Nine months after launch, Destiny 2 is in a precarious spot. Despite being well-received when it hit last September, fans of the original quickly realized that much of the depth of the original had been stripped away, for better or worse. Destiny 2 was easier to grasp for new players, but it lacked the same habit-forming quality of the original. There just wasn’t much to keep the hardcore crowd coming back after they’d maxed out their characters.
Bungie has worked hard to recapture the spark of the first game over the past nine months with updates, overhauls, expansions, and new features, but nothing has clicked. That’s why Forsaken — the latest and largest expansion — is so important. It might be Bungie’s last chance to win back those who have abandoned the game.
Kicking off Destiny 2’s Year 2, Forsaken introduces two brand-new areas to explore, a new mode that mixes PvE and PvP combat, and a new raid in an ever-evolving destination called The Dreaming City. It starts with a new campaign, which follows your character and the beloved Exo Vanguard Cayde-6 as you hunt down the most-wanted criminals in the galaxy. Along the way, you’ll discover new weapons, new mods, and even a brand new weapon type.
We’ll learn more about the story of the campaign at E3 2018, but we also got a glimpse of the PvPvE mode Gambit during the live stream reveal on Tuesday. In Gambit, two teams of four will each be dropped into their own discrete maps where they will have to face off against a series of enemies, collecting and banking “motes” along the way to make things more difficult for the other team. One player can even invade the other team’s map unexpectedly at certain points throughout the match to disrupt their progress and take as many of them out as possible.
The Dreaming City was the highlight of the stream though, as it will serve as both a new endgame area for those who have completed everything else, as well as the home of the new raid. We still don’t know much about The Dreaming City, but Bungie says that it will evolve over time as players complete missions and discover secrets.
Finally, Bungie is also addressing some of the game’s systems that core players are unsatisfied with. You can see the full list of changes on the latest development roadmap on Bungie’s blog, or check out the highlights here:
- Random Rolls for weapons are returning
- Weapon slot customization has improved
- Mod system is being updated and reworked
- Gear Collections will let you see everything you’ve collected and what you’ve yet to find
- Triumphs will let you keep track of your achievements as you complete quests
- A new Crucible mode is coming, alongside four new Crucible maps
- Everyone is getting 200 additional Vault slots
- Power matters in Iron Banner and Trials again
These are just some of the ways that Destiny 2 will fundamentally change alongside the release of the expansion. Forsaken will be available for PS4, Xbox One and PC on September 4th. You can buy it on its own for $39.99, buy it with the new Annual Pass (which provides bonus rewards and introduces three premium content releases) for $69.99, or pick up the Digital Deluxe Edition for $79.99 with some bonus in-game items included.
I was late to the party with Monster Hunter: World. Despite all the hype leading up to the game’s launch, and then the deluge of positive reviews once it arrived, I was confident that the new Monster Hunter wouldn’t be for me. I never got into any of the previous entries, and I didn’t see how the latest one was going to change my mind.
Thirty-eight hours and dozens of monster corpses later, I’m glad that I took the plunge. Monster Hunter: World is one of the most satisfying, complete video games I’ve played in years and, despite being somewhat repetitive, has yet to give me a reason to put down the controller. This isn’t a review of Monster Hunter: World though — rather, I want to explore Capcom’s success in developing a live game while other studios struggle to do the same.
As I was browsing around this morning, looking for reactions to the newly-released Destiny 2 expansion, Warmind, I came across a thread on ResetEra noting that of the three new Strikes (cooperative, replayable missions) added to the game, two were recycled from the Warmind campaign while the other is exclusive to PlayStation 4.
None of this should surprise long-time Destiny fans, but with all the controversy and chaos that has surrounded the sequel since launch, one would imagine that Bungie and Activision would change course to appease the people who are paying for the game, the expansions and the in-game premium currency. But the problem for Destiny 2 is that the course was charted years ago, and there’s simply not room to stray too far off that path.
If you’re wondering why I went off on that tangent about Destiny 2, it’s because I see Bungie’s shooter and Capcom’s action RPG as two branches off the same path. Games as a service are games that continue to provide content post-launch, often as part of a subscription (World of Warcraft), microtransactions (Hearthstone) or full expansions of new content, which is what Destiny offers. The problem with Destiny’s model is that if gamers are going to pay $20 for an expansion, they expect a suitable amount of content in return. Instead, in Warmind, they got a two hour campaign, a lackluster new region to patrol, and a couple of repetitive Strikes. The only part of the expansion anyone seems to be excited about is the new Raid Lair, which doesn’t even go live until Friday.
Monster Hunter: World, on the other hand, has been pumping out new content on a regular basis weekly since the game launched in January. Not only is the campaign dozens of hours long, but Capcom has continued to build on top of the foundation it laid with new content, limited-time events, new monsters and, in the case of the recent version 3.0 update, an entirely new mode that requires sixteen players to work together.
The most impressive part? Every update and event has been free. Hours and hours of additional content delivered to players on a weekly basis, completely free of charge. And this is where the two paths diverge.
Mechanically, Monster Hunter: World and Destiny 2 are both brilliant. Capcom knows how to build a living, breathing world, filled with imposing creatures that have their own unique personalities. Bungie will always build shooters that feel equal parts fast and impactful. The foundations for both are incredibly sound, but if you’re going to release a game as a service (“live games” for short), the updates have to be frequent and meaningful.
