A post-mortem and commentary on Gambit Prime
People wax nostalgic for Gambit Prime while complaining about the current mode (at least in the bubble that I play in). I’ve been the founder and one of the leaders of what is the oldest surviving “Gambit Prime sweat clan” that at its peak was full with a waiting list and we only lost to each other or people we knew. If you bump into players that are in a gambit oriented clan and they play well, they’re even probably former members.
Personally I’ve played more prime matches than most (12k+), have done more Reckoner Emblem recovs than I can count and even have a clan with 12 of my own Smurfs, each with the Reckoner title (eventually I got it to down to about 28 hours played to do). I have played Destiny 2 on PC since the day it was released, and I’m glad that Gambit Prime is done. The truth is that it was a solved meta encased in armor sets with distinct capabilities, with many of the top players and teams stuck to the same classes, subclasses and playstyles and where winning came to down to (1) not making mistakes on the reap and (2) strong invading and anti-invading.
My assessment of the current mode is straightforward: it is a stripped down version of Gambit Prime on the same maps, with easier waves of less variable mobs, a heavy invader nerf and a smaller Primeval that lacks any challenging gating mechanics while at the same time a match can spin out of control from simple mistakes that a team simply can’t recover from as long as the other side keeps up their momentum. There aren’t mechanisms or sufficient time to stop them. On the positive side, in this stripped down version, I see fundamentals that could be tuned in straightforward ways and a core mechanic that would allow Bungie to do interesting variations and the elimination of the sets has allowed us to experiment in ways where we’re playing matches even faster than prime. Great!
I play this game and games in general for a social and team aspect while looking for broader lessons that I can apply to other parts of my life. Yes, I understand, it’s “playing video games” but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a more noble goal for the time spent. It’s likely the same personal reasons why I led a WoW guild from Vanilla through Wrath of the Lich King. I enjoy it when a certain team composition, attitude and set of behaviors is what is required to win, and I also believe that a high level of team play and being able to be socially competent and communicate well are the best lessons that younger people can learn while gaming.
There is a lot discussion and content around individual builds and play styles: a trials or control loadout for a hunter will work while invading solo and any AoE PvE build will work while reaping; however, solo play will never “win” against a stacked, coordinated and communicating team, and the reason why “win” is in quotes is because that stacked team lost: your winning was simply a consequence of their mistakes. A great team will have 2.5-3x the DPS output of a random team and can complete an entire match in 2 to 2.5 minutes, 1.5 minutes of which you have an invader on the enemy’s side and a bank they cannot clear, and 6-8 seconds of which is that team killing their primeval.
Solo builds and play styles are not team builds and play styles where there are armor mods, perks and weapons that are both about yourself and the team. While you play, you let your team mates do their role because when you don’t, it leads to ammo starvation, motes not picking up and abilities not being regenerated.
Generally, I keep this type of material in the clan area of our own discord and in a limited number of teams; I thought we’d share it more broadly because I feel that I read more negative things about the game and this and other game modes than I read or hear positive. The concepts are going to be public this season and we’ve posted different individual builds on YouTube. I will post all the builds in the Guides section of the web site: we have two “starter” team builds publicly available and then other’s will be available for [MOTE] clan members to log in and view. As I’ve told our own clan mates, “whatever the new Gambit will be, I do know that we’ll work to be the best at it and we’ll have fun together while we do it.”
When designing some of our teams and playstyles, there a few principles and some clues from the type of perks that were present on Gambit Prime armor and other game modes. Team builds need to maximize abilities uptime (there should always be one present and its use should regenerate another), special and heavy ammo must be preserved while almost being exclusively used, there has to be benefits and capabilities in the build that wouldn’t be possible as a solo player and we must continue to couple a blocker and drain mechanic with an invader.
I also wanted more variety: we should design team builds that allow people to play their desired and multiple classes and sub-classes and there should be different rotations and weapon choices while never compromising on the game.
Find out more in Guides.