“Year 3 is the beginning of us really looking at Destiny from its heart out,” Eric Osborne says, referring to Destiny 2’s third year, and the franchise’s sixth year overall. This quote opens the latest Bungie ViDoc, where the studio not only gives a ton of insight into the coming few months of Destiny 2 following Shadowkeep’s release, but begins to build a foundation for a long-term five-year plan that will evolve the game in wholly new and meaningful ways.
“What we’re doing this year is telling our players where we’re going,” Director Luke Smith says. “We’re saying ‘hey, we’re back. This is the five-year vision for the game.'” Smith’s comment very plainly commits support to Destiny 2 for the long term. Players won’t need to worry about investing in an experience that will be ending shortly or into gear that is just going to be taken away when (or if) the next game launches.
“A lot of what we’re doing this year is setting Destiny into a place where Destiny can begin its next major change.” Bungie previously talked about the ongoing vision for Destiny: a world where players feel like their actions make a difference, an “awesome action MMO,” and a single evolving world that players can play anywhere and with anyone.
Bungie makes it clear that this is a journey that they want to take together with players. They want Guardians to feel like their actions, whether solo or as a community, have an impact on the direction of the world. Think back to how Forsaken handled the Dreaming City Curse being unleashed after the Last Wish Raid was cleared and you start to understand the vision for what Bungie wants to do with the game at large. That dynamic player/game interaction should happen on a larger scale, with a more active universe that will constantly change and react to what players are doing.
How Shadowkeep is Launching a Whole New Destiny
Referring specifically to the mysteries of Shadowkeep, Bungie wants players to wonder not only what they mean in the context of right now, but “what does it mean for the game in March? What does it mean for the game a year out?” While Destiny has always planted seeds within its activities and lore, it’s had a much harder time following through on those promises in meaningful ways. That’s all set to change.
“Shadowkeep is not just a new destination with a new set of missions on it. Shadowkeep is a transition for the entire solar system of how you play the entire game.” One of the biggest faults with previous expansions was that, while they added a lot, they didn’t touch the rest of the game’s content or have any kind of impactful forward progression. Everything was contained within its own little (or big) bubble. Shadowkeep will impact all destinations and the full scope of the game, and Bungie wants to keep that forward momentum.
The plan right now is to have yearly expansions that anchor the story arc, and four subsequent Seasons that progress the stage that each fall expansion sets. “We’re focusing on how the seasons connect to one another. We want to make sure we’re threading a narrative that players can follow, starting in Shadowkeep.” Though there’s always been a clear narrative line running through Destiny, players are going to start seeing a lot more direct impacts of that narrative on the world of the game, evolving Season over Season. Seasonal narratives are no longer these isolated bubbles, but points on a timeline that occur in real time with the players. It’s all designed to build player memories and moments, something that I talked about all the way back when I first reviewed the original Destiny.
Season of the Undying, the Season that begins alongside Shadowkeep, begins with the Vex invading the solar system from the Black Garden, but will conclude with Guardians stopping that invasion. “Season 8 [Season of the Undying] is the catalyst. Season 9 is where things really start to build, and then Season 10 is where things start to get pretty intense. Season 11 everything is going to come together and you’re going to want to be there to see it happen. It’s going to be like no other time in Destiny.”
Director Luke Smith recently admitted to the faults that Destiny 2 had at launch. Here he makes the analogy that Forsaken broke the bones that were set with a flawed Destiny 2, and Shadowkeep re-sets those broken bones to heal and come together as a new Destiny experience. “It’s asking us to unlearn a bunch of the things we’ve learned.”
“What’s the best version of Destiny that we can put in front of players?” As long as Bungie keeps asking themselves that question, every new expansions, season, and iteration of the Destiny universe will markedly evolve them game for the better. “Are we done? No. Not even close.”