For all of the improvements Bungie made between the first “Destiny” game from 2014 and “Destiny 2,” which just launched earlier this month, one of the biggest changes to the game is also one of the most disappointing.
In “Destiny 2,” Bungie took shaders — one of the most fun, crowd-pleasing aspects of the first game — and made them into a punishing experience.
It’s perhaps one of the only aspects of the game where the sequel took a significant step backward. Here’s what I mean.
In the first “Destiny” game, shaders let you change the overall color theme for your character’s outfit. You could collect shaders from completing certain activities, or sometimes as a random reward at the end of an activity.
Here’s what my character looked like by the end of the first “Destiny” game — without a shader.
But here’s what that same character looked like with a shader on. This one is called “Midas”:
Dave Smith/Business Insider
Here’s a different shader, “Candy Apple”:
Dave Smith/Business Insider
In “Destiny,” your choice of shader was often a reflection of your personality, or mood at the time. And since shaders had unlimited uses, you could change them on the fly.
In “Destiny 2,” though, the shader system is now much less fun. Actually, it’s kind of a bummer.
Dave Smith/Business Insider
The issue is simple: Shaders no longer have unlimited uses. They are now a “consumable” item in the game — meaning, if you collect a shader and use it, it’s now gone. You’ll have to collect more of that shader if you want to use it again.
And in this game, the main way to get shaders is by doing activities and getting them as a random reward. You can also get a handful of shaders through Bungie’s Eververse store, where you pay real money to get cosmetic items in the game, but I personally avoid using real money in video games at all costs (“Destiny 2” costs $60 to begin with).
This eliminates one of the best features from “Destiny” — freely switching between shaders on the fly — and replaces it with an anxiety-inducing mechanic where you don’t want to use your shader on a piece of armor, for fear of getting something better in the future (which is the whole point of the game: getting increasingly more powerful gear).
Within the first day of the game being out, the “Destiny” subreddit was chock full of threads complaining about the new shader system. Bungie’s “Destiny 2” director Luke Smith replied to the angry masses over Twitter:
Smith’s statement — a hard-line stance on shaders, telling players to give it a chance — was disappointing, since it undercuts a fundamental problem with the new shader system: It’s punishing to players.
One of the big new ideas in “Destiny 2” is to let you apply shaders to individual armor pieces and even weapons, instead of your whole outfit at once. This is a great idea to make characters more customizable, but it also means you would need to collect five of that specific shader if you want cover your entire outfit in a single color pattern like you could in the first game.
What’s worse: If you ever want to change shaders in the future — and you will, I assure you — those five shaders that you used on your character are now gone. You have to collect them all over again if you ever want to change your character back to that color scheme in the future.
This would be okay if it was easy to get dozens of each shader. But I’ve probably put around 60 hours into this game already, and so far, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
I have 33 different kinds of shaders in “Destiny 2.” But there are too many shaders that are too rare, or too few, where I don’t feel comfortable applying them. To be honest, I only feel comfortable using about six shaders onthat list, since I know they would be easy to find again in the future.
And so, the new shader economy puts “Destiny 2” players in a tough spot: On one hand, you don’t want your character to look really stupid; on the other hand, you don’t want to lose shaders you’ve worked so hard to collect, especially when you know you’re going to inevitably get better, more powerful gear actually worth putting your shaders on.
Something as cosmetic as shaders may not sound like a big deal, but the way Bungie has handled this ordeal so far doesn’t bode well for “Destiny 2.”
Shaders were a highlight of the first “Destiny” game. Some of them — like the ones you would get from completing a raid — were even a badge of honor. So it’s a shame that Bungie decided to fix something that wasn’t broken, and penalize players for wanting to do something they could easily do in the first game: change the look of their character, penalty-free.
The worst part about all of this, though, is Bungie’s hard-line stance on the issue. The “Destiny” community has offered many good ideas to fix this issue — the simplest being to let players freely switch back and forth between the shaders they already “consumed” for that armor or weapon — but so far, there’s no indication that any changes to shaders are coming.
Hopefully, though, Bungie listens to the community. As we’ve written about many times on Business Insider, the first “Destiny” game improved by leaps and bounds over the course of three years thanks to the feedback of its millions of players. As a result, “Destiny 2” is a much better game at launch than its predecessor, in almost every respect. Still, there are a few outstanding concerns — like this new shader system — that deserve more attention.
Hopefully, Bungie is able to listen to fans like it did for the first game. Because as long as the current shader system remains, the closest I’ll actually come to using some of these beautiful new color patterns Bungie’s art team put together is by viewing the shader previews in my menu. And frankly, that bums me out.