Ryan Markel is a career customer success professional with over two decades of experience. He is Customer Success Lead at WordPress VIP, where he works continuously to improve the customer experience and provide guidance and support to other support professionals.
It’s been a while since I changed the look of this site, and I had a desire to get away from the wasted screen space of my previous theme on a desktop browser, so today, I flipped my theme over to the understated and clean Velox.
There’s a lot to like, and it adds a few things that I really appreciate, such as a time-to-read and a progress bar for people reading single articles. It’s also block-editor-friendly.
At the same time, I’m also going to try something (yet again) that I have attempted previously for my writing: I’m going to split my content a bit between two of my sites and see how that goes in terms of focusing audience.
This site will continue to host my writing on life things, events work, general technology topics, work and remote work, and customer support and success.
My guides, resources, and other writing on games and video games will start to be published over on my streaming homepage, located at backlogathon.tv. I’m not going to move anything from this site over there to start, but instead will begin writing there, with a possible focus on Final Fantasy XIV and Destiny 2.
I will probably write about various games here on this site when they are significant enough that they have entered my general attention, or have been super-significant. I owe this site a post regarding FFXIV at some point, for example.
To be perfectly honest, I have been planning to write this for some time, but there are a couple of other posts that have been floating around for a bit in the past week that I thought would make good reference points for how I feel about cryptocurrency in general.
It’s well-known at this point that the computation necessary both to generate and to process cryptocurrency and its transactions consumes enough electricity to power a decently-sized nation. And that—while not the sole reason by far—cryptocurrency mining has begun to price computer components beyond the reach of many individuals, as we approach the second year of GPU shortages and are now hearing that storage space will soon be used for a new type of cryptocurrency.
Concurrently with these pricing changes, the market capitalization of mineable cryptocurrencies has exploded.
These events are related: As the market capitalization of cryptocurrency surged from $190 billion in January of 2020 to $2 trillion in April of 2021, it’s become profitable for bad actors to make a full time job of attacking the free tiers of platform-as-a-service providers.
Crypto mining is beginning to encroach upon services that many people in technology use for their own projects (for legitimate purposes). It’s beginning to become a literal menace for systems folks:
Cryptocurrency problems are more subtle than outright abuse, too. The integrity and trust of the entire software industry has sharply declined due to cryptocurrency. It sets up perverse incentives for new projects, where developers are no longer trying to convince you to use their software because it’s good, but because they think that if they can convince you it will make them rich.
Any technology which is not an (alleged) currency and which incorporates blockchain anyway would always work better without it.
That’s what cryptocurrency is all about: not novel technology, not empowerment, but making money. It has failed as an actual currency outside of some isolated examples of failed national economies. No, cryptocurrency is not a currency at all: it’s an investment vehicle. A tool for making the rich richer. And that’s putting it nicely; in reality it has a lot more in common with a Ponzi scheme than a genuine investment. What “value” does solving fake math problems actually provide to anyone?
And those few failed economies whose people are desperately using cryptocurrency to keep the wheel of their fates spinning? Those make for a good headline, but how about the rural communities whose tax dollars subsidized the power plants which the miners have flocked to? People who are suffering blackouts as their power is siphoned into computing SHA-256 as fast as possible while dumping an entire country worth of CO₂ into the atmosphere? No, cryptocurrency does not help failed states. It exploits them.
(In response to the request from his post, I disclose that I at no point have owned any cryptocurrency.)
As the discussions regarding cryptocurrency continue, I can only conclude that both mining it and support it via using it (or trading in it) is explicitly unethical and immoral. It accomplishes nothing it theoretically sets out to do:
It does not provide for freedom from fiat currency, as its value is explicitly pegged to a fiat currency—or another cryptocurrency that is pegged to one.
It does not have a substantive use other than as a speculative “investment” that does not actually have a value as a tangible object, in the way that, say, futures or precious metals do. And this investment will only go up in value if current crypto holders convince new fools to start going in on cryptocurrency as well, further perpetuating the cycle.
