Destiny has one of the biggest enduring online communities in gaming right now, but the game currently being played by millions of gamers on a daily basis is very different from what was originally launched. Bungie has adapted and improved Destiny constantly with each update and DLC drop, finally arriving at what it is now: a truly beloved community fans have taken to their hearts.
This trend of evolution driven by fan feedback is set to continue with the upcoming Destiny 2. With that in mind, let’s look at how Bungie are improving elements of the original for the new release, and zero-in on the impact this will have on the Destiny community and the series as a whole.
One of the most criticized aspects of the original was its story, which felt underdeveloped at launch and was only bulked out once a couple of add-ons saw release. This gave the game, especially in its vanilla state, an acute feeling of lightness of content. If you stuck with it, you were rewarded with some amazing moments of the story as the lore expanded out, but many argued that it shouldn’t have taken that amount of time, and multiple paid add-ons, for such a basic element of the game to be done right.
Bungie are being careful to not make the same mistake with Destiny 2, with this iteration appearing to be much more obviously story-centric at launch. The pre-release material has featured the main antagonist, Dominus Ghaul, front-and-center. He’s the leader of the Red Legion of the Cabal aliens and is bent on taking the Traveller’s light and granting his race the power to become Guardians, an honor he believes them far more worthy of than humans. Even from the early glimpses, it's obviously Bungie wants us to feel more closely tied-in to this overarching story. Another interesting move which exemplifies this is Bungie’s decision to drop Grimoires, those divisive little cards that made accessing the game’s deeper lore elements a genuine chore, requiring players to log onto the game’s external website every time you wanted to look up something you’d uncovered in the game. In Destiny 2, Bungie have said that all lore will now be accessible in game.
Bungie are hoping a clear focus on narrative and an increase in cinematic cut scenes will lead to players feeling more engaged in the game’s story, making them less likely to become disenfranchised and fall by the wayside after a few months. And as for Grimoire cards—good riddance to an unnecessary barrier between the player and some of the most interesting and well put together sci-fi lore in gaming.
Destiny’s initial launch locations were pretty underwhelming (especially after seeing what came after in DLC packs), with the Old Russia and Moon settings, in particular, not offering much in the way of allure. Destiny 2 isn’t departing from the ‘four places available at launch’ ethos, but its new locations are extremely varied, and from what Bungie has already shared, definitely seem to be taking Destiny in an interesting new visual direction. The heavily forested European Dead Zone looks striking, with its thick foliage and ramshackle Vanguard settlements; Titan, is even more dramatic, being entirely without landmass and covered with raging, tumultuous ocean; Nessus, a planetoid assimilated by the Vex, is packed with elaborate machinery contrasting with bright red native vegetation; and Io is shrouded in mystery, said to contain untold secrets beneath its mysterious surface.
The differences aren’t just skin-deep, either. Whereas the original’s locations were largely empty, relatively bland spaces where missions were undertaken, this time around, Bungie are looking to make each of Destiny 2’s locations feel truly epic in scale, whilst also adding a little more personality. The developers have talked about filling each of the new areas with more stuff to see and do, and secrets for players to discover. Destiny 2 will also introduce additional quests which can be embarked upon from quest givers situated in these locations, called Adventures, and also dungeons revolving around boss-battles called Lost Sectors. These new quest types both require exploration of the map in a way the original game never really encouraged.
The new locations should result in a much more appealing and persistent game world that does away with much of the sterility of the original, creating engaging spaces gamers will want to return to long after launch.
Destiny’s classes and subclasses are fine but in need of refinement. Bungie have kept the main classes the same (Titan, Warlock, and Hunter all return), but have ditched some fan-favorites (the Bladedancer Hunter, Sunsinger Warlock, and Defender Titan are all for the chop). Instead, come new subclasses that retain some of the defining characteristics of those legacy ones. So, for example, while you’ll no longer be able to use the Defender Titan’s bubble shield, there are now forward-facing shields which retain some of the old ability’s usefulness, but, as it’s no longer a super, has the added benefit of a shorter cooldown period, allowing far more frequent use.
Though cutting some of the subclasses will doubtless annoy some fans, it’s unlikely to hurt the long term popularity of the game. It shouldn’t be long before players of those now-dead subclasses adapt to the new status quo.
It should go without saying that the weapons are a big part of what makes Destiny so enduringly popular—not just the wide variety on display, but also the consistently great look-and-feel of every piece of hardware you get hold of and use in the game. This was one of Destiny’s unequivocal successes, so there was never much likelihood of Bungie ripping up their carefully built weapon system in favor of something completely new. There are, though, tweaks to the way loadouts are handled in the new game. So, along with tons of new weapons and armor (players don’t get to carry over any of their gear from the previous game), players will now equip weapons by their type (kinetic, energy, or power), rather than the primary, secondary and heavy classifications that Destiny introduced. The idea is to allow players to bring a more wide-ranging selection of weapons to the fight.
This may affect some players if they suddenly find they can no longer equip a particular combo of weapon types, but this will probably be minimal. More flexibility and customization is surely worth the sacrifice. Plus, it’s likely most players will barely notice the changes—they’ll be too caught up in finding and playing with all the cool new stuff.
‘Guided Games’ is something Bungie have talked about a lot, and is basically a fix for solo players’ inability to find a group and get into games. There’s still no traditional matchmaking, with Bungie preferring to use a system whereby clan support is integrated into the game. Now, if members of a clan that can’t form a full fireteam to tackle a raid, they can open up slots for solo players. The idea is that experienced players will lead inexperienced ones, rather than a group of strangers clumsily bumbling through a mission. Those single players looking for a group will simply be able to look through the available clan fireteams and choose the one that takes their fancy.
The Crucible is also getting a makeover, with all of the game’s competitive multiplayer component now going to eight players, four-on-four competition. This is apparently to make games feel more intimate and strategic, and will certainly change the nature of PvP, especially in certain game modes.
Another small but incredibly welcome tweak: you’ll now be able to jump between social spaces and missions directly, without having to return to orbit first. There’ll surely still be some orbit time (it’s doubtful loading screens can be cut entirely) but hopefully, now it’ll feature considerably less than in the original game.
These may seem like small changes to non-Destiny players, but for any serious fan that has put considerable hours into the game, these mini tweaks are significant news. Moreover, it shows that Bungie know and care what players like and don’t like about their game, and are willing to make changes based on that feedback.
With the vast majority of changes to Destiny seemingly improving on the original, and most importantly, improving on it in ways that the fanbase have been asking for, it looks like Bungie have another slam-dunk on their hands. What new feature has you most excited for Destiny 2? Let us know in the comments!