The next big milestone for Destiny 2 is the release of the Shadowkeep expansion on October 1st, but before that, franchise director Luke Smith is releasing a three-part commentary about the state of the game. Part 1, released earlier this week, was a look back at the last six months of development on Destiny 2. While it was a review of the game's Year 2, the observations Smith makes paint a picture of how the lessons Bungie learned this past year will influence the future of Destiny 2.
There is much more coming from Luke Smith in the week's ahead detailing more about the future of the game; but, his first Director's Cut gives a good idea of what players can expect as Bungie takes full control of the franchise.
7 The Annual Pass is Unsustainable
"The scope of what we delivered, the pace that we delivered it, and the overall throughput for Annual Pass takes a toll on the Bungie team. ... We're going to take this problem on in D2Y3."
The Annual Pass tackled the problem of Destiny's past content droughts in a new way, and it did a pretty good job of it. Instead of big content drops followed quickly by months of nothing new, the Annual Pass delivered smaller but more consistent things to do during Year 2, such as new activities like Gambit Prime, exotic quests like Thorn, and surprise dungeons like the Zero Hour mission.
But that all clearly took a toll on the team at Bungie. And it appears that Annual Pass model is unsustainable. Also keep in mind that the Annual Pass was developed with the help of Activision studios including High Moon Studios and Vicarious Visions. Now that Bungie has split from its partnership with Activision and is self-publishing the game from here on out, Bungie has fewer resources than it did in the development of Year 2.
In the initial reveal of Shadowkeep, Smith talked about how the game will focus on seasons moving forward, with players able to purchase each season a la carte. The price mentioned was $10 US per season, but considering that Shadowkeep and Year 3 are still in development, that could always change. Bungie has already promised to talk more about seasons leading up to the release of Shadowkeep, but however Bungie decides to ultimately deliver that content, it is safe to say that an Annual Pass will not exist moving forward.
6 Powerful Rewards Will Be Refined
"I feel like we needed to do a better job of shifting Powerful sources. We could explore things like changing the value of Powerful sources to create new seasonal efficiencies or retire some Powerful sources as we bring new sources into the game."
As Destiny 2 grows, so do the sources of Powerful Rewards in the game. In a game that is all about progression and reaching the level cap, the game is giving players a ton of Powerful Rewards to chase each week upon reset. While it is great to have so many sources from which to garner rewards that matter in leveling up, the activities feel less meaningful and more like a list of chores to get done in a given week.
Smith mentioned that instead of having the game feel like it was pushing players toward new and meaningful places to find their Powerful Rewards, the game was still asking players to go back to play old content like running three story missions per week or re-visiting the Dreaming City months after its debut. Expect Destiny 2 to more purposefully curate Powerful Rewards on a seasonal basis in the future.
5 Only One Gambit Mode but with more support
"We think Gambit is sweet and deserves more ongoing support and we want to ultimately focus that support on whichever mode ends up being the Highlander. There can be only one."
4 More Choices to power and gear up
"We want Destiny to be a game where you have lots of choices with your character, build what you choose to do, and funneling those choices down to only one in Reckoning is something we don't want to repeat."
Smith discussed how in Season of the Drifter, the only main progression path was to play Gambit Prime and the Reckoning. Many players are still burned out on both those activities because it was the only substantial content for that season and they were forced to play it over and over again to get the new seasonal rewards. Smith flat out says that is not something Bungie wants to repeat.
So, while the sources of Powerful Rewards are going to be refined, as mentioned above, expect Destiny 2 to offer players more progression paths to collect gear and power up. How exactly that will work in Shadowkeep and beyond has yet to be revealed.
3 The End Game will be more challenging
"Across Destiny's history we haven't had enough challenge deep into the end game, and that's definitely something on our list as we head toward fall 2019."
Players are going to disagree about exactly how they enjoy Destiny's content in regards to its level of challenge. Many players enjoy the ability to melt bosses insanely fast and to pull off crazy feats like defeating a six-player raid with just two players. Others want to be genuinely challenged in the end game, and not see people able to over-level raids on the day of their release.
Bungie has a challenge on its hands as to how to balance the game's difficulty with giving players the power fantasy of being a Guardian able to wield space magic, with the RPG elements and action gameplay of the series, and more. But expect at least the end game content to become much more of a challenge moving forward.
2 Expect more activities like Escalation Protocol
"Escalation Protocol (aka Partying in Public) is a great base. We want to do more activities like this, but in the context of what we learned and in a way that we can better support them over the long-term."
Smith talked about the magic of Escalation Protocol—stumbling on a group of random players in public and tackling giant bosses and waves of enemies together. And it appears Bungie wants more of that kind of experience in the future.
But that is also going to take some refinement. Escalation Protocol was very difficult when it was released in the Warmind DLC. A fireteam of three players could instance into the public area together to tackle Escalation Protocol, but especially at lower levels, three players could not finish the mode themselves. And trying to find a way to link up with another group was a major headache.
Smith acknowledged these problems, so hopefully, Bungie will have some good answers to these problems the next time an Escalation Protocol-type activity comes around.
1 Player Control to Determine Loot But Still Preserve Random Rolls
"[H]aving more ways in the game to pursue loot in a deterministic fashion, while preserving the hunt for a great roll, is something that we hope to explore."
Bungie is taking the lessons learned by the Chalice in the current Season of Opulence, and will likely continue to provide similar mechanics in the future. Smith said that the Chalice is not perfect and has its own frustrations because it is tied to having the correct Runes that players may not be able to find due to RNG. But the underlying idea that players can choose what weapon they want to drop and that there is still an element of RNG in the random perk roll is something that seems to be working for Bungie.
As seen earlier this season during the Menagerie chest glitch, players loved the ability to determine what weapon they were chasing and then pull that weapon multiple times in hopes of finding their perfect roll. Expect similar mechanics to Destiny 2's gear game in the future.
Destiny 2 is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.