Destiny 2’s Forsaken expansion comes with a new season of Eververse cosmetic items. Some of the new stuff is cool, but it all comes in random Bright Engram loot boxes. And, while Bungie has taken some steps to improve this economy in response to community backlash, the most desirable items are still extremely rare, and acquiring them is very, very expensive.
Here’s what’s new with this system, as well as what hasn’t changed.
Hard numbers … but not really
Bungie has published a new page on its website explaining the probabilities and mechanics underlying Bright Engrams. Loot systems are usually opaque and obscure by nature, so it’s always a good thing when we get some transparency about how things work. However, while some of this information is useful, Bungie has organized the page to hide the odds of some of the real jackpot outcomes.
A Bright Engram will contain one loot item, one consumable item — shaders or a transmat effects — and the new Eververse bounty note. Five engrams cost 800 silver, and you can buy 6000 silver for $50. So, if you buy engrams at the best possible per-engram prices, you’re paying about $1.35 each.
According to Bungie, six percent of Bright Engrams will contain an “exotic accessory,” which is a ghost shell, a ship or a Sparrow vehicle, and 11 percent will contain an “exotic account scoped” item, which is either an exotic item skin or an exotic emote. Exotic emotes cause your character to conjure a holographic prop to taunt an opponent.
The relative desirability of these items is subjective, but most players seem to want the exotic emotes with the exotic sparrows and shells as a secondary priority. Although Bungie bundles the emotes along with the weapon skins in its “account scoped category,” the emotes cost four times as much Bright Dust to purchase when they’re in Tess Everis’ rotating inventory.
And while putting emotes and weapon skins under the same category sort of makes sense, since they are account-wide items classed as exotic rarity, doing so obscures the fact that there are three times as many exotic ornaments as exotic emotes on Tess’s loot table. That means the likelihood of unpacking an exotic emote from a bright engram is about three percent, or one in 33. So, it will likely cost around $50 to find one emote by buying Bright Engrams.
The cost of collecting all the emotes and other goodies is hard to figure out. Bungie has implemented a knockout system for “account scoped” items like ornaments and emotes, which prevents you from getting duplicates, but pieces of the seasonal Eververse armor set and “accessories” like legendary ships, sparrows and shells aren’t subject to the knockout rule. That is the worst outcome of a Destiny loot box, and these items make up more than half of all boxes.
Since only half the drops are on the knockout list, it isn’t clear how knocking out an item affects the odds of getting the stuff you want. If I have six of the “exotic account scoped items” is my chance of getting an item from that list still 11 percent from my next box? Or is it eight percent because I already have a quarter of the items on the list? If I have all of the rare account scoped items, how does eliminating them from my loot table affect my odds of getting an exotic? Bungie isn’t sharing this information.
According to Bungie’s explanation, there is also a pity timer system that increases the odds of getting an item from a particular category with each box you open without getting one. This means that it is impossible to open a certain number of boxes without getting an exotic account scoped item or an exotic accessory. However, we don’t know how many boxes you have to open before this kicks in, and getting an exotic ornament will reset your pity timer for exotic emotes, since they belong to the same category. You can open a lot of boxes without finding an exotic emote, despite this mechanic.
As a result of the limited information we have available about these mechanics, it’s very difficult to figure out how much it would cost to collect all six exotic emotes by opening Bright Engrams. But it’s in the hundreds of dollars, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $300, but maybe even more. And keep in mind that Bungie runs three seasons of Eververse content per year at these prices, as well as several events with their own special limited-time loot tables.
Destiny 2 cosmetics are very expensive.
The Prismatic Matrix and Tess’s Bounties
There are, however, a couple of systems that offer players access to a few more exotic cosmetic items if they don’t want to spend that kind of money on the game.
First of all, you still get Engrams from earning experience points; you are given a “well-rested” buff each week that gives you triple experience for the first three Bright Engrams you earn, so you’ll get those fairly quickly. You then have to play twice as much to get four Engrams as you do to get three.
There are more milestones in Forsaken than there were in Destiny 2’s first year, which means more stuff to do. But even if you chase all your milestones and do the raid every week, you probably won’t earn more than four Engrams. A season is about 16 weeks long, so you will earn 48 Engrams under well-rested buffs and maybe reach a total of 64 engrams if you’re a hardcore player putting substantial hours into the game.
There is a new system, introduced during season three, called the Prismatic Matrix. Tess has a list each week of 10 items, and two will be exotic. You can get one at random for 200 silver — about two bucks. You can get a free random item off this list each week, and rewards you’ve already collected are knocked out of the list, so the probability of getting the exotic is pretty favorable if you’ve already collected a lot of the junk; certainly much better than getting that specific item out of a Bright Engram.
If you use your free roll and don’t get the item you want, that’s where your credit card comes in. But since this is a knockout list, the odds of getting your item improve with each subsequent spin, since the unwanted item you got on the last spin is removed. If you buy 10 spins, you should get all 10 items. This is the closest Destiny 2 gets to a-la-carte cosmetic sales.
