The Joy of not talking to other people in Destiny 2


Destiny 2 has had a rough time of late, what with players discovering that late-game grinding may very well be a gigantic waste of time, and the general hostility to microtransactions going around these days. Since its launch on PC in October, players have also groused about its strict communication rules: there’s no in-game chat lobby, text or voice, in which to find fireteam members for that Nightfall strike or Leviathan raid. And no public matchmaking for these activities, which yield the game’s most exclusive and powerful gear. Me, though? I love that about it.

I never played the first Destiny, so jumping in this year on PC I was struck by how the game looks like a series of sci-fi paperback novel covers, as if some 1970s editions of Isaac Asimov or Robert Heinlein had been brought to life. Exploring the gorgeous environments of Io and Nessus as a solitary, somber, and silent experience feels right to me.

It’s not impossible to talk with other players, mind you. But there’s a built-in vetting process. You can join a clan, run a few patrols with someone, and then add them to your friends list. One of you can initiate voice communication, and if the other player consents you can start chatting away. And that’s a good thing, because by the time you get to the endgame content, you’ll need to coordinate with your fireteam. Particularly in the Nightfalls and raid, calling out what you’re doing and seeing to your fireteam is crucial. These activities are designed to be completed by teams working and talking with each other, so why the all the hurdles to voice chat?

To my mind, the chat system serves two important purposes. First and foremost, it means you must have an actual reason for teaming up with anyone else. Whether you’ve found them in-game, through shared public events, standard strikes, or clans, you won’t be (unless you really try) playing the intensive endgame missions with complete strangers. That’s encouraging a higher quality of communication that you’d have in public matches—and anyone who’s made the mistake of taking the Plunkbat plane ride with voice chat enabled knows exactly how awful that can get.

I played several sections of the Leviathan raid for the first time with my brother and some friends I’d found online, who knew how to teach us the ropes of each encounter. They’re challenging events, and they demand a very deliberate kind of teamwork and a sometimes-saintly amount of patience with each other. Once we’d logged off, my brother texted me: “I can understand now why random matchmaking isn’t a thing for the raid.”

He’s right. Imagine the horror of trying to get six random Plunkbatters to coordinate with each other at any level beyond howling insults. Getting dumped into a six-person team in Destiny 2 for a raid that requires understanding, communication, leadership, and patience would, 99 times out of 100, be a colossal waste of everyone’s time.

The second purpose is a direct result of the first: the people who play Destiny 2 together wind up expecting and giving a certain level of respect amongt their groups. And this means there’s much less of the “toxic community” problem that inevitably winds up metastasizing within almost any online game — not even Overwatch’s lovely color palette and inclusive cast of heroes has protected it from this, and Blizzard has had to devote a lot of time and energy to dealing with the problem.

But in Destiny 2? If that’s there, I’ll never find it. Instead, I can enjoy my Robert Heinlein landscapes and space goblins and know that if I want to talk to someone while I’m doing it, it’ll be because I want to.


  1. TheButler83 says:

    My biggest gripe about D2 is that this article only makes sense if you already have 2 friends who play it. It’s ridiculously stupid to have no in game tools to find clans or chat in order to make friends in the first place.

    Apart from Nightfall and Raids there’s no other content in game that requires communication so even when being match made for Strikes you never even chat to those people, they may as well be AI bots.

    Usually in an mmo I’d join a guild and get to know people via chat before doing end game but D2 makes it so hard that the wife and I have just resorted to trying to 2-man the Nightfalls. It’s very frustrating.

    • SaltTitan says:

      My fiance and I do the Nightfall Guided Games all the time, just play host and it gives you a third who’s looking for a team. And since we made a clan for just the two of us and more than half of the fireteam is from the clan we get an extra legendary engram the first time we do it each week.

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    • bfar says:

      Seconded. I bought D1 on PS4, popped on my headset and mic, started up and…. couldn’t find anyone to play with within the game.

      Destiny is a couch co-op without a couch.

      • fish99 says:

        That shouldn’t stop you playing it though, the vast majority of the story can be played solo, and when you want to do Strikes it’ll find players for you (or put you in solo if there is none).