It is generating tremendous amounts of environmental waste, in the form of ridiculous energy usage and e-waste from discarded components used for mining.
It is well-known that it is being used significantly for transactions that are essentially money laundering or other criminal activity.
It is contributing to an ongoing crisis in the consumer availability of semiconductor-containing equipment and products.
Cryptocurrency takes and takes and takes, and provides nothing of value back into any economy or ecosystem, other than enriching people who are modern-day carnival barkers, shouting from their stalls for hapless “investors” to try their luck.
In the face of our contemporary climate crisis, the perpetuation of cryptocurrency is—at best—irresponsible; I now argue consistently that it is unethical and immoral. We have a responsibility to future generations to tackle the problems of climate change, poverty, and inequality, both of which cryptocurrency can only worsen significantly.
It’s past time cryptocurrency was not only regulated, but made illegal to produce or use.
For many players, this is going to feel like the end of an era. Comparing four-digit DCI numbers at events was something of a badge of honor—a way to show how long you’ve been a part of the community. We’re feeling a bit nostalgic over here as well, which is part of the reason we’re giving you 30-days to check out your history and rave about your winning record against your friends (or that one time you beat Luis Scott-Vargas at a MagicFest side event).
A little piece of Magic history is going away—but the future is bright and more connected across platforms.
Future in-store play and esports events, as well as other play opportunities, will require players to have a valid Wizards Account which works with the Magic: The Gathering Companion app and the upcoming new event tool for local game stores. If you already play Magic: The Gathering Arena, you already have a Wizards Account. Some Magic esports events, including events such as Grand Prix at MagicFests, will continue to use your DCI number through 2021.
I haven’t played organized Magic: The Gathering in over twenty years, but this is definitely the end of an era. Your DCI number was your identity in competitive Magic.
My number’s so old that Wizards support couldn’t help me retrieve it—they needed an exact date and location where I would have played in a sanctioned event, and I can’t remember what I did last week, so I certainly can’t remember when I played over two decades ago.
They’re apparently switching to using app-based checkin, utilizing the web accounts you now use for logging in to MTG Arena, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see rankings start to use ranked play information on Arena as well down the line.
I’ve started playing MTG Arena with the most recent set release, and should talk more about that soon. It’s been a lot of fun, and fascinating to see the changes that have been made to the game since I’ve been away.
As a career support person, I wanted to take a few minutes out of my lunch break today to mention that the support posts on the @BungieHelp Twitter account yesterday were really good and an example of How I Would Have Done It that sadly, I don’t see very often.
For the unaware, Destiny 2 has a “weekly reset” cadence, where every Tuesday at a specific time, certain cycles in the game reset intentionally and events tend to come and go. (There is also a smaller daily reset.) Patches always coincide with this reset time, and yesterday’s reset included the 2.7.1 update.
There was a bit of a problem with the update.
The problem was discovered within 30 minutes of the patch distribution and service availability, and 35 minutes after that, Bungie took the entire game down to prevent further problems from happening.
The very next tweet was one hour later, and contained the following information:
Let’s talk about why this tweet is good stuff from a support standpoint. It runs what is essentially the Support Playbook in my opinion. It:
States the current status or progress of the issue (“we think we’ve found it; give us a bit”),
Gives a general forecast for what to expect (“game’s going to be down for a while as we figure out how to fix it”), and
Provides a timeline for follow-up information (“we’ll talk to you again in about an hour”).
True to their word, Bungie continued to update players on a regular cadence:
Each one of these tweets follows the same pattern, which is IMO essential to a good support interaction, whether over Twitter or another medium such as email or ticketing systems:
State the problem
Give an update on progress if possible
Tell the client/customer when they will hear from you next
Execute on what you have promised
This is actually quite difficult to do on Twitter effectively due to the character limit.
