The Destiny 2 competitive and casual communities have done the unthinkable and come together in agreement over the state of Trials of Osiris. Their verdict: Bungie’s latest attempt to balance the high-tier competitive PvP mode actually made things a lot worse. Neither side is finding joy in Trials of Osiris, becoming a victim of the very same system Bungie implemented in an attempt to even the playing field. While vocal players on either side seldom agree on many things — let alone competitive multiplayer — players unanimously feel Trials of Osiris is in a worse state than when it started.
Trials of Osiris is the pinnacle of PvP content in Destiny 2, pitting two teams of three against each other. Every match consists of short deathmatch-like rounds, with a victor declared once a Fireteam amasses five round wins. Players cannot respawn on their own, but team members can revive them, making coordination and communication a necessity. The gear a Guardian brings into the match counts too. Like the Iron Banner PvP mode, a player’s Power Level (determined by averaging the Power Level of all equipped gear) translates into how much damage they can do and take.
The issue with Trials of Osiris is partly in structure and partly with Destiny 2‘s communities. When Trials first returned, it brought with it a harrowing question: How can Bungie make top-tier PvP content engaging for professional players and the casual community? Destiny‘s Raids, for example, attract Guardians of all skill levels and from all circles because they pose a formidable (but achievable) challenge and reward players for their efforts. Unfortunately, the two communities did not mix as well as Bungie had hoped.
This was in part because, to get the best rewards, players needed to find two other like-minded friends and win seven matches before they lost three. It was a herculean task for anyone who didn’t live and breathe for competitive PvP. Making matters worse was the gatekeeping imposed by the best players in the mode. Even after a team achieved their seven wins, they’d continue playing matches to deny other groups on the precipice of victory. Of course, XP is gained from winning Trials matches, but many players found more joy in dashing the hopes of other players or denying them the very loot that could be used to defeat them the following week.
Discouraged players would simply group up with friends and jump to their death, forfeiting any hope of winning to get a meager reward for playing a certain number of matches. Even worse, some resorted to cheating to force victory against the most skilled. However, throughout this time in Trials of Osiris, one glaring issue could have helped pave the way towards a more stable experience for all players: skill-based matchmaking.
When Trials returned again after Season of the Lost began, it came alongside some massive matchmaking changes. Bungie announced it’d implement skill-based matchmaking and drop the pre-made Fireteam requirements. As a result, casual players were convinced that their Trials of Osiris problems would finally disappear. Finally, they’d be able to queue up without needing to plan with friends, play matches against people in their same skill pool and assuredly stand a fighting chance at getting the rewards they’ve been after. However, everything didn’t go according to plan.
Once Bungie made the changes and the first Trials weekend passed, the pro and streamer community decried the changes on social media. Ultimately, they felt that no one wanted to watch them lose against players who were, at the very least, as good as they were. Many had gotten far too used to climbing the PvP ladder off the backs of casual players. Knowing that the streamers and influencers complaining about Trials had the power to sway their masses of followers, potentially leading them away from Destiny 2, Bungie fiddled with matchmaking again, rolling back any hopes casual players had.
Since then, Bungie has experimented with Trials of Osiris on a near-weekly basis. Some of its toying has yielded positive results, like the Freelance option that was a part of the Labs series a couple of weeks back, but that wasn’t permanent. As for this past weekend, players are angrier than ever. In another attempt to reform matchmaking while keeping everyone happy, Bungie altered Trials to match players together based on wins. While this may sound like a solution, the problem comes into play with those who are unable to get their seven wins on their first go, namely the casual players.
Even after resetting their Trials pass, a player’s wins are still counted. To put that into perspective, the matchmaking sees someone who’s won 30 flawlessly and someone who’s won 30 matches and lost 150 as being of the same skill level. This matchmaking change even results in pros once again matching together. In once again trying to fix the broken system with successive matchmaking changes, Bungie is sidestepping the real issue with Trials.
Trials of Osiris has never been able to satisfy all of Destiny 2‘s communities. When Bungie makes a change that favors one side, the other becomes infuriated or discouraged. While skill-based matchmaking would help even the playing field, many of the players that partake in Trials regularly are against it. Unfortunately, there might not be a way to save Trials of Osiris as it is. Rather than continuing to try and fix it, it’s likely best for Bungie to admit defeat and work on something else that everyone could be a part of.
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