After Halo, Bungie began working on Destiny: a sci-fi rpg looter-shooter which showed promise in the teasers and trailers building up to release: upon release players were frustrated at the lackluster campaign, lack of activities and little post-launch support. The one thing people found redeemable about Destiny was the endgame experiences: the Vault of Glass raid on Venus and the Nightfalls, which were strikes ramped up to 100 in difficulty. Once the first wave of DLC hit, Crota’s End and House of Wolves, the player base maintained itself only with hardcore fans: casual players didn’t really get to experience a lot of Destiny because the raids were too challenging. It wasn’t until the third expansion, The Taken King, that Destiny began to feel like a complete game, but it still wasn’t to everyone’s standards. With Rise of Iron, the final expansion of Destiny, fans finally got what they felt was a complete experience. Then came the sequel.
Destiny 2, unfortunately, took us back to square one: after hyping the game up pre-release, fans expected even greater things from the sequel but were once more disappointed. The story had improved but somehow Destiny 2 had even less content post-launch than the first game did. Fans were disheartened, with most players going back to the first Destiny. The release of Destiny 2’s first expansion, Curse of Osiris, left a sour taste in fans’ mouths. The second expansion, Warmind, garnered limited support.
In September of 2018 we got the Forsaken expansion, which is thankfully where Destiny 2 began to turn itself around: the narrative was emotional and the mission structure consisted less of ‘go here, kill this person, repeat’ and was much more varied in its design. With Forsaken, Bungie introduced a new system called the Annual Pass which gave buyers three additional ‘seasons’ of content each bringing a new story, new gameplay activities and new loot to grind for. Players favoured this system heavily over Destiny’s Expansion Pass which gave access to 2 expansions. Bungie is coming out with a new expansion this October titled Shadowkeep which will take guardians back to the Moon to deal with a new threat.
So now that some context has been established, what is the current situation in regards to Destiny 2 post-Forsaken and pre-Shadowkeep? The greatest thing that has happened to Bungie this year, bar Forsaken’s success with Destiny fans, is that Activision made the decision to give Bungie the rights and ownership of the Destiny franchise. After the news broke, Destiny 2’s player base increased dramatically as Bungie now has complete control over their franchise. Post-Activision, Bungie have revealed that they will be making Destiny 2’s microtransactions much more user-friendly and that the currency can be earned from in-game activities as of October 2019. They have also announced a new version of Destiny 2 titled Destiny: New Light which will make Destiny 2 and the first two expansions free to play.
Now that Bungie has a hold of their franchise they have brought back more fan-favourite exotics from Destiny, introduced more ways of earning powerful gear, introduced better ways to customise and personalise your Guardian, and have listened to much more feedback than they have in the past. Luke Smith, Destiny 2 game director, recently released a blog post on the Bungie.net forums titled “Director’s Cut” where he discussed what they had learned from fan feedback, what was going to be happening post-launch for Shadowkeep and the impact of becoming an independent game studio. This transparency from game developers is something that is lacking with most game developers today, and the community has reacted positively to the blog posts.
To close up, I wanted to share my thoughts on the current state of Destiny 2: on a personal level I’ve enjoyed returning to Destiny after taking some time off. I think now that Activision is gone from the process, Bungie can begin to shape Destiny 2 into something that fans will love and continue to enjoy, and more importantly something that Bungie will enjoy creating and shaping. I think making Destiny 2’s base game and the first expansions free is great from a business standpoint: since Destiny has always been an expensive game to invest in, making the base game free allows people to decide ‘Is this game for me or not?’. In summary, I believe Destiny has finally found its feet after five years of being in the industry: but will it be able to keep its balance and stay up?