The full solution for the problem was detailed in the next update:
And then this update doesn’t promise a further update, as the problem is identified and the fix is underway, with an ETA for service resumption—and presumably, everyone is heads-down planning for the eventual response that will be needed when everything is back up:
There was a follow-up tweet when the service was brought back online, which ended up being less than 20 minutes later than their initial estimate. Pretty good. :)
The icing on the cake, though, is this tweet, which is pretty fantastic:
It’s a super-concise list of exactly how the rollback affects players and what they can expect when they log back in. (“Silver” is the paid microtransaction currency in Destiny 2.)
If you work in support, take a look at your own interactions and look for these patterns. Are you informing clients or customers in a timely fashion, giving them information as available and verified, and providing estimates for when they will hear from you next? If not, consider updating your handbook or processes for support interactions in an emergency response or disaster recovery situation.
Kudos to the Bungie player support team for this series of interactions; I was quite impressed to see them throughout the afternoon and evening, and remarked as such to friends as the situation was going on. I can only imagine what the disaster recovery process was like behind-the-scenes, but it appears to have been very effective, as at least in my estimation, the speed of this issue ID and data recovery operation was impressive for what I can only assume is a very large database.
I very recently put together a Drop CTRL mechanical keyboard, which I find I quite love—but it of course has some drawbacks.
It’s not fully QMK-compliant, which is kind of a bummer, but even if it were, it turns out that configuring LEDs on a keyboard using QMK is a bit of a beast. I usually use a solid-color layout, but just setting that up using QMK turned out to be something of an ordeal.
Let’s just say that I’m not 100% down with configuring my keyboard with a text file.
Thankfully, in my research on this over the past week, I found a rather new firmware for the Drop CTRL that solves a bunch of problems I’d had with it.
This is the function layer, which is a complete godsend. Even better, when holding the layer function key, the available modified keys light up differently from the remaining keys on the board.
It’s really, really cool to be able to change LED color on the fly using just a key combination on the board. The stated goals of this firmware branch are really great, and I’m hoping to keep an eye on it for a while and see how much work is done.
Planning to work towards earning the title “Savior” in Destiny 2? Here’s your guide to the triumphs necessary to claim the Seal and equip the title before it expires at the end of the Season of Dawn.
14 total Triumphs are necessary to complete the Seal. I’ve reordered them slightly below to group them by theme/location.
Obtaining the Triumphs
The Season of Dawn Collections Badge
You’ll need the following to complete this one:
The Global Resonance triumph, which is also included in this Seal. It drops the Timeswept Shell Ghost shell.
The Crucible Quests “Stronger Together” and “Fire Breather.”
The Gambit Quests “Tear It Up” and “Spitting Distance.”
The Vanguard Quests “Duty Driven” and “Shoot Fast, Tread Lightly.”
Collecting a full set of the seasonal armor. You receive this automatically if you have the premium track on the Season Pass.
Obtaining all three seasonal exotic weapons: Symmetry, Devil’s Ruin, and Bastion.
Acquiring one of each weapon available as a reward from the Sundial activity.
The most time-consuming bits of this will be the seasonal ritual quests, which require engaging with all three major playlist activities, and in half of them, using specific weapons to earn the ritual weapons for the season.
As long as you are engaging with the seasonal exotic quests as they appear during the season, you should receive the rest of this more or less naturally. You’ll need to make sure you pull at least one of each weapon from the Sundial activity.
EDZ Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the EDZ Obelisk to 10.
Tangled Shore Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the Tangled Shore Obelisk to 10.
Mars Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the Mars Obelisk to 10.
Nessus Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the Nessus Obelisk to 10.
Global Resonance: Increase the total Resonance Rank of all Obelisks to 40.
These will require engaging with the seasonal activity nodes on each of the four selected planets. To increase the Resonance Rank of the Obelisks, you’ll need to run weekly bounties that can be found at each Obelisk, or receive drops from running playlist activities, the Sundial, or the Menagerie.
The Tangled Shore and Mars Obelisks are available in the game now. EDZ and Nessus receive their Obelisks on 17 December.
Race Through Time: Complete the Sundial within a set amount of time. (Checkbox indicates this is for Niruul specifically.)
