Hungry, Hungry Items
One of the best things Bungie added to destiny when the taken King launched in late 2015 was Item feeding, Item Infusion? Item Fusion? I don’t know I prefer Item Feeding better so let’s stick with that. However this one change fixed two of Destiny’s biggest issues at the time, some individual play styles were no longer viable in the end-game content and everyone looked the same.
Now nothing is more off putting to players then being told that they playing a game the wrong way. I'm not particularly a big fan of this (even though i will make jokes to friend about them playing a game wrong) and in destiny I would frequently run with groups that would lovingly remind me what weapons and armor i should be using. Now one solution would of been just changing into the armor and use the weapons that were “suggested” by other players but in most cases that would require me to change my play style. Now this mentality wasn't caused by the players, a lot of this problem stemmed from destiny's loot system was designed.
In vanilla destiny, the gear would randomly drop at rather frustrating rates, with each item having randomised stat values. With the general idea being that you would want to move up to the new loot with better stats and higher light. Making the purple items, you liked using not usable in the end game content. Basically, the game was telling you that you're playing it wrong. That assault rifle you love so much, yeah it's now useless in the raids. Oh, you like the way this armour decreases the recharge times of your grenades, well too bad it’s too little light so you can't raid. This lead to a lot of players having to “Adapt” how they played the game, or suffer through the loot grind until they got lucky enough to get a weapon that they enjoyed using and was viable for endgame content. It was a messed up system that turned me off the game for months, only ever completing one raid, some of the best content in the base game.
Now the other issue with vanilla destiny's loot was that everyone looked the same, at the time there were three sets of armour that would get you to max light, and everyone wore them. It was like going to a party, and someone was wearing the same shirt as you, embarrassing. For a game that mimics the structure of an MMO, the title was light in ways to customise your character. Up until the end game, most players used the games very cool looking armour designs to distinguish their guardians, to imbue a sense of personality and character upon them. Too bad the whole end game of destiny was unintentionally designed to strip player ability to do this. At the time of the first raid, there was the only small number of armour sets that granted the highest possible light. With more and more players completing these armour sets everyone started to look very similar, minus the use of a shader of course.
Which was a total shame, at one point in the game I had a bad ass looking female warlock, with orange and white armour that I loved? Then I got to the end game was forced to sacrifice the personality of the Warlock I crafted just to play more of the games very limited (at the time) content. For a game that wanted to leave the players feeling that they were a unique part of the world, the unfortunate lack of customisation at the end game took away any semblance of your character feeling special.
In late 2015, destiny's biggest expansion is released The Taken King. To heaps of critical and fan acclaim, The Expantion improved all aspects of the Destiny experience. Overhauling a lot of the big issues that had been plaguing the game since release in 2014. It added more content, an engaging story, Resources and currencies were streamlined to be less complicated, creating a more player friendly experience compared to vanilla destiny. But most importantly it introduced item feeding. Destiny went from being a fun yet flawed experience, to what it was always meant to be. it was incredibal.
So what is item feeding? The concept isn't new, it's been around for a while now in other loot and free to play games. Feeding is the act of imbuing the stats of a more powerful weapon or item to one that is powerful. It’s a pretty simple concept that would not necessarily change how a player engages with a game. However, it had a significant impact on how players equipped gear. Giving new life to old/ lower tier items, helping them stay as a viable option long into the endgame of The Taken King. All you had to do was spend some currency, select the item you want to feed and then choose the item you want to sacrifice.
Item Feeding was just one of the improvements introduced with the taken King. However, I feel that this was the most important of all of them. Not the added content, or coherent storytelling; it was the ability for a player to keep their favourite items. No longer where player forced to sacrifice their playstyle for better loot and no more samey looking guardians wandering around the game's environment. It brought back the personalization and sense of ownership over the player's character. Reinforcing the ideas that you are important and special, Arguably better then what the Vanilla destiny story tried to do.