On end-game and recurring content:
The end-game progression content currently revolves around repeating a lot of hand-designed content on a daily and weekly basis. It’s designed in order to keep players coming back and to bolster their progression via currency and upgrade materials, but the issue is that the content is simply not interesting enough to stand up on its own after the hundredth time you’ve run it. In particular, the daily and weekly heroics are a bit of a sore spot, while being completely understandable given the constraints on content that Bungie was working with.
What’s the result of this approach?
- A lot of repetition in hand-designed content that makes the game feel very small.
- A lot of effort going into exploiting the content to progress faster.
- A sense that some activities are not worth the effort.
- Once you do the weekly content, there’s very little reason to come back during the rest of the week once you’ve reached endgame.
My suggestion: A dungeon randomizer. Well-designed, hand-crafted arena pieces connected with tunnels, hallways, whatever, forming a linear progression through a “level.” Each piece is populated with a randomized set of enemies from the various factions working together with some basic rules like a hard cap on the number of snipers or charging enemies. Each room could activate modifiers like Angry or Lightswitch, and at base level always have Heroic active. There can also be a new modifier called “Strife” or something that re-enables enemy faction in-fighting. So you’ve got an infinite set of totally unique, intrinsically replayable dungeons. You have one room that looks like the Array control room from the Earth mission of the same name, filled with Fallen Vandals and Minotaurs. You run down the hallway after defeating them and are greeted by Phalanxes, a Major Knight, and a series of Goblins defending the World’s Grave. Eventually, you enter the final room where an Ultra named enemy waits and awards you your loot. This is a repeatable instance off of the director, and gives a high amount of Vanguard reputation and a small amount of marks (Vanguard Tiger has moved to give more marks and less rep). You can choose a tier for the dungeon, which determines its encounter difficulty (enemy makeup and tier, modifiers) and its length, but it is always scaled to your level.
So what do we use these for?
Instead of a Daily Heroic Story Mission, you now have a Daily Heroic Dungeon that is a 15-20 minute randomized level. Each player’s dungeon is unique. The rewards for the daily mission stay the same.
We also remove the Weekly Heroic Strike. It isn’t fun to be asked to grind through the same strike as the Nightfall to get a worse reward, when it’s often as or more difficult without damage modifiers. Instead, we have a Weekly Epic Dungeon. Epic is always on, and it’s a longer, more challenging dungeon. Again, unique to the player. Challenging, and proportionately rewarding (with the current Weekly Heroic loot table).
In addition, we now create a new tier of activity: Semi-Weekly Nightfall Story. Resets on Tuesday and Friday. Nightfall-level of difficulty applied to story missions. Appropriate rewards. Greater incentive for players to play through some potentially not-so-hot missions that they wouldn’t look twice at otherwise, without as much repetition (2x/week instead of 7x/week). The replayability (or lack thereof) of the content is now in line with how often the content repeats.
The Weekly Nightfall Strike remains as-is. Nightfall is designed to be a very challenging activity and demands a lot of the player. As such, it needs to be applied to hand-designed content so that players can’t run into an “unwinnable” situation where they get a crappy roll on their dungeon. This matters less in lower tiers because the player is better equipped to handle the challenge that the lower tier is asking of them.
A game that asks players to repeat content needs to leverage its best assets: in Destiny, that’s the sandbox and moment-to-moment combat, and it needs to have content that is conducive to being repeated. Diablo 3’s Adventure mode was huge for that game, and Destiny could use an analogous feature. I think this could provide end-game players a good reason to come back and would allow people to enjoy the best parts of Destiny without the in-universe wrapping that so often bogs it down.