Hello, hi, welcome back to your regularly scheduled Destiny 2 column. It’s me, Auri, if you didn’t know and only read these as they come, I used to be Alex, now I’m Auri, here is a link to some more info if you are curious.
It’s been a little bit since my last column, summarizing my feelings on Lightfall in the form of its review. It being both a tumultuous time for me in real life and Destiny/Bungie in its own circles, I took a bit of a break throughout Season of the Deep. But if you don’t listen to H.E.L.M. to Tower, you should! Mike Burgess and I cover all our feelings there pretty clearly.
With all that said, I’m stepping back into writing, so forgive this little Pre-Column Update. I’ve decided to call this your H.E.L.M. Report, reporting from our Hub for Emergency Logistics and Maneuvers seems like a nice companion to the Destiny Podcast, and like said before, below is a “video companion” to this column, if you’re more of an Audio/Video kind of person.
Now, back to business!
This past Tuesday, Bungie finally revealed their final expansion in “The Light & Darkness Saga” that started back in 2014 with the initial release of Destiny. Some context needs to be established though, since this Showcase didn’t happen in a vacuum for the Destiny community.
After a pretty controversial State of the Game post made by Bungie back in early August, the community became extremely heated, not that this is anything new for the Destiny community. Bungie fumbled quite a bit when it came to communication, responding to community sentiment, and some of the decisions being made around the game. This led to Joe Blackburn, game director for Destiny 2, making a very personal video published to “X” (Twitter) talking directly to those more hardcore players and attempting to clear the air.
Trying something different, yall have 15 minutes to chat? pic.twitter.com/wzB6xqJPGU— Joe Blackburn (@joegoroth) August 15, 2023
I found this to be quite refreshing. It is much more personal, less corporate, and seemed to address some of the biggest sticking points established by the community.
All of this, and some pretty horrid toxicity from within the Destiny 2 community like sending epileptic-shock gifs to community managers, and ignorant and pitch-fork-esque posts about how Bungie could be making more PvP maps, all spun around D2 throughout August. Even if this had ended up being the best Showcase Bungie had ever produced, it’d be in a much larger, much messier shitstorm.
Now outside of its larger context, how was the showcase? Here is a quick summary of information:
- The Final Shape will launch on Feb. 27th 2024, it will be a more “focused” campaign and destination experience, taking place within The Pale Heart of the Traveler.
- The raid is being positioned as the true finale of the expansion, with The Witness, our enemy, being its final climactic fight. Bungie also said you’ll be able to get a satisfying conclusion to the story outside of the raid, but to me, this raid feels the most essential of any that came before.
- The expansion will introduce one new Light Subclass Super per class, as well as a new aspect with those supers. It’s Solar for Warlock, Arc for Hunter, and Void for Titan. We don’t know if there are more updates to more light subclasses outside of this; as far as I know, Bungie has not said anything, so I wouldn’t expect it.
- New enemy units will populate the field, Subjugators, which use the powers of darkness against us. They look rad as hell.
- Season of the Witch is the name of Season 22, which is now live and I’ll be talking about it this weekend on the next episode of H.E.L.M. to Tower.
- Crota’s End is being reprised this season!
- Following The Final Shape, Destiny 2 will no longer produce seasons, instead trying something called “Episodes”. Three Episodes are planned for after The Final Shape, “Echoes”, “Revenant”, and “Heresy”. They’ll each have three acts, and each act will be six weeks long, coming with new weapons and missions in each act. These will effectively replace seasons and are what you get as part of the annual pass should you choose to purchase that version of The Final Shape.
That’s about everything said and done, so was it a success? Did Bungie turn around community sentiment and get everyone excited for The Final Shape? As with all things, it’s a bit of column A, and a bit of column B.
Personally, I am excited for The Final Shape, but I wouldn’t say I’m “more” excited than I was before the showcase. I know the finale of Destiny will be epic. I know the raid will be crazy, and I’m most excited for that experience above all else. A “finale” raid has just a great ring to it, and knowing The Witness is about to be the toughest boss fight Bungie has ever built has me more excited than anything else. That’s what I want more than anything, and on this front Bungie seems quite confident.
As for the expansion itself, the showcase was pretty coy about what to actually expect from the campaign and destination. They described it as a “linear Destiny” but also as one that would change after the raid is completed. We’ve seen evolving destinations before, namely in The Dreaming City, but nothing specific was said about how this new place will stack up in comparison. I appreciate that confidence, but it doesn’t give me a lot to go on. I think a linear destination could work for a campaign driven expansion as it provides that feeling of slowly moving forward toward a destination you can see from very far away, I love that. But in Destiny, it’s pretty different than what we’re used to. How will returning to The Pale Heart work after The Witness is gone? I guess there are a few assumptions in there, but it shows that there is a lot we don’t know.
Some smaller things got me really excited, like UI changes, a new “support frame” auto rifle that can be shot at allies to heal them, and of course, Radiance coming back in some form for Solar Warlocks from Destiny 1 (without self-resurrection, unfortunately). The three supers seem exciting, and I am always happy with more modular additions to the subclass families, I am just always left wanting more. A third and final darkness subclass? Additional supers for our other four subclasses? I want to know more about those things, even if we have plenty of fun toys to keep us distracted.
The Final Shape has huge, huge shoes to fill, and after Lightfall missed the mark for me, and most people, I think it’s normal to be worried. Knowing how some of the future content is going to roll out is a comfort, as the seasonal model has I think overstayed its welcome.
These “episodes” seem to be structured in a way that allows Bungie to pivot more freely mid-episode, and hopefully keep the game fresh well into the future. There are plenty of people who have been lying to themselves thinking the year after The Final Shape, Bungie would be putting out Destiny 3 and starting fresh again, but I don’t think Destiny 3 will ever happen. And honestly, that’s totally fine with me. I just worry what will happen to the campaigns, the episodes, the seasons as time goes on.
I’ll share more thoughts on H.E.L.M. to Tower next week, and will be back (hopefully) next month with a healthy update on how Destiny 2 is going. Until then, eyes up!