Trials of Osiris

End Game Content: Trials of Osiris

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”

or

something like this: 

image.jpg

or this:

image.jpg

as a result there is this guy:

image.jpg

 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,

 

Scott

Moments of Triumph and Raid Matchmaking

For the last month or so (Since Bungie day) I’ve been spending a lot of time, on and off, trying to complete the “Moments of Triumph” in Destiny.

I do like this design as well. Each circle filling up as you complete more of the task. Thus filling in the inner circle as well upon completion.

I do like this design as well. Each circle filling up as you complete more of the task. Thus filling in the inner circle as well upon completion.

Brief Background: The Moments of Triumph are a list of tasks for the player. A set of quests if you will, which if completed by Sept. 9th will gain the player a special emblem which will only be available to players who have done all these tasks before Sept. 9th. After Sept 9th there is no chance anyone will be able to get this emblem ever again. (In short, if the year one hard core players do everything in Destiny they will get this)

That extra HA HA! I'm better than you! Is something hard to pass up for many gamers.

That extra HA HA! I'm better than you! Is something hard to pass up for many gamers.

So what are these tasks? (Very minor Destiny Spoilers ahead)

-Apprentice of Light – Character reached the maximum level (Official level max is 20 even though the level cap is technically 34 as of right now but we’ll get into that another time)

-Light of the Garden – Defeated the dark heart of the Black Garden (Finished vanilla Destiny’s campaign)

-Light in the Dark – Prevented the summoning of Crota’s soul (Finish the new campaign missions from the Dark Below DLC)

-Light the Reef – Captured Skolas in the Vex Citadel (Finish the new campaign missions from the House of Wolves DLC)

-Bane of Skolas – Defeated Prison of Elders on Hard Difficulty (Survived Destiny’s horde mode level 35)

-Bane of Atheon – Defeated Atheon on Hard Difficulty (Finished Vault of Glass Raid on Hard)

-Bane of Crota – Defeated Crota on Hard Difficulty (Finished Crota’s End Raid on Hard)

-Public Servant – Completed 50 Public Events

-Crucible Gladiator – Won 100 Crucible Matches (Win 100 PvP matches)

-Chest Hunter – Found all Golden Chests (These are hidden chests scattered throughout the game)

 

Why does this matter? What can we learn from this?

1.         People love to prove they are the best. (hell, look at sports) Having this emblem is one more way of appeasing the hard core Destiny audience.

2.         From my time in Destiny I have found there to be 2 kinds of Destiny players. PvE and PvP this forces players of both kinds to cross out of their comfort zone and try something maybe they hadn’t tried before.

3.         And most importantly it forces communication between players which can create friendships. (I’ll explain in a second)

 

This is where we segway into a more controversial part of Destiny. Why there is no match making in Raids or other high level activities. Now this topic has been hotly debated for many months, ever since Destiny has been released and while I have flip flopped on this I would like to explain my reasoning to: A. Why I think they don’t have matchmaking in high level activities and B. Why they shouldn’t.

I mean who the hell would take a picture like this? Usually people who are friends.

I mean who the hell would take a picture like this? Usually people who are friends.

Friends. It all comes down to making friends and team building. When I want to do a raid I need to either A. Call up 6 of my friends who have Destiny on XB1 and/or B. Find people online. Personally I like to find people on the Bungie forums (Because most of my friends chose to get it on PS4. You might say I chose….. poorly). You make a post like “Looking for 5 lvl 32 guardians for the Vault of Glass Raid normal on Xbox one. Message DestinyGuy3452 for invite.” Then the invites start to trickle in until maybe 10 minutes later you have a full team. The interesting thing about this is that 99.9% of the time the players will have mics. Then you start playing the raid. Everyone is communicating working together and bonding over the struggle of beating this Raid. Fairly frequently about 5 hours later (or less depending on the skill of the team) I will have at least 3 new friends to play Destiny with. A struggle/common goal which unites players + communication creates bonds between players.

Well yeah but why can’t they just use matchmaking?

