Since its release four years ago in 2017, Destiny 2 has fully embraced the live service model by releasing new updates and seasonal content in addition to larger expansions like the upcoming Witch Queen. Ultimately, this move has helped Bungie improve the game from its humble beginnings to adding quality of life updates like Cross-Save and moving Destiny 2 to Steam, while periodically making big changes to game balance and in-game mechanics.
While Destiny 2 has continued to see rapid changes over the past two years since Bungie split from Activision, this year saw Bungie stick to its plans for keeping the game evolving and feeling fresh. While fans may have to wait just a bit longer to finally deal with Savathun and her new Lucent Brood Guardians, 2021 featured plenty of changes to the game, some of which managed to split the fanbase over implementation, such as the armor transmog process.
While some changes may have a few drawbacks, such as harder content without a major reward for the time spent in the activity, Destiny 2 has seen major growth this year thanks to the continued evolution of the base game. 2021 has seen a lot of very positive changes to Destiny 2 that has signaled a ton of big shifts for it and here are the 10 biggest.
One of the first major changes to Destiny 2 in 2021 was the removal of Weekly Bounties all the way back at the start of Season of the Chosen in February. Traditionally, these could be obtained by players after each weekly reset, typically tasking players with performing some task before the bounty expired. However, in an effort to reduce the feeling of bounty fatigue and FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, these Destiny 2 ritual bounties were replaced by a new Challenge System.
While fans were initially worried at losing bounties that rewarded Bright Dust, the Seasonal Challenges have proven to be a hit with Destiny 2 players. Introduced at the start of each season, players will have between 3-10 tasks to perform each week, over the full length of the season. Better yet, these challenges don’t expire until the end of the season, so players can work on them at their own pace, without feeling pressure to log in or worry about missing a given week. Challenges also reward Bright Dust, seasonal rewards, seasonal currency, and large piles of XP, especially for more difficult challenges.
Changes to Festival of the Lost
As a live service title, Destiny 2 tends to sync up with real-world holidays for special limited-time events. However, over the past few years, these events have largely returned without many changes, keeping players inside of the same gameplay loop for updated rewards like weapons or cosmetic gear. Festival of the Lost was one such event, taking inspiration from Halloween and dressing up the Tower social space with candles, a large dead tree, and an activity that saw players run through a modified version of the Infinite Forest.
Whether it was due to Mercury being vaulted or just looking to spice things up, Bungie changed this year’s Festival of the Lost event with new pursuits in the form of Spectral Pages, as well as the seasonal activity. Instead of the Haunted Forest, players could matchmake with other players to take on Haunted Lost Sectors, modified versions of combat arenas to fight the Headless Ones and earn new rewards like the Jurassic Green pulse rifle as well as remastered versions of the Horror Story and Braytech Werewolf Auto Rifles. Better yet, the event was narrated by Crow’s Ghost, Glint, helping make the long-running event feel fresh.
Following the launch of the ability for players to cross-save their progress in 2019, fans naturally began to wonder if and when Crossplay would be implemented in Destiny 2. While it may have taken a little longer, season 15 finally brought the functionality to life, uniting all of the various platforms under the same roof. This move helped struggling platforms like Stadia and its smaller player base have an easier time finding other players to tackle activities and missions with.
The first step to this process was to filter every player’s name in order to identify potential matches across the various platforms. Each player would then be given an official Bungie Name, which essentially added a unique hashtag code to the end of each username. Following its launch, players could curate their own crossplay friends list, join up into activities, and play the game with people they want regardless of platform.
Exotic Mission Presage
Exotic missions are nothing new to the Destiny franchise, ultimately leading players to a major new piece of gear once they finish a task. Originally, exotic missions were more on the simple side, tasking players with defeating a certain amount of enemies in various ways. However, Bungie has continued to improve these missions over the years and they have become progressively more unique from Bad Juju during Season of Opulence to the universally praised Harbinger mission, which for each clear, players earned a randomly rolled Hawkmoon hand cannon.
However, 2021 gave players one of the most memorable exotic quests with Presage. Another repeatable exotic mission, players could use it to farm for the Dead Man’s Tale exotic scout rifle, a popular gun that resembled a repeating rifle. The mission itself was incredibly unique with its own lore and callbacks to other aspects of the Destiny universe like Emperor Calus and his Crown of Sorrow. However, the unique piece to this mission was that it gave Destiny 2 an interesting horror-inspired mission as players were exploring a mysterious dead ship in the quiet of space.
Improved Seasonal Storytelling
One knock that the Destiny franchise has had during its early years was its storytelling. The original game essentially placed its focus on gameplay, leaving lore and storytelling to these unlockable cards that players had to read on Bungie’s website. However, Destiny 2 placed a greater focus on narrative with its Red War campaign through its expansions like Forsaken, Shadowkeep, and Beyond Light. The greater emphasis on the story has also helped flesh out the Destiny universe and the characters that occupy it.
For many fans, 2021 continued that trend on improved world-building, story cutscenes, and big seasonal ending moments. With the resurrection of the Guardian Crow, formerly Prince Uldren Sov, Bungie has placed him at the center of the current story, which has stretched through Season of the Hunt to the current Season of the Lost. In addition, Season of the Splicer also saw the Fallen character Mithrax return, as players worked with him to not only give the House Light a new home, but prevent a civil war from breaking out from Tower characters like Lakshmi-2 attempting to lead a coup.
