A few months ago, I looked at the state of Destiny after its first year. There were ups and downs, but overall I felt it was very successful. It provided a new immersive game world with plenty of content to suit many playstyles. Plus, you can travel the galaxy and shoot evil aliens in the face! If that’s not on a checklist of things to do, then I don’t know what to tell you. We’re coming up on the launch of Rise of Iron on Sept. 20. That date also signals the start of Destiny Year 3. Let’s take a look back on the full Destiny Year 2, and see if the shift in direction shook out like planned.
“Come for me, warrior of Light. I will finish what Crota began.”
Destiny Year 2 started with a literal bang with the launch of The Taken King expansion. The largest content drop to date gave players a wealth of all-new content: New subclasses, enemies, weapons and armor, missions/quests, strikes, and endgame content for both PVE and PVP, including the King’s Fall raid. The existing content was also updated to include additional plotlines and context to add to the existing missions. In some cases, they updated existing content such as Strikes to include the new enemies from The Taken King. All of this was a major step forward on Bungie’s part to better showcase the story and lore that they put into the game.
When I say literal bang, I mean it. The story has the god-king Oryx coming to avenge the death of his son Crota after he was killed by us in The Dark Below expansion. Oryx is only held temporarily at bay through an explosive suicidal attack by The Awoken, leaving them and a portion of Saturn’s ring decimated. Throughout the main quest, you end up confronting and pushing back Oryx and his army, leaving him to retreat to his home dimension. It’s only with the help of a fireteam of other players that you’re able to finally destroy him once and for all.
Spoilers: This is the end of the final battle against Oryx, courtesy of my clan and me. Alpha Dogs represent!
“You honor the names of those who fell.”
As I mentioned above, there was a lot of content. Bungie even introduced a new leveling system that was supposed to be less confusing and prone to random loot drops than the old system. Once you hit the endgame, there were a couple different options to grind for max Light level. You could either keep trying your luck going through the new King’s Fall raid or participate in the Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris PVP events. Something that became noticeable quite early on, however, was that once you hit a certain Light level, the odds of getting a piece of gear with a high enough Light level to increase your average overall level seemed to decrease dramatically.
It wasn’t that the drop rates were changed. It was the fact that the Light level of the drops varied greatly. Not only that, but unlike Year 1, weapons and armor now had more variable perks. So essentially for every drop, you were subject to two random rolls: One to hopefully get perks that would be beneficial to your particular build and subclass, and another for a decent Light level better than your current equipment.
All MMOs have a grind at the end. This wrinkle in Destiny’s endgame encouraged you to come back and play as often as possible. But with some of these activities requiring a time commitment of up to a few hours, that’s not as good as it sounds on paper. Thankfully, as part of Bungie’s roadmap through Year 2, there were some new opportunities to reach the cap.
“We can help you, Guardian.”
Around the time of The Taken King launch, Bungie announced that it would be distributing new game content differently. Instead of asking players to pay for large expansions at set intervals, they would update the game free-of-charge with new events. To offset the potential loss of paid revenue, Bungie implemented a new in-game currency called Silver. This currency is bought with real world money and can be used on all sorts of cosmetic items.
At the same time, Bungie started following up on their promise with in-game events such as Festival of the Lost, Sparrow League Racing (SRL), and Crimson Days. They were fun and offered new challenges, but essentially they were brief excursions in a game that was quickly running out of new things to do. Thankfully Bungie addressed that as well, with the April Update.
Known in the community as “The Taken Spring,” the update provided some more story and quests and a lot more loot. But what everybody fell in love with were the massive quality-of-life improvements. These included increased storage space and an easier time leveling up with more ways to do so. One of the biggest changes was a massive rehaul of the item drops. While the perks were still variable, the quality/Light level would now usually be either at or above your current level.
“They took my loot? It’s like there’s no rules.”
Overall, Bungie followed through on their promises. There were periodic in-game events, and eventually free content. It’s interesting to look back on Destiny Year 2 holistically because now you realize that there wasn’t a lot of time in-between the events or content updates. Yet during that time, everything felt like an eternity. This could have been due to the fact that Bungie was unusually tight-lipped about giving the players a schedule or telling them exactly what was coming out.
Tight-lipped doesn’t mean they weren’t productive. The game now is light years from where it was at launch in terms of quality. Patches and improvements are continuous. The community managers at Bungie regularly get involved and incorporate feedback in their weekly “State of the Game” updates. I think overall the community just had to make a big adjustment between the given roadmap of Year 1 to the less strict timetable in Destiny Year 2.
“Prove yourself worthy, and the Iron Lords will rise again!”
Part of that shift in transparency probably had to do with development schedules and Bungie prepping for the announcement of Rise of Iron at the end of May. There’s also the development of Destiny 2 that’s been ongoing since the original game launched. Lastly, there are rumors floating around of another content update or expansion that might take place between Rise of Iron and the eventual sequel.
Looking back now, Destiny Year 2 was when the game hit its teenage years. It was growing up, hitting some awkward changes, and trying out new things. With the game moving into Year 3, we’re once again at an exciting time. There’s the air of possibility with the new content that we’ll be able to dive into, as well as the announced returns of SRL and some of the other events throughout the year.
Eyes up, guardians. The universe isn’t going to save itself…