I eventually did get around to trying out Gambit mode since last talking about Destiny Forsaken. In fact, I’ve spent significant time in the new mode and feel it’s a fantastic addition to the game. A mode that combines elements of both the normal gameplay; shooting the numerous enemies of the darkness, but also adding an element of direct player vs. payer competition as well.
I find myself enjoying the mode, even when on the losing side. After many dozens of games though, one little thing has been niggling at me, and the more people abuse it, the more I see it becoming a real problem for the mode.
“Hive, bring a sword.”
Before I get into that though, let me describe the mode in a little more detail to get you up to speed with the issue. Gambit pits two teams of four players against one another. Initially spawning them into a drop ship either side of a screen, where they can taunt one another with emotes to their heart’s content.
After a few moments of this, both teams are dropped into identical combat arenas with the goal of killing waves of enemies as they spawn around the map. Each enemy drops a number of motes of light depending on their difficulty.
The player’s job is to scoop up these motes before they vanish, being able to hold up to a maximum of 15. They need to bank them in the centre of the map to actually have them count towards the team’s score. While that might sound like a simple task, remember, you’re racing against the opposing team who’re doing the same thing. If you get careless and die, any motes you drop will be lost permanently. You want to avoid being silly and dying if at all possible.
Now’s the fun part where you can start messing with the other team. For every multiple of five motes you bank at once, you send a nasty Taken enemy toward the other side. These enemies are called blockers, because they shut down the enemy bank until they’re killed, stopping them from cashing in their collected motes.
Once your bank is full, a “Primevil” boss is spawned, and if you manage to bring that down first, then you win the round.
“You’re being invaded”
Here’s where it gets spicy. At steadily increasing intervals, one player from you team can invade the opponent’s playing field and try to take them down. Depending on the stage of the round, killing the enemy players can cost them their value motes, or if they’re at the Primevil stage, killing them will heal some amount of the boss’s life.
You can’t afford to be too careful, but being too reckless could get you killed and cost you a hefty portion of motes. Then you get the “enemy invading” warning, then you have to make a choice. Do you hide and wait them out, continue fighting towards the goal of winning the round, or do you become the hunter yourself and take down the enemy Guardian.
It brings a real tension to the mode I scarcely fell in other parts of the game. Moments when you have 10 to 15 motes and are running for the bank, only to have a blocker spawn the moment you arrive. While you’re dealing with that, an enemy guardian invades your game. Those motes you worked so hard for could be gone in the blink of an eye.
this is the point where I start to air my grievances.
The Sleeper Simulant
The Sleeper Simulant is an exotic heavy weapon that comes as a reward from a quest line introduced in Destiny’s previous expansion: Warmind. It’s a high powered laser beam that was designed to take down bosses very quickly. One thing it’s also very good at doing is taking down unsuspecting Guardians.
Let’s break down the perks a player gets while invading an opponent’s arena during a game of Gambit that helps make this 1 vs. 4 scenario fair:
- An invading player gets an overshield, essentially doubling their health bar.
- An invading player also gets to see exactly where each and every enemy Guardian is, at all times, as well as how many motes they’re in possession of.
- The opposing team does not know where the invading player is on the map until they physically spot them. Meaning they almost always have the element of surprise.
- In theory, the invading player is prepared for their invasion, having stocked up on heavy ammo and has their super charged, while the opposing team has to make do with what they have on hand at any given moment.
Taking all of this into account, with the significant advantages given to an invading player, would you like to take a guess as to what the most popular strategy involving Gambit is right now? If you can’t guess, then you’re not paying attention.
Why I’m so angry
Currently, in four out of five games of Gambit I play, I’ll see the player invasion warning and mere moments later I’ll be dead: A result of a single shot from the Sleeper Simulant, one or two of my team mates will quickly follow. If I ever try to invade the enemy team, I find myself dodging Sleeper beam too, which still take you down in a single hit, even with the overshield.
You might not see the issue here initially, but let me break down why the weapon is terribly balanced for this mode:
- The Sleeper Simulant has infinite range and no damage drop off, meaning players can take you out from across the map before you even know where they are.
- Head shots are not required. Weapons like Sniper Rifles and Rocket Launchers can get you one hit kills, but they require some degree of finesse. With the Sleeper, you just need to hit the centre of mass for the kill, you might even get a multi kill thanks to the ricocheting beams when they hit a wall.
- As mentioned before: You have wall hacks. so you can see the enemy team is at all times. Meaning you can hide in a perch and get your kills almost right away as the other team poke out from cover.
- Maps in Gambit are much wider and open than in Crucible, meaning there is a lot less cover from long range. Which is where this weapon excels.
The wonderful fan base’s feedback
Like with most things that frustrate me in a video game, I type my problem into Google and see what people on the internet are saying about it. Obviously, I’m not the first person to note this issue. A lot of people are complaining about the Sleeper being used in Gambit with varying degrees coherence.
Destiny’s fan base, being the wonderfully mature and thoughtful people that they are, oftentimes snap back at the person complaining about the weapon being very obviously unbalanced for the mode. Common retorts include the ever faithful “Git Gud”, “It’s not hard to just snipe them” and “Just use the Sleeper Simulant too”.
Here in lies my core problem with this situation. If the best solution to countering a weapon is that literally everyone ends up using it as well just to compete, then the weapon is broken. It’s like the Thorn from Destiny 1 all over again.
The expectation for players to have a fighting chance against invading Guardians using the Sleeper, especially when playing with randoms, is unrealistic. Especially when it’s happening four or five times around. You will die more than once. Meaning it turns into a matter of who can rack up more Sleeper kills.
Calling for the Nerf
I am not one to call for nerfs to weapons in games like this. If you want to rebalance something, I feel it’s better to make everything else stronger to combat the broken weapon, rather than taking the fun toy away from the people who are enjoying it, maliciously or otherwise.
In this case though, Bungie need to simply do something about the weapon. Which sucks, because the gun is fantastic fun in the PVE aspects of the game, which is what it was really designed for. The most simple solution would be to decrease the power of the weapon against other players while leaving it the same when used against regular enemies.
I don’t really want to call for a weapon to be banned or removed, what happened with the Prometheus Lens after it came out sucked, and took the life out of the gun even after they rebalanced it after overnerfing it initially. It just wasn’t the same for people at that point.
But the more people learn about how easy it is to get invasion kills with the Sleeper with hardly any resistance, the less I’m going to enjoy playing Gambit. Which sucks for a brand new mode that, otherwise, I have been having a blast with.
In the time between me writing this piece and the time of me posting it. Bungie have addressed the problem with the Sleeper Simulant and have stated that they’re working on changes to the weapon to retain its strength while stopping it from feeling like the only viable choice in Gambit. I can’t wait.