Destiny 2 is having a moment.
Despite the series being seven years old, and the current game being four, something has…clicked this year in Destiny 2, and somehow, this has turned into one of the best years for the franchise despite the fact that we are about to get through all of 2021 without a major expansion, Beyond Light having debuted last December, and The Witch Queen not coming until February 2022.
Each season has attracted more players than the last , Splicer being more popular than Chosen, Lost now being more popular than Splicer.Bungie announced an additional 20 million players arrived after they left Activision and put some of the game free-to-play.
Destiny 2 is routinely a top 10 game on Steam these days, and the success of the franchise has paved the way for a massive Bungie expansion where it’s tripling its campus size and going on a hiring spree.We have two more Destiny 2 expansions confirmed, with a new saga starting after that.We have Destiny expanding into multimedia projects as an IP.And we have Bungie starting to make other, non-Destiny games, funded by the success of Destiny these past seven years.
So, what happened this year? Why has Destiny done so well even without a major expansion for an entire year? A few reasons.
Bungie Figured Out Seasonal Storytelling
Destiny has made dramatic new investments in seasonal content, bringing us some of the largest seasons to date, especially in terms of story.When previously, we might have had one voiced character and been tasked with reading a half dozen lore books, Bungie now has 5-6 voiced roles per season, tells stories through cutscenes, in-game moments, quest dialogue and traditional lore.
Additionally, the narrative feels more connected than ever.We’ve been following the story of the resurrection of Crow for the whole year, for instance, and recently uncovered the infestation of Osiris by Savathun, which again, has crossed every season so far.It’s been Destiny’s best story to date, and it didn’t need a single expansion to tell it.
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Bungie Figured Out Loot
This happened in a few ways.First, Bungie finally realized that sunsetting loot was not a good idea, and killed that concept in short order.Now what you get, you can keep, no strings attached.But past that, Bungie has done a great job crafting significantly improved loot with loads of new weapons and most importantly, new perks, showing up every season making new gear worth chasing.
We are also starting to get glimpses of weapons directly interacting with subclasses for the first time, with new Stasis weapons, and the future looks bright in that department.
Bungie Is Finally Addressing PvP
This happened in a few different ways this year.It took a long time, but Bungie hammered the sandbox enough so that Stasis stopped dominating everything and there are more options that HC/shotgun finally.
But past that, Iron Banner finally got significant new loot, as did Trials.Now this season, a massive rework of Trials of Osiris has set playtime records for the mode, and seems like the most significant change to PvP in years in the game.
There’s a promise of future maps and modes for next year, and after a long dead spell, it seems like Bungie is refocusing on PvP for real this time.
Free-to-Play, Cross Play
I don’t think we can discount the fact that at its core still, Destiny is free-to-play, which has helped dramatically increase its playercount from when it was under Activision.This year, after a bunch of free content was unfortunately vaulted in 2020, we got at least a few significant offerings for free players like Vault of Glass returning.This season, cross play has now opened up the playerbase even more, and allowed friends to play in groups that were previously separated, an understated, but actually huge deal for the game.
So, these are probably the main four points I’d highlight about why Destiny has done so well in 2021, despite no expansion.They have really gotten a handle on the seasonal model, and the overall health of the game in many aspects.
If the Witch Queen delivers, 2022 could be even more impressive, but we have years and years of Destiny content ahead, no matter what, that much is clear at this point, as Bungie has carved out a permanent, prominent space in this genre that it’s never going to give up.
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I’ve been writing about video games, television and movies for Forbes for over 10 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.I cover all
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I’ve been writing about video games, television and movies for Forbes for over 10 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.I cover all manner of console and PC games, but if it’s about looting or shooting, I’m definitely there.
If I’m watching something, it’s usually science fiction, horror or superheroic.I’m also a regular on IGN’s Fireteam Chat podcast and have published five sci-fi novels.