Destiny 2's separation of PvE and PvP balancing is a good thing

Destiny 2
Destiny 2 (Image credit: Bungie)

Let's talk about the reasons why that's a huge positive for the upcoming title, and why I think it will make both competitive and cooperative players happy.

The issue with Destiny 2's beta experience

After developer Bungie launched Destiny 2's beta last week, many players voiced concerns that the changes made to improve the experience of multiplayer (also known as the Crucible) were negatively impacting the cooperative player vs. environment (PvE) experience. Some examples of this include the reduced effectiveness of grenades, the lack of sufficient ammo (especially power weapon ammo), the slow rate at which abilities recharge, and the low frequency of deploying supercharge powers.

The argument, essentially, is that PvP is being heavily prioritized over PvE, and that it makes Destiny 2's cooperative experience less dynamic and fun.

PvE-specific changes are on the way

Bungie, seeing this response, issued a statement that has assured the Destiny community that they will, in fact, be balancing things differently in PvE than in PvP. Bungie's beta lead Rob Engeln had this to say in Bungie's latest weekly update:

The PvE game tuning has changed pretty significantly since the Beta build was deployed. The nature of a Beta of this scale requires that it's based off a build of the game that is now months old. So, in many cases, your feedback is helping us validate changes that were previously made based on internal feedback and playtesting. For example, we too felt that ammo (especially power ammo) was too scarce in PvE.In addition to retuning the drop rates, we built a system that guarantees power ammo drops for you and your Fireteam from certain enemies, giving power weapons a more reliable and predictable role in your arsenal. Other areas where we've made significant tuning changes include grenade effectiveness in PvE, Boss vitality, and weapon damage against non-player combatants.

From this, we know that Bungie plans to tweak things like power ammo and grenade mechanics for PvE specifically. This confirms that the community's concerns have been heard, and that Bungie themselves expected and anticipated this response from the beta version of the game, which according to Engeln is months old.

Community response

This is a huge step in the right direction, but anecdotally, it seems some feel that separating the two styles of play will make each one feel too different from the other, and would prefer that PvE and PvP stay balanced in the same way. It certainly doesn't do much to retain the "roleplaying" fantasy of an RPG when your abilities are arbitrarily different across game modes.

In this article, I'm going to go over a few reasons why I think that Bungie's decision is and was the correct one.

PvE and PvP: fundamentally different

Undeniably, PvE is built from the ground up in a completely different way than PvP is.

One major issue with balancing both sides of this equation together is that they are designed with different types of play in mind. In the Crucible player vs. player modes (PvP), you fight with a squad of allies against another squad of enemy Guardians in a small, condensed (and often times symmetric) map. Timing is extremely important; often times the player who shoots first, wins. Movement is also critical, as staying in one place on the map is almost always disadvantageous in almost all situations. Another example of the differences in the modes is the fact that enemies are other humans and not AI-controlled mobs.

Now, compare this to PvE. In story missions and Strikes, you traverse not a small map, but rather an expansive and asymmetric level, complete with numerous different positions to attack from, as well as set pieces and scripted events that can at any time alter the playspace.

Enemies, compared to human players, come in a wide array of archetypes and usually in greater numbers. For example, while all human enemies can be damaged with a firearm anywhere on their body, the Cabal Phalanx wields a shield that they hold in front of them, absorbing all firearm damage.

On top of that, there's a completely different style of design with enemy engagement as well. While you'll always want to always be moving in PvP to avoid being surrounded or attacked while standing still, there are several points in PvE where stopping and successfully holding a position is the best way to defend an objective.

It is these types of core differences in form, flow, and mechanics that make me believe that undeniably, PvE is built from the ground up in a completely different way than PvP is, and why they should be balanced separately.

More sandbox freedom

Separating the balancing of PvE and PvP allows for changes to be made to one of them, without worrying about how it affects the other.

Another big benefit of separating the balancing is that Destiny's PvE and PvP teams won't have to worry about interfering with each other when they make adjustments or tweaks. If they were kept together, then any balance done to one would impact the other.

For example, let's say that the PvE team decides that auto rifles were too strong of an option against enemies. This would lead to the game being too easy, and thus not being challenging and engaging. To solve this problem, they would reduce the weapon damage of auto rifles, making them useful, but not overpowered.

However, that may not be the case in the Crucible environment. While auto rifles may feel too strong in PvE, their effectiveness might fit perfectly into the balancing of PvP. If PvE and PvP balancing was grouped together, then this nerf would negatively impact the balancing of auto rifles in the Crucible. But if they were kept separate, then the nerf could be applied in the cooperative environment without needing to worry about how it affects PvP, and vice versa.

This gives the development teams for each part of Destiny 2 much more flexibility and freedom.

A more finely tuned experience for all players

The ability to individually balance each aspect of what Destiny 2 has to offer will lead to a better player experience for all Destiny fans.

Building on my last point, I think that it's important to realize that when the PvE and PvP development teams have more freedom to implement changes to their respective sandboxes, everyone on both sides of the spectrum will win. Bungie will be able to give players that want a polished, fun, and balanced competitive multiplayer experience what they want, while also being able to successfully create a challenging, cooperative and social PvE experience as well.

The two won't interfere with each other, and because of that, all Destiny fans — regardless of what style of gameplay suits your desires. If Bungie executes it properly, it should be a win-win scenario.

Will this style of balancing make each part of the game feel too different?

One concern that players who plan to enjoy both PvE and PvP have is that the separation will make each part of the game feel too different. However, I do not think this will be the case.

Abilities and weapons will have different damage values and cooldowns, sure, but the base player mechanics of aiming, movement, primary, secondary, and power weapons, and types of abilities will remain the same. While the numerical values behind your arsenal will vary between PvE and the Crucible, the basics of Destiny 2 will not — at least as far as we know.

Unless Bungie introduces new, radically different mechanics for each style of play, the game will not feel extremely different. Rather, I think it will feel mostly the same, with some changes made across both PvE and PvP in order to make each play as best as it can.

Your thoughts

What's your opinion of this news? Do you think that Bungie is heading in the right direction with Destiny 2? Let me know how you feel in the comments.

Destiny 2 releases September 16th of this year on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and will release on October 24th on Blizzard Entertainment's for PC. It will cost $59.99 USD.

Brendan Lowry

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.