Beyond Light is almost here and Destiny players have a lot to be excited about. There are new patrol zones to explore, new exotic weapons to pursue, and even a new category of powers to experiment with. Most importantly, Beyond Light will be revamping the way content is added — and removed — in Destiny 2. Under the new system, seasonal content will persist throughout the year, rather than disappear at the end of each season as it did during Shadowkeep. This new system should present better opportunities for cohesive storytelling, but more importantly, it will allow players to experience Destiny in a healthier, more sustainable way.
Starting with last year’s Shadowkeep and Season 8, Bungie fundamentally changed the way new content was added to Destiny 2. Bungie wanted to create a sense of “you had to be there” with their seasonal content, and to do so, they restricted the availability of new content added to the game to just one season. The Sundial activity, for instance, was a fresh new way to complete bounties and farm legendary weapons during Season 9. When Season 10 started, the Sundial was removed from the game completely and replaced by a new activity, the Seraph Bunkers.
Replacing older activities with new ones didn’t necessarily hurt the game directly. Players who had spent months grinding the Sundial were ready to move onto the new Seraph Bunkers. This philosophy did lead to at least one fantastic “you had to be there” moment as well: the crashing of the Almighty at the end of Season 10.
Unfortunately, season-only content had a negative impact on the game’s story. In Season 9, for example, players had the opportunity to venture into the Infinite Forest on a series of missions that eventually led to the rescue of the greatest Titan that ever lived: Saint-14. It was a thrilling story sequence and a very important part of Destiny 2 history, but if you didn’t get a chance to play it between December-March 2020, you never will. That story scenario is gone now and can only be experienced through archival footage online. If you missed Season 9 and you’re wondering how Saint-14 came back from the dead, nothing in the game will tell you.
What’s more, the elimination of past content created a very strange disconnect between each season. The entire Shadowkeep year has been a series of disconnected stories that begin and end with each season. It’s started to feel like an anthology rather than an evolving story.
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To their credit, Bungie acknowledged that Shadowkeep took FOMO too far. In a TWAB from April, Destiny 2 community manager Cozmo revealed that the approach to seasonal content will be changing in Beyond Light.
The developer blog explains that Beyond Light will be returning to the content style of Forsaken when new activities and quests were added each season and could be experienced all year. This way, if a player enters the game in March with the start of Season 14 they can still go back and experience the content from Seasons 12 and 13. The core progression loop of the previous season will still go away in order to reduce clutter and keep the activities streamlined to the most current season, but things like story quests, exotic pursuits, and seasonal activities will remain available to players all year long. Had this been the case during Shadowkeep, players would still be able to go back and rescue Saint-14 themselves right now.
Of course, big chunks of content are still going to periodically get removed from the game. When Beyond Light launches next month, Destiny 2 is losing four patrol zones, five raids, 15 exotic weapon quests, all of the Year One campaigns, and countless other activities from the first three years of Destiny 2. If you are a new player entering the game and trying to get caught up on what’s happened so far, you’re pretty much out of luck. Similar to what World of Warcraft has recently done with their level squish, there will be a new starting zone that will introduce players to the game and set them up to get started on playing the newest content, Beyond Light. The history of the game is getting locked into the Destiny Content Vault to get re-released periodically over time.
Destiny will definitely continue to struggle with cohesive storytelling as legacy content gets vaulted to make room for new seasonal content, but at least players can jump into Beyond Light at any point throughout the next year and experience the entire year’s worth of content. FOMO is designed to keep players on the hook and coming back regularly so that they don’t miss out on any new content, but with so much competition from other games — especially now that next-gen is here — it’s a relief to know we can come back to Destiny later on and not feel like we’ve missed anything.
Additionally, Bungie has promised a more interconnected storyline for Beyond Light, one that evolves the world over time and tells a more continuous narrative from season to season. Gone are the days of Shadowkeep’s anthology-style storytelling, and Destiny 2 will be a much better game for it.
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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