Bungie woke up this week and chose violence. In their latest weekly update, the studio finally delved into the transmogrification system that players have basically been clamoring for since the original Destiny game launched in 2014. Of course, their plans are a complete mess.
Transmogrification, or “transmog” for short, is the process by which a player is able to alter the appearance of equipment, be it armor or weapons, but keep the stats on it. It’s been a fixture of loot-driven games and MMOs for a long time now, and most of those games have got that system all figured out. It’s usually pretty simple, requiring something like completing a challenge with the equipment or paying a small price, either with in-game currency or real money, in order to change the appearance. There are also usually no limits on how much you can transmog.
Evidently Bungie saw how all of this works and thought “Nah.”
As they’ve outlined, the process to transmog your equipment in Destiny 2 is going to be much more drawn out. First, you have to collect a currency called Synthstrand from killing enemies or completing activities. For those keeping count, this is like the 37th currency introduced since Destiny 2 alone. Once you’ve collected 150 Synthstrand, you can take it to an NPC who accepts that as currency to buy into bounties that will reward you… Synthcord (38 now), which you then take someplace else to be turned into Synthweave (39?!?). And then, finally, you can apply this to a single unlocked armor piece, not set, and boom, there’s your intuitive transmog system!
I’m kidding, of course, and this sucks on every imaginable level. But wait, it gets even better (or somehow much worse), because not only do you need to grind over and over just to transmog a single piece of equipment, but you are actually limited in how many pieces you can transmog in a given season! This first season of transmog will allow you to do it to 20 pieces of equipment per class, so if you rock all three Destiny classes, you can grind for hours on just 60 pieces of loot if you so elected to. There are thousands in the game. After this first season, you will be capped at 10 pieces of equipment per class every season.
More competent mathematicians than myself (I gave up engineering to write) have done the math, and if someone presumably wanted to transmog every single piece of equipment, even though Bungie will probably make half of it redundant in a season or two, it would take years or, if you wanted to take a shortcut, thousands of dollars.
Now realistically speaking, I get I’m not going to transmog every little thing I have. Hell, I haven’t played the game for months, mostly due to the fact that every alteration made to it seems like a nonsensical one. But not allowing even the possibility for everything seems like the most baffling decision in the world, especially for a system that’s quite literally all about flexibility. The point of transmog is to allow you to express yourself however you see fit while still retaining functionality for a miniscule price, and Bungie has seemingly decided you can only express yourself 10 times a season. Bungie just doesn’t seem to get what this system was supposed to be and evidently landed on the darkest timeline of transmog systems.
But to a much broader point, Bungie just does not seem aware of what to do with this game. For as long as Destiny has been around it’s commonly been billed as an MMO without the complexities or sheer overwhelming numbers of most MMOs. Bungie, seemingly trying to avoid falling into the pit trap of having a designated genre, has tried countless times to reinvent itself to be something else. It’s got seasonal content of battle royales, complete with a battle pass equivalent, but also a ton of that seasonal content was integral to pushing the game’s ongoing story, and if you missed it, well most of it is just gone now. It’s got more loot than they apparently know what to do with, so they’ve made most of it useless. The game’s got so many currencies, its currencies have currencies, and it had a ton of different activities that benefited differing playstyles and a vast number of worlds, and then ripped more than half of that out in order to drip feed players content from games past.
I don’t even know what to make of the game anymore other than dub it a mess, and as someone who spent hundreds of hours in the first, and really wanted to repeat that in the second, it’s just sad to watch the game deteriorate into this overly complicated puddle of directionless initiatives. There’s maybe time for Bungie to delay this feature and revisit their approach, but if it goes in as is, which it probably will, I don’t see how it’s anything but universally panned. Destiny 2 has become the worst possible version of the thing it didn’t want to be.
Moises Taveras is an intern for Paste Magazine and the managing editor of his college newspaper, the Brooklyn College Vanguard. He was that one kid who was really excited about Google+ and is still sad about how that turned out.