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Destiny 2’s Fireteam Medallions aren’t the deal you think they are

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Bungie took a big step away from Three of Coins

Destiny 2 - three Guardians in Arsenal Walker Public Event on Titan Bungie/Activision

The Fireteam Medallion is a new consumable in Destiny 2. You buy them from Tess Everis, the Eververse microtransaction vendor, for 50 Bright Dust.

Here’s what it does, according to its tooltip:

“Increased XP gains and loot for you and members of your fireteam or match from strikes, Public Events, and the Crucible. Lasts four hours.”

That sounds nice, but it’s vague. How much extra experience does it give you? How much extra loot? I put together a fireteam and sat down for an ass-numbing Destiny 2 grind session to find out what was up with the medallion, and I came away with several new reasons to be frustrated with the game.

What does the Fireteam Medallion do?

Public Events, Crucible end-of-match rewards and strikes always have a small chance to drop a legendary engram and a smaller chance to drop an exotic engram in Destiny 2. The Fireteam Medallion increases that chance, but you can’t really tell how much higher it gets. There’s no way to know which engrams only drop because of the medallion and which would have dropped anyway.

Public Events, strikes and Crucible matches all seem to have similar rewards, but Public Events are much quicker to complete. They’re the best way to grind in Destiny 2 and, therefore, the best place to use your Fireteam Medallion.

Eight minutes left!
Bungie/Activision

I completed 28 heroic Public Events, which yielded 11 legendary engrams and two exotic engrams in four hours of playing with a Fireteam Medallion active. I was grouped with a player for most of that time, and they only received one exotic. The exotic drop rate didn’t seem notably higher than without a medallion, but I may have been unusually lucky when running without a medallion, or unusually unlucky during my grind session. It’s impossible to tell with any certainty.

What we can be reasonably sure of is the experience difference: Heroic Public Events with no medallion active award around 2,750 XP. I got about 3,375 XP — an extra 625 XP, or 22.7 percent — when using the medallion. That means that my Fireteam Medallion generated a marginal 17,500 XP over the course of 28 events.

You get a bright engram every 80,000 XP, and you’re helped by a weekly Well Rested buff that triples your XP for the next three levels, which will get you three bright engrams. Correction: The Well Rested buff triples your XP gains; it doesn't double them. We've edited the article to reflect this.

The buffs probably don’t stack

A Fireteam Medallion applies its buff to the entire fireteam. That buff sticks to you when you activate the medallion, and you can see the four-hour duration counting down. When someone else in your fireteam has activated one, you get the same buff — but you lose it if they leave the fireteam.

If you have used a medallion and one of your teammates has also used a medallion, you will see both buffs on your character screen. As a result, many players believe that the buff for using a Fireteam Medallion yourself and the buff for being in a fireteam with someone else who has used one are separate buffs that stack.

This probably isn’t true. I received the same amount of experience for completing a heroic Public Event alone with a medallion active that I did when I was in a fireteam with a player who also had one. It’s difficult to tell the impact of these buffs on loot, but it didn’t seem to be raining purple and gold when I had both buffs, and I gained no extra experience for having both buffs rolling. So I see no evidence to suggest these buffs have a stacking effect.

What does a Fireteam Medallion cost?

Fireteam Medallions cost 50 Bright Dust. Bright Dust is a special currency accepted by Tess Everis, the microtransaction vendor. You can get a bunch of Bright Dust as a loot reward from one of her bright engrams, or you can get it by dismantling other loot, like Sparrows and ships, that come from bright engrams.

A loot item usually dismantles into about 110 Bright Dust, and the gifts of Bright Dust that are fairly frequent rewards from Eververse packages come in denominations of 250, 500 or 1,000.

Destiny 2 - inventory screen with nine engrams and 20 consumables
That’s a lot of consumables.
Bungie/Activision

While there isn’t enough data on bright engrams to conclusively determine how much Bright Dust you’re likely to get, it seems likely that the average value of a bright engram is 200-250 Dust, based on my experience opening nearly 50 bright engrams since Destiny 2’s launch. By this measure, the Fireteam Medallion pays for itself with the marginal experience gain alone. You won’t have to do much grinding to afford a few.

