I’ve been having a surprisingly good time a week into playing Destiny 2’s latest season. But for all it does well, it’s also exposed some very annoying flaws in the new gear sunsetting system. While intended to help streamline and focus the loot grind, sunsetting’s also added a whole new level of mind-numbing complexity.
In addition to bringing giant alien pyramids and laser swords, Destiny 2’s Season of Arrivals changed how gear infusion works. Traditionally, players have been able to raise an older piece of gear to a higher power level by infusing it with a newer piece of gear. Now, all gear has a power cap associated with it based on the season in which it dropped. For the first year after it’s earned it can be infused as normal, but after that it will be stuck at its cap, unable to continue growing relative to the power requirements of new quests, strikes, and raids. Players have argued back and forth over the merits of sunsetting since Bungie explained it in detail back in May. Regardless of whether the philosophy behind it is good or bad, the way it’s currently implemented is full of frustrating wrinkles.
Season of Arrivals gear has a power cap of 1360, 300 above the current achievable power level of 1060, meaning it will be relevant through next summer. But not all gear that drops in Season of Arrivals is at that power cap, and herein lies part of the problem. I’ve already gotten an Optative hand cannon from Forsaken and Righteous Boots from Season of Dawn. Instead of having a max power cap of 1360 like this season’s other loot they have caps of 1260 and 1060 respectively, pegged to the seasons in which they were originally introduced. That means they won’t be useful for much longer, so why bother wasting materials to upgrade them?
While older gear at the older power caps is still dropping anew, new versions of old guns are also dropping at the new power cap. I mentioned one of these, a handgun called The Lonesome, in my initial impressions of this season. Another is Gnawing Hunger, an excellent auto rifle with a satisfying kickback. Both are from Destiny 2’s Season of the Drifter back in early 2019. The older versions of those weapons, which many players spent a lot of time grinding for until they finally found one with a good set of randomized perks, have their power capped at 1060 while this season’s “re-issues” are at the new 1360 max. Instead of just including those guns in a pool of weapons that are automatically grandfathered into the new cap, players have to hunt for them all over again. “Got 30k kills on my Gnawing Hunger just to masterwork another one and start again,” wrote one player in a recent thread on the game’s subreddit. “Not a great feeling of accomplishment.”
I’ve encountered some other weird annoyances as well. I’ve had Prime Engrams I earned with my Warlock decrypt into armor for a Hunter. I’ve seen new versions of guns like the Main Ingredient fusion rifle drop with a 1360 cap but at 750 power, the minimum from the Forsaken expansion nearly two years ago. And I’ve had powerful drops from weekly activities turn out to be older armor with power caps below 1360. It also now looks like drops from the Last Wish and Garden of Salvation raids won’t be exempted from the new sunsetting requirement until new versions of them are reintroduced this fall in Season 12. The fact that there don’t seem to be many hard-and-fast rules across the board means there are even more numbers to sort through and compare between the same guns and armor than ever before.
Destiny 2 director Luke Smith first hinted at the new gear sunsetting system back in February when he likened the game’s ever-growing arsenal of guns to cards from Magic: The Gathering. “We’ve made a lot of Magic cards, and we want you to keep the ones you love in your collection (as opposed to taking them and throwing them all away and having the Tower get destroyed again),” Smith wrote in a blog post at the time. “And a bunch of those Magic cards could be playable around the world while free-roaming or in PVP formats. But where Power matters or aspirational activities are involved, we’re going to make some changes to Legendary weapons.”
There are a lot of problems with using Magic: The Gathering as a model for Destiny 2, including that Magic cards are expensive and the forced obsolescence around that economy sucks. But following the Magic model would also mean remaining consistent. I don’t have to worry about getting War of the Spark cards when I open a pack from the new Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths set. And if an old card does get re-circulated, Magic doesn’t make any distinctions between the two copies. The Champions of Kamigawa version of Azusa, Lost but Seeking is as good as the Core 2021 set reprint.
Hopefully Bungie will iron out these issues with sunsetting in the months ahead. Cycling old gear out of the game should be about trying to keep the core Destiny 2 experience feeling fresh and rewarding. Right now it feels like just another way of keeping players occupied by making them grind even more.