However, the lynchpin for most of these storylines centered on Osiris, who many fans felt was behaving strangely after a stretch of bad luck. As they found out, Osiris was actually Savathun in disguise, causing, what many felt, were questionable decisions meant to throw the Vanguard into chaos.
More Seasonal Matchmade Activities and Farmable Seasonal Weapons
With the rise of seasonal activities, Bungie has made sure that players had a way to matchmake with others to participate and earn rewards. This is especially true for more recent activities like Override and Astral Alignment, which are 6-person missions that have multiple parts to them before facing a final boss. These seasonal missions have been met with plenty of praise, not only showing strong replayability, but offering a great way to score new weapons and gear. The latest activity, Dares of Eternity, acts more like a game show where Xur is the host.
As a byproduct of these well-received seasonal missions, players also have ways to essentially target-farm specific loot. While most players have no issues playing through these activities multiple times, especially on more difficult legendary versions for better rewards, Umbral Engrams have made their return as well. Using the Prismatic Recaster at the H.E.L.M., players are able to essentially use these engrams to roll for specific gear as much as they want in order to find the ever-elusive god roll perks.
Removal of Sunsetting
One of the more controversial and hated aspects of Bungie’s recent changes to Destiny 2 has been sunsetting. To help change the game’s meta as well as serve as a way to keep the game from ever-expanding, Bungie attempted to essentially sunset and remove older content from the game. With the Beyond Light expansion and each season after it, Bungie would remove the oldest sets of weapons and gear, outside of exotics. Not only that, original Destiny 2 locations like Mars, Io, and other destinations would be sunset as well.
However, Bungie experienced tremendous pushback from players when a larger than expected amount of weapons were suddenly made unusable without many viable replacement options. With players feeling like their time and character investment wasn’t being respected, Bungie ultimately reversed its sunsetting decision entirely and decided not to cap the infusion limit for any weapons and armor that haven’t reached the cap yet. In addition, classic weapons are being re-added during seasons armed with new perks to help them feel fresh.
The Savathun Mystery
The Hive God Savathun has always been in the background of Destiny 2, a mere whisper that has been mentioned but never materialized. With each season or expansion, her control and dominance slowly grew behind the scenes, predominantly through the game’s various lore books or flavor text from gear. However, her plans have started to come to light along with the arrival of the Darkness, with each season focusing more and more on what the Witch Queen was up to. In what seemed to be a random blog post, Bungie even detailed the death of Sagira, Osiris’ Ghost companion, though fans didn’t know how much this moment would ultimately influence the next few seasons.
While Osiris returned to the spotlight, the character continued to make bizarre choices over the next few seasons, which seemed out of character for the Warlock. This new Osiris becomes an important confidant of Zavala, takes Crow under his wing, obsesses over the Crown of Sorrow on the Glykon ship, and influences the Vanguard’s civil war during the events of the Season of the Splicer. As it turns out, Osiris was actually Savathun in disguise, who is eventually captured by Queen Mara Sov. She attempts to convince the player that she isn’t a villain by spinning events to make her look heroic like helping players fend off her sister Xivu Arath, guiding Crow back to the Tower, and helping protect Guardians from the Black Fleet.
While events will undoubtedly go sour before the Witch Queen expansion, Savathun’s one final “parting gift” is to give Crow back his full memory of his life as Uldren Sov. This process isn’t typical for Guardians and has left Crow feeling confused and vulnerable as his previous life was completely opposite to his personality now.
Trials of Osiris Rework
Meant to be Destiny 2‘s endgame PvP content, Trials of Osiris has faced plenty of controversy since the mode’s return early in 2020. The mode has seen issues with win trading, where teams would meet and essentially throw matches to help gain flawless rewards, while extremely low population numbers forced Bungie to cancel the mode numerous times. In an effort to fix its many issues, Bungie completely overhauled Trials of Osiris for the start of Season of the Lost.
Not only did it add an anti-cheat system, but the studio managed to solve the win trading issue while also making the mode more appealing to casual players. Saint-14’s vendor and progression systems were reworked completely, removing Trials Tokens and improving the process of earning rewards, making it more accessible for all players. A new reward and progression tracker ensures that all players continue to make progress, even if they’re not winning matches consistently.
Vault of Class Return
Many longtime Destiny players will likely recall a number of fan-favorite activities from the original game. One raid in particular, Vault of Glass, is typically at the top of most players’ lists as being one of the best activities in the game, rivaling much of what Destiny 2 has on offer. After seven years, Bungie was able to bring back the Vault of Glass raid as part of Season 14, giving both veteran and new players a chance to experience this activity without having to secure a copy of the original game.
While the raid is largely the same as players remember, Bungie made a few tweaks and changes to the experience including making it a bit more challenging to keep up with how strong players are now in Destiny 2. In addition to a Master version of the activity for those who want a bigger challenge, the raid also brought back fan-favorite weapons like Fatebringer, Vision of Confluence, and of course, the exotic fusion rifle Vex Mythoclast.
Destiny 2 is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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