“It’s not really about the loot” is never a good phrase to use when discussing any content in Destiny, much less a long-awaited pinnacle activity, but that’s how Bungie introduced Grandmaster Nightfalls last week.
Grandmaster Nightfalls are ultra-tough versions of the mode at 1050 power which will mandate players be 1025 to start it, and then lock them there so they’ll always be under-leveled. There are tough modifiers like wiping sending you to orbit and limited revives, and Bungie promises a few surprises too.
The challenge could work well, a proper level of difficulty requiring teamwork and tactics, which is what many D2 players have been asking for. The problem, as it stands right now, are the rewards, or lack thereof.
Bungie is putting all its eggs in the basket that players will find it satisfying to get through six GM Nightfalls one time in order to claim the rare Conqueror title. That’s all well and good, but the immediate reaction from the community was that without a significant loot chase too, it’s hard to get excited about the mode.
The only rewards we know of besides the title are higher drop rates for exotics and Ascendant Shards, though if you want those, farming lower difficulties other than Grandmaster will probably be a better way to get them. So, what should GM Nightfall rewards be if Bungie is keeping this concept around across multiple seasons?
The playerbase and I have put forth a number of ideas so far, and I’ll try to compile them here. And yet I will also try to see both sides and understand why a number of these could be challenging to implement.
I don’t have a picture of a masterworked exotic because I’ve never masterworked one
Masterworked exotics – The idea here is instead of just getting normal exotic drops (which previous difficulties already hand out frequently), that you should be able to get fully Masterworked exotics that will save you the cost of 3 Ascendant Shards to do it yourself.
Problems? – I like this idea, and I would agree that it’s better than nothing. However, I do think the kind of ultra-hardcore players that are running GM Nightfalls are the type that probably already have a decently constant flow of Shards between Master Nightfalls and Trials, so not sure how motivating this would be for them.
A Unique Armor Piece For Five Nightfalls And A Unique Gun For The Sixth – I saw this idea suggested by a reader, where there would be a special armor set completely unique to GM Nightfalls. Each Nightfall would drop a piece of it, while the sixth one would have a GM-exclusive gun you could grind. I would take this a step further and say that once you unlock the gun, you can then grind any GM Nightfall for a chance for it to drop at different rolls (other than just one).
Problems? – I think at this point we understand how stingy Bungie is with designing new armor sets, which are never just one set, they’re three sets, one for each class. This is why we have been farming the same IB sets for ages, and have not gotten a vendor refresh in years. So, making a set just for GM Nightfalls may be resources they don’t want to devote to an activity that so few people will participate in. Though ironically if they did, more people would probably show up for it, provided it looked good and guaranteed high stat drops. The gun? I’ll get more into guns in a minute.
Legendary, Strike-Specific Guns with Intrinsic Anti-Champion Mods – This one is my idea. The concept here is that a GM Nightfall reward could be a strike-specific gun that at baseline, has an anti-champion mod intrinsically that would carry across seasons. As in, you could grind for a Duty Bound that is intrinsically anti-barrier and now has random rolls to farm for. Or a DFA that has unstoppable and random rolls. Or, god help us, a Mindbender’s with Overload. You get the idea. For strikes that do not have specific guns attached to them and you don’t have time to design something brand new, pull something from year 1. A Manannan with intrinsic anti-barrier, etc. These would benefit activities like Champion-specific Nightfalls, yet not destroy balance in the rest of the game.
Problems? – No problems, my idea is perfect. Just kidding. There are clearly some kind of balance issues with giving old weapons random rolls that are why we haven’t seen old strike guns updated so far, so this isn’t “easy” by any means, plus add anti-champion mods to those which could create additional balance issues if not fully tested. Also, I know the non-GM playing community would get real mad if those random rolled weapons weren’t also put in regular Nightfalls. I think you could do that, but then the anti-champion intrinsic perks would only drop in GM.
A Unique Exotic – This idea is that some sort of exotic quest would be specifically designed around GM Nightfalls where you’d have to grind it to complete them. As for what that exotic would be, I heard a bunch of things passed around including one that flips between anti-barrier, overload and unstoppable like Hard Light.
Problems? – I don’t love the idea of locking an entire exotic behind GM Nightfalls, given how few we get already. And if this is just a “complete each Nightfall” type quest, it doesn’t really solve the problem of giving players a reason to run them more than once. I also think a Hard Light anti-champion style switching exotic would be way too OP and a balance nightmare, but I would not be opposed to an exotic that definitely has at least one anti-champion ability, as lord knows we need more of those.
Cosmetics – This could be a lot of different things. Instead of an armor set, it’s an armor ornament set unique to GM. Or maybe you unlock past Vanguard strike gear as universal ornaments. Or maybe you get a unique Eververse-level ship and sparrow and ghost or shader, which apparently is not on the table right now. Maybe you have your own sort of glow or halo if you’ve beaten a GM Nightfall in a given week like we used to see. Lot of options.
Problems? – While I would love universal ornament unlocks, none of this really constitutes a “gear grind,” even if it would indeed be better than nothing but existing rewards, which is what we have now. And I think not that many players are motivated enough by cosmetics where this would fully solve the current problem.
That’s all I’ve got for now, but if you have any more ideas, I am all ears.