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What Destiny 2 could (and should) learn from Borderlands 2

Destiny is a franchise that has struggled to consistently impress its player base ever since the original game in 2014. Both Destiny and Destiny 2 have been heavily criticized for lack of content, reuse of assets, slow post-launch support, and a slew of other issues. Though the recent Warmind expansion for Destiny 2 improved some things, the community is still disappointed in the state of the game overall.

Read: Destiny 2 Warmind review

As Bungie struggles to win back the trust of its players, it should look back to Borderlands 2, another looter-shooter, to see how it can improve. Here's why.

Well designed grind

One of the problems people have with Destiny 2 is that the grind (endgame) is too short and doesn't give players incentive to play. This was because the first Destiny had a grind that was painfully long, but Bungie overcorrected the problem in the sequel. Paired with the fact that the game also struggles with poor enemy design (usually, enemies are both repetitive and too easy to kill), you have a recipe for the dissatisfaction the Destiny 2 community currently feels.

Borderlands 2, however, found a middle ground. After beating the game, you can play again in True Vault Hunter Mode, which scales enemies to your level, adds new types of foes, increases enemy health, alters drop rates of equipment, and increases your level cap. Since there are several new features, the grind to get more skills and loot feels positively different from the regular campaign. In addition, the grind doesn't feel too short or long. This keeps players playing, but doesn't make it feel like progressing takes a lifetime.

Plenty of post-launch content

Both Destiny 2 and Borderlands 2 launched at similar times of the year in 2017 and 2012, respectively, with Destiny 2 coming out on September 8 while Borderlands 2 released on September 18. At the time of writing, eight months have passed since those dates. In that time frame, Destiny 2 has seen two DLC releases, while Borderlands 2 saw eight. Additionally, Destiny 2's expansions have only taken a day or two for players to complete, while the majority of Borderlands 2's require several.

It would be one thing if the Borderlands DLCs were negatively received, but they were highly-praised overall. Meanwhile, Destiny 2's are considered by most to be average at best, and disappointing at worst. Borderlands 2 also sold expansions at a lower price, typically $9.99 as opposed to Destiny 2's $19.99.

The fact is, Borderlands 2 delivered a higher amount of new content at a lower cost than Destiny 2 has in the same time frame, and that DLC was better received. It's likely that the developers have a wealth of resources based on the franchise's record breaking sales, so there's no excuse for this.

Complete originality

The Destiny franchise is well-known for reusing assets. Examples of this in Destiny 2 include using enemy models from the first game, repeated use of the same skins for guns, and most recently, the Warmind DLC reused assets from the first game as well as campaign areas for Strikes. While reusing some assets is fine, advertising "new content" and then copy-and-pasting a lot of old content is not.

This is a problem Borderlands 2 never had. Very little was copied from the original Borderlands game when creating the sequel, and almost all of the enemies, weapons, characters, and environments you see in both the base game and the DLC were created completely from scratch. This made the title feel like it had true variety, unlike Destiny 2.

Your thoughts

What do you think Borderlands 2 got right that Destiny 2 has gotten wrong? Hit the comments and sound off.

You can play Borderlands 2 as part of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection on Xbox One for $59.99. Destiny 2 is also available on Xbox One for the same price.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

