Destiny 2 is hard to play alone, but the content creators are here to help

The Eliksni, a species of insectoid raiders, are just some of the many types of characters that populate the world of Bungie’s loot shooter Destiny 2. Also called the Fallen, these descendants of a once-great civilization spend their days scouring the cosmos for vestiges of their lost past. I feel bad for them. I think about what isolation it might lead to: hopping through a solar system occupied by Guardians who are only ever aiming for your head. Also, the life of a Guardian can be just as isolating.

Every week, tens of thousands of Destiny 2 players (called Guardians) unfold their to-do lists of bounties, challenges, missions, and flagship activities and embark on completing them before those activities reset each Tuesday. It’s a Sisyphus task: the live service game is huge. Playing alone presents a unique challenge, but it’s made easier thanks to the community around it, including Twitch and YouTube streamers whose videos help demystify the game’s raids and puzzles.

When Bungie, the developer of Halo for Microsoft until 2007, released its epic space Destiny in 2014, it shipped 10 million copies to retailers on its first day. (The actual amount sold on day one is about $5 million.) Bungie’s success with the Halo franchise laid the foundation for Destiny, and while critics initially considered it bland and lackluster, it was later overhauled. Fast forward to 2017 Destiny 2 and you get the feeling that Bungie has made great strides: more intricate and challenging raids, great exotic weapons and gear, and a pretty consistent gameplay loop. While the activities in Destiny 2 they look much nicer than those of its predecessor, the basic experience remains unchanged: you live and die as a fire team, a group who face the challenges of the game together.

Image: Bungie

Squads vary in size and capacity, with some activities limiting your party to just three Guardians. Most of the activities in the game are designed for fireteams, including the basic strikes of the Vanguard and Nightfall, the dungeons and game modes of the Elimination Crucible, and the agonizing Trials of Osiris. There are still activities for six players, and they require a lot more communication and execution to get the maximum rewards; these include exclusive raids and Legend/Master level quests like Xur’s Dares of Eternity or the ultimate pirate-themed night, Ketchcrash.

The number of solo activities in Destiny 2, however, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. And many of these take up gray space, as some players create their own self-imposed rules to make missions “solo”. Single player content includes Lost Sectors, main story missions, and Exotic Bounties. Daily and weekly bounties can also be done solo, but require players to complete matchmade objectives (like getting takedowns in Crucible or melee kills in Gambit), which can be as tedious as they are helpful if the team members inadvertently interfere. Two years ago, players went so far as to create scripted programs that disabled matchmaking in everything Destiny 2, called PowerShell scripts. These programs communicated with your PC’s firewall to prevent matchmaking, allowing players to do whatever they wanted on their own.

The space feels lonely for a team of one. Lost Sectors are some of the only places in the world to Destiny 2 where the word “only” appears in plain text. These lairs span the game’s solar system and can yield sweeter loot when set to higher difficulties – Legendary and Master Lost Sectors have a higher chance of dropping Exotic Armor when played alone. Sadly, these winding tavernas can be combed out in minutes with the right equipment and highlight the underwhelming experience of the ride Q2 alone.

But the broadest Q2 the single player experience really varies from Guardian to Guardian. On the game’s subreddit, r/DestinyTheGame, one user lamented his disaffection with the overwhelming isolation he felt while playing. In the same post, another said they love playing solo because he’s helped them avoid toxic online encounters.

“If I’m just hopping to play, it’s almost always going to be by myself,” Paul Tassowho runs a popular Q2 YouTube channel and writes for Forbes, said on Zoom. “Playlist Strike, Dares of Eternity: It can be kind of a pleasant grind.” These particular activities eliminate the need for a single player to find two to five other friends for a game session, according to Tassi. For some activities, matchmaking is enabled and random players automatically fill open slots. This blurs the lines between solo and group play for Tassi, who said not much communication is needed to complete the objectives.

A Destiny 2 player holds a shotgun aimed at the sky.  They are flanked on both sides by other players.

Image: Bungie

“Before I had a bigger community and friends playing, I was missing out on a lot of things because I didn’t want to do full LFG [looking for group]Tasso said. “I try to do [the raid] Vault of Glass for the first time: If you don’t have that group existing, it’s like putting yourself out there to find five strangers and it could be really good [or not].”

There are LFG resources, such as Bungie’s companion app for Q2. Players describe what they are trying to complete and how many members they need to complete the team. But complex raids and hyper-competitive modes like Vault of Glass and Trials of Osiris have caused some players to make absurd requests, like demanding a certain kill-to-death ratio or knowing the intricacies of a raid beforehand. As a result, the LFG experience can sadly be clouded by toxicity, Tassi explained. A skill gap can create a steep learning curve for a team navigating a raid as a ragtag group of random players.

A number of Q2 content creators have built their reputation by teaching the community how to complete intricate puzzles or different raids as solo players. Some have even carried spectators who have not been able to join a team.

“I’ve been playing Bungie games since the beginning halo. So when Destiny came out, it was obviously something I was going to pick up,” EpicDan22, a Twitch streamer lead Q2 players through LFG and raids, he said on Zoom. Daniel liked the game right from the start, but he felt that enjoying everything the game had to offer depended on how many Guardians you brought along. He decided the Q2 the community needed more support for solo players.

“From everyone I’ve talked to, the issue has often been, ‘There’s a lot of content but the accessibility of the content is sometimes very lacking,'” he said when asked to play solo. So he tried to fill that gap.

In one of his videos, he meticulously guides two other Guardians through the dungeon Grasp of Avarice to unlock the highly coveted Gjallarhorn Exotic Rocket Launcher. Dan is more known in his community than he is for being wholesome and supportive: even if a player doesn’t have the best gear, he considers other weapons and abilities optimal to use to help players navigate challenging first-time activities.

Dan is optimistic about the planned LFG features that Bungie announced during its Q2 showcase in August. A multiplayer activity forum style fireteam search section will be added to the game – previously players had to use the Q2 companion app to find teammates in unmatched activities. “Hopefully things like that fix some of the issues if you’re a Q2 player; [for now] you have to use outside sources to find a team or to manage your inventory,” he said. “Just seeing the youthful joy of helping my friend complete a raid is something I haven’t felt in so long.”

Other Twitch streamers and YouTubers simply show off their skills with solo builds, which can also help solo gamers get through the challenging tasks Bungie throws at them. Leopard, another popular streamer in the Q2 community, creates solo builds with surgical precision, and has maintained a reputation for performing some of the most demanding tasks solo. As he took streaming more seriously, he went from playing casually with his friends to playing it himself. But he still thinks about ways the game could incorporate matchmaking into more of his activities than he does.

“There’s never a completely right or wrong answer, it’s always shades of gray,” Leopard said. “Think of a raid, with six players. You’re 30 to 45 minutes away, and someone is rolling constantly, and they bring out the best player.” Despite the potential problems, Leopard and I agreed that it also eliminates many of the choices solo gamers have in pursuing an exciting activity like raiding.

Five years later, the question of how to get the most out of solo play is still very controversial. Content creators like Leopard and EpicDan22 have made it more accessible for solo players to tackle the game’s extensive list of activities that cater to squads. But the conversation about how trends vary between Destiny 2he is alone players illustrates how large and diverse the game’s audience is. However, the drive to play the whole game has to deliver true sound throughout the player base, no matter the vast space between them.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: