Is It An MMO? #6 — Bungie Itself Labels Destiny 2 As An MMO, And I'm Not Sure Why
Despite the fact that over a million people play the game daily, it simply lacks the scope to be a part of the genre.
The characterization of a massively multiplayer online game, or MMO, is self-explanatory. Or is it? By definition, it means a large number of players on the same server — hundreds, thousands — and a big open world that continues to evolve. So does Destiny 2, Bungie’s online FPS, qualify?
Well, Steam sure seems to think so. The page straight-up defines the game as “an action MMO” right off the bat in the description.
Heck, even the team themselves sounded off on this notion. During a livestream back in June 2019, General Manager Mark Noseworthy admitted Bungie has accepted the MMO label on Destiny 2. “It walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, so it's a duck,” he said, when the free-to-play model First Light was added. “We can accept that this is what the game is."
And that stuck, because the official website hits you right in the face with a giant banner that reads “DEFINITIVE ACTION MMO.”
But what is it about Destiny 2 that makes it feel like an MMO? Besides the fact that over a million people play the game daily — which doesn’t matter in this argument — the elements that define the genre are certainly there. Destiny 2 has character customization, a leveling system, gear progression, guilds, factions, PvE and PvP content, mounts, and its own economy.
At The Tower, a social hub for all Guardians to gather, a maximum of 26 players may be present at one time. Here, Guardians can kick around a secret ball with one another or, more likely, team up to create fireteams. The Reckoning allows up to four players while Raids supports a limit of six. As for PvP, that’s 12; six players on each team. It’s also worth mentioning that even though only fireteams of three may enter the open world zones together, nine players in total may be spawned into the instance.
Unfortunately, this is where my spiel ends. Because Destiny 2 is lacking certain features that truly exemplify what it means to be an MMO in my opinion. There’s no in-game chat system or even trading allowed with other players. (Even Path of Exile, which deliberately doesn’t define itself as an MMO, has trading!) You can’t even duel other players encountered out in the field.
So, I don’t know why Bungie is calling Destiny 2 an MMO. It does have some aspects that represent the genre, but not enough. This game leans way more into the “shared world” category, as the scope is simply too small to fit into the league of MMOs.
About the Author
Matthew “dinofries” D'Onofrio is a writer, content creator, and — most importantly — a gamer. With such a strong passion for video games and a severe case of FOMO, it's no surprise he always has his finger on the pulse of the gaming world (And won't shut up about it). On the rare occasion Matt's away from a screen, you'll find him strumming away on his acoustic guitar or taking care of his cat Totoro.
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For me, that alone puts it higher in the MO sphere against XIV, WoW, GW2, among many others. Though I'm not sure about ESO. There IS a chat system, in fact you can use it for a lot of things, just like there is in other games. You use it if you feel like it.
For me the strength of Destiny 2, which I think everyone ignores, used to be in its RPG components, mainly, the massive amount of customization that literally took a few clicks to completely change how your character plays. But also, the fact that there's cooperation between players. You want someone that can support the team, you want someone that can take more hits, you want someone that can deal more damage. These are things that you can build for to achieve what you want to achieve.
My favorite build was a less powerful but very supportive build that provided turrets and energy regeneration when I obtained traces generated by my abilities, my guns, or the turrets. So, it was a constant flow of energy regeneration for me and my teammates on top of debuffing enemies with blinding. On top of that I could run very quickly to provide more healing rifts and more turrets, and more energy regen.
I think this focus on cooperation along with the RPG systems to support it is what people mistake for 'MMO'. Since you'd think that's what is most commonly found in these games.