Inotam’s Ruin: Defeat Inotam, Oblivion’s Triune, within the Sundial.
Flayer Slayer: Defeat each of the Psion Flayers found within the Sundial (3).
I received the time trial triumph after my first run of the Sundial, so I have no idea how quickly you need to complete the activity. It’s possible this just requires not failing at any given section of the activity. If you are cycling it often enough, these should happen for you automatically.
Over time, Flayers are being added to the Sundial. It’s not obvious at this point whether they are being added to a rotation, or replacing each other. To be safe, I’d recommend running the Sundial as soon as you can when one is added, to ensure you receive the completions.
Ozletc is being added on 17 December, and Tazaroc on 24 December. Inotam is being added on 4 February.
Legendary Psion: Defeat Inotam, Oblivion’s Triune, on Legend difficulty or higher.
Legend Sundial is not available until 7 January, and Inotam is not being added until 4 February. It’s somewhat likely that running Sundial on Legend will require a pre-made fireteam, meaning this may not be possible to do solo.
Undefeatable: Complete a run of the Sundial without dying.
The hardest part of doing this at the time of this post is surviving the “cages” Niruul places on you during the boss fight. They require other players to shoot them to prevent you from dying. This would be significantly easier with a pre-made fireteam.
Saintly Savior: Save Saint-14 from the Infinite Forest.
The seasonal schedule indicates this will likely be completable starting on 17 December. This is a story progression quest found within Season 9.
Link Repair: Repair each of the fractured links found on the Tower Obelisk.
It’s unclear when this will be added to the game.
Torch-Bearer: Complete the Empyrean Restoration effort and light the beacon.
Empyrean Restoration is an event or quest on the seasonal calendar, and it’s scheduled to be released on 4 February. You won’t be able to complete this until then.
Devil’s Ruin: Travel to Twilight Gap and collect the materials required to repair Devil’s Ruin.
The Devil’s Ruin quest is scheduled to open on 7 January.
Bastion: Acquire the Exotic fusion rifle Bastion.
The Bastion quest is scheduled to open on 28 January.
A Chronological List
Here’s what you can do when, if you want to start getting ahead.
Begin increasing the Resonance Rank of the Tangled Shore and Mars Obelisks.
Finish the first steps in the Saint-14 Quest, which are available from Osiris.
Begin work on the Crucible, Vanguard, and Gambit seasonal quests and ritual weapon quests.
Run Sundial and collect each of the four weapons available. Defeat Niruul. Attempt to do so quickly to receive the time trial Triumph.
Complete the Saint-14 rescue quest.
Begin increasing the Resonance Rank of the EDZ and Nessus Obelisks.
Defeat Ozletc in the Sundial activity.
Run the Sundial and collect the four remaining weapons now available.
Run the Sundial and defeat Tazaroc.
Complete the quest to obtain Devil’s Ruin.
Complete the quest to obtain Bastion.
Complete a run of the Sundial at Legend or higher, defeating Inotam.
Begin the Empyrean Restoration event/quest.
Perform quest steps necessary to complete/fix the Tower Obelisk.
The earliest possible date to complete the title is likely 4 February, and the Season of Dawn concludes on 9 March. You must complete all necessary Triumphs before the weekly reset on 9 March.
I’ll have a more detailed post on the assembly of this thing once I have the final parts put together, but I’ve sourced myself the bits necessary for a ten-key-less mechanical keyboard (otherwise known as a TKL keyboard).
The keycaps showed up today:
And along with them, one hundred Cherry MX Blue switches:
I have liked both the Romer-G and the MX Brown switches, but I’ve been wanted to go to something with a defined click again for a while. The K70 can be ordered with MX Blues, but there was a lot of appeal to finding myself a “standard” keyboard that can take various keycaps and be reconfigured at will.
