I think it’s pretty safe to say that sunsetting sucks. At least, in the realm of Destiny 2, which refers to the Legendary armor and weapons having infusion caps which prevents their use in future content.
Bungie has given players many reasons for sunsetting. Ensuring that weapons get sunset means that there’s a constantly changing meta and problematic weapons eventually get removed on their own. Sunsetting also means that players will have a reason to grind out new weapons and it gives the opportunity for older weapons to return in newer and better forms.
Sunsetting might seem great from Bungie’s perspective, but for the players it’s been a bit more problematic. One of the biggest issues that Destiny 2 director Luke Smith has already talked about is the problem of an item with an expiration date. Sunsetting means that at best, a weapon or armor piece will last one year from the date it’s found by the player, but often it’s much shorter than that. Before the new year, some players were finding weapons and armor that would be unusable within weeks. Why would anyone bother repeating an activity for gear that’s set to expire so soon? Why would anyone invest materials in something that won’t be useful forever?
There are other problems with sunsetting as well. Since the launch of Beyond Light, everything from Shadowkeep and earlier hit its expiration cap, meaning if a veteran Destiny player hadn’t kept up with the past year’s-worth of seasonal content, they basically had an entire vault full of gear that would do nothing to help them get through Beyond Light. It’s like hitting the reset button where a veteran Destiny player has to start almost entirely from scratch.
If you’re a new player looking to get into some of Destiny’s older expansions, it’s even worse to find out that paying $20 for Forsaken in Shadowkeep basically means you’re paying for Exotics, lore, and nothing else.
And while bringing back previously sunset weapons sounds fine, so far the only gear set to return was only just recently sunset in the first place. That can feel like a slap in the face, especially when there’s much older year-one content that could be brought back in new forms.
So how do you fix sunsetting? Well, besides getting rid of it entirely (something that might even feel worse than keeping it in its current form, considering a lot of folks have likely crushed their useless weapons to make room in their vaults), there are a few options to make sunsetting a little more bearable.
First and foremost is to acknowledge that sunsetting changes the equation for playing Destiny. Players will grind forever for a weapon they perceive to last forever, but as soon as there’s an expiration date, they’re far less inclined to spend hours and hours doing Blind Well for that perfect Twilight Oath roll.
If players are less willing to grind, then make it easier to get the loot that they want. Targeted loot sources or a gunsmith that can actually alter the barrels, stocks, and sights on a weapon, are both great ways to make it easier for Guardians to get those god rolls without as much time spent on an activity.
Another option is to just extend the sunsetting period. Right not a weapon or armor only lasts for a year, but what if that got extended to six seasons? Or even two full years? That might be long enough for players to forget that sunsetting was even a problem to begin with.
Bungie could also sunset weapons, but not armor. This would let players retain masterworking materials and spend less time looking for the perfect armor stats but still spend time and materials on weapons.
Perhaps the easiest solution to the biggest pain point of sunsetting is to only reprise weapons and armor that are more than two years old. There are plenty of weapons from Destiny 2 Year 1 that can be recycled with new perks without dipping into more recently sunset weapons such as those found on The Moon and Dreaming City.
Or, of course, Bungie could just call the whole sunsetting thing off. Let the current meta grow and evolve with tweaks here and there. Take out the firm expiration date and make it a bit more vague, but with clear indications that if there’s going to be another loot refresh that recently-acquired weapons will stick around long enough to justify a player’s efforts.
Whatever Bungie does, I certainly hope they figure it out soon. Feeling like there’s some unseen bully about to take away some of my favorite toys doesn’t exactly feel good, and that’s exactly what sunsetting is.
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