        Of course all this requires PS+.

        • bfar says:

          The raids can’t be played solo. They’re the best part of the game! There’s no reason why there wasn’t some match making mechanic in the first game, but it was a major omission in the second.

          Even with match making enabled in some form, there’s nothing stopping them allowing you to put together a bespoke fire team. I don’t see why Bungie couldn’t deal with all this better.

  2. Tomdop says:

    I’m surprised someone could be happy about it. I often feel very frustrated not to be able to talk to others when they’re just standing 1 meter away from you. Not even able to group with them, nothing. It’s like bringing pc gaming back to 1998…

    • April March says:

      I feel frustrated when a person who is playing a game online with me thinks it’s OK to chat with me just because we’re playing the same game. Go away, random person, I’m not your friend.

      • Premium User Badge

        keithzg says:

        Sure, and the system could even be set to opt-in, so you’d never even have to change your defaults. For the rest of us who are trying to talk to eachother or, like, want to run a raid or even Nightfall strike but don’t have multiple friends also playing Destiny 2 it’s just needlessly impossible.

  3. Katanalx says:

    The fact that Destiny started on the PS may have influence in the voice chat: Most of the PS4 players have private chat rooms and don’t need a public chat room… I see this happen in Fortinite. On PC I have difficulty to find cooperating players but in PS4 they are always talking trough psn groups…

  4. Ghostwise says:

    But… what if you can’t find Mankrik’s wife ?

  5. Slazer says:

    Even if you have a clan you need Teamspeak and Forums even for basic communication as there is no clanchat or even a chance to post announcements.
    And even adding people you meet in the game to your friendlist is a chore.

    I don’t see this argument going anywhere

    • FFabian says:

      Oh there is … you have to use the official Destiny 2 app though.

  6. Nelyeth says:

    Sounds awful, but what do I know.

  7. Turkey says:

    So, much like the Scorpion King himself, you stand alone.

  8. jman420 says:

    As someone who played the first game and unfortunately wasted $60 on the new one (it was a lame stretch of games when this came out in september!) I can say this is also the downfall though. Say you get a good group and run through that Leviathon raid a few times and get the best gear….then what? You wait for the new expansion in several months to erase your progress anyways.
    Destiny was best described as a “thrill park”. Its a short thrill though, IMO. I’m very disapointed with the apparent “copy/paste” from the first one. Bungie was just looking for a way to get destiny to the PC is my guess. BEcause this is more of destiny 1.25 than destiny 2.

  9. Baines says:

    Destiny 2’s had a rough time for longer than “of late”, and for more reasons than microtransactions and xp.

    It is actually kind of funny how Destiny 2 stays so under the radar while casually tripping nearly every “evil/greedy developer/publisher” warning flag.

    • Turkey says:

      It’s kinda hard to see the micro transaction forest with EA’s sequoia trees in the way.

    • BeardyHat says:

      Jim Sterling has been harping on Destiny 2 all year for its issues.

      • Maxheadroom says:

        Actually he scored it fairly highly in his review (despite my reservations I bought it mainly off the back of his glowing review). He’s very much u-turned on that now though and admitted he hadnt hit the level cap when he wrote it and that it’ll now feature on his Worst of 2017 list

  10. wraithgr says:

    Actually, Destiny (and pretty much most sci-fi FPS games, for that matter) is exactly the kind of SF that Asimov deplored, where the setting is just window dressing and the explanation for all the gadgets might as well be “magic”.

    • Skandranon says:

      Well to be fair, the explanation for a lot of the stuff in Destiny IS magic. They use that word a lot.

  11. Professor Bobo says:

    This article praises one of the most contradictory and negative aspects of my experience with D2. This is a game that marketed itself as an “MMOFPS”, yet completely withheld all forms of communications if you are not on voice.

    There are very clear reasons why the design would go this way; it eliminates toxicity completely. But not being able to talk to players, even in a limited manner, isolates the player and removes all of the personality and teamwork that are core elements to playing a video game with other people.

    I have not once invited a person outside of my clan to group up because I can’t talk to them. This is plain stupid.

