Destiny 2’s latest massive community puzzle has finally been solved. The Corridors of Time required an unrivaled community effort as players gathered pieces for a 5040-piece puzzle that created a maze that displayed a series of 30 symbols once solved. The climax of this nearly week-long surprise puzzle came early in the morning on Monday, January 20. Players finally ran the sequence and were given the opportunity to “pay respects” at their own memorial as Saint-14 gave the eulogy. It was a fascinating bit of lore (albeit one that players had guessed since first seeing the tomb), but the loot reward was… something already scheduled on the roadmap.
Back at the end of Season of the Undying, I came to the conclusion that Bungie had shown its hand too much. The inaugural season of Destiny 2’s Shadowkeep year left little to the imagination, even going as far as mapping out an event that amounted to a simple boss palette swap. There’s something to be said for managing the expectations of your players. When people saw “Vex Offensive: Final Assault” scheduled on the calendar, it set up expectations that it would be bigger than it was. Likewise, when Bungie dropped a surprise community puzzle bigger than anything the series has ever seen, players didn’t expect it to lead to something that was already on the roadmap.
The Destiny 2 Season of Dawn roadmap had the Bastion Exotic kinetic fusion rifle quest labeled for January 28. So when reset on January 14 brought a surprise quest and puzzle, few people connected the two. How could this surprising new community puzzle connect to an Exotic quest that was scheduled for later in the month? But at the conclusion of the event, it simply ended up granting us the Bastion quest with no additional surprises.
Perhaps worse, Bastion itself, the Bastion quest steps (community puzzle notwithstanding), and even Saint-14’s eulogy dialog had all been datamined back near the beginning of this season. So while completing this incredible community task was absolutely thrilling to be a part of, the journey was a lot more memorable than the destination. The efforts feel artificially validated by a quest that is now simply handed to all players (and reportedly would have unlocked on January 28 regardless of puzzle completion). So all those sleepless nights and long hours people put in? It was just to get access to the Exotic Bastion quest about a week early.
It’s not like Bungie hasn’t created some incredible surprise quests and rewards before. Both Outbreak Perfected and Whisper of the Worm fall into this category, sudden secret surprise missions that led to surprise rewards. Even the huge community puzzle for Outbreak Prime in Destiny 1 was a surprising effort that led to an equally surprising and memorable reward.
It’s not entirely unrealistic for players to expect a surprise reward to come from a surprise event. Like spoilers for a game or movie don’t necessarily ruin the artistic merit of the media, there was still merit to the effort that went into the puzzle, and Bastion is a hell of a unique fusion rifle. But what spoilers do impact is the experience. Your first viewing of a movie can be ruined by knowing the twist, so too can a Destiny mystery puzzle be deflated by knowing exactly where it leads. Corridors of Time was a mystery with a lot of potential, and the prize, while it was never going to live up to the lofty expectations of the community, didn’t really meet that potential because Bungie’s been marketing Bastion since we first learned about Season of Dawn.
Manage Expectations Without Giving Too Much Away
There’s nothing like a good surprise to reinvigorate community interest in Destiny 2. Curious players pour in from all corners of the internet, whether they haven’t logged on in a while or just played that morning. Likewise, a roadmap can create a path of interest throughout a season—when to expect lulls and when exciting things will start happening.
Where Bungie stumbled with Corridors of Time was creating mixed messaging. The surprising puzzle didn’t line up with anything on the roadmap, which led players to believe that’s indeed what it was: a surprise. Instead, it was simply the most complex early access puzzle in gaming. According to Bungie’s French community manager (translation courtesy Destiny Roundup), the Bastion quest would have unlocked on the 28th regardless of puzzle completion.
A bit of confusion about everything that happened today, so I’m going to try to make things a bit clearer. 🙂
The plan was simple: release the puzzle in the second half of January, then release the quest for Bastion at the end of the month (on the 28th, as said on the roadmap). If the community was to solve the puzzle, Bastion would be released earlier than expected.”
So the big massive mystery community puzzle didn’t actually reward the Bastion quest. It rewarded early access to the Bastion quest. And while I’ve had quite a bit of fun deciphering it with the community the past few days, it ultimately feels a little bit ethereal knowing that the reward would have been coming whether we did the puzzle or not. And now, Bungie’s even handing out the quest to everyone early without the need to run the Corridors of Time. Maybe let the puzzle solution be the early access for the intended duration?
Bungie can change things pretty simply be offering a more cryptic roadmap. Stop showing us the rewards we’re getting. Maybe don’t even give us specific dates for most things. “Empyrean Foundation” is a good example of this. We know that something is coming, but we don’t know exactly what it is. Provide a general outline for what to expect for the season but let surprise and discovery be the player’s. Instead of outlining day and date when we are getting Bastion, perhaps angle it as “Late January: New Exotic Quest.” Suddenly that changes the optics on the rewards for this mystery puzzle.
Of course, this also needs to be paired with Bungie more carefully obfuscating things within the system so that dataminers can’t spoil things. I would argue that the dialog and narrative momentum of finding our own tomb is a pretty significant development, but even that was datamined over a month ago via Saint-14’s eulogy audio. I’m not sure what the technical hurdles are behind this, but I’d love to see this at least addressed by Bungie.
I Still Loved This Quest and Reward
Now, I have to be clear, I still loved the mystery behind the Corridors of Time puzzle, Bastion quest, and the weapon itself. I loved the fascinating narrative development of attending our own funeral through time, pulling yet another item through the temporal fabric to make it real within our present. I can’t wait to see how this ties in with the rest of the year (or what Bungie does to engage players next). What I’m encouraging is a change in Bungie’s messaging strategy to allow for more impact across the duration of the season.
Bungie has been in a habit of showing off too much to players. I get it. They are excited about the content they are making, and there’s a certain marketing strategy behind getting players interested in what’s coming. But last season was filled with relatively deflated moments. The hidden dungeon was dated and the end boss was shown off in a seasonal ViDoc before the season even launched. Vex Offensive’s final three weeks were marketed as some kind of big event when the change was hardly registered on most people’s radar. And this season, the biggest community mystery that Destiny has ever had ended up being a limited-time early access key that apparently wouldn’t have even mattered in another week anyway.
It’s not about the content or the rewards, but about how Bungie positions events and loot in communication and on the calendar. It’s about the optics for people who live Destiny every single day and still managing to delight and surprise them with the reward at the end. This entire mystery could have had a lot more impact for the community if Bungie hadn’t shown off and scheduled Bastion well before it ever even kicked off. With that one little change, suddenly you have a quest the likes of Whisper, both Outbreaks, No Time to Explain, Black Hammer, and quite a few other surprise Destiny quests and rewards that have gone down in history as legendary moments. A movie shouldn’t give away its climax in the previews, so Bungie needs to stop showing its entire hand at the beginning of every season. Play a few cards close to the chest and reignite the excitement that comes from both the mystery and the reward.
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