After revealing the next regularly scheduled Destiny 2 expansion pack, launching on September 22, the game’s creators at Bungie used the Tuesday opportunity to describe a three-year plan for the series. On the eve of a new console generation, fans might have expected teases for a brand-new, next-gen sequel. Bungie put such questions to rest conclusively: “We don’t believe a sequel is the right direction for the game.”
Instead, Destiny 2 will persist for the foreseeable future as a cross-console product, upgraded to run at higher resolutions (up to 4K) and higher frame rates (60 fps) on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and designed to transfer all purchases and progress from older systems to newer ones. As of press time, Bungie has only confirmed that purchases on PlayStation 4 will transfer to PS5, while purchases made for the Xbox family of consoles will support “smart delivery” to automatically transfer to XSX. And if you jump to a newer console and still have friends on the older one, you can continue matchmaking together (as in, XB1 and XSX, or PS4 and PS5; Destiny 2 still does not support cross-platform play, but Bungie has finally hinted that this may change as soon as 2021.)
However, Bungie has not yet clarified whether cross-save progress, entitlements, and purchases will all cleanly move to next-gen consoles. Want to take your purchases and content from PS4 to Xbox Series X? Or did you pay for content on PC or Stadia and want to continue with the Beyond Light expansion content on PlayStation 5? Cross-save has worked this way in the past, but Bungie has yet to clarify whether a new generation of consoles will work this way.
Into the vault
Bungie was more forthcoming about a staggering plan to revamp the game as we know it, which it’s calling the Destiny Content Vault (DCV). From here on out, every major Destiny 2 content update will cycle old content (including Destiny 1 locations and raids) back into Destiny 2… and it will delete existing content, including campaign missions.
The first DCV turnover will wipe a whopping four destinations, and their campaign content, from the Destiny 2 client, both in solo and co-op modes: Io, Titan, Mercury, and Mars. This move will effectively destroy the existing campaign progression track for the base game and its Curse of Osiris and Warmind expansions—coincidentally, this is the very content used to tease new players to try the game in last year’s free-to-play transition. (Bungie has hinted to any removed content returning in future updates, as well.) Since the game works as a live product, their original forms will not exist in any “offline” mode for new players to access and catch up with the series’ plot. Destiny 2‘s September wipe will also remove the Leviathan raid.
Bungie’s consolation to fans of older content is a return of Destiny 1‘s Cosmodrome starting this September, though it will launch at that time in a limited fashion; its strikes and other content or zones won’t show up in Destiny 2 until later in the game’s 13th “season.” In September, Cosmodrome will include a campaign path “to expand the new Guardian origin story to the world of Destiny.”
Bungie’s explanation for this shift is player metrics. As one example, only 0.3 percent of all recent connected players accessed Warmind’s campaign content, even though that content accounts for 5 percent of the game’s installable size, Bungie’s announcement claims. The announcement goes on to say that Destiny 2‘s sprawling game client, currently above 100GB, takes too long for Bungie to reliably patch, test, and update. As the game grows, the number of moving pieces involved to push an update takes days, not hours, the studio says. (Bungie has made such points in the past, and those statments made us wonder whether something else was to blame.)
The content that Bungie wants to send to the DCV “isn’t relevant anymore—and can’t remain relevant—as we evolve the world and introduce new experiences that will take center stage instead.” The studio continues down this rhetorical track by saying, “Maintaining that much content in perpetuity slows down our ability to update the game with fresh experiences, reduces our ability to innovate, and delays our reaction to community feedback.” Which makes us wonder: why not, uh, just shelve so much older content so fans can continue to access it, then make a start-from-scratch sequel?
Bungie seems to regret doing just that with its jump from D1 to D2, though:
We left behind all of Destiny 1‘s content and many of the features players grew to love. We believe now that it was a mistake to create a situation that fractured the community, reset player progress, and set the player experience back in ways that took us a full year to recover from and repair. It’s a mistake we don’t want to repeat by making a Destiny 3.
Bungie’s update doesn’t mention how D2 skirted around the idea of player progression from D1 by having its plot nuke the original game in its entirety. Why worry about progress if all your favorite guns no longer exist? We’d like to think Bungie could implement a wiser move-to-a-sequel path this many years later, but the studio is clearly not bullish to try that route. When the developer overtook control of the series from Activision in early 2019, reporters like Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier claimed that Bungie wanted to avoid fracturing its playerbase with continued sequel releases.
The developer’s metrics may very well bear out, in terms of keeping D2‘s most interested players seeded with brand-new and higher-level content instead of dealing with the bloat of barely used campaign content of old (and it may mean last year’s F2P transition didn’t entice new players to try the older campaign content, after all). We wonder how long it will take for this MMO-ization of D2‘s world content, complete with older destinations being destroyed (perhaps for the sake of the plot) and ultimately driving fans to demand a vanilla client launch. Such a development would make an alliance with Blizzard-Activision more lucrative, but alas.