The plate/board I’ll be using is the Drop CTRL, which I ordered without switches or keys so I could just use my own. I ended up not saving anything more than about $20 doing it this way, but in the end, I’ll have caps I wanted, the switches I wanted, and a keyboard that doesn’t require soldering work to swap out switches down the line if I want to test another brand or line.
The CTRL is the only part that hasn’t yet arrived. I’m hoping it’s here before the end of the week.
Tomorrow, Destiny 2’s Season 8 concludes, and Season 9 begins. 8 served as the opening season of Year Three, and marked a transition for the game from a “traditional” update method of small DLC packs spaced out within the year to one large DLC pack and small-purchase seasons to fill in content droughts.
I thought I’d jot down some thoughts on it from the last ten weeks, divided into some of the major aspects of the season. I’ll try to keep this about things particular to this season and not to things that were big sea changes from Shadowkeep.
What I’ll touch on:
Eververse and the Season Pass
The big “seasonal activity” going away tomorrow is Vex Offensive, and it’s an amazingly mixed bag. For the most part, the activity itself isn’t bad. It’s a progressive arena shooting bit, with a timer that doesn’t impact a whole bunch other than whether you get good drops or not? (I’m not really even sure about this because it’s very not obvious what it does. It’s not a fail state.)
Things warp in, shoot shoot, bang bang, run bounties, get a weekly challenge out of it or two, get a bunch of weapon drops, rinse, repeat.
Normally, a fairly inoffensive horde-style mode, which at this point is generally what we are getting out of seasonal stuff (cf. Menagerie, Forges, probably Sundial). It gives a rather generous number of random roll drops, which is good and gives you a chance to find a roll you like from grinding out the weeklies for drops. The mechanics of the encounters are fairly easy to grasp.
I think Vex Offensive is a very good start for the type of seasonal activities we’ll be seeing that come and then go after each block of time.
There are some problems here, and they are more issues with the current design philosophy of Destiny rather than the activity itself:
Almost every bounty and triumph connected to the mode requires you to be an active jerk to your teammates.
This is now a rather frequent problem Destiny as a whole. It forces you into matchmade team activities, and then gives you objectives to complete that push you into doing things that take away from your teammates’ ability to accomplish exactly those same things. Bounties and triumphs requiring “final blows” instead of participating in defeats of enemies with assists mean you’re competing with others in what’s ostensibly a cooperative mode.
The only real way to progress on these goals is to go Peak Titan and charge ahead of all of your teammates, grabbing the glory for yourself. It’s enormously frustrating, and for more friendly players who might otherwise enjoy the game and the cooperative nature of these activities, is a huge drain on enjoyment.
Because of Champions, a team can drop into Vex Offensive that doesn’t have a realistic chance of completing it well.
The Champion mechanic is a new one introduced with Shadowkeep. In Vex Offensive, the two enemy types requiring specific weapons or mods to defeat efficiently are Barrier and Overload “Champions.” You can outdamage or stagger these enemies and circumvent the weapon mechanic, but for a team of random players to have a reasonable chance at a good run, the team should have a distribution of both anti-Barrier and anti-Overload weapons equipped.
The simple problem is that many players just don’t pay attention to this. Whether it’s because they are trying to complete triumphs that require specific weapons, some classes of which can’t even equip the necessary mods, or because they are ignorant or unbothered by the mechanic itself, I know of many runs where only one or two of us were doing all of the work against the champions, which then slows down the activity entirely. The game doesn’t prevent you from loading in without equipping the tools necessary to have the best chance at a good completion.
The annoying thing here is that I believe Champions are an overall positive addition to the game, especially in things like the raid and the Nightfall strikes. They add a layer of tactical complication that makes previously rote sections of content more interesting in terms of the weapons you choose and how you construct a team, but they appear to be mystifying matchmade teammates in many activities.
Destiny 2 needs more prescriptive instructions to players that teach them how to play the game “properly.” Especially with the entrance fee to Destiny now being free-to-play, I believe there are many players in the game today that don’t understand many of its basic mechanics. More tutorial content—or better yet, less inscrutable information in-game—would go a long way to making activities less annoying to run.
