Destiny 2 has been out for several weeks and, in case you've missed all of the reviews, pretty much everyone agrees that this second outing was a huge step forward for the series. The game is more focused, has a far better campaign, and the team at Bungie did a good job of addressing many of the first game's shortcomings. Despite their best efforts, though, it appears at least one aspect of Destiny 2 is still woefully lacking: grouping up for end-game content.
Earlier this year, Bungie unveiled a pair of features meant to address one of the biggest issues players had with the original Destiny. In the first game, players were unable to utilize matchmaking for Nightfall Strikes, the more difficult versions of three-player missions, and Raids, massive dungeon dives that require six team members to complete.
As Director Luke Smith stated during the Destiny 2 reveal event this past summer, not having matchmaking in those events effectively locked many players out of the content. I know that to be true, as I was one of those players.
Using third-party sites and "looking for group" forums, it was a nightmare trying to get a couple extra people together to play Nightfall events. Obviously, that problem was elevated 10-fold when it came to the Raid, which requires twice the number of players. Rather than playing Destiny, I found myself spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to find a couple of people who wanted to run a mission that would have taken us a fraction of that time to actually complete. As a result, I barely touched the Nightfall Strikes and only got to run a couple of Raids over the past three years.
I realize that probably sounds insane to some players but, as Smith admitted on stage, not everybody games the same way. Only a handful of the folks on my Friends List play Destiny and, of those, we're not usually playing at the same time. And sure, if I was willing to keep putting in that effort, I would have eventually found my way onto more Nightfall and Raid teams. But you can only have a bad experience so many times before the trouble no longer feels worth it.
In Destiny 2, Bungie has attempted to remedy these issues with clan support and a feature called Guided Games. I'm willing to stick with these methods for a while and give them a chance to evolve but, as is, I'm still having the same issues as with the first game.
For starters, I joined a clan that's got a roster of about 100 players. While being in a clan grants you some nice bonuses, I joined specifically for the purpose of finding teammates more easily. Unfortunately, there's no way to communicate with clanmates in the game or even flag your profile as, say, "Open to Nightfall/Raid invites." I've tried using the clan's chat through the Destiny app but, despite the fact there are loads of players, they don't seem to be a very talkative group. My requests of "looking for a Nightfall group this weekend" go unanswered.
Next, I resort to messaging various members who seem to be free, almost none of which ever respond. I suppose my next step is to search for another clan.
But before that, I tried out the same methods that gave me a headache in the original Destiny, "looking for group" boards. Again, I seem to have the worst luck with this clunky process, almost never getting responses for my groups and, when I try to join someone else's group, a myriad of other issues pop up. I either get added and then dropped, teamed up with a foul-mouthed or screaming youngster, or wind up on a team that isn't using mics.
In other words, I'm going through multiple additional processes and wasting loads of time to wind up with the same results Bungie is afraid matchmaking would bring to Nightfall Strikes.
So, with clans and forums failing me all over again, I finally turned to the Guided Games option. This seems like a brilliant idea on the surface. Two players can basically open a third slot in their group to random players who want to tackle events like the Nightfall and Raid.
While the Seeker portion of this arrangement currently requires tickets to get into, the Guide portion is open to all Clans. Despite that fact, I jumped in the queue in the middle of a Saturday to discover I would be waiting half an hour to get paired with a team. That's usually the same amount of time I put into other methods before giving up in frustration, but I argued that this method would at least guarantee me a team that actually wanted to tackle the Nightfall.
So, I played Pokken Tournament on the Switch and waited almost exactly 30 minutes before getting dropped into a team. Not only were they not using mics, they appeared to have no idea what they were doing and we ultimately wiped, at which point they left the group and I was back to square one.
My point is that this is exactly the types of situations Bungie wants to avoid by not having matchmaking available. The difference is that it took me an extra half hour to suffer through it.
Despite all of my griping, this all comes from a good place. I still hold that Destiny 2 is a fantastic game and Bungie has done a phenomenal job addressing many of the original game's issues, all while enhancing the stuff that was already great.
I'm thinking of switching clans soon in the hopes of finding a group that communicates better, but that process is about as reliable as the matchmaking Bungie is so terrified of. The group I'm in has a description that sounds perfect, but there's no way of knowing what a clan is actually like until you join up and see for yourself.
Also, I'm hoping that the Guided Games community will grow and improve over time, so I'm not willing to write that off completely just yet.
Honestly, I'm just bummed that I'm still dealing with the same issues that have been plaguing an otherwise great experience for the past three years. I have felt like I was locked out of content through all of that time. And despite Bungie's efforts with Destiny 2, I still feel like the game's "best content" has been walled off from players like me.