The strikes use matchmaking. And no one talks in the strikes. No bonds are created. Crucible is match made. And no one talks in the Crucible. (Except Trials of Osiris which isn’t match made. And guess what? Everyone has mics in that too)

**This is particularly strange for a console which is packaged with a headset. So there really is no excuse for people to not be using it online.

Are mics really that important?

Yes. Not only are you sharing an experience with other players, you end up talking to them. Getting to know them. It’s kind of like back in school and you were forced to sit near strangers you had never met but the teacher forces you to work in a group. Before you know it you guys found something in common and are friends.

Just to get through this part of Vault of Glass the team of 6 needs to break into 3 teams of 2 and hold their own keeping switches activated while enemies are attacking them. And not easy enemies mind you, some of the hardest in the game.

Just to get through this part of Vault of Glass the team of 6 needs to break into 3 teams of 2 and hold their own keeping switches activated while enemies are attacking them. And not easy enemies mind you, some of the hardest in the game.

A pair of metaphors if you will:

Raids/P.O.E./T.O.O. are kind of like group work. You are forced to talk and work with people for a common goal. And after you spend enough time with them you might be friends. Depending on the size of the group you might have a few new friends.

Strikes/Campaign or anything else w/o mics is kind of like working alone yes you may all have the same goal but since you are not spending time communicating there are very few if any bonds being created.

Why this phenomenon happens I can’t say for sure (Hence why this is more of a blog rather than a formal analysis). But when you force the players to find other people and they all want to do well a strange thing happens, everyone brings mics. (This could also be because these quests were designed so you will need mics and communication to even survive. I can’t imagine doing the Crota fight with no mics because two teams, the sword bearer and the guys with the rocket launchers, need to coordinate attacks at the same time) And usually everyone makes at least one friend. And we all know what happens when you have friends playing the same game as you. You guys all play more.

Just imagine if you will trying to kill this scary S.O.B. without saying a word.

Just imagine if you will trying to kill this scary S.O.B. without saying a word.

Hold on Scott, I want to do the Raids but I don’t want to do the extra work of going online. It should just be in there.

I’m going to be completely straight with you. Yes, it sucks you can’t just click a button and the Raid matchmaking launches. Yes, it sucks you may have to go out and socialize a little bit. But the only people using this particular argument are the ones who drop Destiny anyways. These are the people who would probably do the raid one time and move on to the next game. Anyone who really enjoys this game and really wants to get this end game content steps out of their comfort zone to do it. The end game high level content was built specifically to reward the hard core fans. It’s not there for everyone. (This could spark another discussion I’d like to have at another time about Does X belong to the fans? And to which ones? Does it belong to the creators? But that’s for another time) And they are willing to do the leg work to put the groups together. If you don’t want to talk to people, then the high level content probably wouldn’t work for you anyways.

How would you know?

Uh… because I did it. I was that guy thinking that there is no excuse for not having matchmaking. But I stepped out of my comfort zone because I wanted to try the raids and made a bunch of new friends by complete accident. And I’m not the only one.

What about if you added in matchmaking but forced players to have a mic plugged in?

Well you got me there. I suppose that could work. But then I ask you what about if the player has a Kinect? Or are AFK?  A troll? (Trolls are less likely when they have to actually do some work) There is something special about going out and doing the leg work to find these people. People who have a pretty good idea what they are getting into. And no one who is away from their keyboard (I’ve had too many of these in matchmaking, it infuriates me). People who really want to do this instead of just kind of trying it out. That and you’d have to think of the media storm against forcing players to buy a mic separate from the game to access all the content. I know this probably wouldn’t bother xbox one or Ps4 players but I’m not sure if PS3 or xbox 360s are bundled with head sets or not.

We're sorry you don't own a mic... so you can't play the end game content...

We're sorry you don't own a mic... so you can't play the end game content...

Bungie’s official statement is that they want players to have the best possible experience in raids. People who are AFK or don’t have mics/listen to their team ruin that experience.

So should there be high level matchmaking? If the Designers are smart they will never give in to the public outcry for it. Because it has created bonds between players, strengthened the hardcore audience and made Destiny something more than just another game for some of us.

Thank you,

Scott