Destiny 2 game director Luke Smith's three-part breakdown of the past, present, and future of Destiny focused heavily on specific changes and ideas for the online multiplayer shooter. But it also delved into the state of Bungie and the studio's internal struggles. Smith not only detailed plans for how to make Destiny 2 better, but how to make the development of Destiny 2 better for Bungie. Part of that involves being transparent about where things have been going wrong.
The Forsaken expansion for Destiny 2 is brought up as Smith's biggest example of Bungie's current issues. The Annual Pass specifically "takes a toll on the Bungie team" and was wearing developers down. Specifically, Smith cites how each of the Forsaken Annual Pass' Seasons offered different rewards. Black Armory offered bounties, the Season of the Drifter had the Reckoning Machine, and Season of Opulence had its Chalice. This cycle of reinvention, Smith says, "put the team into an unsustainable development cycle."
Fixing Bungie's development issues is a priority for Smith and the studio going into Shadowkeep. "We need to develop a more systemic, standardized set of mechanics for progression to keep our teams healthier." He says that Bungie will be working to correct these issues over the next year, going into Destiny 2's Shadowkeep expansion and its own four Seasons. Hopefully, Smith will remain transparent about Bungie's efforts, as developer health is becoming a growing concern among game players.
Players can already draw some conclusions about Bungie's changes to Destiny 2 based on some of Smith's other Shadowkeep announcements. For example, he's revealed plans for a Seasonal Artifact. The Seasonal Artifact will unlock modifications and power for players in unique ways. Each Season will have its own Artifact, so players will have new challenges that won't carry over. Since Smith specifically noted that reinventing rewards systems between Seasons was too much work, the Seasonal Artifact is an example of how Bungie is trying to carry over ideas Season to Season.
With Bungie going independent, pressure on the studio has to be higher than ever. While Destiny 2 players are certainly demanding, no one wants to see Bungie's developers having to crunch Season to Season just to meet expectations. Bungie will hopefully be able to find a healthy balance allowing it to manifest its aspirations for each Season without crunching. After all, the only ones with higher expectations for Destiny 2 than the core player base are Bungie's developers themselves.
Destiny 2 is available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a Stadia version also in development.