Destiny 2′s third year—starting with Shadowkeep in October 2019—marked a pretty big shift for the game. It was the first year of content entirely developed and published by Bungie without any outside help since the studio parted ways with Activision in January 2019. It was when the game went free-to-play. It was when Bungie committed to an ever-changing and evolving world in an effort to actually move the narrative and state of the world forward. However, many players have felt that an overreliance on FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) has created a game that is more of a chore and less engaging overall. Destiny 2 Year 4, beginning this fall, will address those concerns, striking a better balance between evolving the world and temporary content and activities.
Back before the release of Shadowkeep, Game Director Luke Smith issued a trilogy of articles called Director’s Cuts. These posts looked critically at the history of Destiny, learned from mistakes, and made commitments to certain ideals moving forward. One of those ideals was to make the game world feel more alive with an ever-evolving narrative and world that felt like it had forward momentum. That resulted in this year’s seasons offering a lot of temporary content that would ultimately go away. Season of the Undying featured Vex Offensive which went away to make room for Season of Dawn’s Sundial. On March 10, Sundial will be removed and pave the way for something else.
Destiny 2 Year 4 Plans and Ideas – No More FOMO
In a new Director’s Cut for 2020, Luke Smith returned to once again provide some in-depth analysis of Destiny 2’s current state and where the team plans to make changes in the future. At this point, Season 10 (beginning on March 10 and bringing back Trials of Osiris) and Season 11 are probably too close to see any of these updates manifest, but Smith makes it clear that Destiny 2 Year 4 will once again provide a pretty big alteration to Destiny as we know it.
The major theme for Year 4 “and beyond” is bringing back “aspiration” to Destiny. While Bungie is happy with the narrative evolution of the game and the new battle pass providing seasonal rewards just for playing, the world itself is failing to evolve. Activities that come and go aren’t making a significant enough impact to drive that “aspiration” that Smith wants to recapture. It’s led to seasons feeling like a series of checkboxes instead of meaningful grinds that engage players beyond just “complete this thing.” This idea will result in fewer temporary seasonal activities and more retooling and enhancing the game’s core activities like Crucible, Strikes, Gambit, and the patrol spaces.
This year’s version of Seasons has too much FOMO in them. We want to fix this, and next year’s Seasons will have less.
Because we aren’t spending our development resources and time as well as we could, we’re talking about moving away from creating Season-bespoke private activities and instead using that time and effort to build themes that aren’t just represented by a marquee event that will fade away, but rather to inject these Seasonal themes into more of the game. Like we continue to evolve the world’s narrative, we could invest more in the evolving world of our public spaces and take further efforts to evolve Destiny 2’s core activities.
Bungie acknowledges that the current design of temporary seasonal activities directly competes with the game’s core activities, which creates a feeling of aimlessness when playing. There’s too much to do and not enough reason to do it. Smith says the team wants to use the seasons’ marquee themes as a way to “galvanize” existing content, such as engaging players in patrol spaces, giving them more reasons to jump into the Strike playlist, or otherwise investing in actually evolving the world instead of a revolving door of temporary content.
Destiny 2 Year 4 – Addressing ‘Forever’ Weapons
Another difficulty Bungie faces is an ever-expanding pool of weapons that makes new additions feel more like checkboxes rather than meaningful guns to pursue. Smith compares Destiny 2’s armory to Magic cards, saying that simply allowing for all of them to be constantly viable creates a passive power creep that either makes new additions too powerful or dumps them into a sea of obscurity.
It’s hard to cleave out that space in the current version of Destiny 2. Weapons that are supposed to come from pinnacle activities like Raids or Trials don’t really have space to breathe. The answer can’t be “Just make them better.”
Back to 2014: The Vault of Glass weapons could be memorable because we knew they weren’t going to be in the ecosystem for things like Trials, Nightfalls, and Raids forever. They’d naturally fall by the wayside because Power (Attack/Light in those days) would make them obsolete.
In Destiny 2 Year 4, Legendary weapons will have fixed values for how high they can be infused, creating a rotating lifespan for guns that will encourage players to embrace newer weapons, slowly putting older ones away. The projected lifespan for a guns power efficacy is between 9-15 months right now, but again, these are early ideas that haven’t entirely made it into production yet. We’ve still got more than a half a year before Bungie needs to give us more answers on when guns effectively “expire.”
This allows Bungie to not have to account for power spikes of certain weapons forever. Guns like Recluse can come into the meta, be a powerful staple for a while, and then slowly fade when its infusion cap expiration rolls around. Bungie will no longer need to aggressively nerf nails that are sticking up because those nails will eventually expire.
A few other topics were addressed briefly. The big Destiny 2 Year 4 expansion will make “fundamental changes to the game world and its systems. We’ve done significant systems changes to all Destiny games every time we’ve shipped an expansion, and now we’re going to be making more changes to the game world as we go forward.” Also:
- Bungie has no plans to bring back Faction Rallies
- “They didn’t drive a bunch of engagement with the game”
- Loot will be moved into the general legendary engram pool
- Bright Engrams will no longer be purchasable with real money
- Bungie plans to revamp New Light’s onboarding for brand new players
- The Questlog is changing
- Sorting options/buckets by category
- (Exotic quests, Seasonal quests, Forsaken quests, etc.)
Smith clarifies that, despite the length of the Director’s Cut article, the list “isn’t exhaustive,” and they “know there’s more going on in the game” than what his article covers. Bungie plans to talk about more later this year as we approach what will inevitably be another major fall expansion for Destiny 2. Season 10—Season of the Worthy—kicks off on March 10, and Season 11 (name unknown) is projected to begin around June 9. Barring any delays or change of plans, that would put Destiny 2 Year 4—and whatever expansion is happening at that time—somewhere around September 8 to keep the length of each season congruent.