For a long time now, the Strike playlist (now called the Vanguard Ops playlist) in Destiny 2 has had very little incentive for players to, well, play it.

Most of the loot is not extraordinary, and the very best Strike loot is exclusive to challenging Nightfalls. The playlist has lost a lot of Strikes as of late (due to the game’s necessary content vaulting) with very few Strikes filling in the backlog. Perhaps most importantly of all, there are far more fun and far more rewarding places to put your time into.

Back in the original Destiny, Strikes were truly a core pillar of the game, and while Bungie has been making small successive steps to improve the health of the playlist (such as adding a unique reputation system for Zavala) but they are a far cry from how they once were. Which begs the question: How can we fix the Strike playlist and make it a place worthy of your playtime?

1. Strike Scoring

With Guardian Games, the new playlists have brought back the much-beloved Strike Scoring aspect that became an immensely important part of Strikes in the original Destiny. This was a new way to play Strikes, becoming more about medals and getting a super high score rather than just melting your way through all the ads to clear the Strike in mere minutes. Compared to endgame changes with raids and other activities Strike Scoring was a relatively small edition, but it went such a long way to keep Strikes fresh and replayable at their core without the need for loot incentives.

Strike Scoring allows the focus of Strikes to change to a place of chill medal acquisition or hard-focused, hard-fought score-chasing. As they are right now, they are simply a pinnacle grind early in the season and then a place to mindlessly complete challenges.

The return of Strike Scoring in Guardian Games has been met with renown and acclaim from the entire Destiny community, and many are praying that this marks a potential look at the future of the regular playlist. Bungie has been known to use seasonal activities or other limited-time events to test new gameplay features or functions, so here is hoping that this means a return to form for Strike Scoring coming back to the regular playlists.

2. Add More Interesting Modifiers

Going back and playing Destiny 1 in recent weeks, I had forgotten the different kinds of modifiers Strikes used to have: Small Arms for increased primary damage, Catapult for increased grenade charge, even the burns felt more geared towards the player’s benefit than simply being ‘oops the Lightblade can now 1 shot you because it’s Arc Burn this week.’

Part of me understands why we don’t have a ton of positive modifiers in Destiny 2. Over the years, our Guardians have become so powerful that giving us even small benefits may completely upset the balance of the sandbox. However, my counter to this would be that base level Strikes, content fit for the lowest Light Level in the game should be about stomping all over enemies with ease.

If new modifiers that aided the player were combined with Strike Scoring and medal collection, then the Strike Playlist would become a place to test out fun builds and score big with friends. It would be a place to compete at getting high scores without needing the best of the best in terms of gear: oh it’s Small Arms this week so let’s try out Graviton Lance or Huckleberry and see how many points we get.

Instead of a chore, with fun modifiers, Strikes become a beacon for player-made fun and a challenge that completely opposes the strict loadout locks of high-level content. While this fits the endgame (which is about coordination and a fireteam being greater than a singular Guardian), other activities should definately lighten the load and Strikes are perfect for that.

The Vanguard Playlists. Destiny 2, Bungie
The Vanguard Playlists. Destiny 2, Bungie

3. Matchmaking In Legend Tier Nightfalls for Destiny 2

This is more relevant in Nightfalls than in general Strikes, but the two are so intrinsically linked that one affects the other.

Another benefit being tested in Guardian Games is Legend (or 1550 Light Level this season) content being matchmade. Usually, only Adept level content (not to be confused with Adept weapons and gear) and Hero level content can use matchmaking as both are far less difficult than their Legend and Master counterparts. Unfortunately, this means that most matchmade Strikes are mindless cakewalks of slaughtering easy enemies that are usually over in a matter of minutes.

As previously pointed out, the game does require areas where the player gets to feel powerful, where they get to flex their skills and abilities as God-slaying Guardians on weak enemies. The problem is that if you want to engage in Strikes without a pre-made fireteam, you are forced to go into easy mode Strikes without any alternative.

Allow Legend tier content, specifically Strikes in this case, to matchmake solo players with others as it is a reasonable expectation of challenge without the activity being too outrageously difficult without a form of communication. Master and Grandmaster Tier content almost always require some form of communication to effectively complete, but Legend content is the sweet spot between ‘fun’ and ‘challenge’ that so many in the Destiny community seek.

4. Legend Difficulty in Vanguard Ops

Linking onto the last point, the Vanguard Ops playlist has only one difficulty mode and if you do not want to play the same weekly Nightfall for the umpteenth time that weekend, then you’re bang out of luck on challenging replayable content. With the above changes to Legend tier content that would allow them to matchmake, a simpler form of Legend difficulty (without Champions) to go alongside the current Vanguard Ops playlist would instantly make them more viable.

Strike Scoring, medals, matchmaking at higher difficulties, all of them set apart the currently dull and vacant playlist into something worth putting time into because… well, it’s fun.

Loot is always important but enjoying the activity that you’re doing will always make you play more than loot, so the Strike playlists need to be more enticing both for those seeking a challenge and for those who want to mindlessly shoot aliens for shiny rewards.

5. Destiny 2 Nightfall Exclusive Loot in Regular Strikes

It may not be Strike specific loot, but it is something.

For a while now, Bungie has made it so certain pieces of very desirable gear are only available from the Nightfall playlist and at certain difficulties: guns such as the famed Palindrome, the Hothead, and the ill-fated Comedian. A lot of these weapons are highly sought after and so week after week Guardians pile into the Nightfall playlist to get these famed weapons.

Unfortunately, a knock-on effect comes from these weapons being available as Adept weapons from Grandmaster Nightfalls. When they are available as regular weapons, a large subset of the player base simply doesn’t want to waste their time getting them: what if you get a God-roll Palindrome that isn’t Adept and waste all your luck for the season?

Even if that isn’t the case, players who can’t approach GM Nightfalls and can only get the base loot are forced to endlessly replay a single Strike for a very slim chance at the said gun.

It’s a system that needs work.

The Adept Palindrome from a Grandmaster Nightfall. Destiny 2, Bungie

One way to do this may be to include regular Nightfall loot in the regular Strike playlist. This would mean players could acquire guns such as the DFA (which is returning as new Nightfall loot next season) in Cabal Strikes, the Palindrome from Fallen Strikes, or such cases. Not only would this be more beneficial for those who cannot do GMs and so the normal loot is their only accessible option (as they can grind the regular Strike playlist instead of the one Nightfall over and over) but it wouldn’t massively affect players only looking for Adept weapons either.

The ideal reality would be that Strikes would have their only exclusive loot just like in the original Destiny, but the fact that Bungie hasn’t moved towards that idea after almost 5 years showcases that it isn’t very likely to happen.

While not all of these may make it into the game, and some of them are a lot more immediately appealing than others, the fact remains that the Strike playlist needs some form of a shakeup to be a compelling activity within Destiny 2. Whether this round of Guardian Games is the precursor to a great Strike rework like Iron Banner and Competitive Crucible is getting (in Season 17 and 19 respectively) is yet to be seen but Strikes need help: hopefully, they get them sooner rather than later.

What are your thoughts on the state of Destiny 2? Is it time for Bungie to change up its formula for strikes and playlists? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jack Carson

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