'Seasons' in Destiny 2 have so far meant whamming in new things for keepsies, building the game up with new modes and quests and things. Future seasons, Bungie now say, will be more ephemeral but perhaps more striking. As Bungie wind up to relaunch the MMOFPS with a free-to-play 'New Light' base edition on October 1st, they've opened up about how seasonal modes will come and go and the game world might change more in response. They're also adding a battle pass dealio to season passes, the sort of long-term unlock track for items that's de rigeur in battle royale games. Lots to explain.
Destiny 2 is currently wrapping up its first run of live content seasons, which have kept their best bits for paid season passes. These have each added a new activity to the game, along with including new quests tying into the season's story, new weapons and armour, and such. Unlike expansions, which whack in new places to roam and new story campaigns, these buy access to new content released gradually over a few months. With the first three-season pass now wrapping up, Bungie have big plans for the next.
"With each new Season in Destiny, we want players to feel like they—as a community—are contributing to Destiny's evolving world," Destiny 2 game director Luke Smith said in last night's blogblast. They want season stories to lead into each other and, unlike the first set, be more ephemeral.
Each season will add a new activity, new quests for Exotic items, and so on, then these will go away when the season ends. While weapons which are "critical to the meta" will return later for latecomers to catch up, with most seasonal content if you miss it, you miss it. Shuffling content in and out rather than adding and adding means that Bungie can avoid the limits they're already bumping against (with console hard drive space for starters, let alone the sheer task of maintaining it all) and they might be bolder with seasonal changes.
"Doing this allows us to evolve the world—narratively, but potentially physically as well," Smith said. "It is not possible to keep Destiny frozen in place to allow all activities to live forever while also changing the world in meaningful ways."
He wrote some fanciful gamedev fanfic about how Bungie might hypothetically have changed the world across its first run of Seasons. It does sound like it would've been nice but is still only a dream. We'll see what happens in reality.
The new plan is to run four seasons per year. The Shadowkeep expansion, due on October 1st alongside the relaunch, comes with the next season pass included.
Destiny 2 is also getting a battle pass dealio, of the kind seen in games like Fortnite. This progression track levels up from gaining experience doing anything and hands out items across its 100 ranks. These will include armour sets, two new weapons, ornaments for weapons and armour, and crafting materials. It's intended to give a sense of progress in a play session even if you don't achieve your goals.
This progression track is included with each season pass, though those who don't buy passes still get a worse track with fewer rewards (and the good stuff moved to higher ranks).
Smith estimated that playing strikes very casually for under an hour (who takes 18 minutes per strike!) is enough to gain one pass rank. That'd be... what, seven or eight hours per week averaged across three months to hit rank 100 and get everything? I'm sure many will do it faster.
The rank track brings a new Exotic handcannon at rank 1 for passholders but 35 for others, which is a little grubby. Exotics can be mighty powerful (or can be kinda guff). Also potentially grubby is Bungie's plan to selling instant ranks towards the end of a season. They say it's for people who didn't play much but want top rewards. I do worry that when a game starts selling ranks, that is a motivation to make the rank grind unpleasant enough to nudge more people into paying. I'm not immediately concerned but my stance could change a lot depending on Bungie pace progression and how powerful rank unlocks are.
That could be said for a lot of Destiny 2's free-to-play future. I am cautiously optimistic, and my caution could either fade away or turn to alarm depending on what Bungie do.
Smith also got into another progression doodad Bungie have previously mentioned, Artifacts. Each season, all players (whether they buy the pass or not) will get a new Artifact, a way to unlock new armour mods/perks as you gain experience and level it up. When each Season ends, its Artifact will also go away and so will any seasonal mods unlocked by it.
"The Artifact can spotlight some different ways to play each Season and introduce new types of perks, while we (and you!) can experiment more boldly with new combinations and expressions of Power," Smith said. "We want to use the Artifact as a mechanic to allow the game to shift some each Season. In an action game like Destiny, part of the fun can be discovering new ways to play."
I do like the idea of playstyles and meta shifts happening with each new Artifact.
I'm hitting 900 words of recap and that is too many. I must stop. Go read the blog post. Bye.