Maybe I’m still sore from April Fool’s Day this year, but I’d swear these Destiny 2 transmog details are a joke. The long awaited system has been a bright spot for players during the usual ups and downs of seasonal content. Developer Bungie has made some great decisions lately, as well, so there was reason to hope this wouldn’t be needlessly complicated and grindy.
For those unaware, “transmog” is shorthand for transmogrification — a common term for making in-game gear look like other equipment without changing the stats. It’s for fashion. It’s a longstanding tradition in multiplayer like FFXIV, World of Warcraft, and even Monster Hunter. Destiny is just a bit behind the curve. That’s no surprise; it’s common knowledge that adding new features to the game is a painstaking process. Nonetheless, developer Bungie promised Destiny transmog was on the way. And it is! Just in the most aggravating way possible.
1. Defeat enemies to earn Synthstrand.
2. Spend Synthstrand on bounties to earn Synthcord.
3. Convert Synthcord at the Loom in the Tower into Synthweave.
4. Use Synthweave to convert an unlocked armor appearance (Legendary quality or lower) from Collections into a Universal Armor Ornament.
This is the explanation for “Armor Synthesis” on Bungie’s official website. That’s one, two, three new currencies to track. Plus three different steps requiring you to stop playing the game. It’s needlessly complex busywork. But honestly? That’s not even the part that bothers me. The worst part is the arbitrary restrictions on how many armor pieces you can synthesize (i.e. transmog) per season.
“To celebrate the introduction of Armor Synthesis” players will be able to acquire 20 Synthweave per character when the system is introduced. The rest of the time, you’re locked to just 10 per character per season. That is unless you spend real money. For $10 USD you can get five armor transmog tokens (or just one for $3). Someone did the math on that at the behest of friend of the site Paul Tassi. You can see how it works out for yourself below.
4071 legendary armor pieces, assuming EVERY one is purchased
if you buy every template as a 1 off –
1,221,300 silver = just over $10k if you ONLY buy $50 bundles – $12.2k if only $5
if you buy the 5 bundle –
814,200 silver = $6,785 with ONLY $50 bundles – $8.1k at $5
— ♦ Parisito ♦ (@Parisito1234) April 22, 2021
Alternatively, you could play the game for over 542 years to unlock everything that’s in the game for free. Though I don’t believe that includes new sets as they get introduced. Only what’s currently available. And only Legendary rank gear (although most players likely won’t bother chasing the lesser stuff).
This sort of time gating feels abnormal for a game like this. I can’t speak for World of Warcraft, but both FFXIV and Monster Hunter put no such restrictions on how many transmogs you can acquire in a given span of time. Not if you put in the work. And in those cases, chasing fashion is usually a great excuse to keep playing a game you love — something Destiny often feels like it’s missing. It’s a great game to play. The shooting is still second to none. But besides raising a Power Level that becomes meaningless at the end of each season there’s no thrill of the hunt.
That was actually one of the chief complaints about “sunsetting.” Destiny recently introduced the concept to make old gear obsolete in cooperative and high-level competitive content. Players complained; Bungie relented. It was a healthy sign that Bungie was searching for new reasons to play besides the old, arbitrary treadmills. This feels like the opposite. It’s also a real wet blanket when the game felt like it was on another upswing.
Obviously the studio needs to make money. I actually think a lot of anti-Eververse sentiment (i.e. community whining about the in-game store) is overblown. While premium cosmetics are pricey, they almost always become available for free currency you can acquire just by playing. They’re also pretty much in line with other free-to-play games and don’t lean heavily on loot boxes. This feels different because the standards are different. You’re locked out of gaining cosmetic versions of items most players already own.
It also depends on how good the next season is, I suppose. Maybe the upswing will reach so sky high that I forget all about the frustrating limits on Destiny transmog.