It happened to me: I was looking for groups on the Destiny 2 app to play Trials of Osiris with, joined one, and then found myself jumping off a clif for the next few minutes in a tribute to just how unfun the game’s competitive PVP loot grind can be.
Trials of Osiris was lauded in the original game for its tense shootouts and powerful rewards. Last spring, Bungie finally added the mode to Destiny 2, but its return hasn’t been flawless. Between player cheating, peeking exploits, and unbalanced weapons, Trials of Osiris can be hellish, especially for anyone with only a passing interest in competitive PVP. Tired of getting a Felwinter’s Lie shotgun to the face? You’re not alone! And so some players march off cliffs, lemming-style, to grind its loot as painlessly as possible.
While Trials of Osiris’ best gear can only be earned by winning seven matches in a row without a single loss, Trials of Osiris bounties let players grind piecemeal for lesser versions of its coveted loot. One bounty in particular guarantees you the Trials item of the week simply for completing matches, win or lose. And since giving up and losing right away is quicker than trying your hardest and eventually losing anyway, many choose the quick death over the drawn-out one.
This is how I found myself part of a group performing impromptu cliff speedruns on the Mercury map Altar of Flame a week ago. Suspended in air, the map was perfectly suited to players cheesing the mode. The addition of new loot with the start of Season of the Chosen, meanwhile, provided added incentive. The guaranteed reward for the week was The Messenger, an easy to handle pulse rifle with incredible range that also had the possibility of dropping with the Desperado perk, which increases your rate of fire after killing someone with a precision hit. The result was that even when I was trying to play for real I would occasionally encounter teams offing themselves within seconds of the round starting.
The reward for this past weekend was Astral Horizon, a super high impact kinetic shotgun. While the map, Exodus Blue, is mostly landlocked, I still occasionally encountered teams racing to the one open side to jump overboard rather than gamble on a slow defeat. “kys [kill yourself] for bounty,” read one of the Fireteams I joined over the course of the weekend when I had 1% left to go on my Trials engram bounty.
As Shacknews and countless posts on the Destiny subreddit have pointed out, this all shows just how warped the mode, and players’ relationship to it, has become. There are a number of reasons for this, but chief among them seems to be a skill gap. Players routinely complain about getting one win in a sea of losses only to end up matched against a squad of pros who have already gone flawless (seven wins without a loss) and have the Adept versions of Trials gear to prove it. “We have no matchmaking, so effectively no casuals will ever play it,” wrote one player in a post that blew up on Reddit over the weekend. “Speaking of matchmaking, why am I playing against people with gilded flawless titles at my second win?”
Then there’s the problem with how the rest of Trials of Osiris’ economy is currently structured. By the end of the original Destiny, players could farm Trials gear simply by playing matches because they earned tokens after each one, win or lose. These tokens could eventually be traded in for the gear that other players obtained more quickly by simply winning several matches in a row. It was a nice workaround for Trials of Osiris enthusiasts with mediocre or negative KDAs. In the current iteration, however, you only get tokens for winning, and even then they are given out very sparingly.
Trials of Osiris is what Bungie calls an aspirational activity, meaning it’s supposed to be something players have to work towards. I have no problem slogging through Trials, getting my ass kicked for months, only to eek out a humble five-win streak late in the season. But at the moment it doesn’t feel like a mountain I can slowly climb, and certainly not one I’d want to. Like everything else in the game, it feels like more of a crap shoot, and with so many good things to do in the game currently it’s not a surprise so many players would prefer to spend as little time in Trials as possible.
Correction - 4:58 p.m. ET, 2/23/21: Felwinter’s Lie was added back to Destiny 2 just this season via the legacy kiosk in the Tower. The good news is that means everyone can get it again. The bad news is it sunsets at the end of the season.