Now that Bungie has confidently revealed its plans for the next year of Destiny 2, with Year 3 featuring the core Shadowkeep expansion followed by three Shadowkeep standalone Seasons, fans are more excited than ever for what's coming next. Bungie's described leaning further into Destiny 2's RPG elements, continuing efforts to create an evolving, ever-changing world, and bringing players together with features like cross-save. Destiny 2 is changing, making the only question more exciting than what's coming in Year 3, "What's coming in Year 4?"
The answer, according to game director Luke Smith in an interview with Kotaku, is that it depends. Given that both Bungie and Destiny 2 are going through a period of transition, Smith says that what comes after Year 3 is in flux, depending on fan reaction and how things go up to Shadowkeep's launch. "Put something out, test it, learn from it," is Bungie's model and given how much is changing soon there's apparently a lot to learn before dedicating to that next step.
That doesn't mean that Bungie isn't already working on content that far out, however. But it does mean that the work is that much more complicated. Bungie general manager Mark Noseworthy describes how Bungie plans for "multiple future universes" with regards to planning ahead. No matter which "universe" Bungie decides to create, Noseworthy says that they all have "commonalities." Bungie can then start building on that, but Noseworthy acknowledges that it's a burden to deal with such ambiguity.
And then, in what's perhaps a surprisingly honest hypothetical, Noseworthy says how Bungie avoids as much as possible questions such as, "Oh, are we making an expansion next year or are we not? I dunno, what am I even working on?" The question implying that perhaps the question facing Bungie isn't just about what style of content to focus on, but whether or not it's time to stop making expansions and instead work on a new game. Year 4 may be the wait for Destiny 3.
All things considered, Bungie's being impressively transparent about the issues at hand. The issues being, not only what Bungie wants to do and what fans demand, but what Bungie needs to do as an independent studio employing hundreds of hard-working developers. Shadowkeep and Year 3 was perhaps an easy decision for Bungie. It keeps the studio focused, lets Bungie experiment with design, puts content out to maintain the revenue stream, and makes the most of what will be the final year of current-generation consoles.
2020 is a different beast entirely. In 2020 Destiny 2 will be a year older, fan response to Shadowkeep is a complete unknown and player retention isn't guaranteed, plus next-gen consoles will be coming out. What makes sense for Bungie and Destiny 2 can change. And it looks like the success of Shadowkeep may be the deciding factor, as Noseworthy confirms, "We have a plan and we think it's pretty good and we're going to find out from our players if it's really good or if we need a new plan."
Destiny 2 is available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a Stadia version in active development. The Shadowkeep expansion releases September 17 across all platforms.