Monster Hunter: World and Destiny 2 are basically lite MMOs. The campaign or story mode is just a means to an end as you work your way to the “endgame,” where the most difficult and satisfying content in the game can be found. All the while, you’re collecting new gear and items to make your character stronger, often repeating the same content over and over to gather the materials you need to craft a stronger weapon or sturdier armor.
Both games are repetitive by nature, but Monster Hunter keeps things fresh by constantly rotating in all-new quests, introducing fun crossover events, and regularly shipping massive, free updates that balance the existing content while adding new content for players to check out. Destiny 2 has a similar development roadmap, but in addition to being few and far between, the updates are relatively unsubstantial compared to those in Monster Hunter.
I am fully aware that Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter: World are very different games, but each team had jobs to do and milestones to hit throughout development, with live teams in place to support the games once they’ve launched. What Capcom appears to understand better than almost any other console developer in the industry is that the post-launch support is just as vital to the game’s long-term success as the disc you ship on launch day.
Just days ago, Capcom announced that Monster Hunter: World has shipped 7.9 million copies since launch. That makes it the best-selling Capcom game of all time, and it hasn’t even been on the market for four months. The quality of the game is undeniable, and that obviously contributes heavily to those numbers, but perhaps more importantly, the discussion surrounding the game has yet to die down. Every time a new quest drops or a new monster appears, the entire internet starts writing about it, followed by dozens of walkthrough videos on YouTube. The Monster Hunter community is just as engaged in the game now as they were in January.
This isn’t meant to be a shot at Destiny 2, a game which I have also spent dozens of hours with and plan to jump back into this weekend to give Warmind a longer look. But if Monster Hunter: World and Destiny 2 are the blueprints developers can follow when building live games, only one path seems sustainable.
As much as the Destiny 2 microtransactions have been lambasted by players, you’d be hard-pressed to find a peep about the Monster Hunter: World microtransactions. You can pay real money for gestures, costumes, and hairstyles, and eventually, you’ll even have to pay for a voucher to edit your character. These cosmetic items allow Capcom to continue generating revenue post-launch, but no one complains about them (see: Star Wars Battlefront II) because the company has already built up so much goodwill with the player base by providing a wealth of free content.
This issue isn’t as straightforward as “do what Capcom did,” but the way that Monster Hunter: World has continued to evolve week after week without asking players to pay a cent is incredibly impressive. Monster Hunter: World feels like the future of live games on consoles, and sadly, Destiny 2 is rooted in the past.
Destiny 2 hasn’t had quite the shelf life of the original, swamped in controversy and battered by complaints from fans who were less than satisfied with Bungie’s updated vision for the franchise. But that hasn’t stopped the development team, as a new expansion is apparently right around the corner (along with some other big changes).
On Wednesday, Bungie shared an updated development roadmap for Destiny 2 stretching all the way to September, and it turns out that Season 3 will begin on May 8th alongside the launch of the Warmind expansion. New expansions are typically announced with a video or a live stream, but Bungie decided to just bury it in a blog post.
According to the post, Warmind “will send you to new places to meet new heroes and battle new enemies” as well as “earn new loot and master new activities.” While the announcement might have been anti-climatic, Bungie does plan to host a reveal stream on Twitch on April 24th where we will learn more specific details about the expansion. Like Curse of Osiris before it, Warmind will likely feature a new campaign and new areas to explore.
Bungie is also fixing competitive multiplayer to address one of the complaints that players have lobbed at the series since the first game. Starting in Season 3, all the Crucible maps that were added in Curse of Osiris and Warmind will be available for every player. In other words, you don’t have to purchase the expansion to access the new maps. The studio says that this will help unify the community (although it’s worth noting you will still need to own the expansion to play the map in private matches, which will be added to the game during Season 3 as well).
Microtransactions won’t satisfy these post-holiday doldrums.
Just weeks after Destiny 2’s first expansion, Curse of Osiris, went live, details about the second expansion appear to have leaked on the PlayStation Store. This week, an anonymous user on Reddit uploaded a screenshot of a listing on the PS Store (which has since been taken down) detailing Expansion II: God of Mars.
According to the description on the PS Store, God of Mars will feature a new destination called the Frigid Vale, within which players will find the Clovis Grove and Charlemagne’s Vault. Charlemagne is a Warmind that was initially meant to appear in the original Destiny, but was shelved and brought back to life for the expansion.
In addition to the new region, God of Mars will also give players new story missions and adventures, new weapons, armors and gear, new co-op activities, new competitive multiplayer arenas, and most surprisingly, a brand new enemy faction. One of the most common criticisms leveled against Destiny is that it reuses the same enemy models over and over throughout the story, but it appears we’ll finally be getting some fresh new aliens to shoot this time.
Finally, the listing also reveals that God of Mars will arrive in March 2018, which matches up with the Spring 2018 date that Bungie announced for the second Destiny 2 expansion. All in all, it appears to be of similar scope and scale to Curse of Osiris, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
While the expansions for the original Destiny varied drastically in terms of the amount of content they contained and the quality of the content therein, the expansions for Destiny 2 appears to be far more predictable. A short campaign, a new area to explore, new loot to acquire and new multiplayer arenas to do battle in. Hopefully this expansion will make fans happy though, because Curse of Osiris got raked over the coals.