I mostly had fun in Iron Banner this season, but then again, I usually have fun in Iron Banner. Power Level matters, but it’s not insurmountable, grouping is advantageous so I enjoy running it with my friends and clanmates, and it provides an excuse to run around with dumb weapons in PvP and escape the PvE grinds for a while.
If I’m going to PvP, I generally prefer that PvP to be Iron Banner.
The armor was a new set that rolled pretty high stat packages most of the time, and reputation packages from Saladin had a decent chance at dropping Enhanced versions of armor mods, which gives a greater number of players access to these without having to play competitive PvP or high-level non-matchmade activities. This was good.
The weapons were the same ones we’ve been using for over a year, so not super-exciting. They could definitely use a refresh.
Even the bounties for pinnacle gear were halfway decent. One required final blows, one required assists, one required zone captures, and one required ability kills (more on this one in a second). Most players are capable of completing two of these given a decent amount of time in the mode, and a decent number of others probably capable of nabbing three each Iron Banner. Two to four pieces of 950-960 gear three times in 10 weeks is pretty great.
The ability kills bounty should have been rotated out early in the season.
This was even a known problem! It was admitted that they were aware the bounty was causing trouble because the number of kills was very high (200), and the bounty was quite difficult to complete, especially for some classes that have poor supers, poor neutral game, or both.
The API indicates there are three more bounties available to be rotated in, none of which made an appearance in any of the Iron Banner weeks of Season 8. It would have been a great solution to rotate those bounties in once the problem was known and admitted. (Perhaps this is actually quite difficult to change without a risk of breaking things, in which case, OK.)
The “kickoff quest” for Iron Banner was too much.
For the first time, there was a quest that had steps necessary both to earn the Iron Banner armor for the first time for the season, and even to unlock the ability to turn in tokens for reputation drops. If you hadn’t completed the quest, you could do nothing with the Iron Banner Tokens you’d had drop from either wins or losses.
This was unfortunate, and I think a mistake. Here were the steps:
10 zones capped, 30 opponents defeated, 3 Super final blows
6 matches completed, 20 zones captured, 25 pulse rifle final blows
20 fusion rifle final blows, 30 zones captured, 100 opponents defeated
15 SMG final blows, 15 Super final blows, 40 zones captured
50 zones captured, 15 matches completed, 10 grenade launcher final blows
(The fifth step was altered after the first Iron Banner of the season to remove the grenade launcher step due to a bug.)
Here again, we see the ugly monster of “final blows” rearing its head. Bungie, I love you, and I love Iron Banner, but please stop with this. There are many players who will gladly hop into Iron Banner for a chance at some drops and to chip away at some progress in things like assists bounties or capping points, but if they weren’t able to nab final blows, and in some cases with fairly technical weapons like fusion rifles, they were unable to claim even a single drop from the vendor.
If you want players to be in PvP and be cannon fodder for other players, or—better yet!—to learn how to PvP over time and maybe begin enjoying the mode, you have to give them something for their time. Making this multi-step quest the barrier to entry, and making it character-bound on top of it, is too much to ask of infrequent PvP players.
It will not move them to improve. It will instead drive them away from the mode and potentially the game.
This gun is amazing. It steps outside the weapon class and archetype, has one of the new anti-Champion aspects baked in, and hits like a truck. Has a great risk/reward profile for bringing it with you. More like this, please.
The quest for the catalyst was not amazing. It required ludicrous numbers of “ritual” event completions to complete the quest to even get the catalyst to drop, and then required you to get a bunch of kills with it to finally slot the catalyst.
I played hundreds of hours of Destiny over the last ten weeks, and I still don’t have this done.
Eververse and the Season Pass
I could write several thousand words on how Eververse is missing the boat, but I’ll save that for another time. I’m sure many of you are aware of its problems.
The season pass track was actually mostly well-done.
