It's almost been a year since Destiny 2 launched. From the jump, critics loved it, fans seemed into it. Then the months dragged on and an unfortunate realization settled in: Destiny 2 didn't have legs like the first game did.
As a consequence, players reportedly left in droves. After its first lackluster expansion, a sourness seemed to settle in among its dedicated community. An industry analyst noted that Destiny 2 was "not in a good place" in early 2018. A lot has happened with Destiny 2 in its inaugural year, and not much of it was good—except, y'know, Bungie pledging its mission to fix it.
That's the bright spot in all the drama: that Bungie seemingly heard the outcry that's permeated through subreddits, social media, and even critics in the media, including some right here on the site. Our own contributor Doc Burford summed it up the best in an article for us, writing, "The perfect Destiny 2 patch isn't about crazy new features, nor is it about turning Destiny 2 into Destiny, as great as that would be. It's about solving Destiny 2's avoidable problems and getting the fans excited again." Those problems piled as high as a mountain for Bungie: with its new token-centric progression, lack of bounties and other key features of the entry before it, 4v4 switch in its competitive mode Crucible, the bonkers categorization of key weapons such as shotguns, and so on. The problems were immense.
Arguably, it's even more of a mess than the first Destiny, which is renown for how rough its first year was. But then it got better, and then its sequel only walked back on Bungie's progress that made so many players sink thousands of hours into it. And it seems, with the third expansion Forsaken quickly approaching and a giant 2.0 update hitting this week, that it's finally on the right track. This is everything you need to know in preparation for the big voyage to redownload the shared world shooter, and what you've missed if you've been gone for the past year.
Warmind and Curse of Osiris Were Huge Disappointments
Forsaken has a lot riding on it, and that's because Destiny 2's first two expansions—Curse of Osiris from last December and Warmind from this past spring—were huge let downs. Curse of Osiris introduced a new planet that was so small that you couldn't even spawn your Sparrow bike in, while Warmind's campaign and the dull planet of Mars was just another big disappointment. Forsaken, in a lot of ways, feels like Bungie's last chance to make Destiny 2 resonate beyond just its launch month.
And the company's gunning for it hard, especially now that the base game of Destiny 2 is one of PlayStation Plus' "free" offerings in September for subscribers. (So, in actuality, not really free.) The surprise reveal is likely to drum up excitement for Forsaken among those who may have not played even last year, and for veterans, as a sign of "hey, we mean business" on the eve of Forsaken's release next week.
Bungie does mean business. While it's not posting blatant "We're fixing Destiny 2" messages, a la PUBG Corp. with PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Bungie's continual roadmaps and updates prove as such. Everything in the build up to Forsaken seems to be promising things for every sort of fan. It has a big story thrust with the death of fan favorite hero Cayde-6 (as was revealed in its E3 2018 trailer). It's bringing new weapons (fuckin' bows baby), a new power level, new supers, and more. A new mode is entering the fray that combines PvE and PvP, called Gambit mode. The Reef is returning to the series too.
And that's not even starting with the gameplay changes. And by the time next week rolls around, Destiny 2 will be virtually unrecognizable compared to its state a year ago.
How Everything's Different Now
With complaints in the past year, came major changes. If I were to list all of them, this article would be thousands of words long, so instead I'll focus on the biggest and most noteworthy changes.
For instance, Bungie brought back 6v6 for PvP, phasing out 4v4. Faction Rallies were reworked, in addition to other events. Controversially, Bungie implemented some quiet XP throttling before sort of walking it back (or rather, being more transparent about it) after getting complaints. The controversy lie in the perceived reasoning behind it: by throttling XP, players would be more encouraged to spend money on microtransactions at the Eververse, rather than earn its rewards organically through progression.
One of the biggest changes in Year 1 has been the introduction of Masterworks, which is an extra perk for gear. In the original Destiny, all perks were randomized per drop. In Destiny 2, this was swapped for stagnant abilities, making the quest to grind for the same weapons null and void as there was no longer any surprise with what you'd get, because it'd always be the same. Where's the fun in that?
Masterworks is Bungie's attempt to rectify that, though it's been wishy-washy in its own right. The Masterwork perks are randomized, but only offers one perk on top of the already existing ones. It's not a complete overhaul of the weapon system, but it offers just enough to incentivize players to grind for more loot. Though some argue it's still not enough, so Bungie's changing it yet again.
