I have been playing Destiny since Day One. Actually, before that, since the Alpha and Beta. Before the Taken King launched, I had already put in 300 hours. I got Hawkmoon and Gjallahorn in the same week in August. That’s eleven months. It took me eleven months to get those weapons to drop. When they did, I almost cried. I air-punched, I whooped, I deafened my fireteam, woke up my family. I actually remember saying “This is why I love Destiny. Because of this feeling.”
By comparison, I am a week into The Taken King, and I have seven Year 2 Exotics. And I haven’t even farmed. I’ve just played the game. A new consumable, the Three of Coins, is purchasable from Xur for a measly 7 Strange Coins. When you consume one, the next Ultra (that’s a named, unique enemy with a yellow health bar) has a chance of dropping a yellow Engram. I have used eight of these so far, and I’ve gotten 4 Exotics just from them. That’s a 50% success rate for me. That means every second boss I’ve killed with a Three of Coins active has dropped an Exotic.
Now, unsurprisingly, Bungie has nerfed the drop rate and, for once, I am in favour of a Destiny nerf. Now, the Three of Coins will have significantly reduced effectiveness if used in quick succession, essentially preventing players from exploiting its gift by killing themselves or jumping to orbit and respawning at a boss checkpoint. But even without the farming exploit, the biggest issue with the Three of Coins is that it has cheapened the thrill of “earning” an Exotic. I know the Xur lottery does a similar thing in terms of making Exotics easy to come by, but at least you have to pay for them every time and he brings a random grab-bag with him that may not contain a single thing you want or need.
Exotics are a funny thing anyway. While there are dozens of yellow weapons and armour pieces, only being able to equip one of each at a time means that, although you have options to boost certain builds, you’ll often have a favourite to wear or use all the time, while the others are just for bragging rights, or to make your vault look pretty. Exotics are trophies, in many ways. While The Taken King has some intriguing ways of earning certain items – the Chaperone, Touch of Malice and Raze Lighter sword (or the other two Exotic blades, of course) have fairly meaty quests to unlock them – many are available from drops. It’s an exciting thing to see a yellow Engram roll away from the steaming corpse of your foe, but seeing it too often, even expecting it because you used a Three of Coins, dampens that excitement.
I think the Three of Coins would be better served if it increased the chance of Legendary or Sublime Engrams, which in turn have a chance to be decrypted into Exotics. That way you’re likely to get something decent either way, but you also get still get the thrill, every now and then, of rolling a yellow. RNGesus will be cursed again, but it would make that wait for the Exotic you really want – as painful as it sometimes is – all the sweeter.
I don’t know. People could choose not to use the item at all, I suppose, but then you’ve got the added bite of watching other people in your fireteam roll Exotics boss after boss, which is probably worse.
Bungie have hit some kind of sweet spot with The Taken King. People are happy with Destiny again. The content is there, the new Strikes and Raid, tweaks to PvP and improved core systems are finally enough to appease even those who became disillusioned with Destiny. If Bungie start nerfing things arbitrarily in terms of percentage chances, they will rock that fresh, hard-fought-for trust. Instead, a change to how systems like the Three of Coins and Court of Oryx dole out loot would be preferable to a straight nerf.