About two weeks ago, The Messenger came up as a reward for Trials of Osiris. A highly sought-after Pulse Rifle, The Messenger could roll with the unique Desperado perk, increasing its rate of fire compared to other Pulse Rifles.
Getting that perk was all a matter of luck, of course. Still, many Guardians who would otherwise never have engaged in the pinnacle PvP game mode tried their hand at rolling a Messenger just for the chance of getting one with Desperado.
Normally, getting a Messenger would require achieving three victories in Trials of Osiris–a difficult task even for the 50th-percentile of Destiny 2 PvPers. But because of the way Bungie has arranged the Trials rewards structure, there’s another way of getting a Messenger, and that’s just to complete a certain number of Trials matches thanks to a certain bounty. This bounty means that even if you never win a match, after completing enough matches you were guaranteed at least one Messenger.
This left mediocre Destiny players with two options: 1) they could play the game as normal and just hope they were good enough to achieve three wins before three losses, or 2) they could accept the fact that the odds of them winning three matches are too low to even bother and just throw each game. Often by literally throwing themselves off a cliff as soon as the match started.
Many opted for option two simply because it was faster. They knew that the odds of them winning even a single Trials match were so low that the fastest route to the only Messenger they’ll ever get is to kill themselves at the beginning of each round.
It was hardly an isolated incident. Multiple Reddit posts noted the perverse outcome of the Trials rewards structure, with about half of posters giving their kudos to players that opted to suicide before the match rather than play it out, and the other half lamenting how awful the Trials matchmaking system is.
For Bungie, this situation cannot stand, and they know it. If players opt for the null solution to a game rather than play the game, then you’ve got a bad game. The only reason Guardians aren’t throwing themselves off of cliffs this weekend is simply because you can get an excellent Void Rocket Launcher by simply purchasing a Bad Omens from the Drifter, so there’s no reason to grind out a Tomorrow’s Answer in Trials of Osiris.
In the recent state-of-the-game update which also announced the delay of The Witch Queen, 2021’s expected expansion, Bungie devoted several paragraphs to their future plans for updating Trials of Osiris. In it, they described reworking the Trials reward structure in order to incentivize more players engaging with the PvP game mode. However, they said nothing about getting rid of the card-based matchmaking system which is the source of all of the Trials’ problems.
Most PvP games have something called skill-based matchmaking. Simply put, the game’s matchmaker will match players of similar skill levels so that the game is roughly fair–each side has a decent chance of winning.
Trials of Osiris doesn’t have that. Instead, it uses a card-based matchmaker where players are matched based on their win/loss record. Each card allows a player to obtain up to seven wins or three losses before it needs to be reset. Each game matches players with the same number of wins and losses, so if you have three wins and two losses, you’ll always be matched against another team with three wins and two losses.
There are lots and lots of problems with this card-based matchmaker. Because the matchmaker doesn’t consider any historical data before the purchase of each week’s card, player skill isn’t taken into account at all. Those two teams that meet at three wins and two losses could still have WILDLY different skill levels, depending on the teams they fought in their previous matches.
Worse, when players meet for their very first matches with a card that reads zero wins and zero losses, it’s a complete Wild West. You might be matched against total newbies that have no idea what they’re doing, or you could be matched against a trio of Flawless players that have just completed their seventh run to the Lighthouse.
Because of this, Destiny 2 players with the lowest skill level recognize that playing Trials of Osiris is a no-win scenario. They know that the odds of them matching against players of similar skill level is virtually nonexistent, so they don’t play. And if they do play, then they opt for the quickest and easiest path to a reward, which is usually to just jump off a cliff rather than wait to be shot by a superior foe.
No amount of rearranging the rewards structure is going to change this outcome. If Bungie wants to encourage everyone to play Trials, then there must be a reward for losing. And if Bungie insists on a card-based matchmaker, there will always be a population that would rather kill themselves for a reward than wait for the other team to do it for them.
Next: Bungie Remembers Power Weapon Kills Suck, Removes Them From Destiny 2’s Iron Banner Quest
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Actually a collective of 6 hamsters piloting a human-shaped robot, Sean hails from Toronto, Canada. Passionate about gaming from a young age, those hamsters would probably have taken over the world by now if they didn’t vastly prefer playing and writing about video games instead.
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