29 Comments
  • Except borderlands 2 (nor even the pre-sequel) released in 2017. So those 8 DLCs released over YEARS, not MONTHS. Pretty major mistake.
  • Yeah, I was just about to say that too. He is referring to the handsome collection no doubt, but it isn't fair to compare the dlc timeframe from a 6 year old game to a game that isn't even a year old yet.
  • Even the handsome collection came out a couple years ago. I bought the handsome collection when it came out on Xbox one and used the cloud save feature to move my 360 character over. And I got my firat Xbox one achievement in 2015 (I just checked), so the handsome collection is AT LEAST that old. I have no idea where 2017 came from regarding anything borderlands.
  • You're right, the handsome collection launched in 2015
    Hard to believe, wow
  • Was an editing error, I’m not dumb I swear lol. Fixed now.
  • No, you’re not understanding me. The DLC for Borderlands 2 specifically is what I’m referring to, which did in fact release within 8 months post-launch.
  • Borderlands 2 launched in 2012 on Xbox 360. The fact that it didn’t come to Xbox One until years later isn’t really relevant since we’re talking about the development of the games themselves, not when they show up on which console. Though again it’s worth pointing out that 360 owners got the DLC in this timeframe so my point is still valid.
  • Sorry but your point is still not valid. You said both released at similar times in 2017, there is no ambiguity in what that means as pointed out below. No Borderlands 2 DLC or even The Pre-Sequel (or its DLC) were released in 2017 on any platform so it's just plain wrong no matter how you look at it. I get everyone make mistakes, but it's just appalling that rather than just admitting you made an error and fixed it, you've not only tried to justify it without checking your facts and being way off, but you're acting incredibly arrogant about it and have tried to come up with bullshit reason as to why your way makes sense (when it doesn't no matter how way you look at it). This is not only poor journalism but incredibly unprofessional and something you might expect from The Daily Mail or Fox News, but even they have an excuse seen as they don't acknowledge what their readers say in the first place. Edit: My bad, I just realised you had fixed the wording after all despite your initial refutal - that was caused by initially reading the article through an RSS reader and then jumping straight to the comments. But my point about your initial response to your readers is still inexcusable, and despite clearly realising your mistake and fixing it you didn't bother apologising despite the way you reacted. You may still want to consider revising your wording though, as it still reads as 8 months having passed since both dates which would include 2012 (unlike the above comments which are critical of you as a person, that is genuine constructive criticism of your writing).
  • I didn’t understand what you meant till I read through the article again and saw that my editor made an error with the release dates. It has been fixed now. I’m sorry for the mistake, these things happen sometimes unfortunately.
  • What Bungie needs to learn: Not to sign unrealistic contracts because of the amount of zeros on the paycheck.
  • Sometimes I wonder if that 10 year contract is hurting their development.
  • Borderlands has always been very special to me. Destiny 1 never came close to beating it, in both style and gameplay. You can just tell when playing Borderlands that the developers had as much fun creating it as we do playing it!
  • Y'know, the more I'm thinking about it, the more this article bugs me. It was only a straw, but it is "the" straw that broke the camel's back. I've read this site since it was still focused on windows mobile. BUT. For editors, a couple grievances that I've kept quite about, but have added up: A longtime writers' needs to "I broke this EXCLUSIVELY" in every article (Mary Jo Foley breaks exclusives all the time and doesn't brag about it) Another writers' need to portmanteau his name with "tutorial." It isn't trendy or neat. It's arrogant. Clearly financially backed "deal of the day" posts. Would be fine if I didn't have to also deal with scroll over, scroll under, and pop-up adds that suck performance out of a Galaxy S8...not a sluggish phone by any means. Game coverage that is not why I come here. This is Windows Central, not "Microsoft Central." XBOX is barely tangentially related. If you covered Windows on Xbox...MAYBE. But game reviews? Games that are equally applicable to PS4? I go to gaming sites for those. At *least* spin this off into "Gaming Central" or something. The short random fluff opinion pieces that exist *ONLY* to drive traffic to the forums. The opinions are often not based on any new news. Or old news. They are just a bit of stuff crammed together. Why should I go to the forum to comment on what I think about Project Andromeda after reading three other articles on WC that were equally as speculative. Do you need random forum traffic THAT badly? And now even *basic* fact checking is apparently out the window. I get that a broader audience means more advertising clicks. But you've gotten *too* broad (for my tastes, but maybe your bookkeeper says otherwise.) In this humble reader's opinion, you forgot your core audience. Too much noise, too little signal. The ratio is broken and I'm done with Windows Central. Any "exclusives" y'all break will get picked up by ZDNet or Paul Thurrott anyways and the writing no longer justifies my presence to stay. So long and thanks for all the fish.
  • Sorry to hear you’re not satisfied with our content, but myself and other Xbox writers here cover things that do or might matter to Xbox gamers. It’s not just about exclusives or how it ties back to Windows, it’s about the experiences that you might have playing on Microsoft’s console. The Destiny franchise improving in quality would positively impact Xbox gamers. Hence why I wrote this.
  • One thing you should note: Jason Ward does editorials, not tutorials. It's not arrogant, he's giving an opinion. And yeah, I used to read this site when Windows Phone was going to be a thing and there was a lot to cover. But it's not a thing anymore, and Windows Central can either just die as a site, or change format to cater to the users that still use Microsoft services, including Xbox. And gaming has been such a huge part of Windows. I've been PC gaming since 1991 and most of that time, I was using Windows. If you don't care about Xbox or gaming, don't read those articles. The Mobile Nations staff keep track of how many people read articles and if gaming isn't getting clicks, they'll stop writing about it. But you care a little be, enough to comment on the article, so maybe take your complaints to Daniel Rubino (the Windows Central head honcho) instead of this poor article writer who has nothing to do with the topics Windows Central cover.
