Almost exactly one year ago today, I was feeling fed up with the Destiny grind. Getting Grandmaster ready was a monotonous, soul-crushing process of grinding repetitive bounties to reach an arbitrary power level that proved you were ready for the game’s hardest content, and I was over it. At the time, I wrote I had close to 1,500 hours in Destiny 2 and had never completed a Grandmaster Nightfall, despite my best efforts. Now I've played 1,750 hours, and it’s the same story. I love playing Destiny, but I have better things to do than spend every night running through the same three lost sectors.
I detailed the problem before, but to put it simply, you can’t access Grandmaster Nightfalls – the pinnacle PvE activity in Destiny 2 – until you’ve increased your power level sufficiently. Once you’ve finished the campaign, maxed out your gear, completed all your challenges, and hit 100 on your battle pass, you’re still only really halfway there. At that point, the only way to further increase your power level is to grind XP by doing menial tasks, day in and day out, for weeks. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to get two friends to commit to the grind with me long enough to meet the requirements to actually complete a Grandmaster Nightfall.
Thankfully, the first This Week At Bungie of the year answered my prayers. Starting in Lightfall, the power level requirement for Grandmasters is being reduced by 25 levels to 1,580, Lightfall’s powerful cap. The overall power level of Grandmasters is also being reduced by ten levels down to 1,620. This means players will no longer need to grind Artifact levels in order to be Grandmaster ready. Once you reach the season power cap you can start making Grandmaster attempts, and you only need to increase your 15 levels up to 1,595 in order to reach maximum effectiveness in the activity. Any levels after that won’t make you any stronger, so at that point it’s just going to come down to build strategy and raw skill – which is exactly what it always should have been.
All you have to do to get those 15 levels is complete the battle pass and knock out some of your seasonal challenges. You get one level of Artifact power for every ten levels you complete on the battle pass, so ten levels, and the last five will come from the XP boosts you get from weekly challenges, which are things you’ll need to be doing anyway, presumably, for the seasonal activity rewards they offer. No more grinding bounties on the moon to get 40 extra power levels. If you do all of the normal seasonal content, you can access Grandmaster Nightfalls in Lightfall.
There are other ways Bungie is lowering Destiny 2’s barrier to entry too. This past week, every normal, non-raid/adept mod was permanently unlocked for all players. You no longer need to check Ada and Banshee’s mod supply every day to find the mods you're missing – you have them all. The old way was a huge deterrent to new players because they weren’t able to create meta builds without the right mods, and there wasn’t a deterministic way to get the mods they needed. This change puts everyone on the same playing field and removes one of the biggest hurdles in the game.
There are also other major grind reductions on the way. Starting at the end of January, players will rank up on Iron Banner 40 percent faster, and Iron Banner will be available three times per season instead of just two, making it easier to complete Iron Banner-specific triumphs. Additionally, the legendary shard cost for all Trials, Iron Banner, Crucible, and Adept weapons is getting reduced, so players will have an easier time focusing their engrams.
All of these changes help reduce the hollow grind that has plagued the end game, and make Destiny 2 a lot more welcoming to new and returning players in Lightfall. I wish it hadn’t taken so long – I sure missed a lot of Grandmaster Nightfalls over the years – but I’m so happy that the walls are finally coming down, and more players will have the opportunity to experience everything Destiny 2 has to offer.
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