This is also very much a part of Shadowkeep and not the individual season, but I think they hit this one at about 80%. The ranks felt like they moved along quite a bit, it rewarded me for engaging with various kinds of content and especially bounties, and it was very doable to get it to 100 within the season. (I hit 150-ish.)
There are some things I’d definitely change about it:
Season pass engrams were rarely rewarding. They should have a very high chance or maybe even a guarantee of rolling with high stats or even specific high stats, to make them aspirational. Exotic engrams should never drop as a weapon, due to the new important of armor random rolls.
The mid-levels felt like they didn’t give me anything of note. There was a stretch from the mid-50s through around level 70 where the rewards were pretty much a wasteland. I wouldn’t take anything away from other levels, but if I’ve paid for the $10 season, I’d like to feel there are significant rewards along the way.
The seasonal armor drops were pointless. I was receiving drop after drop of these in the wild, usually with much better stats. Other than being a guarantee that I could check them off in my collections badge, dropping them from the season pass was not interesting.
The amount of Bright Dust given on the track was a complete joke, as were the BOYO 2 bright engrams. C’mon, Bungie. If you are going to reward me with in-game currency, the value should be at least what I have paid you for the season, to encourage me to grind at it and get my value back out of it. A few hundred Bright Dust is insulting. The Best of Year 2 engrams every five levels were probably much better for players new to the game, but I already owned everything in them, so there were very wasted on my account. I’m interested to see what next season’s bright engram is.
A bunch of this gets down to core problems with Eververse as it stands right now. Some brief thoughts on that for now:
The amount of design work going into Eververse while in-game sources of gear go untouched or “reprised” is a really bad look. I get that Bungie needs microtransaction income to pay their employees and grow at this point, and I don’t really have a problem with some cosmetic things being pay-only, but the disparity and the level of detail going into one versus the other is really bad.
The Bright Dust economy is now pathetic. In previous seasons, if we worked fairly hard, we could nab just about anything from the in-game store we wanted, whether with Bright Dust or with bright engrams. Now, you’d never be able to earn even a quarter of what’s available cosmetically in a given season, even if you did nothing but grind out bounties that provide the currency. Weekly bounties provide 200 each, and repeatable mini-bounties provide 10. Even bumping this to 500 and 50, or raising the chances of receiving Bright Dust in a bright engram, would go a long way.
Bungie touched on this in this past week’s blog update, and now more of the Eververse inventory will be making it out as Bright Dust purchases: 80% or so rather than 50%.
What if they took that extra 30% and channeled it into in-game accomplishments, rewarding you for doing grindy or challenging things with a cosmetic thing? I’d much rather see that.
Bungie got tired of Pinnacle Weapons ruling pretty much every mode, which was absolutely happening due to the unique traits of those weapons, so now, we have Ritual Weapons instead. Each is still a unique weapon you can only get from a specific quest, but they’re no longer creating special perks that can only roll on those guns.
What I didn’t expect is that these weapons were—in at least one case—even harder to acquire than the Pinnacle Weapons they replaced.
I think it’s still kind of amazing that even with ditching the overpowered Pinnacle weapon system, the Crucible gun and quest were still the most ridiculous of them all, though this time, I don’t think the Crucible one was the best PvE weapon for a change, as that honor probably goes to Exit Strategy from Gambit.
All three weapons are pretty decent. Edgewise is another high ROF machine gun in an element we didn’t have for add clear, and Exit Strategy has a pretty great perk selection for any SMG not named “The Recluse.”
Holy cow, though, y’all – Randy’s Throwing Knife had a steep quest. And it’s one of the best weapons in its class. Again.
Randy’s Throwing Knife—if you can hit your critical hits with it—is a beast of a weapon that has no peer in its archetype. It also has one of the better flavor text selections of the past year.
BUT the Randy’s quest was just beyond what it needed to be or should have been. 450 final blows with a scout is something that we essentially needed Momentum Control as a game mode to complete in a lot of cases, and the medals/kills requirement was yet another “percentage-based” one where medals counted, but not all medals, and not all medals that did counted for the same amount…
Exit Strategy had a lot of the same problems. I ground that one out this past week, and some post-match medals didn’t count at all. I had more than once match where I was certain I was done, but yet another match waited for me to complete it.
