Help, I’ve Been Buried Under a Pile of Umbral Engrams in Destiny 2

Loot is a tricky thing to balance in a live game. Destiny 2‘s approach to the issue has varied wildly, from making players sweat in pursuit in desired gear to handing it out like candy. We’re well into the now-extended Season of Arrivals, and it seems like we’ve once again swung too far in the direction of the latter.

For the first time in Destiny 2, my engram inventory is regularly full, overflowing into the Postmaster. The main culprit is the seasonal Umbral Engrams, which drop from pretty much everything once you’ve fully upgraded your Prismatic Recaster. Since they have to be manually decrypted using the Drifter’s fantastical mechanical cryptarch, clearing out your inventory means going there, clicking through your inventory, going back to the postmaster and getting any overflow engrams, then going back and decrypting the rest.

Surely too much loot is better than too little, though? Well, all other things being equal, that’s a question of personal taste. All things aren’t equal, though — the gear available through the Umbral Engrams is a nice-enough spread when you’re leveling up, but by halfway through the season it’s mostly junk. You’ve probably got a good Gnawing Hunger roll by now, and the armor drops from the season pass have better stats than anything I’ve gotten out of the decoder. Do you really need another pair of boots with 20 Resilience or five more Echoes of Io shaders?

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But the engrams won’t stop coming. I don’t bother to refine them at this point, which is one less step at least, but it’s still kind of a pain. At least back in the Season of the Dawn, the gear firehose was opt-in — grab a bunch of bounties, donate some Fractaline, and crack open your five Martyr’s Retributions. Now in the Season of Arrivals, my inventory is constantly flooded with engrams. I have long since gone from being excited when I saw one of these weird little Darkness treats drop to being mildly annoyed knowing it’s one more thing I have to deal with, one more flashing icon at the Tower I have to put out. It’s either that or leave the poor Postmaster frame with my trash.

The engram issue speaks to bigger points Destiny 2 is going to have to address as it grows into year four: often-irrelevant drops, clunky inventory management, uneven season progression, and the Power creep problem. Don’t get me wrong, Season of the Arrivals is the high point of the game in 2020 so far. We’ve have some of the most useful and interesting Exotics in a long time, great character interactions, and a gorgeous, inventive new dungeon. Destiny 2 is headed in a great direction, and I’m excited about Beyond Light. As the game moves forward, though, it also has to address sticking points caused by older design decisions. In the meantime, if you need me I’ll be buried underneath a giant pile of Umbral Engrams.


merritt k

Managing Editor, Podcasts

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