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Destiny 2’s director on the issues with putting expiration dates on weapons

Game director Luke Smith compares infusion capping to buying milk

Destiny 2 Season of Dawn Saint-14 Image: Bungie
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

With Destiny 2: Beyond Light, Bungie introduced a mechanic called Infusion Capping — more commonly known as sunsetting. This essentially limits the number of weapons players can use per season, phasing old weapons out of viability as Bungie introduces new ones. Overall, it’s a critical system for the health of Destiny 2, although we’ve had our concerns about it in the past. Thankfully, Bungie has some concerns as well, as game director Luke Smith told Polygon the studio isn’t done tweaking the system just yet.

Smith made one thing very clear, which is that Bungie will not revert Sunsetting any time soon. “In the Legendary tier, for now, we’re not making things that you can keep forever,” said Smith. “That is ultimately a path to not having anything to pursue.” Bungie will continue to remove weapons from viability every three months, and unless a major philosophical shift in the studio happens, that will continue.

But why?

With so many good guns in the game — introduced from Destiny 2’s launch in 2017 until Sunsetting hit in early November — players would habitually find something cool and then stash it. “Like, how many times have you, in Destiny, went out, worked really hard to get a gun. Got it? Been like ‘Cool, I have it.’ Then stashed it and never fired a shot,” said Smith. It’s a relatable problem, and something that those of us at Polygon who play Destiny have experienced. “I want to want a better thing,” said Smith.

Destiny 2 Dark Drinker 2.0 sword Season of Arrivals
Fallen Guillotine, the sword here, is only around until summer 2021
Image: Bungie

But Smith spoke to the other side of Infusion Capping as well. “We’re certainly looking at the behaviors that I think infusion caps create,” said Smith. Smith has noticed a new problem creeping into the minds of players: abandoning weapons months before they leave viability.

Here’s how it plays out: players will delete some of their favorite weapons a full season ahead of its Sunset date, because if they can’t use it in three months, why use it now? It may not be rational, but it’s an idea I’ve personally seen friends and Clan members express numerous times over the past six months.

To explain this phenomenon, Smith used shopping for milk as an example. When you go to buy milk at your local store, you always look for the latest expiration date you can. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to drink the entire gallon when you get home; you’ll almost always pick an expiration date 10 days away over one that’s nine days away.

For Smith, Infusion Capping is teetering on that specific problem. You can’t give players something new to chase without taking away their favorite toys, otherwise they’ll just use what they know. But saying you’ll be taking away their gun in six months makes players feel like the weapon is dead on arrival. It’s a problem that Smith is still considering how to solve.

“I’m confident we’re gonna continue to make improvements and changes,” said Smith. While he didn’t offer potential fixes coming down the pipeline, he’s well aware of the various issues with the current system, as well as the reasons it still needs to exist.

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