Everything You Need to Know About All the Destiny Changes!
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this much Destiny news dumped into one place at one time, so I am going to try to do the impossible and give my grand, cohesive thoughts on everything Bungie just shared.
This was more than just another DLC reveal. This was the first official “state of the series” address by Bungie since they split off from their longtime publishing partner, Activision, and took Destiny with them. Everyone has been asking what will be different now that Bungie is on its own. The answer? Quite a lot, actually.
Here’s what’s happening with Destiny as a series, and what I make of all of this:
Destiny 2: New Light – The Free To Play Path Forward
It’s finally happening. After everyone was suggesting this in some form for the better part of five years, Bungie, now free of whatever restrictions Activision had in place, agrees that it’s time for at least part of Destiny to go free-to-play as a jumping off point to get people hooked on the series.
This will include all of Destiny 2, Curse of Osiris and Warmind, and all the story and even raid content that contains. It also has some sort of Destiny 1-esque starting tutorial mission at the Cosmodrome that I believe emulates the intro of D1 (but this is not a full D1 remaster).
Weirdly, this idea extends past the base game. Bungie noted that you will actually be able to visit all the zones of the world, even from expansions you don’t own, like the Tangled Shore, the Dreaming City and the upcoming return to the moon. A limited amount of content will be accessible there, lost sectors and public events and what not, but in order to flesh those out with missions and raids and such, you will buy say, a “Forsaken pack” that includes that expansion, and perhaps the Annual Pass as well, I’m not sure.
Going forward, everything is going to be a-la-carte, meaning you can buy individual expansions, and even individual seasons, without owning the content that’s come before, avoiding the confusing mess of what you did or didn’t need to own previously in order to play the latest stuff. So right now there are essentially two jumping off points: Destiny 2: New Light as F2P year one, and now everything, D2 year one, Forsaken and all the Annual Pass content, is also on sale for $30, if you want to go a bit further. Shadowkeep will operate like a normal expansion when it arrives this fall, and you can buy it for $35. But you don’t need Forsaken to play it, and will never need a preceding piece of content to buy anything new again, it seems.
I don’t have all that much to say about this other than yes, it’s a very good idea. As you can tell by my non-stop coverage, Destiny is a very addicting game and having a huge chunk of it be free for players is a good move and will bolster the playerbase as they too become hooked and perhaps willing to pay more to keep the experience going. Selling individual seasons is interesting, and it seems to me like the equivalent of buying a Fortnite battle pass, although with a lot more content than just cosmetics included. This is all a good plan, at least in theory. We’ll see how much this manages to boost engagement in a series that while popular, is over five years old now, so retention and acquisition is something of a struggle. But this should help.
Cross Save, At Last
Perhaps the most pressing news for existing Destiny players was the revelation that the leaks were true, cross save is coming to Destiny, meaning you can jump back and forth across platforms, bringing your guardians with you. In the past day fans were freaking out that Sony reportedly was the lone holdout, but according to a Jason Scheier scoop, Bungie actually met with Sony as late as yesterday to get them to commit to this, which made for a much less awkward stream when Bungie could say that yes, all platforms were on board.
I am not quite sure what this means for cross play. The impression I got was that you can move your accounts back and forth, but I don’t think PS4 players will be queuing up with PC or Xbox and PS4 players will be playing together. But I need to confirm that.
What many people will do with this news is probably switch from console to PC if they can, given that the game performs just so much better at 60 FPS there. Also, this opens up new opportunities for Destiny 2’s partnership with Google’s Stadia, meaning that I can play Destiny 2 when I’m in Michigan visiting family without lugging my entire console or PC set-up there. All good news, and even though this is about to become industry standard across platforms, it still felt like this day would never arrive for Destiny, and it feels good now that it has.
Now we arrive at Shadowkeep, the fall expansion for Destiny 2 and where all this news takes us. The next chapter appears to be an expansion perhaps more Rise of Iron sized than Forsaken, if not a little bigger. We are headed back to the moon in a zone that is twice as big as the old zone from Destiny 1, though I think it includes parts of the former area. We appear to be fighting mostly Hive, but thanks to Eris screwing something up, a dark force has gotten the ability to resurrect old, fabled Destiny bosses. Skolas, Omingul, Ghaul and Crota were shown, among others.
In terms of gameplay, armor is a big focus of this expansion, and there appears to be a total reworking of the system. It’s not exactly transmog, but there is some sort of node set-up in place where you start with the base appearance of the armor, and then add in perks you’ve unlocked to it to create custom sets. Bungie said the words MMO and RPG roughly eleven thousand times today, and it’s clear they are embracing a more technical, customizable approach to character building with a greater focus on stats than the series has had previously. Welcome news for most fans who have been begging them to embrace that for eons. I already love the sound of it.
There are new finisher melee moves, something I can’t tell if that’s cosmetic or part of a skill tree, but there’s nothing quite like seeing a Titan punch an Ogre in the face and sending him spiraling backward. The new raid is in the Black Garden, meaning that perhaps it may not be Hive-focused like we just saw with the new Crown of Sorrows raid in Opulence, even if the rest of the expansion is. There was a new trace rifle shown that creates crit spots. A new hand cannon with a scope that uses special ammo. A heavy power bow. And that was just a glimpse.
The Far-Flung Future
Bungie dodged questions about the return of Trials, implying it’s not coming this fall, but they said they are recommitting to PvP and would make that a focus going forward. They believe that they are going to be able to put out this pace of content we currently find ourselves in even without Activision and its support studios helping. And when asked about Destiny 3, they had nothing to say, only that if that did exist, it would be far, far away. As in, there’s almost no way it’s coming out in fall 2020, which would have been the “old” schedule. But I think that’s fine, and it seems there’s plenty more to do it D2 to come.
Any Bad News?
There are only a select few pieces of bad news through all of this today. This expansion does seem small enough where we are not getting new subclasses, new trees or a new enemy type, unlike TTK or Forsaken, which is a bummer, but understandable.
The next problem is the release date, as Bungie is sticking with its usual September slot. Unfortunately, September 17 is just four days after Borderlands 3 comes out, and that’s a loot shooter conflict that is going to do no one any favors, so I wish Bungie had gone earlier or later. Covering both simultaneously is going to be a nightmare, but I guess that’s a “me” problem, mainly.
Overall, this wasn’t just an informative, interesting reveal, but a powerful one. You can feel Bungie’s nerves and excitement about the next chapter, and I am looking forward to continuing this ride alongside them.