  12. Helixagon says:

    I have to agree with the majority of commenters. I would have preferred an optional “turn off public chat” like most MMOs offer than the extreme solution of simply removing it. Sure public chat can be terrible, but it’s also really important. Sometimes it feels like being in ye olde village, with people yelling left and right to sell their wares, gather party members, and get clan members. Take that away and you just have sterile, safe silence, which … if that’s your thing, that’s your thing, I guess, but why not give the option? To me, gutting public chat to remove toxicity is like cutting off your leg because you got a toe infection.

    The trailers for this game made it sound like grouping up at endgame would be smooth and painless. Literally “Don’t have a fireteam? We’ll find you one.” I got to endgame and found that not only was the “find a clan” feature not working (I had to trawl through the public forum, where most of the clans were already full), matchmaking for “nightfall” flashpoints (dungeons) was in ‘beta’ and you could only do that if you were a special chosen player. So after tooling around for a few nights for a few hours, I put down the game and never picked it up again.

  13. zaphod42 says:

    Destiny shouldn’t have in-game text or voice chat for pubbies. Sure.

    But they SHOULD add a basic looking-for-group tool to help people find groups of like-minded people they could talk with.

    Get it? What is this, the 90s? If Destiny wants to be an MMO so bad they need to add the social matchmaking features of an MMO.

  14. Be_reasonable says:

    It’s always depressing when somebody who has influence decides to write an article on why it’s such a good thing that others can’t enjoy the endgame content because they are so much above the masses.

  15. April March says:

    I am becoming more and more of the opinion that the solution to the problem of toxic communities is simply to destroy the idea that everyone should be able to communicate to everyone freely and by default. For 90% of ingame activities a few default shouts are sufficiente for any communication you’d want for actual in-game putposes. Does this destroy communities? I’m of the opinion that very few game communities blossom in the actual game, as opposed to forums, social media, etc, so I doubt it’d matter. The more people do this the more they’ll see it works.

    • Tomdop says:

      April March, your social disorder inherited by an overindividualistic society shouldnt be the doom of us all, humans, social individuals.

      The beauty of gaming is that it makes social interaction revolves around having fun and nothing else, you got a problem with that ? you should see a doctor.

  16. zulnam says:

    Dammit RPS not you too.

    There’s a sea of pc game related stuff to talk about and you decide to write about the positives of lacking general best practice game design concents for massive multiplayer games? For destiny 2 out of all games.

    Sorry if the “general hostility to microtransactions going around“ is putting a damper in your fluff article on AAA gaming.

  17. Lomion says:

    I’m with Ian on this one. I wish more games would do things this way. Algorithmic matchmaking and ubiquitous communication enable so much of toxic gamer syndrome in online games. I consider this a step in the right direction.

    • Premium User Badge

      keithzg says:

      Why not just not use the matchmaking tools, then? Why demand that the rest of us not have them either? I have only one IRL friend routinely playing Destiny 2 on PC, and that leaves us one person short of running Nightfall raids. Why not let us just matchmake with people also willing to just matchmake with randos? We’re not forcing you to too.

      Now, I agree that matchmaking has been a step backwards socially from how things were back in the day when people ran their own dedicated servers, and I’d be in favour of going back that way, but that’s not what’s at issue here. The general format of the game still has all the problems, it just restricts you from doing certain higher-difficulty variations of activities with random people—which is actually the place I’d *most* be unafraid of random folks, honestly, since my experience with matchmaking in stuff like Overwatch is that people are often friendlier and more communicative in the higher-tier activities than the lower-tier ones.

  18. Simbosan says:

    6 people is a raid nowadays?

  19. HumpX says:

    Bought this and got bored to death after one hour. I got lucky and managed to return it on Steam. What happened to Bungie……

    • Arklay says:

      You’re more lucky to even buy this game on Steam!

      And no, I don’t agree at all with the article. I bought Destiny 2 because it looks like a fun shooter, and it really is. But being able to play certain missions because I don’t have friends who also play?

      Just let me join other weird rando’s like me just like I did already with Strikes. Is that too much to ask for?