Tess also still has her weekly inventory that she sells for Bright Dust. Bright Dust is the currency you get from dismantling unwanted loot; destroying a shell or sparrow gives you 100 dust. You also sometimes get larger amounts of dust as your loot in your Bright Engrams. Tess also now has bounties that award Bright Dust, which is a new feature in Forsaken.
The Eververse Bounty Notes you get in Bright Engrams now are exchanged for bounties. Bounties that cost one note award 20 Bright Dust, bounties that cost three notes award 70 dust and bounties that cost six notes award 150 dust. So, you get 20 to 25 extra dust per engram. If you earn about three free Engrams per week, that’s an extra 1,000 to 1,200 dust over the course of a three month season.
An exotic emote costs 3,250 dust and a sparrow costs 2,500, so if you dismantle your junk ships and sparrows and you do Eververse bounties, you should probably get enough free dust to buy one exotic item of your choice without spending any money, in addition to the random ones you find in your engrams. But if there are more things you want, you will end up paying.
And, while you can get specific items cheaper through the Prismatic Matrix or for dust through Tess’s inventory, you have to wait for the items you want to show up in the weekly rotation. That might happen next week, or it might be months from now.
Overpriced, complicated and kind of shitty
One thing I had hoped to be able to share with readers here was whether it is optimal to spend Bright Dust on expensive exotics, or whether it is better to use it to buy cheaper blue quality stuff on the knockout lists in order to remove those from your engram loot tables and Prismatic Matrices.
And it’s very hard to give a strong recommendation there; the systems are so arcane and complicated that it’s difficult to figure out how beneficial knocking those things out might be. I think it is probably better to just buy the exotic items you want.
The benefits of the knockout list seem limited for Bright Engrams; it seems like the pity timer mechanic is a much greater factor in determining how often you will get exotics from boxes. Knocking an item out improves your odds at the Prismatic Matrix; if you’ve got four non-exotic items on Tess’s weekly list, then your odds of getting an exotic improve from one in five to one in three. But if you use your free weekly Matrix spin, and you don’t get the item you want, the only way to get another shot is to pay $2 for another try.
I also opened 20 boxes to see what real results looked like. I got one exotic ornament, one exotic sparrow, one exotic ghost shell and none of the emotes. That’s actually a really good result based on the odds, but I certainly didn’t feel it was worth the $30 it cost to buy those engrams.
On top of that, ghost shells and sparrows each have a randomized perk. All exotic sparrows reach the same top speed, so the perks don’t matter a lot, but the sparrow I got has a perk that gives it a shorter cooldown between summonings. That means that if I get blown up while I am riding it, I can summon a new one sooner than normal. It’s situational at best. I have an old one that has a perk that allows it to summon instantly. Once again, this is not a huge practical performance difference, but it’s pretty convenient while doing patrols. I will probably continue to use that one, even though the new one looks cool.
Exotic ghost shells, similarly, have two fixed perks and one random. All exotic ghost shells produce gunsmith telemetries from using any elemental weapon. My shell also has a perk called “speed demon” which causes all your sparrows to summon instantly and reloads your weapons when you mount up. That’s really nice!
But the third random perk generally allows you to detect caches and resources on a destination. And my shell detects caches on Mercury, the Curse of Osiris patrol zone, which I have not had a reason to revisit since Forsaken launched. In the new Tangled Shore patrol zone, where I expect to spend most of my questing time, I will probably use a legendary quality shell that detects caches there, instead of this exotic one.
So, even my jackpot drops are kind of disappointing. This is really indicative of the continuing problems of Destiny 2’s Eververse systems. With the new bounties, the Prismatic Matrix and improved events after the intense backlash to last year’s Christmas cash-in, Bungie has been slowly improving the amount of loot it awards to players who don’t want to pay, and giving players who pay a bit more control over what they get — if they have the patience to wait for the item they want to show up in the Matrix or the Bright Dust inventory.
But incremental changes haven’t been enough to change the fact that the Eververse is a rip-off. Bungie is charging too much for loot that is difficult to get excited about. And if they want to earn back player goodwill, they need to completely restructure loot to bring the value in line with the cost, perhaps by removing all legendary accessories and armor sets from their loot boxes, or by just cutting the price of the damn things by about half.
TLDR: Don’t buy these boxes
If you like Destiny cosmetics, earn your free weekly Bright Engrams, use your bounty notes to collect more dust and buy your favorite item off the list when it pops up in Tess’s weekly inventory.
If there are a couple of items you really want, gambling on the Prismatic Matrix is a better deal than buying boxes; since the Matrix is a knockout list, you should be able to get everything on it for $18, after knocking out one item with the free weekly roll. That’s very expensive for something like an emote, but it’s a lot cheaper than finding that specific item in a Bright Engram, which could cost hundreds of dollars.
If you love this stuff and want all of it, at least now you know what you’re getting into, and how much it will cost.