Lightfall and the Year Ahead
Is it really a summary if it's 3.3k words long
NOTE: This blog post is really long, and really dense. I cut as much out as I thought was appropriate, but I wanted to leave in as much sentiment and explanation as I could, because it's important to understanding Joe's (and to a greater extent Bungie's) feelings on the state of the game. This summary is shorter, but not by much. To just read the blog post in its entirety, here's the link. Here's the not that abbreviated summary below.
- Bungie feels that they have reached a place where players can expect a consistency in the quality of content coming to Destiny 2 through the year.
- But, amid all this quality, Destiny can sometimes feel too predictable.
- To some extent, this predictability is necessary for the game to be regularly updated, and prevent players from having to relearn the game every three months, as well as making sure the dev team is healthy and the work is sustainable. However, it's clear that too much predictability has created a lack of surprise and delight by the time some of the major game updates get into players' hands.
- They also hear feedback that has been given since the beginning of the game, that "there's just not enough to do".
- Plenty happens at the start of an expansion/season, but by the end the most engaged players lament that they've run out of things to do.
- This isn't a problem that just a single more strike or map can solve, Destiny has a lot of content, but not all the content is rewarding or engaging as it could be, and sometimes you can't find anyone to play it with.
- Their goals for Destiny 2, leading up to the Final shape:
- Expand players' imaginations
- Bring challenge back to Destiny
- Enrich our content
- Connect our Guardians
Expand Player's Imaginations
- They want each major update to the game to get the gears inside players' heads turning on what's new, and what it means for how they interact with the game.
- This wasn't true for all releases last year, and it's going to take changes across multiple releases to get to where they want to be.
- They can't change all these things right away, so they're unpacking how they're doing this incrementally over the year.
Season of Defiance
- The Lightfall season
- Most of this content was wrapped up before these new goals were put in place, but they still have many QoL changes coming in the season, as well as significant iterations to the seasonal model.
- They started by simplifying complexity in progression systems, meaning fewer conflicting currencies to earn.
- Umbrals and Umbral energies are being removed
- After unlocking seasonal focusing, if you want to focus an engram into a particular seasonal weapon/armor, all you'll need is glimmer and a "seasonal engram".
- Seasonal engrams will be stored and tracked on seasonal vendors.
- They're shifting from large stacks of seasonal currency for unlocking chests at the end of activities, to dropping singular keys throughout your playtime, that let you extract better rewards from the chest at the end of the activity.
- One key = improved drops.
- Keys are being made into bonuses, not requirements for seasonal loot.
- Keys won't drop every time you complete an activity, so base rewards for seasonal activity completion is better.
- By default, keys can drop from seasonal activities. You can play the seasonal playlist to chase seasonal rewards.
- In addition, there are less total vendor upgrades, and each upgrade is more potent, some upgrades offer variance on the way you interact with the seasonal activity.
- In Season of Defiance, they're taking a big stab at the way progression systems and currencies are named.
- They want the name of things to immediately make it clear what that thing does.
- Less time understanding, more time playing.
Seasons to Come
- After Season of Defiance comes Season of the Deep.
- Season of the Deep will not feature any vendor upgrades. This will also be true of the following season.
- This doesn't mean players will never see vendor upgrades again, but instead means they want to create more varied experimental frameworks, and slowly create a wide array of different systems for players to show investment in seasonal content
- This variety will also extend into the types of content players experience in gameplay for the later seasons. In both Season of the Deep and Season 22, they are pushing the envelope to create fresh activity experiences, like when they first unveiled the Shattered Realm in Season of the Lost, or Battlegrounds in Season of the Chosen.
- They want to continue casting a wide net when it comes to themes and fantasies for seasons.
- Lightfall already is very different to Witch Queen, and they want to continue this tonal variety in seasons.
- The Witch Queen year has shown that Destiny 2 can encompass experiences that contain wildly varied inspirations, and they are committed to Lightfall's seasons feeling just as thematically fresh.
- Stories, progressions, and themes aren't the only way they think they can stretch player imagination space. Some is going to come from putting new systems into Destiny 2, or revising systems that aren't hitting the mark.
- In Lightfall, Guardian Ranks will be added, alongside rethinking buildcrafting with Loadouts.
- The number next to your nameplate will be your Guardian Rank, not your season pass level.
- They're changing how you think about obtaining weapons with major updates to weapon crafting.
- They like having deterministic perks, they found that the route to getting those craft weapons is too random. Also, they think weapon crafting being a part of so many weapon chases has diminished the joy of simply getting a great perk roll as a drop.
- They're making the following changes to weapon crafting in Lightfall:
- Fewer total weapons will be craftable, and more weapons with long term sources will get value from random perk rolls.
- To allow these random perk weapons to compete with crafted weapons, random perk weapons will be able to be enhanced.
- Enhancing allows dropped weapons to start leveling up, use mementos, and gain access to both enhanced perks and enhanced intrinsic properties, but only the enhanced versions of perks and masterwork already on the weapon you are enhancing.
