For the most part, Destiny 2’s new Forsaken expansion has delivered what fans wanted—expanded customization, engaging and difficult endgame content, and tons of new loot to chase. But now that the new expansion high is starting to wear off and players are really settling into the grind, a few recurring problems are threatening to undermine the otherwise stellar experience. Short version? It’s the economy, stupid. Character customization and leveling is currently severely bottlenecked by the need for masterwork cores, while mod components are even more rare. These materials are key to tailoring your character, since they allow you to upgrade your favorite gear or add mods to it, but they’re also so confoundingly rare that most people can’t afford to make any upgrades.
Before Forsaken, masterwork cores were only used to upgrade weapons and armor to masterwork quality, giving the gun a kill tracker, a small stat buff, and the ability to generate orbs of light on multikills, thereby speeding up generation of your super ability. Still following? Okay, well since Forsaken landed, it now takes more cores to masterwork gear, and infusing gear—smashing two guns or armor pieces together to get the perks of one and the power level of the other—also costs cores.
This came as a surprise, and honestly it just feels inelegant and a bit greedy. Why are we using super rare masterwork cores to infuse regular ass items? Not only that, cores are now much harder to get since the drop rate of fully masterworked gear (which yields more cores when dismantled) was significantly reduced. The only reliable source is Spider, a new merchant in the Tangled Shore, but buying more than a few cores from him each day is untenably expensive.
Players need masterwork cores now more than ever, yet they have even fewer ways to get their hands on them. Your only options are to never masterwork or infuse anything, or to slowly watch your core stockpile dwindle like the last sad embers of a dying bonfire. No matter what you do or how much you play, it is virtually impossible to accrue masterwork cores as-is. I went into Forsaken with around 150 cores, and even with minimal infusions and masterworks, I’m already down to 50 after putting over 100 hours into the expansion. And that’s on PC, my primary platform. The current core economy is even harsher on players who didn’t have cores stashed away. I had just 14 cores on PS4 at the start of Forsaken. After 20 hours, during which I infused one piece of gear, I have a whopping 17.
As Destiny YouTuber Datto (opens in new tab) pointed out in a recent video, there’s no clear path to getting more cores, so players are hesitant to upgrade anything. It’s fun to build armor loadouts and fine-tune weapons, but it’s not sustainable to continually infuse your favorite gear, let alone masterwork all of it, so many players feel forced to just automatically equip their highest-level stuff, no matter how ugly it is or what perks it has. This sucks a lot of the fun out of leveling up, which, I imagine, is the opposite of what Bungie had in mind. Carefully deciding what gear to upgrade is one thing, but never upgrading anything out of fear is quite another.
Mods and mod components have almost the exact same problem. Modding gear isn’t an integral part of leveling like infusion is so it might not feel like the economy matters as much, but if anything mods are even scarcer than masterwork cores. Purchasing a mod from the gunsmith in the Tower costs 10 mod components, and you get only one component for every mod you dismantle. Weapons and armor very rarely drop with mods attached, and you have to dismantle 10 of those mods to buy just one that you want. As with cores, it’s impossible to profit mod components in the current system unless you literally never spend any. The players who’ve put the most time into Forsaken have done nothing but hemorrhage cores and components since day one, which is a sure sign of a broken economy.
It’s not just materials, either. Exotics are also a bit of a buzzkill in Forsaken. It’s not that they’re too rare—in fact, many players prefer the lowered exotic drop rate since it makes obtaining an exotic feel more impactful—but that too often they’re dupes. Players routinely receive exotics that they already have, with drops skewing heavily toward year-one exotics and even quest exotics like the Ace of Spades and Chaperone, which for some bewildering reason can be received as normal drops after you unlock them via their quests. In other words, the current exotic system not only lacks duplicate protection—which I would argue is essential to loot-based games that don’t support player trading—but is also actively putting duplicates into the loot pool. Exotics can be rare, but only if they’re exciting. Right now, it’s too much of an RNG crapshoot.
Something clearly needs to be changed, but what? Some have suggested removing masterwork cores from infusion costs and, similarly, reducing the cost of mods at the gunsmith. Other Destiny content creators, such as YouTuber Houndish (opens in new tab), have suggested adding more ways to obtain these materials to offset their increased costs, like bounties or challenges that reward cores or components. And quite frankly, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone oppose exotic duplicate protection, which I would take over an increased drop rate any day of the week. Bungie is at least aware of this feedback: on the Destiny forums (opens in new tab) and subreddit (opens in new tab), community manager Cosmo said responses to drop rates and economies for mods, masterwork cores and exotics was being looked at. Whatever changes Bungie decides to implement, I hope they come soon. Forsaken is fantastic overall, and I hate to see issues like these hold it back. And, you know, I’d also like to upgrade my stuff.