Bungie has capped off a bad year for Destiny 2 by releasing a $15 pack of mid guns and materials that you should never, ever buy

Destiny 2 is not having a great year. If you’ve not been following the trials and tribulations of Bungie’s 2023, here’s a quick rundown of the major lowlights:

Lightfall launched in February to middling reviews. The campaign—a highlight of the previous year’s Witch Queen expansion—was a mess, and many of the planned sandbox changes fell flat.The community mood has been on the rocks ever since, particularly following a disastrous state of the game in August—one so damaging to player sentiment that game director Joe Blackburn followed it up with a personal video address about what went wrong.A number of staff were laid off in October, amid reports that Destiny 2 was running 45% below revenue projections for the year.The number of players is at an all time low—at least in terms of Steam concurrents—and many players are looking to The Final Shape, which has been delayed to June, as a jumping off point to abandon the game.

With that all playing out, Bungie is in desperate need of some positive momentum. Instead, it seems content to keep digging itself into a hole with the release of the Destiny 2: Starter Pack.

My review: Don’t buy this. (Image credit: Bungie)

“Includes a supercharged arsenal for Guardians to begin their adventure,” exclaims this $15 hodgepodge bundle of in-game weapons and items. “Experience the power of build-defining Exotic weapons by instantly unlocking three of Destiny 2’s finest.”

This is not true. It’s a weird selection of guns. None of them are bad, per se, but they’re sure not bothering any sort of meta. If someone turned up to a group running them, I’d assume it’s because they were bored with their actually good loadouts and wanted to up the challenge by running something off-kilter for a laugh. Let’s take a look:

Traveller’s Chosen: I actually rate this, and by and large I hate sidearms. Get some kills, and you build up a stacking buff that returns a bunch of ability energy. It’s a decent option for tying together a build that isn’t quite there in terms of ability regen.Ruinous Effigy: This can be a lot of fun, but you need to build into it. Trace rifles are the cornerstone of double-special builds, which I would not recommend to any “Starter”, especially after their heavy ammo generation was nerfed.Sleeper Simulant: It’s… fine, I guess? As linear fusions go, it does good damage, but nothing about it screams “build-defining” or “finest”—especially without the very necessary catalyst which is both a random drop and requires a lengthy grind. Free-to-play accounts can craft a legendary Taipan-LF4 linear fusion, and should just do that instead.

All of these weapons are already available in Destiny 2’s Monument to Lost Lights, which means you can buy them all with in-game currency. Interestingly, two of them would normally require you to also own Shadowkeep, so you’re potentially saving some money on the price of an expansion that’s currently $6 in the Steam sale. But even then, there are much better options available. Another Shadowkeep Exotic—Witherhoard—is genuinely meta defining, arguably one of the best weapons in the game.

Which kind of reveals the purpose behind this pack: it’s a noob trap, designed to build on the confusion of the already byzantine methods of buying and playing Destiny 2. The “Starter Pack” is billing itself as a way to get up to spec with desirable weapons, putting you in reach of the game’s more aspirational content. But it’s a lie; one that seems carefully crafted to not devalue any other piece of paid DLC. If you already owned Witherhoard, maybe you wouldn’t feel the need to actually buy Shadowkeep. Take Ruinous Effigy instead.

Also in this pack is a set of cosmetics—a ship, a sparrow and a Ghost shell—and a handful of materials. The materials are a particularly bizarre inclusion, presumably a token gesture at the vague concept of this achieving the bare minimum as a “Starter Pack”. Glimmer is easy to come by, but, sure, 125,000 will at least let you buy a few upgrades and fragments for a subclass. And enhancement cores are always useful, especially if you haven’t got hundreds sitting around from years of play.

The one, measly ascendant shard is bordering on an insult, though. There is enough here to masterwork one piece of legendary armour, a thing that—if you truly are a starter—you really shouldn’t do on the low-stat trash you’ll be picking up.

Good luck making sense of this. (Image credit: Steam)

I’d hoped that Bungie would use the release of Season of the Wish—a season centred around the events of the Forsaken DLC and, specifically, the Last Wish raid—as a way to earn back some good will by making the Forsaken Pack free. It’s the hollowed out bones of the Forsaken expansion—the campaign of which is no longer available in the game—that unlocks both the Last Wish raid and the ability to acquire any Forsaken-era Exotics (including actual good shit like Thorn and Le Monarque). At its sale price of $5, it’s a decent get—Last Wish is a fantastic raid. But normally it’s $20, which feels like a big ask for such a disparate grab bag of stuff. Scrapping it would at least go some way to tidying up the absurd list of Destiny 2 things that are available to buy—an absolute minefield for a new player.

Instead, Bungie released something worse. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, given the reports of the underperforming revenue, but this is such a shortsighted way to respond to that. In a year where the fatigue around Destiny 2’s in-game microtransactions feels more pronounced than ever, Bungie’s solution is to release the most egregious example to-date; a naked attempt to profit off the confusion it created for new players with a scant handful of mid weapons and a comically inconsequential amount of in-game currency. For a moment, despite all the bad things that had happened around Destiny 2 this year, it seemed like Bungie at least had an idea of what needed to be done to move things in the right direction. Except now we get this. And this fucking sucks.

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