All MMOs end up fighting a constant battle against entropy. The bulk of MMO development takes place after they are released: new content and systems are added, existing systems are streamlined, and some aspects of the game are rendered entirely obsolete. This rapid and constant change inevitably produces more than a few evolutionary dead-ends. Fire up any popular MMO and you’ll instantly be confronted by the signs of a game at war with itself; your journey up the levelling ladder will invariably take you past the corpses of game mechanics that were really, really important for one expansion before being discarded by the designers in favour of the next big thing. The longer an MMO is released, the worse a problem this becomes; World Of Warcraft is the unquestioned barnacle-encrusted nautilus champion of abandoned and now-irrelevant expansion features1, but even the younger examples such as Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy 14 are starting to groan under the weight of their own history.
The good news is that this entropic decay is usually a gradual, creeping process that takes years to fully manifest. Most MMOs have at least one or two expansion packs’ worth of breathing room before their design and structure starts to become obviously unfocused. And this makes Destiny 2 a deeply impressive game, in a way, because where it took half a decade or more for entropy to start claiming other MMOs, Destiny 2 has managed to develop itself into a state of almost total incoherence in just two short years.
- Hey, remember the Garrisons in Warlords of Draenor? The legendary weapons from Legion? Blizzard would really rather you didn’t. ↩