The Future of Destiny Looks More Interesting Without a Destiny 3

The Future of Destiny Looks More Interesting Without a Destiny 3

Destiny 2 may cycle through growth and pruning forever, though.

Currently, Destiny 2 is a game I enjoy reading about and writing about, but have little motivation to play. I fell for it hard after it launched, not expecting to be pulled back in after time away from Bungie's original. Years later, I find myself in the camp of people who're fascinated by the direction Destiny has taken but don't have space for it in their lives. Of the many forever games on the market, Destiny 2 might be the most intense of the bunch. Few games so regularly inspire excitement and ire from its fans, nor lengthy screeds from their directors. At times it feels like I would personally need another reset, the kind a Destiny 3 could offer, to really get back into it. After today's news that seems doubly true, but no such sequel is coming. To that, I say "good."

Unless there's a major shake up of plans at Bungie, there won't be a Destiny 3 any time soon. Instead, there are Destiny 2 expansions planned out to at least 2022, and older less-played content will be cycled out of rotation to accommodate the new. Destiny 2 will live on, making the leap to next-gen and, fingers crossed, after cross-generation play is established it'll see its player base fully united across platforms. Destiny went for three years—the plan is to have the sequel last at least twice as long.

So, there's no "3" on a box with an across-the-board reset coming to cater to me or any others who've not kept up with Destiny 2. With Destiny 2's launch in 2017, it was definitely something of a "one step forward, two or three steps back" break. Continuity in the story was preserved, yes, and players could bring their Guardian characters over with special nods to all their deeds up to that point, but it came at a cost.

That new beginning was as much a boon to folks like me as it was a massive burn to players who had invested more in the original. Of course, a numbered sequel wouldn't necessarily have to create such a harsh break again, but it's probably a better solution in the long run to see Bungie eschew the idea. Forging ahead with a third Destiny looks about as likely to fix the problems that plague Destiny as Luke Smith's "Director's Cut" posts will help people like me "see the light" (please let the pun slide) as to why it's worth diving back in.

It seems better for Bungie to stick with Destiny 2, even with its constraints and a history dotted with missteps, than to tell current players that it'll abandon the current entry for new frontiers. That said, the solution Bungie's going with already has detractors, who are understandably pissed off about losing some favorite destinations—Mars, Io, Titan, Mercury, and Leviathan, home of Destiny 2's first Raid—to Destiny 2's new Content Vault process.

Bungie cites hard drive capacity as one of the driving concerns here, but Destiny 2's current 115 gigabyte footprint is already dwarfed by the likes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with all its updates. Figuring out what to do here is an unenviable balancing act with no good outcomes. Players who would gladly devote all their available hard drive space to Destiny 2 are probably in the minority, and it has to be hard to weigh the value of maintaining content against the costs of keeping it, or in the face of data that says engagement with this or that has plummeted. By putting stuff in the vault, though, Bungie is limiting access to Destiny 2 content that people have paid for while making its small-for-an-MMO world smaller—again.

Exactly how much work will go into updating the original Destiny content coming back to Destiny 2 remains to be seen. Perhaps it will be enough to please some folks who are mad about losing Mars, but the updates will require a different sort of work than continually managing Destiny 2's sprawl. Still, Bungie says the current Destiny 2 test surface is "massive," so to the team it may be worth a workload of tweaks and fixes to vaulted content plus the laments from players, so long as it makes testing every individual update less of a nightmare.

Beyond Light is coming later this year. | Bungie

"Instead of building on a great foundation, [Bungie] constantly resets the game, removing interesting content," wrote Doc Burford in early 2019, examining the state of Destiny 2 for USgamer after the release of the Forsaken expansion. Later that year, Senior Editor Caty McCarthy reviewed Shadowkeep and said its central thesis seemed to be this: "we love the past, and we're reinventing it. Nothing more, nothing less." This time around, in planting a flag for Destiny 2's future, Bungie is saying it'll set aside some of the past, some of that beloved interesting content, to keep the whole enterprise moving.

Personally, I am very curious to see how this pans out. With Destiny 2's rollercoaster history, riding it out to three more years feels like exactly the sort of move that former publisher Activision would never have made with Bungie. It is a commitment to the promise of a wide, storied world Bungie made way back in 2013, but it comes at the cost of phasing bits of that world in and out. Things won't be gone forever, Bungie promises, but that only matters if players keep playing. If players have been coming back for the overdue return of things like Trials of Osiris, then why wouldn't Bungie shuffle things in and out?

If more recent titles like Fortnite hadn't already proved that tumultuous content turnover can not only be weathered but turn out invigorating, the courage to go ahead with this contradictory approach might not be there. It's strange, and by that virtue I think it's far more intriguing than another reset with a Destiny 3 would be.

Destiny 2's evolution from second-stab at a "shared world shooter" to an unabashed MMO has been worth following, warts and all, both for the game's sake and for how so many others have tried to follow Bungie's lead. Maybe committing to Destiny 2 in this way will turn out to be a bad move, one that the imitators won't dare to repeat. We'll just have to see if the folks saying they'll uninstall Destiny 2 today are still feeling this way in 2022.

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Mathew Olson

Reporter

Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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