That’s particularly true if you have friends to grind with, since a single medallion gives its buff to a fireteam of up to three players.

But that comes with a big caveat.

How long do Fireteam Medallions last?

The Fireteam Medallion starts burning its four-hour duration the moment you activate it. That clock runs in real time; it will keep ticking even if you log out of the game.

You have to play four solid hours of Public Events to get the maximum value of a Fireteam Medallion. That’s an unreasonable amount of time to commit to this activity. It’s fun to do maybe five or six Public Events in a row with a group. It becomes a chore after 90 minutes or so. I was tired and annoyed during the last hour I spent using one of these things.

It would be fantastic if medallions cost 10 Dust to get one hour of the effect, or even 20 Dust for two hours. Everyone would use them all the time. But 50 Dust for four hours makes it really hard to set aside a block of time to get the item’s full value.

You might feel like you got your money’s worth out of a medallion if it were being shared by your friends after an hour and a half or so. But you’ve got to be prepared to use it for most of its duration if you’re considering the value of the medallion purely on the benefits you get for yourself. You won’t be planning to do 28 Public Events in a row most of the time.

What we lost so that this can exist

One of the features added to the original Destiny with the Taken King expansion was the Three of Coins consumable item. Xur, the weekend exotic vendor, would sell you a stack of five of these in exchange for seven of his Strange Coin currency. The Three of Coins gave your character a buff that caused the next yellow-bar Ultra enemy you defeated, or the next Crucible match you finished, to have a chance of dropping an exotic engram.

These enemies ordinarily had a zero percent chance of dropping exotics. When you saw them drop an exotic, you knew it was 100 percent attributable to the Three of Coins. Players could work out exactly how likely it was for a Three of Coins to generate an exotic, and the conclusion was about one in 15. Not bad!

The Three of Coins consumable does not exist in Destiny 2. The Fireteam Medallion is the new Three of Coins, and it’s worse in many ways:

  • Three of Coins had an effect that could be quantified.
  • Three of Coins did not require you to team up with a fireteam to get maximum value.
  • Three of Coins did not require you to spend an unreasonable amount of time grinding Public Events to get full value.
  • You’d still have the buff the next time you logged in if you didn’t kill an Ultra enemy or play a Crucible match before you logged off.

It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the replacement for Three of Coins is both saddled with a bunch of inconvenient, counterintuitive bullshit, and also tied to Bungie’s microtransaction system and its Bright Dust economy. Nearly everything about Destiny 2 that is worse than a comparable facet of the original Destiny is something that has been connected to microtransactions.

Eververse is the reason gear shaders are now consumable items rather than collectible color-palette swaps. Eververse is the reason that ships and Sparrows are items that sit in your inventory so they can be dismantled for Dust, rather than in collections that can be used easily across all your characters. And Eververse is the reason Three of Coins have been replaced by the Fireteam Medallion, a consumable buff so inconvenient that most of its value goes to waste most of the time people use it.

Eververse seems to contaminate everything it touches.

What should Bungie change about Destiny 2?

The premise of Destiny 2 is that it’s Destiny, but better. The worlds are bigger and grander now that the game doesn’t have to run on last-generation hardware. Destiny 2 has a more coherent story that isn’t tainted by behind-the-scenes studio upheaval. It incorporates all the lessons learned from the mistakes Bungie made with the first game. And it’s got at least 200 percent more Nathan Fillion. These are all good things.

But all the places where Destiny 2 falls short seem to be tied into the stingy, grubby Eververse microtransaction system.

There’s a price for everything Eververse-related now. Shaders can be applied to ships and Sparrows! But now they’re consumables. Ships can change your transmat effect! But now they’re inventory items instead of collections. There’s a consumable that improves your loot drops and experience gains! But you have to play for four hours at a time to get value out of it.

Why can’t this stuff just be good? Microtransactions. It’s a shame.