To say the Destiny community is in turmoil is a bit of an understatement at the present moment. After waiting a month for an update on the state of the game from Bungie, this past week the update was finally delivered, but the news it brought was disappointing on multiple levels.
PvE players were unamused that the next “event” seems to be a minor Valentine’s Day-themed celebration with a focus on PvP doubles play. PvP players were appalled when Bungie revealed that despite previous assertions to the contrary, the mode had indeed switched to skill-based matchmaking, which has made the Crucible a mess of overly-tough games and horrible lag.
The community is not in a great place right now. They’re still banded together, but only to direct anger at Bungie. Forums and subreddits are full of disappointment, sadness and rage. Popular Destiny podcasts are devoting themselves to discussing the unappealing state of the game. Perhaps most devastatingly, one of the pillars of the Destiny community, tripleWRECK, released a video yesterday detailing the full extent of his disappointment and frustration with Bungie and the current state of Destiny. His points were well-reasoned and calmly presented, but he ultimately says that to him, Destiny is effectively dead right now. This is a guy who Bungie brings into the studio to help debut new content, and makes a living streaming Destiny more or less full-time, so you know the situation is pretty dire.
While there are potential solutions and ways forward for Destiny, I’ll probably discuss those later in the week. But for now, lots of us want to talk about how Destiny’s misfortune has the potential to be another game’s gain. We're talking of course about Ubisoft’s The Division, another RPG shooter that seems like it’s going to be the first real alternative to Destiny since Bungie debuted the game a year and a half ago.
As it stands, The Division could not be debuting at a more perfect time. This Destiny drama has countless players looking for alternatives because A) there’s no new content to play and B) the old content is either tiresome or outright broken. Enter The Division, which has a big beta starting on January 29th, with the release of the full game about a month and a half away on March 8th.
While many former Destiny players are using this downtime to explore other games they may have missed out on this fall, Fallout, Just Cause, Metal Gear Solid and the like, others are looking for something new, but similar, and that’s where The Division comes in. Though a third person shooter rather than an FPS, and with no aliens in sight, its focus on group play through ruined urban environments while collecting upgradable gear seems to tick at least a lot of the boxes of what Destiny players are looking for.
For the first time, high-quality gameplay footage from The Division is starting to leak, giving players a look that’s more clear than the muddy alpha footage that’s been previously released. And while not on the level of an E3 trailer perhaps, many are starting to admit that the game looks pretty damn good.
The Division has not been without its problems. It’s been delayed for what seems like an eternity. It seems like it may end up having a problem with bullet-sponge enemies. And it’s going to be pretty damn hard to match Bungie’s nearly perfect “shooter feel” in Destiny. But with that said, Ubisoft has to be thanking their lucky stars that Destiny has decided to go into hibernation at this exact moment.
If Destiny was gearing up to launch some new expansion in the next month, Ubisoft may have had a much tougher time trying to pry players away from the game and getting them to dive into The Division. But instead, with only a week-long Valentine’s Day event with extremely minimal content, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a problem at all.
So what Ubisoft has access to now are millions of jaded Destiny players who want new Destiny content that Bungie is unable to provide. By herding them toward The Division which offers similar shooter/RPG elements, if the game is good, they have the potential to build themselves a big playerbase directly off the back of Destiny.
This could potentially cause a problem down the line. When Bungie finally does decide to release new content this fall, what if players aren’t as keen to return? Instead of Destiny, they’ve been playing The Division for the better part of the year, and instead of Destiny: The Shattered Suns, maybe they want to play The Division: Brooklyn instead.
There are a lot of big ifs in this equation. The quality of The Division has to be pretty top notch in order to hook players and keep them around. And with Bungie’s plans in constant flux, we don’t know if they’ll drop new content two months from now, or two years. But the situation as it’s unfolded makes it seems like The Division is in a great position to leech players directly from Destiny, something that may not have been so easy if there was simply more content being produced to keep the fanbase engaged. Instead, Ubisoft can capitalize on the recent anti-Bungie trend by offering something simultaneously new and fresh, but also a bit familiar with The Division.
We’ll see how this all plays out starting with the Division beta next week, and the February/March debuts of new Destiny content and The Division itself.
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