Over the course of its 2+-year history Destiny has had its fair share of battles to fight. Some were problems that the developers could easily fix, like game-breaking PvP exploits, while others required a little more nuance and understanding of the base problem. For Destiny: Rise of Iron, the Year 3 DLC expansion, arguably one of the biggest problems is the drop rate of skeleton keys.
As we’ve mentioned before (read our skeleton key guide), skeleton keys were designed to replace the randomness of strike-specific loot drops. However, the drop rate for skeleton keys is much lower than it ever was for strike-specific loot, to the point a player could go 30 strikes without ever seeing a key drop. Some would say this is a huge problem, while others believe the mechanic is working as intended.
On the one hand, skeleton key drops do guarantee loot, so it makes sense to have them drop less frequently. If they dropped more frequently then players would all be running around with some of the best loot – specifically Grasp of Malok pulse rifles and Imago Loop hand cannons. It would trivialize the loot grind that has come to define Destiny over the years.
What’s more, skeleton keys guaranteeing loot requires a multiplier added on top of the random drops from strikes pre-Rise of Iron. 30 strikes may be too harsh, but seeing them as often as 1 in every 5 strikes may make it too easy.
The flip side of the argument is that now players get no drops out all when skeleton keys don’t fall. Whereas before it was possible to see strike specific loot somewhat frequently (maybe 1 in 10 strikes on a regular heroic playlist), now a player can go 30 strikes and have nothing tangible to show for it.
Much like SIVA Offering drop rates, it’s easy to see Bungie stepping in to increase the amount of skeleton keys that will drop during a given strike playlist run. Or at the very least, the developer could make it so higher difficulty strikes have higher chances of dropping skeleton keys. That was how strike-specific loot worked; if a player was in a Nightfall Strike they had a very high chance of getting strike-specific loot, and a lower chance in the heroic playlist.
Why skeleton keys were built with such low drop rates is still somewhat of a mystery, but we have a theory. Considering that the skeleton key chests can drop loot above Destiny’s current soft level cap of 385, it’s possible that Bungie wanted to keep the key drop rate low. If it were higher then there would be more players at or above 385 and that’s not necessarily what Bungie is looking for in the first month of its DLC release.
Once players hit the light level cap, many tend to drop off and move on to other games, and during a crowded fall gaming season it behooves Bungie to keep players invested in their game. We’ve seen the same thing with past Destiny mechanics – the drop rates are stingy for a time, and then Bungie improves them. However, whether or not Bungie will improve them before the Heroic version of Wrath of the Machine releases is yet to be seen. In the end, a slight increase in skeleton key drops doesn’t hurt anyone, so at the very least it would be nice to hear Bungie address the drop rate.
Destiny: Rise of Iron is out now for PS4 and Xbox One.