It is no secret that Bungie has been struggling with finding a compromise between making rich, meaningful content and providing a stress-free environment for its employees.
Bungie has again decided that the current Seasonal Model simply isn't reaching its potential and has begun making major changes for the Seasons to come such as a constant narrative thread, year long activities and permanent loot.
During mid-2019, Lead Director of Destiny 2 Luke Smith wrote a Director’s Cut commentary that described the pressures that the studio was under and how the past DLC models that Bungie has used, such as large content releases and smaller Seasonal content, were bringing the employees to their breaking point. They were simply too overworked and the crunch times were affecting morale around the studio.
The studio switched to the current Seasonal model with the release of Shadowkeep on October 1st 2019 to provide the player base with a constant stream of smaller content that would stick around for the Season, and then be gone once the Season ended.
The problem with this model quickly became apparent.
The content released this way lacked any kind of meaning to the players as the many activities added to the game post Shadowkeep were extremely simple, grindy and with an abundance of bounties added to pad out the play time of the Season.
Over the past few months Guardians have constantly voiced their concerns over the future of Destiny 2 all over social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit.
There has been very little actual conversation with Bungie apart from the typical PR response of “We are listening” from the Community Managers until the most recent ‘This Week at Bungie’ blog post for 30/04.
In this post Bungie finally gave the community some solid information on how the Seasonal Model will be changing in the future, hopefully for the better.
Constant Narrative Threads
For the past few Seasons, Bungie has been slowly weaving an interconnected narrative into Destiny 2 through story missions, cutscenes and lore pieces but these connections for the most part are tenuous and can be easily missed.
Creative Director Evan Nikolich chimed in during the blog post to give the teams thoughts on their goals for story content in the coming Seasons:
“In Year 4, we are going to build a better interconnected narrative and, more importantly, let players be a part of that narrative no matter when they enter the current year. This means if you start playing in March 2021, you could go back and experience the Season 12 and Season 13 narrative content. We want our stories to feel more cohesive, flow with meaningful momentum Season over Season, and lead to an exciting climax each year.”
The previous Season of Dawn contained some really interesting and meaningful story missions involving Saint-14 and it truly was a shame to see them disappear from the game, whether it’s veterans of the series not being able to replay the missions or newcomers to the series simply never being able to experience them.
This change is obviously a step in the right direction as it will reduce the overall amount of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) within the game and allow players to tackle content at their own pace.
New Activities Added Will Stay for Entire Year
This is a big one that has had players disappointed ever since the new Seasonal model was implemented.
It is hard to feel invested in an activity when it will simply cease to exist within 3 months time. All of these activities were fairly shallow as well with very simple mechanics that a Guardian could complete in their sleep.
You would think that since these activities have a shelf-life that Bungie would be more willing to take risks with their design but it seems that they instead took the path of least resistance and made simple content that wouldn't strain their resources.
This still somewhat makes sense though as why would you spend loads of manhours and resources on an activity that won't be in the game long. It's possible that this new model of having the activities last a year will force Bungie into making the activities the best they can, or atleast tweak the activities after release.
Creative Director Nikolich had the following to say on this new approach to activities:
“Beginning in Season 12, the core parts of the activity experience will live on after the Season has ended...Let me give an example of how this might work in the future using Season of Dawn to illustrate. With our new approach, when Season of Dawn concluded we would have left behind the “Saving Saint-14” quest, the Exotic quests to acquire Devil’s Ruin and Bastion, and the Sundial activity. We would sunset the Obelisks experience to reduce clutter in the quest log and to keep bounty quantity from inflating across the game, and deprecate the Fractaline currency so it could be safely removed from the player’s inventory.”
Seasonal Loot Will Remain
Destiny 2 is a game that is all about the loot, it’s what drives people to log on and it’s what drives people to continue playing, we all have that Moby Dick of a weapon roll that we are chasing for.
It was always a shame at the end of a Season to see both the Seasonal activity and the Seasonal loot attached to it simply fade away.
These were some beautifully designed weapons, especially for Season of Dawn, that had their own unique aesthetic.
Starting in Season 12, not next Season but the one after, loot introduced during the Season will continue to be obtained either from the Seasonal activity or from other core modes such as Strikes, Crucible or Gambit.
A test run of this will be starting in the next Season however as some selected weapons from Seasons 8, 9 and 10 will be added to an Engram that will drop during Season 11.
Nikolich continues in the blog post with:
“Long term, we want to make sure that the rewards we release each Season are available to players throughout the year. Continuing with our Season of Dawn example, the rewards that came out of Sundial would continue to drop from Sundial. How the drops will occur will change (as, narratively, Osiris has left and we have removed the Obelisks), but weapons and gear would still be present.”
This is a great change as it will allow Guardians who are too busy with their lives to be able to play catch up when they have the time and earn all the weapons and armor that they couldn't earn when the Season was in full swing.
If we pretend this new system is in operation right now, a player could still go back and participate in Vex Offensive to earn the Imperative Scout Rifle that they had their eye on when they couldn't play.
Nikolich adds the following about earning this Seasonal loot:
“In addition to the rewards coming from the Seasonal activity, we are thinking of having the Seasonal rewards be available to earn in the core modes of play as well (Strikes, Crucible, and Gambit).
If you’re getting tired of playing Sundial, you’ll have the opportunity to jump into Crucible or Strikes and pick up a couple of the Season of Dawn weapons we’ve handpicked.”
The one problem with this idea is that it could potentially dilute the loot poots of these core activities as these activities still have certain powerful weapons that many players are still chasing after.
Adding Seasonal loot will make it harder to chase certain weapons and even harder to chase certain perk rolls of said weapons.
It would be a nice addition if Bungie would bring back a feature from the original Destiny where when a player is picking up a reward from a core activity vendor they could choose whether the reward was an armor piece or a weapon. This would go a long way with giving a player agency over what they would be earning.
As per usual, all of these are subject to change to what Bungie sees fit.
As it stands though we will be seeing some earlier Seasonal loot coming back to the game in Season 11 with the bulk of these changes, such as Season activities sticking around and more direct narrative threads, coming into effect in the following Season 12.