The hardest thing about Destiny 2 is getting any of your friends to play it. Fans of Bungie’s ambitious and imaginative sci-fi shooter have long hoped for a simple on-ramp that would make it easier to get lapsed players and newcomers back into its universe. Destiny 2’s new “Starter Pack” might sound like exactly that. Instead, it’s a pricey bundle of random items that fans can’t stop dunking on.
Season of the Wish went live today with an exciting trailer and new missions revolving around collecting dragon eggs to win over an old enemy. But players also quietly noticed a new DLC add-on on PSN, Xbox, and Steam that went live alongside the latest update. It’s called the Destiny 2 Starter Pack, it costs $15, and it’s one of the more ridiculous microtransactions I’ve seen. Contrary to what its name might suggest, the Starter Pack does not include any expansions, missions, or story content. It’s just a random assortment of stuff meant to “supercharge” players’ arsenals. Here’s what’s included:
- Traveler’s Chosen
- Ruinous Effigy
- Sleeper Simulant
- Exotic Ship
- Exotic Sparrow
- Exotic Ghost Shell
- 125,000 Glimmer
- 50 Enhancement Cores
- 5 Enhancement Prisms
- 1 Ascendant Shard
Those first three items are all old Exotic weapons that have been in the game since 2019 or before. They are mostly fine but only synergize with specific builds and can all be acquired from the Tower kiosk without too much fuss. The ship, sparrow, and ghost shell are purely cosmetic and completely dependent on personal taste. In my opinion at least, the ones in the Starter Pack are far from some of the game’s better designs.
The materials, meanwhile, are pretty stingy. Glimmer is Destiny 2’s main in-game currency, earned by doing anything and everything. Cores, prisms, and Ascendant Shards (what players lovingly call “golf balls”) are for focusing engrams, rerolling gear, and crafting new items, none of which is particularly helpful for new players, nor very meaningful in the quantities offered. It’s not even enough to fully masterwork a new piece of armor. It’s a bizarre array of accouterments to buy for more than the cost of an entire season of the game.
“I’d say this is pay to win, but really it’s just a waste of money,” wrote one player on the Destiny subreddit. “Pay to lose.” Another wrote, “This is pathetic. 3 mid exotics, a few crap cosmetics and some materials is not worth that much. A real starter pack would be guns and old DLCs.”
There are three broad obstacles to players getting back into Destiny 2. The first is that most of the story is no longer in the game due to content vaulting. The second is that Destiny 2’s “New Light” campaign remains pretty barebones and offers no real direction with end-game activities. And the third is that despite ostensibly being free-to-play, all of the expansions are paid and unlocking access to everything is still quite expensive. Shadowkeep, the underwhelming 2019 expansion, is still normally $25. The Starter Pack just adds to the noise, confusing players with misleading descriptions like “Fly between destinations in your new Exotic ship.” Narrator voice: Exotic ships are just custom loading screen animations.
The Starter Pack also comes in the context of layoffs at Bungie amid the delay of 2024’s The Final Shape expansion and reported revenue shortfalls. At a time when the studio is apparently desperate for money, the $15 bundle just underlines the gulf between players and whoever is leading Destiny 2’s monetization strategy. It’s one thing to milk whales, but as Destiny 2 players are pointing out, the new Starter Pack seems squarely aimed at taking advantage of new players who won’t know any better. In the words of one of them, “This is some mobile game shit.”
Update 11/29/2023 6:09 p.m. ET: Bungie appears to have removed Destiny 2’s controvertial Starter Pack from storefornts, including Valve’s storefront. “Notice: Destiny 2: Starter Pack is no longer available on the Steam store,” reads an update on the Steam listing. PlayStation Store listings, meanwhile, return error pages.
In addition to roasting the microtransaction on social media and Reddit, some players had also attempted to review-bomb the bundle and change the Steam tags for it to things like “psychological horror.”