Destiny may have launched in 2014, but the player base remains dedicated thanks to weekly resets and new content and events on a regular basis, as well as things like light leveling and the collection of exotic items. However, Destiny also has a large population of players who have lapsed over the years. This could be for any number of reasons, ranging from confusion with the various systems at play to a disenchantment with Bungie's storytelling methods. With Destiny 2, Bungie hopes to pull those players back in through a variety of methods. I played the latest build of Destiny 2 and spoke with executive producer David Allen to find out more.
According to Allen, the team learned many lessons from its time playing the first Destiny and its multiple expansions. "Developing the first Destiny before it came out there were a lot of assumptions we were making about how different pieces were going to fit together, how the action game going to fit with the investment game, what are the types of activities people are going to want to do, what is the frequency they're going to want to do those activities," he says. "We've had the benefit of having our expansions for Destiny 1 that we can learn from as well. We can see things that worked in vanilla and react to those, and see what worked and didn't work in Taken King and react to those."
With Destiny, something that turned many casual players off was the inaccessibility of the story. Rather than presenting all of the information in the game, players were required to seek out an online grimoire to delve deeper into the lore. This was certainly one of my frustrations with Destiny, but from my short time playing the campaign, I saw two full-fledged cinematics that gave important context to the action I was involved in. An Activision representative tells us that this has more cinematics than any Bungie game to date.
According to Allen, the team has responded to player feedback in this area. "There was a lot of cool lore in the grimoire and we want to make sure we're still telling really compelling, deep stories, but it was too hard to find in Destiny," he says. "We want to make sure we're taking that cool story and the things that people really loved and pulling them in-game so that everybody experiences it and not just everyone who knows that if they go online they can look at their grimoire cards and read them to look at all the backstory. We want to pull that into the game itself."
In addition, Bungie has decreased the likelihood of being overwhelmed by the number of systems in place and menu items to interact with. The team hopes this will allow new players to not feel lost in the menus while allowing veteran players to get to where they want to be quicker. "We want to make the game easy to understand what to do," Allen says. "If you look at the orbit screen, with Destiny 1 with all the expansions that we've done, there's an almost overwhelming amount of stuff. Like, if you go to Cosmodrome now, just the number of nodes there are that you can choose what to do, it can be difficult to understand, especially if you've been out of the game for a while. One of the things we want to do is make [Destiny 2] very clear an very straightforward to understand what they should be doing."
Another streamlined area comes into play with the three classes. While they remain the same in name, they are transformed through new subclasses. "We really wanted to focus on taking the three existing classes that people already love and have a strong association with and give people new ways to play those classes, and ways to make it a little more straightforward to understand," Allen says. "Things like a cool grouping of perks that you can play together in an interesting way, and to give players a good way to unlock all of the potential of these classes that were in Destiny 1."
My personal favorite was the new Hunter subclass, Arcstrider. During my time playing around in the Crucible, I achieved one of my favorite moments during a match of Countdown, where one team is trying to arm a bomb while the other must diffuse it. The opposing team of four depleted us to two as they armed the bomb. While my teammate fired on their position, I activated my special ability, which granted me extra speed and a super powerful melee attack. In one strike, I take down the opponent trying to flank my teammate. I can hear that the bomb was getting closer to detonation, so I rush into the room where the three remaining enemies are defending their bomb. With three swings of my arc staff, I wipe out the remaining opponents and diffuse the bomb just in time to win the round. It was a moment that solidified my choice of class going into Destiny 2.
Whether I was playing the campaign or duking it out in the Crucible, I had a blast during my time Destiny 2. My time with the game eased my concerns for the sequel and has the series back on my radar. I can already tell that I'll be spending many hours serving as Earth's final hope when Destiny 2 launches on September 6.