In a recent ViDoc from Bungie, we got a good indication what the next five years of Destiny will look like, and nothing in that five-year plan suggests Destiny 3 is coming soon. Bungie is going all-in with Destiny 2 as a Massively Multiplayer game, and though we see some pushback from gamers, this is a good thing for all Guardians.
Bungie is finally getting to make the game it wanted to do five years ago, and the next five years look very bright for those willing to invest the time. Shadowkeep, and by extension New Light, are offering up a new way to play Destiny that should entice new Guardians to come and play in the universe Bungie envisions.
The thing is though, Bungie never wanted to make a sequel. Destiny and Destiny 2 didn't feel like separate games. The sequel simply felt like the continuation of an ongoing arc. Each expansion — the two massive ones, and the eight smaller ones — each added something to the story, while a couple of them made crucial changes to the game, and none of them could be called proper sequels.
With the arrival of Shadowkeep and New Light, Bungie is trying to rewrite history, and achieve what they set out to do in Destiny 1. They want to give us a living world that grows naturally over time, rather than forcing breakpoints in the narrative and calling them new games.
Back on Sept. 9, 2014 Destiny, made by Bungie — formed by some of the original creators of Halo — was touted to us as an ever-evolving world that we would be able to continue exploring for years to come.
Destiny blew me away when I first started playing on the Xbox 360, and from Day One it consumed my spare time. I played that game longer than I've played any other game in my life, and I spent 200 hours on Final Fantasy VIII. The gunplay was on point, making you feel powerful and deadly without making everything else feel easy. Using the three Guardian classes felt different enough to make me want to try each one out, even if it meant I had to play the same content three times.
That's not to say it was perfect — there were balancing issues with the guns, and the grind was very real — but as more content was released the game became a machine of entertainment for me and everyone I could convince to play.
Unfortunately for Bungie, Activision — the publisher of Destiny at the time — has a history of wanting sequels to games each year, so Bungie had to respond with Destiny 2. Forcing a sequel meant the original dream —an ever-expanding universe — was curtailed.
Bungie has since left Activision to publish the game for itself. That means the drive to make a new game every year or two is replaced by making one game that evolves in a meaningful way, year on year.
Shadowkeep could be called Destiny 5 if it makes you feel better
In the last five years, Destiny has undergone significant shifts through some of the better expansions, and at least two created such large changes that they could be considered sequels. That's not to say that the other expansions didn't add cool new content, but these two expansions could've been used by Bungie to advance the number on the disc box if it wanted.
The Taken King in Destiny and Forsaken in Destiny 2 were so big and changed the nature of the game so much that for most games in Activision's stable — Call of Duty is a good example — it would have been enough to bump the version number. Bungie didn't want to though; the game is simply just Destiny.
The Taken King
The Taken King is some of the best content I've played in any video game. It introduced three new subclasses, as well as a new area, the Dreadnought, that was alive with combat all the time. It felt like you were constantly in danger, and that is something that has played into Destiny 2.
It was also the first raid to introduce challenges — specific ways to defeat bosses to gain extra rewards — and is still my favorite raid even now. The level of cooperation needed to overcome The Taken King Raid was immense, and the bonds of friendship I made with the people who defeated it with me persist through Destiny 2 and, I hope, beyond.
Forsaken was exactly what Destiny 2 needed to revamp the franchise. At the time of release, numbers were at an all-time low, and the game became an endlessly dull grind with no real reason to play. I decided to stop playing days before the Forsaken announcement but chose to give it one more chance to win me back. While Foresaken didn't sell as well as everybody hoped, it succeeded where it mattered.
So Shadowkeep isn't just another expansion to Destiny 2, it is the fifth major change to the franchise.
The new expansion went crazy with content. It added new subclasses, new weapon classes — the bow is the perfect addition — and two new massive play areas. It also brought us an entirely new game mode, Gambit, and a new race of bad guys called the Scorn. What it did better than any expansion before it, however, was to move the story forward in a big way.
The Forsaken storyline changed the very nature of Destiny, making Guardians more fragile. It changed the Guardians from beings of incorruptible light to flawed people that could, and often did, make mistakes. It was a revelation, and hooked me back into the game, making me feel like I was playing it for the first time.
When you look at these significant expansions, the amount of content they gave us, and how they changed the core game, you realize they can be easily described as standalone sequels.
So Shadowkeep isn't just another expansion to Destiny 2, it is the fifth major change to the franchise making it closer to Destiny 5 than "just another DLC."
We are getting Destiny 3, kind of...
Shadowkeep represents a massive paradigm shift in the way Destiny is created and the way we, as players, will play. There are changes to the way armor works, new weapons, new moves for your Guardian, a new way to spend real money, and a new end game item called an artifact.
We aren't getting Destiny 3 in the next five years at least, but I'm not worried.
The armor modifications have become more RPG-like in their execution, which expands the replayability of Destiny 2 considerably. One of the biggest complaints of the Destiny franchise is how difficult it is to truly customize your Guardian. It's hard to make it feel like only you have a particular set of skills to help the team. By changing the way armor works, Bungie has given us the option to add the stats we want to the armor we like the look of, thus making each of us unique.
Those are just some of the tangible things that you can interact with, but we're also getting the typical slew of new missions, strikes, a new raid, and a new dungeon. Bungie is also changing how you pay for Destiny moving forward with the introduction of New Light.
New Light is a reworked version of Destiny 2 that offers a core game that's free to all players. It's essentially a stripped-down version of the first year of Destiny 2 and includes all of the Year One content — Warmind, Curse of Osiris, and the Red War — up to but not including Forsaken, along with a few reworked parts of Destiny 1.
This makes a lot of sense when you're trying to create a living world. People need to be invested in the story, and to do that they have to know as much as possible about it. New Light will give them a taste of Destiny 1 with the first mission in full, and parts of other missions which will help you level your character up to power level 750.
I'm excited for the future
So we aren't getting Destiny 3 in the next five years at least, but I'm not worried. Bungie has shown time and again that with these expansions it can bring variety and new gameplay to the table. Not only that, Bungie will do it with flair and passion, and it'll be thoughtful on what the community wants.
Bungie is also giving us a new style of DLC. Gone are the huge expansions costing almost as much as the game. After Shadowkeep season, passes will take over. Like season passes in Fortnite, these passes will constantly add to the narrative of Destiny 2, helping the world evolve by adding a new story, new game modes, and new weapons. It will also take old, out of date content away, making way for more exciting content for us to sink our teeth into.
With Shadowkeep, and more importantly New light, Bungie is telling us that we don't need Destiny 3, because Destiny 2 is going to keep us busy for a long time to come.
I'm with you all the way Bungie. Let's do this.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep releases on Oct. 1, 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
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