularly difficult to establish the background of a game like Destiny, Bungie still struggles to hook new players into the space fantasy world. Additionally, some of the story beats that free-to-play players learn will immediately become confusing if they decide to purchase expansions. For instance, some new players might decide to just purchase the newest expansion, Beyond Light. Upon doing so, they will most likely meet the Crow and have zero ideas of who that actually is, further confusing the story for most of the player base.

The issue with all of these misleading and confusing story beats is just how overbearing it is. Many players mention their losing interest in the game due to not understanding what is actually going on. They are quickly introduced to somewhat essential characters, lectured on who the big bad guy is, and told to go fight the darkness. There is no hook for free-to-play players to really grab on to, so odds are they won’t be reeled in and continue to play Destiny 2 after the first couple of hours. 

Bungie needs to work on the free aspect of Destiny 2. As is, the free-to-play experience is a confusing convoluted mess that lacks any real depth or reason to play. The lack of true gameplay representation is overshadowed by dull cutscenes and a shallow tutorial. Bungie has always had something special with Destiny, but the access point for new players is close to non-existent. Instead, players are given the current state of free-to-play, something that seems more geared to selling copies of the full game rather than giving prospective players a proper introductory experience to the world of Destiny.