Destiny’s Guardian Games Has Too Many Good Ideas For Just A Seasonal Event

Guardian Games just started, and everything is different. There’s a bunch of floating fixtures in the Tower, there’s new playlist activities, and Eva wants us to collect Laurels to buy cards to earn medallions to unlock torches to gain buffs to help us complete competitive Nightfalls on the weekends…I think. There’s a lot of intricacies to the new systems, and I’m not sure I’ve totally nailed down how all of them work (though our complete guide to the Guardian Games is definitely helpful). While some layers of abstraction do seem unnecessary, the event has introduced a lot of smart ideas that feel wasted on a three week event that only comes around once a year. I’d like to see how Bungie can work these aspects of Guardian Games into the regular Destiny 2 grind.

One of the most confusing additions this year is also one of the most intriguing. The new Guardian Games playlists, found at the top of the Tower’s map, are variations of Vanguard playlist activities that have a couple of cool features. First, the Practice and Competitive playlists offer 1550 Legend Nightfalls with matchmaking, which will be a huge benefit to solo players that need to farm Exotics and Enhancement Prisms. Secondly, all three playlists use a scoring system to track performance and determine rewards. The better you do during the Strike, the more progress you’ll make towards your weekly Pinnacle. During the weekend when the Competitive Playlist opens up, your score will be recorded, presumably into some kind of ranking system, so you can compete with other teams to improve.

This system needs to find its way into the regular Vanguard playlists too. Instead of giving Pinnacle reward progress for completions, players should earn progress based on performance. This way, you’re incentivized to play well and improve, rather than run through activities on autopilot or, even worse, AFK while your teammates do them for you. Rather than relying on the difficulty setting to determine rewards, drops could be tied to your score so that you earn better gear and enhancement items based on how well you played. In general, the scorecard puts a greater emphasis on skill and performance and provides an intrinsic motivation to replay activities. Suddenly I’m not just running a strike for some loot – I’m running it to hopefully hit a new personal best.

A leaderboard for Nightfalls is a particularly fascinating idea. Introducing a competitive aspect to the most challenging PVE activities is a great way to energize the community and encourage people to run Grand Master content over and over even if they no longer want or need the rewards they give. Leaderboards are as old as Pac-Man so it’s easy to take them for granted, but including them could give Destiny’s pinnacle activities some extra incentive.

The other reward for completing Guardian Games activities with a good score are the Contender’s Boons and glowing armor effects. Contender’s Boons are a weekly buff that you earn in the Practice Playlist that improve your weapon damage and ability recharge in Guardian Game playlists for the entire week. The glowing armor effects, which are a staple a Guardian Games staple, can be earned by turning in medallions and similarly last until the end of the week.

Non-loot rewards like these should be explored in other activities. It would be great to earn buffs in Strikes that you can take into the Nightfall, but Bungie could go so much further. What if completing all the Lost Sectors in a patrol zone gave you a buff that improved your abilities in Legend and Master Lost Sectors that day? Optional things like that can help extend the grind without feeling artificial. The glowing armor effects feel like they belong to the Guardian Games, but there are other temporary auras you can earn for Nightfalls, Raids, and Trials. Everyone loves these cosmetic effects, and it would be great if there were more opportunities to earn them each week.

Competition between classes is the core of the Guardian Games, but there’s a lot more to the event this year than simply picking up laurels and dunking medallions. In fact, these additions feel like they could be experiments for possible new permanent features. Matchmaking in power cap activities is the most exciting prospect, but there’s plenty going on in this event that could eventually lead to huge improvements for Destiny 2.

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