I didn’t partake in last year’s Solstice of Heroes: the annual Destiny 2 event where players complete unique objectives for cool, glowing armor. It sounds like it was a bit of a bummer. The constant power grind in Destiny, along with the importance of stats on armor, made the unique gear almost immediately irrelevant. This year’s version of the event sounds like an improvement. Though the path to get the good stuff also looks like a massive pain in the ass.
“This year, we have a new approach to Solstice of Heroes armor that we think is going to give you far more flexibility on how you show off your Solstice-ness,” says the latest This Week at Bungie. “Similar to previous years, you will start with a Rare set and upgrade it into a Majestic Legendary set. Once you have all of your Legendary gear, you can start a final set of objectives to upgrade it to a Magnificent set.”
In non-Destiny speak, this means there are three tiers to the super cool new set of Solstice armor. Tier one is neat but functionally useless; tier two is better and gets those sought-after glow-y bits; tier three is for the hardcore. This version, or “Magnificent” armor, will have a white glow. It looks awesome. Meanwhile, the Majestic set gets you the opportunity to purchase color-changing ornaments.
Update: Apparently there was some miscommunication. Per some updates from and clarification from Bungie, you only need tier two (Majestic) gear to unlock the color ornaments. Magnificent gets you the white. I’ve updated the piece to reflect that.
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Destiny gear is currently designed to become useless over time (at least outside of some competitive modes). That way people have to keep grinding the same content over and over again to keep their heads above water. It is, arguably, the worst thing about the game’s progression right now. But that’s a gripe for a different time. Theoretically, this year’s Solstice armor sidesteps this issue. The previous armor was nuked by the “Armor 2.0” rework Bungie implemented shortly after the event. Now it’s offering ornaments: cosmetic versions of the armor you can apply forever, without affecting your stats.
The problem is the requirements to get the best gear.
These include five objectives, possibly tied to each of the ornaments for the five pieces of armor. Some of them are laughably trivial. “Complete a Nightmare Hunt” can be done in, like, five minutes. “Complete a Tier 5 Altar of Sorrow three times” is a little annoying, but doable. As is finishing Pit of Heresy: a pretty easy three-player dungeon most players do every week anyway for better gear and materials.
Things get dicey with the other two objectives. “Complete a Nightfall Ordeal on the Master difficulty” requires you to play the second hardest level of Nightfall Strike in the game — complete with punishing modifiers, no matchmaking, and the perpetually surly Destiny community.
If you don’t have good friends to play with, that means turning to the hit-or-miss Destiny LFG apps. Bungie once experimented with incentives for high-level players helping those of lower levels… and quickly abandoned the concept. It’s every player for themselves out there. Group listings on the official Destiny app are rife with “Know What to Do” tags (Destiny speak for “no noobs”). Having suffered the whole spectrum of LFG players — as well as their slurs and instant fury if you don’t have a specific weapon with the particular random perk needed to cheese bosses — that’s a big no thank you from me.
And that’s for cooperative content. Now apply those same issues to the hardest of the hardcore competitive mode: Trials of Osiris. The final objective is to “Win seven Trials of Osiris matches.” This is, once again, a mode with no matchmaking. That makes some sense. Only the sweatiest of the sweaty live here. The time-limited mode rolls around only on weekends for tremendously hardcore PVPers with optimized loadouts and high-level gear to vaporize each other. Even if you don’t have to win all seven games consecutively, which you don’t, just winning at all is no simple task.
Why are a five-minute Nightmare Hunt and beating the best Destiny competitors in the world seven times considered equivalent? I have no idea. My only guess is that Bungie really wants normal people to play Trials. The more that do, the better the odds that scrubs match against each other and have a decent time. At least for a couple weekends. Maybe they’ll even get some nice Trials gear. It’s not as though hardcore Trials players won’t also be drawn to the ornaments, though, so who knows?
For many live game players, cosmetics are the true endgame. The same is true in Destiny. So much so that Bungie is finally adding proper item transmog, like in World of Warcraft or Monster Hunter World. It’s one reasons I’ve gotten back into the game in a big way this season. Completing old raids that enter the “content vault” later this year nets you gear for said transmog. As such, I really want those Solstice ornaments.
At the same time, you’ll need to put a SUROS Regime to my head to make me take Trials of Osiris seriously. That’s kinda what Bungie is doing here. It’s locking some of the coolest stuff in the game behind modes with a ton of unsolved problems. Even the Nightfalls have issues. And did I mention all this work is just to unlock the privilege of purchasing the ornaments? You still need to spend Bright Dust (currency gained by playing) or Silver (premium currency) to actually access the only rewards that matter.
If the Bright Dust costs match previous years, they’ll be too exorbitant to matter. Which is fine! I actually wish Bungie gave me more opportunities to support its free-to-play game. But the store is on a weekly rotation. If you find yourself using a particular piece of gear, and want to bling it out, that’s too bad. I still don’t have the cool SIVA ornament for my Synthoceps because I keep missing when it’s available for sale.
It’s such a strange way to handle what’s presented like a fun, festive event meant to draw back lapsed players. That’s how most games handle seasonal events. And the lighthearted Solstice of Heroes trailer supports that. Yet if you haven’t been grinding gear every week this season, you’ll likely be left in the dust.