What's Changing With Forsaken
Now, Masterworks operate on a tiered scale, costing miscellaneous resources to power up to 10 tiers. In the past, Masterwork weapons were either Masterworks or not. (You can tell on your inventory from the soft gold glow around them.) Now, there's flexibility to them. This is due to another massive change on Destiny 2's part with Forsaken: Random rolls are returning to weapons. No longer will weapon perks be the same forever—now grinding for different weapons in search of your ideal roll is feasible again. This, in particular, is the most exciting change to come with Forsaken, extending Destiny 2's longevity potential for Year 2.
Another big change is one commonly groused about in the community: the weapon classifications. Shotguns, grenade launchers, and other weapons were trapped in the Power slot, whereas in the previous game they could be used as secondaries. In Forsaken, that system is disappearing. Shotguns will no longer be trapped with just power ammo, and can be toggled between sections. This gives players more freedom to construct their ideal arsenal, and frees up the very crowded Power weapons section as well. (Some weapons, however, are staying as Power weapons.)
With the big update of 2.0, a lot of changes are already hitting Destiny 2 in preparation for Forsaken, though not everything is active yet. A bigger vault, increased to 500, is set to help players organize their ever-expanding inventory better. A new Collections system will allow players to track their gear, ghosts, shaders (including the option to repurchase a shader), and more.
Earlier this summer, Bungie raised the Power Level cap to 400 from its previous expansion Warmind's hard cap of 385 (380 at the soft cap without miscellaneous mods). With Forsaken, the Power Level cap is going to jump even higher, capping off at a staggering 600. The base level cap is also going to climb to 50 from its previous cap of 30. Bungie's offering more room for players to grow and level up than ever before. Which is good, considering working towards anything has been a persistent problem with Destiny 2's life after its campaign.
Now, taking into account these new level caps might seem intimidating, but worry not: Destiny 2: Forsaken is bringing back something that started with The Taken King: a level boost. With each purchase of Destiny 2: Forsaken, you'll also get one lone boost for your character, according to an interview with Mashable. Instead of it being an item in your inventory, it'll be on the character select screen. The boost will allow you to bring up a character to the required level to play the new content. Plus, it'll complete all the story content before that point too, so you're not saddled with a huge backlog of story missions to play unless you really want to go through it immensely overpowered or whatever.
If you have more than one character though, Bungie will be selling more character boosts for an as-yet unknown price. For the first Destiny, they came at $30 a pop, but it remains to be seen if the new expansion will continue that price point. But with the new level cap of 600, building up that power level will happen at a much faster pace—minus those last 50 Power levels or so, when loot drops cap off. At the moment, my warlock is at Power level 341, I imagine climbing up will take hardly much time at all with the higher level cap.
With the big update of 2.0, a lot of changes are already hitting Destiny 2 in preparation for Forsaken. But not everything is active yet, and a whole suite of quality of life changes are en route for the shooter. A bigger vault, increased to 500, is set to help players organize their ever-expanding inventory better. Cayde-6 has abandoned the Tower, and taken his treasure maps with him. Lost sectors are more difficult now. Strikes are tweaked again, such as retiring prestige difficulty for Nightfall and increasing the base difficulty in turn.
What's Next After Forsaken
In a new Year 2 roadmap, Bungie have outlined its plans for the year ahead, beyond just Forsaken's suite of game-evolving changes. First on the schedule, the new raid, entitled Last Wish, is set to launch on September 14. A new Crucible mode called Breakthrough is right on its tail with a September 25 release date. In addition to the new raid and Crucible mode, the Iron Banner is returning on September 18, alongside a new Crucible map. Bungie will also be shifting to a seasonal format for its free content updates, including an outline of what's to come this winter, with the grand return of heavy machine guns, new weapons and "Crucible content," and more.
The annual pass also kicks off with Forsaken. The annual pass costs $34.99, and is tethered to the free seasonal updates. Only with the paid annual pass, you'll get access to exclusive merchants, new exotics, new raid lairs, and more per season. For all the annual pass content, you must also own Forsaken. The response from the community, judging from browsing the likes of social media and Reddit, is largely mixed. Some argue that a paid expansion should naturally offer such content until the next expansion. Others note that it's not too steep of a price, especially if they're playing Destiny 2 like a hobby and sinking hours every day into it. With the promise of raid lairs and so on, it's seen as a solid deal.
It's hard to repair the damage that's been done the past year. But all the changes that have either hit the game or are on the way are proof that Bungie listened to its audience. Destiny 2 will remain a fixer upper probably for a long while, but Forsaken's a step forward in the right direction. And maybe, just maybe, it can gain those players it lost along the journey. Like me, and like the many others who bounced in the past year.