- Enhancing lets you take a random rolled weapon, and match it to the full power of a crafted weapon.
- This will roll out initially with Lightfall raid Adepts at the launch of Season of the Deep. Long term, they want to expand this functionality to most new non-crafted weapon drops, but technical hurdles are in the way of them doing this immediately.
- Additionally, for crafted weapons, deepsight versions of a weapon will only exist if it has a pattern to progress.
- Also, targeting Season of the Deep, they want to let players activate Deepsight on any craftable weapon they don't have a pattern for.
- They plan on sharing info on some seasonal releases earlier than the moment they hit the servers. Some releases will be secret (like the seasons during The Witch Queen), some will be teased ahead of time, such as Season of the Deep.
Bring Challenge Back to Destiny
- Last year, they spent a lot of time bringing all subclasses up to the Stasis 3.0 standard.
- During this time, abilities became more powerful, and their synergy with weapons and gear raised the total power of most systems.
- The result is that the game is more compelling as an RPG, but with lower levels of challenge in core content.
- The right difficulty is going to be different for everyone, and while they are still committed to offering multiple difficulty levels in content such as campaigns, nightfalls, secret missions, dungeons, and raids, as a baseline they feel the challenge in most content is too low.
- Bringing challenge back requires a two-pronged approach. Simply tuning up enemies across the game would start to create issues where combatants frequently one-shot players, and would feel very spongy.
- This would result in only the most meta loadouts being competitive.
- On the other hand, if they only tuned player efficiency, the RPG elements would start to matter less.
- Instead of focusing on just one vector, they're taking measured approaches in both the player toolkit, and the strength of monsters.
- Starting with player toolkit
- Across PvE and PvP, they feel that abilities dominate too many engagements due to potency (which they don't want to nerf) and uptime, which they plan on tackling.
- They want both guns and powers to shine.
- Starting with Lightfall, they are moderately increasing ability recharge time across a wide selection of abilities, as they mentioned in the ability tuning preview last week.
- They also feel that enemy combatants aren't hitting as hard as they want them to, especially against max resilience, so they're adjusting the damage resistance granted by resilience and increases the cost of resilience mods from 1 to 2 for minor mods, and 3 to 4 for major mods.
- They still want gear and mods to be crucial, but guardians just became too strong. They're still committed to players feeling like an ultimate monster-killing machine, and they feel they still hit this mark
Enemy potency changes
- They are happy with the level of difficulty in Heist Battlegrounds, thanks to capping enemies to always be 5 power levels above the player.
- Season of Defiance's battlegrounds playlist will use the same settings.
- So will the Vanguard Ops playlist, although not to the same intensity.
- This approach to power will also be present when roaming around Neomuna.
- They don't want the entire game to feel like it's turned up to 11, they think the changes will help the enemy forces patrolling Neomuna feel dangerous, and worth your attention.
- Players may have noticed their experiments with Power settings over The Witch Queen seasons, and they are planning on further experiments through the Lightfall year.
- They feel that there are major issues with Power in Destiny 2, and how it prevents players from seeing some of the best content, so they're hoping to make a change to the system in The Final Shape.
- They're planning on using the experiments in Lightfall to help them understand the best way to make that change in The Final Shape.
- Some of these tweaks might happen invisibly to the average guardian, while others will be very front and center.
Enrich our Content
- With all these changes to power and pursuits, they want to make sure there's plenty for players to sink their teeth into for the next year.
- They've previously been trying to attack this problem by trying to squeeze one more morsel of new content in each release.
- Now they think they have a better strategy: making the existing depth of content in Destiny 2 more valuable to new and returning guardians.
- PvP content is here to stay in Destiny 2, they think it's one of the most inherently replayable parts of the Destiny experience.
- Through the last year, they injected several new modes into PvP, from Rift to Eruption to Fortress. They're excited for some of these modes to get more time in the core ritual experience, but they're not done adding more variety.
- In Season of Defiance, they're looking at getting Countdown back into the game, along with a respawn variant of the game mode called Countdown Rush, where players must detonate/defuse both bombs on the map before the round ends.
- They also aim to run a series of Crucible Labs, including a mode where the sandbox is dramatically changes. Weapon damage, ability uptime, and even ammo will all be adjusted in a new mode tentatively titled "Checkmate Control".
- This mode will reward players who use smarts and skills. If a player has mostly relied on solo Blade Barrage to shut people down, they might be in trouble.
- This isn't all they have planned for modes, keep an eye on labs for more classic and new modes later in the year.
- They think a steady stream of novel game modes, and reigning in of player power is going to do a lot for the health of PvP, but they're still committed to keeping true to their Crucible maps plan:
- Arrival of Meltdown in Season of the Deep
- A brand new Vex Network map in Season 22
- The return of Citadel in the last season before The Final Shape.