In the future, when quests have “percentage” completion bars, it’d be really nice to have a guide somewhere that tells us what counts for how much progress.
The guesswork necessary to complete these things efficiently is a huge part of the frustration with them.
Look: I ground out Undying this season, but I would not recommend it for most people. On the surface, the first time I looked at it early in the season, my reaction was “this isn’t that bad, and I think most people should be able to complete it.”
I am less than happy to admit that I was very wrong concerning this point.
The Vex Offensive portions of it weren’t horrible. I thought they’d be the worst, but other than what I mentioned above regarding having to step in front of teammates (and that’s a big “other than”), those bits were very doable with enough time spent in the mode.
The same thing applies to the Moon-related ones for just doing stuff using specific element-based classes. Grenade kills? Melee kills? Super kills? Can do.
In the end, the unreasonable bits for Undying came down to a single triumph:
The Collections badge.
To complete the Collections badge for the season, you needed:
the ship that drops from completing a 980-difficulty Ordeal Nightfall,
all three steps from all three ritual activity seasonal quests (Strikes, Crucible, and Gambit),
the exotic quest for the season,
all three ritual weapon quests completed (see above), and
every weapon and armor piece that can drop from Vex Offensive.
This was a lot of work, and worse yet, not completable as a solo player. (The 980 Nightfall and some aspects of the Strikes seasonal quest spoil it.)
I just looked up the badge on BrayTech, and was astounded to find that the lowest completion rate in their records is actually for the Strikes seasonal quest, which I can agree was a horrible slog. You can only receive strike scoring for Nightfalls, and the only way to get those done without having to get a group together—for most players—is to run the Ordeal version of the Nightfall, so this past week, my son and I ran Savathun’s Song something like seven or eight times in a row.
It was mind-numbing and the second worst part of getting the title. (The worst was getting the medals in Gambit for Exit Strategy, which took about double the time I wanted.)
This was the first “seasonal” title that required players to engage with all three “ritual” activities in large amounts.
I’m not sure what I think about this, especially given that each of those grinds required a certain amount of proficiency to complete. Personally, I prefer seals and accomplishments that are grinds proficient people can complete somewhat quickly, but determined or dedicated people can complete with a lot of effort.
In this case, Undying was only really completable by proficient people who also had a lot of time to grind at things, and that strikes me as the wrong way to go about it.
I’d like to see future seasonal seals focus more on that season’s unique activity, rather than forcing us into ritual activities that we may not wish to engage with.
That way, if the seasonal thing isn’t my bag, I can just nope out of it early and not bother with the seal. If I really enjoy it, or it’s significant to me, it gives me something long-tail to strive for before the season is over.
As it stands, this season, I spent more time in ritual activities grinding away at the same strikes, the same Crucible maps, and the same Gambit matches I’ve been running for over a year, instead of engaging with anything new or unique to the season.
This doesn’t feel like an effective use of the concept.
I’m mostly looking forward to seeing what Season 9 has in store for us starting tomorrow. Season 8 was a decent first attempt: some solid core ideas, with portions of execution I found wanting.
I didn’t think it was a home run of a content slice, but I also didn’t think it was a complete disaster. It’s weird to have an activity in-game that’s completely ending forever, and not taking up space in the Director for the rest of the life of the game. There’s a lot of potential here if Bungie can change course rapidly enough to respond to feedback.
It’s notable that Season 9 is scheduled to be three weeks longer than Season 8. It’s my hope that spacing things out a bit more will give the activities room to breathe, and not that we’ll be looking at even steeper grinds for the next quarter.
I’m hoping to get back into the practice of writing some guides for Season 9, and I’ll likely focus first on some suggestions for grinding the seasonal title. I’ll know more tomorrow when I get a look, and plan on publishing a guide to the patch notes sometime tomorrow afternoon as well.