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Austin Wood

Destiny 2's big State of the Game blog is a bitter pill despite huge quality-of-life wins

Destiny 2 Lightfall

Destiny 2's enormous State of the Game blog post has arrived, and it's loaded with stuff that a lot of people are not going to want to hear. There is some legitimately good news about several promising updates, but the broad strokes are less than stellar.   


(Image credit: Bungie)

The first half of the enormous blog is easily the most painful, and Gambit is the biggest loser. The long-maligned game mode is now all but dead, even in Bungie's eyes. 

"We don't have plans to dedicate more resources to significantly transform Gambit," Bungie says. It will get some minor updates after The Final Shape, including a returning map and some Lucent Hive enemies, but Bungie says "this is an area of the game with lower engagement that would take resources away from more popular parts of the game to shore up." 

Pouring salt on the wound, Bungie is also "making Gambit entirely optional" by letting you get all your weekly challenges from any core playlist, which will now drop more ritual engrams that can be focused from the start of the season. This is good news for player choice, but it's bad news for Gambit. The vibe around the unfortunate game mode is: we can't save it, so we won't ask you to play it. 


(Image credit: Bungie)

The Crucible is discussed with a similar tone of unavoidability, but PvP is at least getting some meaningful updates. However, Bungie's top-level perspective isn't going to satisfy PvP diehards. 

"The most frequent feedback we see is that there is just not enough new PvP content, specifically new maps," the post reads. "To set expectations, our studio structure is built to support more overarching updates to PvP like the ones above, rather than focusing exclusively on maps. When we do focus our resources on building new Crucible maps, it comes with the tradeoff of multiple teams' bandwidth on work that contributes to a variety of experiences that players also hold dear, such as new story or Exotic mission content, core activities that make up the foundation of each Season, or new destinations. Similarly, bringing back reprised maps also involves extensive porting to the latest version of Destiny 2, which requires additional resources to ensure the maps work correctly for multiple game modes and play styles for years to come."

Players have been asking for more PvP maps for years, and clearly Bungie hears them, but it's not going to make more maps because it apparently can't spare the resources without weakening the rest of the game. To me this reads like tacit admission of just how vestigial PvP is, if only in terms of dedicated staff, but at least the mode is getting more than the two barrels this post gave Gambit. PvP updates include: 

  • One new PvP map, the Vex Network-themed Multiplex, is coming in Season 22
  • Season 23 will revive Destiny 1's Citadel map 
  • Checkmate modifier: primary weapon focus, slower ability charge, starting in Crucible Labs in Season 22
  • Relic 6v6 party mode: use powerful relics from past raids and seasons once you earn enough energy by getting regular kills
  • Further matchmaking improvements in Season 22 "for players who find themselves at the upper or lower ends of the skill spectrum, and for those playing in low-population regions or times" 
  • A new Iron Banner in Season 23
  • New Strand pulse rifle for a Competitive reward
  • Trials of Osiris armor refresh coming in "just a few short weeks" 

Vanguard and Rituals  

(Image credit: Bungie)

The bad news doesn't end there, either. Bungie notes that "players have pointed out that we didn’t release a new armor set for the ritual playlists (Vanguard, Crucible, Gambit) with Lightfall as previously called out in our yearly release schedule." Why is that? You guessed it: can't spare the resources. 

"Delivering ritual armor sets at the rates we have in the past has become increasingly challenging, especially considering these sets have historically had very low adoption by players as both base armor and cosmetic ornaments," the studio says. "At this time, we are amending our delivery plans for how often we refresh these sets and will no longer be creating a new set for every expansion."

The Final Shape will add new ritual armor sets, and Season 22 has that Trials armor refresh, but the overall ritual armor plan has been walked back. For the record, I'd wager that the "low adoption" Bungie specifies has something to do with the recent ritual armor being regarded as pretty ugly and consistently dropping with low stats. Scaling back an unpopular thing instead of making that thing better doesn't light my soul on fire, especially when the Eververse store continues to offer better-looking armor for real money or, occasionally for some pieces, free-to-earn Bright Dust. 

Otherwise, Bungie reckons Vanguard playlists are "currently in a solid place with a healthy population," partly due to increased investment in turning seasonal activities into Vanguard Ops options. But the studio does have one sizable addition coming to Vanguard Ops and Nightfall Strikes in Season 22: Vanguard Medals. This Guardian Games-inspired scoring system will reward you with "higher scores and reputation multipliers by performing unique actions and doing cool things," with more medals to come in Season 23.  

Seasons, sandbox, and quality of life 

(Image credit: Bungie)

We're finally getting into some no-strings-attached goodness here. Bungie says it's still working on slow-going seasonal changes intended to freshen up the monthly experience, with "more freedom to stretch narratively and in gameplay systems throughout Seasons 22 and 23." We're apparently getting "an all-new mechanic" for the next seasonal climb, and like many of this post's most promising elements, that will be revealed on August 22. 

That said, for me the highlight of the blog post is Season 22's lightning round of quality-of-life changes, including:

  • No Power cap increase 
  • Favorite up to 100 shaders, ornaments, and emotes to make them easy to find 
  • Unlock all Stasis Aspects and Fragments by buying them from Elsie Bray after beating the Beyond Light
  • Transmat cosmetics will now be permanent unlocks rather than one-time consumables
  • A new resources tab in your collection will explain how to get every item in the game and how to use them 
  • The Wish-Ender quest will now be a real quest instead of "charged or uncharged discs sitting in your inventory" 
  • Split Iron Banner challenges that are easier to complete for people who want either Pinnacles or reputation 
  • End-of-match playlist rank-ups preventing screen-devouring messages in orbit 
  • An Exotic mission rotator bringing back the likes of Whetstone, Presage, Vox Obscura, and other beloved missions, and making Exotics like Dead Man's Tale craftable for the first time 
(Image credit: Bungie)

The weapon sandbox gets some love, too. We're looking at: 

  • New Strand Aspects in Season 22: Whirling Maelstrom Hunters, Banner of War Titans, and Weavewalk Warlocks
  • More Exotic armor reworks in Season 22
  • New weapon subtypes in The Final Shape 
  • Season 22 update tightening damage variance falloff for auto rifles, pulse rifles, and hand cannons, and reducing overall PvP engagement range for many weapons 

Seemingly looking to take the edge off some disappointing news, Bungie is putting a lot of eggs in the basket of The Final Shape and its upcoming showcase, and one of its most important assurances is easy to miss. Responding to criticism that Lightfall's story was underwhelming because some key details were spread out over the following seasons, Bungie says: 

"We know there are some who would have preferred to experience these stories during Lightfall’s campaign. With those players in mind, we believe the totality of this year’s narratives will set the stage for The Final Shape in ways that a single story beat never could. And to put concerns to rest right now: The Final Shape and its raid will provide a climactic conclusion to the Light and Darkness Saga before we look ahead to what comes next in Destiny 2."

This does raise the question of what year seven of Destiny 2 will actually look like, so hopefully The Final Shape's big August 22 reveal can shed some light on that in between the many other Herculean tasks now heaped upon its shoulders. 

A bright light amid Destiny 2 drudgery: MMO fans absolutely clowning on AI with help from the secret boss Glorbo

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