Destiny 2's Spider trolls the player with bad loot.

Image: Bungie / Kotaku

There have been a fair number of complaints about Destiny 2’s Season of Plunder, but for the most part I’ve been having a blast. So it’s a major bummer that one of the main reasons to play right now appears bugged for the second week in a row. An upgrade that’s key to overcoming Destiny’s terrible crafting system remains busted, and I am just so, so tired.

Anyone playing Destiny 2 regularly at the moment probably knows exactly what I’m talking about, but for everyone else here’s a quick recap of what’s going on. February’s Witch Queen expansion finally introduced a way for players to craft certain weapons and make the best and most customized versions of them, rather than relying on RNG to bless them with the perfect loot drop. But there was a catch. To unlock the pattern needed to craft a weapon, players first needed to collect five random duplicates that had a Red Border, called Deepsight Resonance drops. Basically, you needed to deal with Destiny 2’s RNG loot system before you could stop dealing with Destiny 2’s RNG loot system.

It’s an incredibly Destiny problem to have, but Bungie did provide one saving grace: seasonal upgrades that guaranteed Red Border drops. At a certain point in both Season of Risen and Season of the Haunted earlier this year, players could unlock the upgrade and then be able to do what players call target farming: focus on collecting Red Border drops for a specific weapon until the pattern is unlocked. It was far from perfect and progress moved at a snail’s pace, but it still helped give players some control back over the Destiny 2 grind.

With Season of Plunder, however, that upgrade perk went away. Instead, it was replaced with one that ensured the first Ketchcrash seasonal activity of each week would drop a Red Border weapon. While this was even worse, it was still something. Last week, however, a lot of players, myself included, completed our first Ketchcrash and still didn’t get the Red Border drop. Now it’s happened again, confirming it was bugged, despite the issue still not appearing on Bungie’s weekly list of known problems.

There was a thread about the issue last week on the Destiny subreddit. “Still no red border for master ketchcrash,” read a new thread posted yesterday. “Two week in a row this upgrade hasnt worked and im a little frustrated considering they wont let us decrypt red borders this season,” wrote the player. Some players claim to be getting their Red Border drops as intended, but since there’s always a random chance of getting one after completing a Ketchcrash, it’s hard to know how many players are affected and if there are any workarounds. Bungie didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bugs take time to investigate and fix, and while that’s all understandable, it’s still frustrating. Especially since it really just underlines all of the deeper problems players have been complaining about for months. There’s a fundamental tension at the heart of any loot chase: how generous can you get before it all stops feeling special? To combat loot inflation over the years, Bungie has come up with new, more granular distinctions in gear. While purple Legendary drops were prized in Destiny 1, they’re now regularly junked in Destiny 2. Instead, players hunt for coveted “god rolls,” i.e. gear with the best selection of randomly rolled perks.

Red Border drops are the latest variation, and despite a clear consensus since Witch Queen released that the whole system needs things like duplicate and bad luck protection, players are nearing the end of a third season with no meaningful improvements. In fact, between the lack of target farming in Season of Plunder and the bugged Red Drop upgrade, things have gotten unmistakably worse. And as more than one player has pointed out, Bungie always seems quick to fix bugs that make Destiny 2 more generous, but are slower to react when it comes to addressing issues that make it more miserly.

I’ve asked Bungie what determines how long a specific grind should take a couple of times in the past and have never quite gotten a satisfactory answer. Here’s what design team lead Brian Frank said during a roundtable interview earlier this year:

Our investment design discipline is like pursuit length, pursuit depth. And so for example, we’re looking at a rated dungeon. All decisions that we make about how the loot is distributed. You know the cost of items on the vendor, it’s all designed with sort of pursuit length targets and we’ve made some shifts to sort of bring those into the length of the season or shorter.

With the crafting system being new, I think the approach initially is…we know that we can’t go from generous to less generous. It’s really difficult to make those changes. So I think that being a new system, having a crafted weapon be sort of ‘the end game of grinding and pursuit’, it sort of made sense to put it far out in the timeline and then be able to react from there, depending on how it landed with the community.

As Forbes’ Paul Tassi has pointed out, there’s a new urgency around some of these issues since seasonal content gets vaulted at the end of each year. Even if crafting certain weapons is supposed to be a long-term pursuit, players theoretically only have until next February when Lightfall releases to maximize their current weekly Red Border drops.

It’s unfortunate, and also flies in the face of how fantastic and approachable Destiny 2’s seasonal story content has become. With a weekly space opera that plays out in less than an hour each week, players can keep up with each new twist and lore tease. If you really like Season of Plunder’s new pirate sidearm or blunderbuss-inspired shotgun, however, good luck. Destiny 2 will still have to become a second job if you want to have a shot at crafting the perfect one before it gets thrown in the vault to make way for new loot.

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