Destiny 2’s Shader System Won’t Inspire Gameplay

Destiny 2 has only been out for a few days and for the most part everyone seems to be enjoying blasting aliens in the face with space-magic. What’s not so good is that with all the good some bad is bound to slip through and the much known shader problem is the main offender. After watching the ensuing skirmish between fan and developer play out over the internet, it looks like the issue of shaders isn’t going away anytime soon, reason being that it “inspires gameplay.” It does not.

Having avidly consumed Destiny 1, shaders were a thing one could wear proudly, something a Guardian could put on showing ones’ achievements whether that be completing a certain type of content or coming fresh off the raid boat. The idea then became (for most guardians) to stockpile shaders to have an array of a color pallet that could easily be swapped out on the fly giving ones’ guardian whatever look best befit the mood of play. It was a fun design choice that many players (myself included) used frequently. The raid shaders were particularly a thing of beauty because seeing a full fireteam drop into the tower only to be wearing all the same shader they had just acquired spoke proudly about their recent accomplishment.

Look how sad Ikora and I are over shaders.

The Destiny 2 shader system breaks down to this: shaders are now consumables that also require a bit of glimmer to put on, the plus side to the system being that shaders can now be applied individually to everything a guardian has on. The last bit being the good part is the best place to start. Being able to apply shaders to individual pieces of armor as well as guns, ships and even one’s ghost is a huge bonus. It means more variation in the Guardians that will be seen and players can feel proud knowing there will be a wonderful amount of combinations to make their Guardian stand out. It would be amazing to see two Guardians of the same cloth (pun intended), but this will inspire variation in making everyone’s Guardian unique.

The main offender is that shaders now being consumable means Guardians will have to horde their shaders for fear of getting a new piece of gear that is a higher light level or fits more with play style. It means not being able to swap out ones shader to suit the mood of play. It means not being able to pull out a shader that maybe not everyone has, to do the long-seated tradition of bragging rights in MMOs, and while Destiny 2 isn’t a typical MMO, it’s following the rules enough to know what it’s doing. Using myself as an example: like many Guardians I had a range of shaders and always carried the full nine on me, sometimes deleting one to bring in another. This was common enough among many Guardians. Having played the original Destiny since the beginning, I had a ridiculous amount of shaders, some which players couldn’t even acquire anymore, and that was really special. One in particular called Sunsetting, it was a beautiful color of a mocha brown mixed with a material that looked like it was from the sun. This shader was part of The Dark Below expansion and could be acquired from Eris Morn upon reaching Rank 4. I grinded hard to get this shader and was proud when I achieved my goal; this shader ended up sticking with me all the way till the end. I would even pull it out and have others comment, asking where to acquire such a shader, of course, knowing that this shader was long gone by the end of D1, meaning if one didn’t get it during the Dark Below, too bad. It was my veteran badge.

More like “Tarnished Shader,” I really do like this one.

Imagining this shader as a consumable, this feeling and these moments would not be possible. It would mean constantly grinding (or paying real money) to get the thing wanted, which leaves a sour taste in your mouth. This isn’t inspiring, this is frustrating. Anyone who’s played an MMO knows that while grinding can be fun in ways, it can also be hell on the digital earth. It leads to frustration, poor sportsmanship and not wanting to play the game. Knowing shaders are a consumable brings up other questions as well. What happens when the Raid drops? When going into a raid in Destiny 1, players knew they would be coming out with custom raid shaders showing their accomplishment. With shaders being consumable now, it begs the question of when getting a raid shader set now are they consumable as well? Let’s hope not. Just thinking about it is tedious, why even care about the raid shaders if they are just going to get used up or held on too like the most precious of stones? Players also won’t have that special moment where the group jumps into a social space just having completed the raid looking fly-as-hell. It leans even more into feelings of hording or not caring at all. Which isn’t fun.

The community is being heard though, maybe not everything they’ve wanted, but they’ve caused enough commotion on reddit and other social spaces for this issue to be considered, with statements from both Game Director Luke Smith and Community Manager DeeJ. It is a bit unclear as to what Bungie will do to remedy the situation, but for now shaders are going to stay the way they are, so better hold onto those good color palates for only the best gear; just don’t be to frugal about it, more shaders are always around the corner. And, if one is really desperate, just spend the bit of cash, although the Destiny community is advising/boycotting against this, to get the point across that shaders should not be consumable. Stay fresh, Guardian.