It has been quite some time since I last wrote about Destiny. Today I wanted to discuss some of its end game content. Specifically, why Trials of Osiris is brilliant and what unexpected effects it has had on the community.
A little bit of back-story:
Destiny has taken a lot of flack recently because of the few ways to gain the highest-level gear. The best way is the Raid Challenge modes, where players do a particularly difficult boss encounter a certain way to be rewarded with extra max level loot. But this doesn’t always last for players. The difficulty with having the end game content being against computers is that people can out smart them. There are endless strategy guides and how-tos, which walk the players through the entire raid. This makes it considerably easier to finish when they know exactly what is going to happen and when it is going to happen.
Then there is Trials of Osiris. Trials came about in the House of Wolves Expansion pack (the second expansion pack) in early 2015. With it came one of the most difficult challenges in Destiny; getting to the Lighthouse.
Let’s dive into Trials:
The way Trials works is the player must win nine games of Elimination against other players before losing three. If they do so, they will be rewarded with some pretty cool gear. But if the player makes it through the nine matches without losing any games, they have gone “Flawless” and get to travel to the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is a kind of social area where only the best Destiny players have access.
Side note: Elimination works via pitting two teams of three players against one another. Each player only has one life. Upon dying though, they can be revived by their teammates after a cool down timer. Every time a player dies, the cool down timer is extended. The team wins a round when all three members of the opposing team are dead simultaneously for three seconds. Teams need to win five rounds to successfully win the match. Once a team has reached three victories, the next round heavy ammo will spawn on the map in two locations, causing both teams to do a mad dash for the heavy that round.
So why is Trials of Osiris so special?
While computers act a certain way every single time, other players don’t. Trials pitting players against one another serves as an interesting experience because it is always different. There is no definitive “ This is how you do this and you will win”, because for any strategy your team might think up, the opposing team might think of a way to counter. Additionally, because this goes on for at least five rounds total, (the game can last a max of nine rounds if each team wins four) teams must change their strategy. Unlike the computer enemies in raids, humans learn and adapt.
Trials are only available Friday-Monday, and each week is a different map. Players who are really good at one map won’t necessarily always have the advantage every week. It’s impossible to get really good at Trials without knowing all the maps. But even if the player doesn’t know the map, they have time throughout the weekend to learn it.
What about the end game content?
Well, we know that games get boring when players run out of goals to achieve. Whether that goal is to complete all the levels, or get that one piece of exotic gear, they need a carrot on a stick or they typically get bored. The Lighthouse is that carrot. And there is no easy way to get there. By pitting players against one another in a weekly competition, Bungie has taken a lot of the work out of having to create new content. Did I mention you are paired up against players who typically have the same amount of wins as you? So the game automatically scales in difficulty just based on player’s survival. They have successfully created gatekeepers to this legendary area out of the community.
The other goal they have achieved with Trials is teamwork in PvP. All of the end game content in Destiny requires that players go in with teams. And players won’t be able to win without communicating. Due to the nature of elimination and the high stakes gameplay, the best teams are constantly communicating by calling out enemy locations to one another. This communication in turn brings people closer together, thus giving players more people to play with and ultimately Destiny retaining players.
And now, for the ugly.
When Trials originally came out teams would be paired up randomly against other teams as long as there was a good network connection. While this was nice because we didn’t have to worry so much about lag, players who are playing their first round could be paired against a vetted team, which has gone 7 and 0. This resulted, as you can imagine, in many unbalanced fights.
In the most recent months, Bungie has been attempting to pair players in as fair matches as often as possible. This is why the matches now are based on how many victories teams have rather than connection. This resulted in a lot of bad connections and lag, especially in later fights as there were less teams to be paired up against.
While they had the best intentions with pairing players based on wins against one another, it doesn’t help much when your team has been paired up against another team which has already gone flawless and has the ridiculously powerful Lighthouse weapons. So there is still an imbalance there. I feel as if non-flawless players shouldn’t be getting paired up in the first couple rounds against players who have already gone flawless.
Sidenote: I feel as if it is important for me to mention these weapons do not make the players invincible. It’s just that no one else has access to them until they have gone flawless and that they are incredibly powerful. (I’m looking at you Doctrine of Passing (Adept)). Players can get a version of them at 7 wins but, from what I understand, the flawless versions don’t just look different, they also pack a meatier punch.
Unfortunately, Trials of Osiris going flawless creates a bit of an Elitist mentality inside the community when discussing Destiny PvP. This mentality really hurts new players because players who have gone flawless will very rarely play with/ talk to players who have not gone flawless. Just take a look at Destiny’s LFG (Looking for Group) on the Bungie website.
“DOING FLAWLESS RUN
MUST BE 315 LIGHT
MUST HAVE YEAR 2 FLAWLESS EMBLEM
MUST HAVE A K/D OF 1.3 OR HIGHER
MESSAGE ###### FOR INVITE”
something like this:
as a result there is this guy:
I'm pretty sure this is against Bungie's terms and conditions.
This makes the barrier of entry an absolute nightmare for players who are getting into Trials.
Sidenote: Due to Trials having such a high learning curve it is very difficult for players to get started. They can do the trials bounties (6 a week) which give them a % chance to recieve Trials gear but any Destiny player will agree, the random drops are useless more often than not. When playing at that level new players wont stand a chance until they have a team which can work incredibly well together and the gear to back them up.
While this is an issue with the players playing the game (and not with the game itself), the players acting this way is a direct result of the difficulty of the game. Unfortunately, this community will turn off a considerable amount of players who will never get to experience this content because of it.
Sidenote: The raid was no better when it first came out. But over time players have become more confident in their abilities and the LFG posts aren’t as bad. Whereas Trials has never let up, from what I’ve seen it just gets worse. Even though I don't blame them for not wanting the best of the best on their team (everyone does). There is very little in place to truely prepare players or to get advanced players to help out newer players. This is problimatic because in the rest of the high level content it seems like the most popular way to get through a tough section is to have a higher level guardian help out and teach newer players.
Trials of Osiris is brilliant. Pitting players against one another for some of the best loot in the game really has made it much more difficult and rewarding when the player finally reaches the Lighthouse. This tension of the matches and how rewarding it feels to actually win is truly intoxicating. But the poor match making and the elitist community it is creating is making it difficult for a lot of players to experience this content. I hope this week I got you thinking about alternate ways to create end game content by simply changing the rules and using the community to your advantage. Also, I hope you thought at least a little bit about how difficult team events will effect the community. Thanks for sticking around.
I’ll see you next week,