It’s that time again friends, the time where we get a glimpse at the upcoming expansion for Bungie’s beleaguered Destiny franchise and then spend the next few months debating about whether THIS will be the one that saves the game from falling into obsolescence. If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that you’re part of the old guard, like me, who desperately want it to be good, who want Bungie to deliver on its promises and finally give us the game we know Destiny can be. Sadly, like me again, you probably feel like you’ve been burned before and are having a hard time getting excited about Forsaken and the changes it’ll bring. Well, since you’re here already, let me tell you about why I’m once again feeling cautiously optimistic about this expansion, emphasis on cautiously.
I loved the first Destiny. For all it’s flaws it was still a pretty great shooter that I could spend hours playing with my friends. Even the first two DLCs (The Dark Below and The House of Wolves) were a lot of fun, adding a new raid, social space and PvE activities. When Bungie released The Taken King expansion after the first year, I was pretty sore that I had to fork out another hefty retail price for content, but it turned out to be the shot in the arm that Destiny needed, giving fans a whole host of new challenges to obsess over. A similar thing happened again in year two with The Rise of Iron but it was pretty clear at that point that most of the resources were being funnelled into Destiny 2.
You can bow your own way
Unlike the first game though, Destiny 2’s DLCs have so far been pretty terrible. The Curse of Osiris was safe, short and shallow, turning one of their most mysterious characters into pretty mediocre sidekick and skimping out on end game content with a short addition to the already average raid. The most recent Warmind DLC was borderline offensive to long-term lore nerds, ret-conning a whole heap of established story, reducing strange and dark legends into piddling level bosses and adding yet another currency to the already bloated exchange system. I must admit though after my outrage at the less than three-hour long campaign subsided, I found myself returning to Warmind and exploring things like ‘Escalation Protocol’ and the weapon quests, which actually turned out to be pretty fun.
I’m hoping that the reason for such lacklustre post-launch DLC, is that Bungie is pulling out all the stops for D2’s first major expansion, Forsaken. From what we’ve seen in the announcement and E3 trailers, it looks as though the developers are taking huge steps to try and cater to the needs and wants of their dedicated player base. They’re adding new regions, new enemy types, a new raid and even a pretty crazy looking PvE/PvP game mode that could be a tonne of fun. It also looks like the way we play is going to be totally changed with a shake-up of the daily grind, the weapon system and nine new super abilities to unlock (hopefully through quests like in the vanilla game). It also seems that they’re taking a darker and more serious approach to the story, which is a gritty revenge tale following the death of fan favourite character. I always felt that we got off a little easy at the end of D2’s campaign, so I’m keen to see where this spaghetti western style adventure goes.
Can you become chief o’ the reef?
All of these changes sound great on paper and look awesome in the trailers, but Bungie has a history of excellent marketing leading into some pretty average experiences. What we eventually end up playing is never quite as deep or exciting as how the developer interviews and gameplay videos make it look. It also feels like they are taking two steps forward and one step back with the announcement that there will be a subscription-based annual pass releasing alongside Forsaken. Although it’s totally optional, it feels pretty cheeky to have us pay full retail again for an expansion and then more on top for that for an intermittent stream of content throughout the year. The most frustrating thing is that Destiny games (and expansions) typically see heavy reductions in price a few months after release but with this new annual pass model, it’s likely to stay expensive for a lot longer.
It’s really hard to tell how I feel about Destiny 2: Forsaken, which is why I went with cautiously optimistic. If it delivers on its promises and gives us a Taken King or Rise of Iron style experience then I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but Bungie is really going to have to work hard in order to make up for the last two DLCs.