When Bungie announced last year that they were reviving Destiny 2's serious PvP weekend event mode, Trials, they said "It's important that this doesn't go out half-baked." Reader dear, it went out half-baked. But! Seventeen months and one revamp later, Trials Of Osiris is good now. Really good. With generous new reward systems, the option to queue solo, and a few anti-cheater measures, the return of Trials this weekend has seen a huge surge in player numbers and been, like, actually fun.
Overseen by Saint-14, Destiny's gay robotic Russian, Trials is a weekly 3v3 PvP event mode which runs from Friday until reset on Tuesday. It's a gauntlet with the grand goal of winning seven matches in a row to go 'Flawless' and score unique loot, and matches you against teams at the same point of their gauntlet run. And for over a year, it was miserable. Trials was stingy with rewards, matchmaking felt unfair, cheaters were rampant, and too often it felt like you made no progress towards loot as you got stomped. It was such a slog that many players would jump to their deaths for rewards rather than play. I am so glad to see that's changed, and this first weekend of the new Trials has been great.
So! New Trials is still a gauntlet with the goal of going Flawless for the best prizes, but it's so much more generous if you can't. Rather than trading in tokens that expire at the end of the week, Saint now has a persistent progress with ranks like other modes. He also lets you focus Trials Engrams (similar to Umbral Engrams) to get specific loot. You no longer need to reset your 'Passage' after three losses too; while you can't make Flawless if you lose one match, you can play that card as long as you like. And you might want to, because you earn loads of good loot once a Passage sits at seven match wins, and extra rank points for each match as you rack up round wins. That means good players are incentivised to sit at seven wins rather than resetting and stomping worse players who are only on the first steps of their own gauntlet. Everybody wins.
New Trials also lets you queue solo to be matchmade into a team. Yeah, it's harder for randos to play against premade threes, but you can. I was winning matches with seven wins on my Passage, and I've seen some go Flawless with rando teams. Bungie plan to experiment with a proper solo-only Trials queue with a 'Labs' mode later this season. And matchups feel better in general when Bungie have not only rolled out new anti-cheat, they've limited Trials to players who own the latest expansion, making it a pricey buy-in for banned people.
See Bungie's post for more info on changes with the new Trials.
It's just weird to say: I really enjoyed Trials this weekend. Playing with pals from Rock Paper Scoutrifle (look us up on the RPS Discord) or queueing solo, the matches were challenging and rarely one-sided, the rewards felt rewarding (I went for loads of Reed's Regret, a new linear fusion rifles with strong PvE DPS perks like Triple Tap, Firing Line, and Vorpal Weapon), and the PvP meta is in a fairly fun and varied state right now (yeah, Vex Mythoclast is popular, but it's more varied than everyone Shatterdiving or sliding around with a shotgun). Trials was good. Weird.
The stat-tracking fans at Trials Report pointed out that even with days left, this had already been one of the most popular Trials weeks ever across both D2 and the first game. It's warranted. I hope this keeps up because—and it feels weird to say this—I want to continue play a lot Trials.
A big problem with Trials has been that matchmaking and rewards were so stingy and punishing that it chased less-experienced players away, which hardened the player pool into try-hards, which chased newcomers away, which... new Trials has done a lot to solve that. I'm impressed. Mortified that it was so bad for so long, but glad it's come round.
It was such a good Trials weekend that everyone's favourite game-breaking gun, Telesto, came back to celebrate with a weird new bug. Once again, players found they could destroy its tripmine orbs for obscene power. In this case, equipping the Thermoclastic Blooming mod then killing your own Telesto bolts with certain melee abilities could generate a huge number of Orbs Of Power, letting players charge up their Super abilities real quick. So yeah, Bungie have once again temporarily disabled Telesto (and that mod) in both Crucible and Gambit. Oh Telesto you rogue, you truly are the besto.
Between the Trials changes, Bungie getting the hang of seasons, the plot taking big steps forward, and some other additions and overhauls, Destiny is in a good state right now. Which does also feel weird to say, after long years of hoping and repeating "Yeah, yeah, Destiny's future is looking promising." Right now, it feels like that future has finally begun. Oh god, please let this not be a declaration I will see going round a year from now in screenshots annotated with red circles and "LOL".