The Bungie first-person shooter has a lot of upside
Esports Betting Report

Destiny 2: Can It Achieve Esport Status?

Destiny 2 esport
Having a game hit esport success means wide exposure, large cash payouts, sponsorships and potentially even stardom for its’ players.

Some developers tailor games to fit this criteria. Others reach the premier level organically. For the rest of them, esport success seems perpetually out of reach. Stuck in a limbo between a roaring fanbase, entertaining gameplay and complex MMORPG elements lies Destiny 2.

Bungie’s sci-fi first person shooter Destiny is the second of its kind. Refined from the same game developers who experienced tremendous success with Halo, the expectations were high for Destiny as well.

Recognized as a staple in competitive gaming’s history, as well as powering Major League Gaming’s success, Destiny’s ‘younger brother’ is an elite name in the trade.

Destiny however, has faced difficulty in swinging professional league momentum. With two original sci-fi first-person shooter (FPS) titles fashioned by the same developers, Destiny’s competitive deficiency is vaguely ambiguous.

Low skill ceiling

Over the course of the franchise’s success story, the Destiny community has consistently shown an interest and desire for a competitive scene. Destiny 2 is now dominating people’s playtime. The introduction of new raids and strikes are keeping up with even the most elite guardian players. The PvP, on the other hand, appears to be lacking some depth.

Destiny differs from its Bungie counterpart, Halo, in countless ways. Destiny introduces a wealth of RPG elements that allow players to carefully fine-tune characters to their taste. In this sense, the game exhibits some complexity in the form of character builds, rarely finding two characters that are exactly alike.

However, in the face of Destiny’s elaborate composition, there seems to be an undefined line between good players and great ones.

Destiny’s PvP is ostensibly perceived as having a low-skill ceiling, a high bullet-magnetism and a lack of mechanics, which is now narrowing the gap between average and elite guardians. Various levels of expertise are seemingly wedged into one division, which unfortunately means another significant obstacle when one tries to set themselves apart.

Destiny’s esport future isn’t as bleak as it would seem. Within esports specifically, dedicated fan bases are renowned for pushing a video game’s engine to its limits.

Making Destiny more competitive

The competitively-focused Trails of the Nine playlist is currently Destiny’s premier contest. The 4v4 format on a weekly rotated map is the primary method for skilled guardians to compete against one another.

Trails delivers on its promise of offering a fierce competitiveness. A fireteam of four is required to enter in together to even be able to initiate the matchmaking, creating a cutthroat environment. The most elevated contest in Destiny 2 however, still faces some challenges.

Team size

Bungie most likely ditched the 6v6 concept from Destiny 1 to match the criteria of most FPS esports, which is typically 4v4. The reintroduction of 6v6 into PvP in Destiny 2 may help alleviate some of the balance issues presented by the game.

With this format, team compositions could be limited to two of each class, creating an interesting dynamic in a highly competitive format. In turn, regulating team builds would emphasize identifying players who specialize in specific classes and subclasses, accrediting the top players.

Destiny opting to go against the more popular format may prove to be beneficial in the franchise. A six-person squad is uncommon in FPS esports, setting Destiny apart from the rest of the pack.

Maps

One of Destiny 2’s greatest downfalls in PvP are its maps. Defining what makes a ‘good map’ is very esoteric as what often separates the favored from the loathed is how it’s received by the community.

Good maps must above all fit the structural needs of the game; weighing in movement, weapons, supers and subclasses are all important factors of this conversation. Destiny is somewhat of an isolated incident as it’s one of the more complex FPS games on the market. Balancing a map around so many ingredients poses a challenge to any development team.

Javelin-4 is acknowledged as one of the choice PvP maps available right now, and for good reason. Its nearly symmetric build offers strategized plays off the break as well having choke points throughout the map that prompt coordinated attacks.

Coordination and teamwork pays off big on Javelin-4 for those that can execute it, while strategy awards squads with power weapon ammo likely to dictate the close-quarters plot.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many maps that deliver that high-octane feel, so to speak. Understanding each map’s optimal strategy is an essential part of any esport. With this in mind, Destiny 2 inhibits the ability to uncover these tips with the lack of one common feature: private lobbies.

Private lobbies

Competitive Destiny 2’s most sizable hindrance is in its lack of private lobbies. PvP is only accessible through the different matchmaking playlists, leaving a vacancy when it comes to scrimmaging other top teams.

Comparatively speaking, private lobbies have always been a critical aspect of training for professional gaming rosters. Scrimmaging other top teams provides a system for the best to practice against each other and learn from one another. Destiny 2’s current matchmaking system doesn’t support this. Instead, elite teams are put up against more casual squads, making practice time unproductive.

Scrimmages aren’t the only benefit of private lobbies. They also enable players to comfortably scout each tournament map for tips and tricks. Players can then take an incisive survey of a map without being in a frenzied match.

The real bottom line is, even if Destiny 2 gained the momentum to become a top esport prospect, tournament facilitators won’t be able to host events without private lobbies. Bungie has rumored introducing private matches in a 2018 update, so let’s just hope it comes sooner rather than later.

Destiny has the tools

Despite Destiny 2 not yet being in the esports food chain nearly two months following its release, the FPS can’t be counted out just yet.

Destiny possesses many of the tools needed to be a leading competitive title, which, unfortunately, seems to be the main reason behind the frustration of many players and fans. Let’s review some of the details:

Watchability

Leading esports bring spectators. The higher caliber the game, the more people want to watch.

Spectator value in professional gaming is important. Central questions to ask include how well an action is illustrated on screen and whether or not what’s happening in game transpires through the audience as well.

Destiny 2 is advantageous in finding a way to gracefully blend the perplexity of RPG elements within the fast-paced action and easy-to-follow format of a FPS.

Competitive zeal

Destiny has no shortage when it comes to numbers of players, an essential aspect for a victorious gaming scene hoping to be put on top.

The game is reaping countless amounts of hours from people inside and outside of PvP. Featuring their own subreddit, “Crucible Playbook,” individuals are collaborating to study Destiny 2’s PvP in the same way we see other prominent communities tackling their favorite esports.

ESL

No video game today boasts millions of players without prompting the question of its prospects as a potential esport. Destiny was no exception.

The first installment of the game was briefly featured by MLG. Destiny’s professional premiere was short-lived however, as the series was discontinued shortly after its debut. ESL has since gone on to bring Destiny 2 into its rotation of renowned esports.

The lack of private matches for hosting tournaments leaves ESL with its hands tied for the time being. But everyone is hoping the esport titans can help revitalize the title.

Conclusion: Destiny can become an esport

All in all, Destiny 2 has the tools necessary to make the title a more viable competitive option for players. One dedicated fan base won’t let Destiny’s esport promise sink quietly. The input for improving its tournament viability can now even be found on the local Reddits.

At this point, Destiny 2’s esport capacity is in the hands of its developers to tailor PvP in order to meet demand and to listen to the community’s desperate call to be heard.

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Cody Luongo
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ESPN eSports analyst, Master’s of Science and exploring the intricacies of competitive gaming. A communication specialist driven by understanding esports as a business and helping drive it to the next level of viewership & engagement. Favorite hobbies include sniping in Halo 2 and playing paintball on Sundays.