At this point, it’s time to stop playing coy. Two trials of Osiris is returning to Destiny next season. Whether you realize this from the events shaping up this season or you’ve been digging into datamines, it’s coming and it’s time to start talking about it.
While I am excited for Trials to return, like many others I am concerned about it coming back for a variety of reasons. Namely, the mountains of PvP-based salt that will come with it regarding usual metagame complaints (Lord of Wolves! Mindbenders! Spare Rations!) but more pressingly, the prevalence of cheaters that could potentially ruin the activity for anyone.
I know that Bungie is hard at work banning cheaters the old-fashioned way, a problem which increased exponentially when Destiny 2 came to PC and then subsequently went free-to-play, with New Light players able to hop into Crucible immediately.
But now when Trials is coming, there are actual stakes, as getting enough wins to get to the Lighthouse or going Flawless will be hugely important parts of the experience with tangible, valuable rewards, not just arbitrary glory points that ultimately mean nothing once you’ve gotten Not Forgotten.
The way I see it there are two main stopgaps to put in place other than just detecting and banning cheaters to make Trials secure. And both are likely to be somewhat controversial for different reasons.
One of the biggest problems that Destiny has right now is what I just mentioned, that cheaters can easily sign up for the game and start playing Crucible because that aspect of it is free. This is to encourage normal players to experience PvP mode and keep those player populations up, but it’s also what opens the door for a lot of cheaters.
It seems like Trials is going to need to have some sort of paywall behind it. As in, you must pay $10 for Season of the Worthy in order to access it. This will wall it off from New Light players, who will now have a Crucible mode they can’t dip into, and as such, will probably raise the overall skill level of the playlist.
But this scenario gets a bit complicated because unlike other seasonal content, Trials is not going to be a temporary addition to the game that gets removed after a season (at least hopefully not, can you imagine?). That may work for this season, but what does that mean when we move on to future seasons. Will players have to go back and pay $10 for Trials/Season of the Worthy even if that season is over and everything else in it can no longer be experienced? Yes, perhaps that is what has to happen, and if you want to play Trials that $10 entry fee will be permanent, no matter when you end up picking up Destiny. That’s…a little confusing, but I do think some sort of paywall for Trials access is a good idea. The seasonal model just makes it complicated.
A Power Minimum
This is the other half of the equation. You could do both, or one or the other, and this would avoid some of the problems with the paid idea I just mentioned. Though obviously it has its own issues too.
The idea here is that if there was a minimum power level for Trials, say 960 or something, then you would also be able to cut out cheaters as you would force them to at least grind a good amount of content to get up to the minimum so they couldn’t just show up, enter and start wrecking everything.
The problem here however is how Destiny has handled power level recently. The Artifact gives everyone 5-20 or so temporary power throughout the course of the season, and then takes it away. And now recently, the last gear power increase was only 10 plus another 10 for Pinnacle drops. I don’t think power should factor into Trials itself (that’s a whole other Iron Banner-based can of worms), but even if a power minimum does make sense, I think Bungie needs to have a better picture of how its handling power level going forward (like current weird situations where we’re getting more power, but Master difficulty stays at 980, etc.). And lately, given how easy it is to climb to at least the soft power cap, I’m not sure how much of a deterrent this would actually be unless the number was very high. But then if it is very high, then you cut out a significant portion of the legitimate playerbase.
This is all a very fine line to walk. After considering all of this, I do fundamentally believe that at the very least, you need to buy this coming season to play Trials, putting that $10 wall in place. After that, Bungie can figure out how it wants to charge for Trials, but a paywall does seem important in this free to play era.
And yes, I think this should be paired with some power minimum so players can’t just jump in and immediately play. New players would get their spirits crushed and this would only serve to benefit hackers. But what power level that is, and how it changes from season to season, is a more complicated question.
Trials will have many challenges ahead, but erasing cheaters is definitely going to be its biggest. We’ll see what Bungie comes up with.