  • These are Windows games.
  • "Both Destiny 2 and Borderlands 2 launched at similar times in 2017" That sentence left little ambiguity. As a writer, it is your job to be understood. Now, I've never played Destiny 2. I have no interest in playing Destiny 2. I have no reason to actively defend Destiny 2. Anybody who says Borderlands 2 is better is probably going to get agreement from me. But I want the debate to be fair. I have no idea how long the DLC in Destiny 2 takes. But the first few DLCs in Borderlands were fast. Only Tiny Tina's DLC took a significant amount of time. And *even* if I forgive the timeline mistake, Tiny Tina's DLC came out more than 8 months after the game release (Wikipedia says June 25.) ALL of the Headhunter packs came out over a year after release, and all were *much* shorter than all previous DLC. When the Handsome Collection came out, and I made the move to Xbox One, we had motivation to replay them. Did all of them in a single sitting. So not all 8 DLCs came out within 8 months, and not all were these expansive campaigns as you imply. I'm sorry, but this article blatantly needs a correction...it's just that simple. If you'd rather blame me for not understanding you, that just reinforces what I wrote about the recent trend of WC writing. It has gotten too ego driven and has forgotten the reader. I only came back and replied because I forgot to unsubscribe notifications when I left. So don't reply on my account. I personally no longer care. But for the sake of your other readers, I hope you at least take a moment to think about what I've shared as constructive feedback.
  • That sentence was actually changed by whoever worked on my article...fixing ASAP. Though I would point out to you that if you want to, you can look up the dates of which the first 8 DLCs launched and they all came out in that 8 month window. I did my research prior to writing this. And I’ve played through all of the games’ DLCs.
  • I'm sorry Brendan, I didn't mean to help turn this editing thing into an ordeal. I always do appreciate you and the other staffs' writing!
    The only problem I have with this site are the snarky commenters with nothing nice or productive to say, it's been getting pretty bad unfortunately. But just know that there are readers who appreciate this site and the staff!
  • It’s fine dude, if it wasn’t an editing mistake it would be right to criticize me for being poorly educated on it. Glad you enjoy my content. :)
  • The dlc in Destiny 2 only takes about 90 minutes to go thru.
  • Curse of Osiris, yeah. Warmind takes a little longer. But still woefully disappointing. :(
  • Bungie needs to abandone its greedy partnership with hActivision and come back home to XBox. A little franchise over here could use them again, and their community would welcome them back like old friends. Sadly their deal with the devil is killing this once storied developer.
  • Doubt it will ever happen. Bungie hated Microsoft quite a bit.
  • The real elephant in the room is that the business model in todays AAA games is completely different now - in 2012 the goal was to sell games. then sell DLC. In 2018, companies want unending 'service model' games - they don't care how much they make at the start, they want to know how you are getting players to continue throwing new money over the old money, on a regular basis. DLC back then was about new stories - the new models get players to pay to be better, or at least look better then they did before.
  • That can't possibly work in the long term though, can it? If there's not enough there at the start, people won't stick with it forever. Destiny itself is currently experiencing massive player discord.
  • Well it's the delusion of the leaders at EA and Activision that doing random loot boxes and smaller individual payments will entice people to 'gamble', and keep it going, even if it is a smaller base - aka, FIFA. And no, I don't think it can work in the long run, but EA has been doing a snow job of their on their investors that it can, so they keep pushing forward. Not to say how it is doing such long term damage to long established design houses like dice and bioware. Just my thought, but I think we are going to have to reset and come to a conclusion - if the current 60 dollar price model isn't viable for AAA games, then something other then loot boxes and other shady microtransactions needs to be created. This can't work for long.
  • Agreed. With the success of Game Pass, I wonder if companies will look to create their own forms of Games-as-a-Service models.
  • So I do feel like comparing borderlands with destiny is like apples to oranges. Sure they're both shooters with a lot grind in mind. But destiny was a half baked attempt and not the ben & jerries kind. At launch of destiny 1 there was more content in the first act of borderlands story than destiny. D1 could not be considered a full game until the taken king expansion. The third expansion for those out of the loop. Borderlands DLC does not invalidate your trials and tribulations in the game prior to their launch. If you got the super awesome rocket launcher with the best possible stats it wasn't invalid within saying the next DLC for 15 minutes. Destiny focused too much on pvp in the game and frequently let their attempt to balance it break pve. Outside of expansion launches pve saw no additional content or events while pvp kept getting new events. Destiny forced the dlc on you as no playlists were available unless you had all of them. Borderlands only required compatibility packs which were free anyway. Borderlands actually had a story. Destiny forced you into an online textbook to know why you're there. Then let's take into account the loot grind. You spent HOURS grinding for one piece of gear in destiny only for your stat rolls to be garbage. In borderlands you frequently were rewarded with good loot. In destiny you could only attempt to acquire certain sets ONCE a week. In borderlands it only took leaving the area come back and try again. Bungie did everything wrong and gearbox did everything right. Comparing borderlands and destiny is like comparing a pound of crispy bacon with a pound of gorilla decal matter.