Bungie unveils the Sparrow Racing League for Destiny: Does anybody care anymore?
What is the Sparrow Racing League?
Starting on December 8th, Destiny players can take to the red dunes of Mars and the jungles of Venus to pit their racing abilities against each other. Following a mandatory update, you can visit Amanda Holliday in the Tower and get outfitted for the event with a special quest and some bounties. This grants you access to the Sparrow Racing League, which (as the name implies) is where you can compete in Sparrow racing. The Sparrow Racing League will only stick around for 3 weeks, and then it will disappear for an undisclosed amount of time.
For all intents and purposes, the Sparrow Racing League is considered a Crucible event, and thus it follows a reward structure similar to what you can expect from regular Crucible matches. This means that you can earn exclusive Rare or Legendary racing themed armor pieces (or you can buy purely aesthetic versions of them from Amanda Holliday), although given how notorious the Crucible reward system is, it is more likely to just give you a Mote of Light. The races themselves aren’t too different from what one might expect in that up to 6 people can compete in specially designed racecourses that are filled with jumps, speed boost gates, and enemies.
The Sparrow Racing League update also adds a few unique new Sparrows, Shaders, emotes, and the ability to customize your Sparrow with a horn, but some of these items can only be obtained with actual money. Fortunately, the only difference between the new Sparrows is how they look; all Sparrows, whether it be normal Sparrows or purchased ones, will have the same stats.
Stuff that you can buy
Unfortunately, if you buy a Sparrow, the Sparrow you get will be determined randomly. Furthermore, any Rare quality horns you get will expire at the end of the event, so you more or less have to buy a (randomly determined, again) horn if you intend to keep it. You can also buy (for $10) an in-game book that keeps track of your racing stats, and rewards you items based on whether or not you can complete certain challenges.
But will anyone care?
Sure, this new event is free to participate in, but it does seem rather lackluster. With all the other new games out there, will racing around in your Sparrow really bring you back for more than a couple of days at best? After all, most of the rewards are aesthetic, although it appears as though a good chunk of the rewards are locked behind a paywall. To be fair, the event is free, and it isn’t expected to bring people back for the long term anyways with its 3 week duration, plus it was (supposedly) a feature that the community wanted. But it’s clear that you’re probably not going to be playing for gear unless you really want a new Sparrow.
How about if you want to play for fun? Well, there’s only going to be a handful of maps for Sparrow racing, so you’re going to be seeing a lot of the same locales over and over again. It’s also fairly likely that a portion of the audience has moved on to other games, although how much of an impact that has on your friends who play Destiny is up to your friends.
If anything, the Sparrow Racing League seems to be a thinly veiled attempt to offer another venue by which you can spend actual money, as it isn’t exactly rich and deep content. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try it if you like Destiny, but it’s rather questionable whether or not it is a lazy (for the lack of a better term) way to guarantee a few people to gamble on things that they probably shouldn’t be gambling on. For the pessimistic, this is really no different than say, the GTA V updates that give you some free things as a hook to get you to buy stuff.