In a new developer update titled ‘Destiny 2021 Update: The Road to The Witch Queen’, Assistant Game Director Joe Blackburn outlined Bungie’s plans for the future of Destiny 2, and how they intend to refine the franchise into a more interconnected story.
Unfortunately, Blackburn also gave details on how the studio recently made the tough decision to delay the next expansion ‘The Witch Queen’ until early 2022.
“As we began to scale production on the Witch Queen last year, we made the difficult but important decision to move its release to early 2022,” says Blackburn
It has always been a long standing tradition within the Destiny franchise that a large expansion releases towards the end of the year to give the game a boost of content and to tide players over until the following year. For a long time this was usually in September up until last year when the Beyond Light expansion needed to be delayed until mid November. From here, it was assumed by the community that the next expansion The Witch Queen would likely launch at a similar time in November but it turns out that would not be the case this year.
In this same developer update, Blackburn gave the community some hints as to the far future of the franchise. When announcing the above delay to The Witch Queen, Blackburn continues with “we also realized we needed to add an additional unannounced chapter after Lightfall to fully complete our first saga of Destiny.”
If we assume that Lightfall is also delayed in a similar fashion to The Witch Queen and is released early 2023, that means there is confirmed support for Destiny 2 up until 2024 when the unannounced expansion is likely to release. This is great news for the continued growth of the franchise.
As for the reasons for the delay, Blackburn gave the community three solid reasons why the studio needed extra time for the upcoming expansion to make sure it doesn't come out half baked.
- Interconnected Narrative - According to Blackburn, The Witch Queen is set to launch a new narrative within the Destiny universe that will continue through Lightfall and beyond. This narrative will encompass characters both new and old, with story arcs that will persist across multiple releases. It was due to The Witch Queen being the springboard for this ongoing narrative that Bungie wants to make sure they get it absolutely right. “With so much leading to and dependent on what happens in The Witch Queen, we wanted to make sure that we gave ourselves enough time to build out this journey in the right way, starting with an exceptional first chapter in The Witch Queen,” says Blackburn. An interesting note from this section of the developer update is that when talking about the upcoming expansions, Blackburn declares that these expansions will end the ‘Light and Darkness Saga’ and also uses the words ‘first saga’ earlier in the piece. Could it be possible that after the unannounced expansion in 2024 we could see the launch of a brand set of story expansions?
- Improved Gameplay Systems - As Destiny 2 continues to expand, it's important that the game does not collapse under its own weight. With crossplay coming later in the year, new dedication to PvP, and a new approach to gear refresh, Bungie needs to make sure the game’s foundations are solid before launching into a new expansion that is so crucial to the narrative of the franchise. “With Destiny now committed to being an everlasting evolving world, we want to make sure we are still taking the time to upgrade the systemic foundation of Destiny 2 to support everything we want to do in the future,” says Blackburn.
- The biggest reason however is one that was very expected. With the COVID-19 outbreak still hitting the US hard, a large portion of Bungie is working from home. This puts an obvious strain on the studio trying to meet release deadlines and so the deadline was simply pushed back.
It is always hard to curb your disappointment at these announcements but it can be reassuring to know the reasons behind them. Bungie is simply trying to release the product they envision while maintaining both the health of the game and its employees.
In a closing statement regarding The Witch Queen delay, Blackburn had the following to say : “Making this choice is not one we took lightly. Believe me, as someone close to The Witch Queen’s progress, there's no one more than us that wants to get it out as soon as it’s ready.
But at the end of the day, we know we’re making this call for The Witch Queen and future chapters in Destiny 2 for all the right reasons, ones that put our team first and our game at the quality bar we strive for ourselves.”