The Destiny 2 team confirmed on Twitter last Friday that the upcoming Lightfall raid will have a 48-hour window for contest mode instead of the traditional 24 hours. This means the raid will be much harder for the first two days, and any teams that complete it within that window will receive a special in-game banner to commemorate their achievement. It’s not a totally unexpected change, but it is a controversial one. While extending contest mode will help more players fit the raid into their weekend schedule and avoid overly-long and unhealthy play sessions, many feel that the extension takes something away from those that could’ve and would’ve done it in one day.
On Twitter and Reddit, those who feel accomplishment will be less prestigious now are offering a lot of different alternatives. Some think there should be separate banners for 24-hour and 48-hour complete, while others think Challenge Mode should be optional from the jump. There’s another group that doesn’t even care about the achievement, but is more concerned that the extension will eat into the time they have to run the raid in non-contest mode during the first weekend. The one thing that’s clear in all of this is that no matter how Bungie handles the raid, some people are going to be upset.
Raid launches have changed a lot throughout Destiny 2’s history. For the first two years, raids always started on a weekday, but that changed during Shadowkeep. With the launch of Garden of Salvation, Bungie moved Day 1 to Saturday in order to give more players an opportunity to participate in the challenge. This change had a huge effect. By the following year’s raid, Deep Stone Crypt, Day 1 participation jumped to 265,000. Previous Day 1 challenges typically never attracted more than 100,000 players, with some as low as just 27,000. For the first years, the only thing that didn’t change was the fact that Challenge Mode only ever lasted for one day.
The Witch Queen’s Vow of the Disciple raid was a watershed moment for both Bungie and the Destiny 2 community. The raid launched on a Saturday just like the three before it, but almost immediately players discovered some massive problems. Widespread disconnect issues kept people from competing, while buggy boss fights ruined countless attempts. When it was discovered that the second encounter, the Caretaker, wasn’t creating checkpoints for some players after being defeated, players from competing teams were called in to artificially create new checkpoints for them. The race for world’s first was completely compromised, and many players that just wanted to earn their Day 1 banner couldn’t play at all. To make matters worse, the Saturday launch meant that Bungie developers had to work overtime to fix the problems.
The Vow of the Disciple launch was a disaster. Players that had hoped to earn their banner or possibly even compete in the world’s first race were kneecapped by the server issues, and winners of the race Elysium were harassed by bitter players and told that their win was invalid. Bungie needed a solution for those that were unable to play, so for the first time ever, Challenge Mode was extended to two days. As a consequence, a lot of people that couldn’t finish the raid on Day 1 – even if they weren’t experiencing any server issues – were able to complete it on Day 2, while some that did finish the raid on Day 1 felt cheated.
The next raid, a remake of Destiny 1’s King’s Fall, launched on a Friday to avoid a repeat of Vow and ensure the developers were there to fix any issues that might come up. As expected, the Friday launch meant that King’s Fall had worse participation than the last three raids, which all launched on a Saturday.
The upcoming challenge mode extension solves a lot of problems for Bungie and the community. By launching Lightfall’s raid on a Friday and running Challenge Mode for two days, Bungie can ensure a smooth launch and a fair world’s first race – which is always going to finish on the first day anyway – while giving more players the opportunity to still participate on the weekend. It will also give players the opportunity to take breaks and rest, making the Day 1 (or Day 2) ordeal an overall healthier experience for everyone. The only downside to the change is the fact that a two-day challenge is a lot easier to accomplish than a one-day challenge, and some people aren’t happy about it.
I don’t think there’s a lot of strong arguments in favor of maintaining a one-day Challenge Mode. I’ve seen some people argue that being sleep deprived and tilted is part of the challenge, but that seems absurd. I don’t think any achievement should be designed around suffering, and if extending the clock means fewer people will put themselves in danger over a video game, that’s a very good thing. I also don’t think Day 1 is significantly more meaningful than Day 2. It’s less time, but the time limit was already arbitrary to begin with. It could have been a 12-hour challenge that’s not being extended to 24-hours, and I suspect people would have the exact same complaints.
More time means more people will earn the achievement, which makes the whole thing less valuable to some. But the way I see it, more completions means more people are enjoying the game I love. It means Destiny has a bigger playerbase, and that there’s a bigger guarantee that we’ll have more Destiny to play in the future. Bungie clearly sees it the same way, which is why raid launches were moved to the weekend in the first place, and why Challenge Mode has gotten easier over time. Only 12 people managed to complete Last Wish on Day 1, compared to over 40,000 that completed Vow of the Disciple on Day 1 and Day 2. Maybe Bungie is making raids less prestigious, but I see that as a good thing.
Ultimately, the truth is other players don’t really care about your accomplishments. If your goal is to acquire the banner to show off to others, you can still do that. Finish it one day if that’s important to you; remind all your friends that you did the raid faster than them if you want. See how many people in your circle are impressed by this, then imagine how strangers feel. Challenge Mode is a major accomplishment and you should feel good about participating in it, but at the end of the day, all that really matters is that you and your raid group got together and did something special. If you need to do it on the first day for it to ‘count’, that’s your business. You should be happy that more people will have the same opportunity as you, even if they have to wait until Saturday to do it.
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