As a long-time (now former) World of Warcraft player, and a fairly new Destiny guardian, I find it puzzling that Bungie has yet to include an in-game matchmaking feature for their 6-man raids. I understand their reasoning, as placing 6 total strangers in to one of their teamwork-heavy raids is a recipe for disaster, but if they took notes from Blizzard’s LFR (Looking For Raid) system, things could work out rather smoothly–and, in turn, increase the amount of time their players spend online.
For a little bit of background, I raided in World of Warcraft for the better part of 9 years (proud Demonology Warlock and Moonkin!), recently giving up completely after growing bored over the last two expansions. As my free time dwindled, and my work schedule became erratic, I found it difficult to find a steady raid team. Thankfully, the game itself offers a matchmaking system for those looking to experience end-game content, get some loot, or avoid committing to the inevitable stress of a hard core raiding guild.
Anyone with limited free time–or even a lack of friends playing the game–that wants to experience end-game content can do so using an in-game tool.
This system (called LFR by the player base) allows those with minimum gear requirements to click a button and enter a queue for a number of available raids. This means there’s still a little work involved on behalf of the player, as they’ll need to obtain a minimum gear score (similar to Destiny’s Light level) in order to queue up. As the player obtains better gear, they can queue for more “challenging” raids, repeating the process throughout the expansion’s duration as new raids are eventually patched in.
Where Bungie wants to avoid putting strangers together to tackle difficult bosses, Blizzard dumbs their encounters down in order to compensate for 25 people working together for the very first time. In exchange, the loot dropped has its stats scaled down–so the players in guilds running the real raids have a reason to continue doing so. Less risk, less reward, and vice-versa.
So what changes in Blizzard’s LFR raids? Bosses have less health, deal less damage, and sometimes lose an ability or two that tend to cause problems for real raid teams. It’s still a decent challenge for a group of newcomers, as anyone who’s ran a new raid on day-one can attest to, but it’s easy enough for anyone to comprehend after a wipe or two. Mostly, anyway.
This system benefits both Blizzard and their player base.
Like Blizzard, Bungie puts a lot of time and resources in to crafting these raid encounters that go untouched by a portion of their players. There’s also no in-game chat feature for strangers to connect, converse, and form groups. Instead, they’re required to use various forums, apps, message boards, and social media groups, which is something I’m just not interested in doing.
Loot doesn’t really matter to me. I picked up Destiny at launch, sold it shortly after due to its myriad connectivity issues, picked it up again back in April, sold it again because I didn’t want to pay the required amount for the expansion pass, and recently got back in to it a few weeks ago when The Taken King was heavily discount at Target. My girlfriend, along with two of our mutual friends, avidly plays as well, and so far it’s been one of the most enjoyable co-op experiences we’ve had since Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. But like we experienced in WoW, our friends live in different states, different countries, and getting us all together at the same time is near impossible.
If Bungie followed Blizzard’s lead and implemented an in-game matchmaking system with inferior loot drops, I’d feel more inclined to spend even more time in Destiny. Now that I’ve finished the campaigns on all three classes, I find myself logging in less. I land in The Tower, pick up bounties, see which ones I can knock out, and then play something else. If one of our friends are online, we’ll run Strikes for fun.
I guess what I’m getting at is that I’d like to see Destiny’s raid content without the hassle of finding a group on a forum, or committing to regularly scheduled play times. It worked out well in WoW, and perhaps the concept spoiled me, but I’d highly welcome the inclusion of something similar in Destiny.
With The Taken King greatly improving upon Bungie’s core concept, maybe now is the time to start opening up their content to everyone else. It definitely couldn’t hurt, could it?