- They'll also be looking at existing maps and doing a spawn returning pass on many of them to improve how various modes flow.
- They still don't feel they have nailed the balance between fair matches and good connections in matchmaking. They still need to get features like Dynamic Skill Ranges in-game to allow for players across all skill levels to get consistently high-quality connections.
- As they continue to adjust algorithms to improve connection qualities, they are also looking at lobby balancing, where they aim to construct matches with a more consistent skill spread across players on both teams.
- They also want to zoom out and make sure that they're upgrading the meta systems that encourage PvP play. Think of this like the Iron Banner revamp, recent Iron Banner reputation boosts, and commitment to having three Iron Banners a season.
- They haven't settled on the details, but they are looking at the rewards and matchmaking structures of Trials of Osiris, and would like to push more updates to that mode this year so its population can more consistently climb to healthier levels.
- Finally, in Competitive, they want to improve the speed at which players climb to the rank that most matches their Crucible skill, and ensure it's clear why you won or lost the specific number of points shown after a match.
Exotic Mission Rotator
- Over the years, they've added tons of great Exotic missions like Presage, Operation: Seraph's Shield (Whisper, Zero Hour).
- This year, not only will they continue adding these new missions, but starting in Season 22 there'll be an Exotic mission rotator.
- This rotator will feature exotic missions from the past and rotate on a weekly basis, offering great rewards for players willing to dive into classic content.
- In Season 22, this rotator will contain Presage, Vox Obscura, and Operation: Seraph's Shield. With this framework added, they hope to use this rotator in the future to bring back some of Destiny 2's most classic missions.
Refreshing our Strikes
- They've already talked about how Vanguard Ops playlist will be slightly more challenging.
- They also plan on refreshing the Lake of Shadows and Arms Dealer strikes. Both activities have had their objectives and encounters reimagined and upgraded to match combat engagement levels of more recent strikes like Lightblade and Proving Grounds.
- Additionally, they're taking strikes that have not been updated recently (Exodus Crash, The Inverted Spire), and significantly reducing their presence in the Vanguard Ops playlist, and completely eliminating them from Nightfall rotations.
- They'll still be available for direct launch, but until they're brought up to engagement parity with more recent vanguard ops content, they'll be mostly out of the ritual gameplay loop.
- They're also upgrading how battlegrounds integrate with Vanguard Ops.
- Lightfall will bring Psi-Ops and Heist Battlegrounds into the Vanguard Ops playlist.
- They'll also be adding a selection of battlegrounds into the Nightfall rotation.
- The Mars Heist Battleground will be part of the Nightfall rotation in Season of Defiance, and expect more battlegrounds to follow suit each season.
- Further into the Lightfall year, they plan on making targeted changes to ritual content based on what they've observed about why players engage in the content.
- These changes won't make it in for Season of Defiance, over time they want to start pushing both more rewards to ritual content, and more options to engage with ritual content.
- This will include changes such as moving initial source of obtaining Exotic armor away from Lost Sectors, and back into core rituals.
- They also will no longer ask players to earn all three of the ritual pursuit ornaments in seasonal challenges.
- Finally, they'll allow players to earn more new rewards and complete more weekly challenges by playing the content of their choice, not just the newest seasonal activity playlist.
- This rebalancing of objectives and rewards will be done gradually over the year of Lightfall, but the last season of the year will take a more direct approach, dedicating a significant amount of dev time to a more ritual-focused season.
- This season will have plenty of new activity and story content, they want to take this time before The Final Shape to crisp up core rituals and pursuits as they head into the final expansion of the Light and Dark saga.
- They're just now beginning effort on this last season, so more details will come further into the year.
Connect Our Guardians
- Commendations are a first step in creating stronger connections between guardians.
- They allow players to say thanks to others they liked playing with.
- Over time, players will accumulate different commendations that help show how others in Destiny 2 perceive the player.
- Some commendations are exclusive to certain modes (like Pacesetter and Saint's Favorite in Trials, or Perceptive and Knowledgeable are raid/dungeon exclusive).
- Those at the highest levels of Guardian Ranks will have proven to be folks consistently appreciated by others in the community (NOTE: this basically directly implies higher levels of Guardian Ranks will have commendation objectives.)
- Players need the opportunity to communicate if they want to generate a deeper relationship, commendations are just the first step of reaching out.
- Destiny feels too lonely for people who aren't playing with others they already know.
- In order to improve this, they want to make Destiny 2 more chatty. This won't happen immediately at Lightfall, but they want to open more lines of communication through the year.
- Game-wide text channels are changing from opt-in to opt-out. This means more players will naturally be placed into text channels, so more frequent chat opportunities.
- Over time they want to continue to invest in better chat moderation, better filtering, and bigger things like speech-to-text.
- They feel that text chat is a great way to talk to one another while still retaining some anonymity. They do not want text-chat to be required for Destiny 2, and will retain the ability to opt out entirely.
- They also plan on letting anyone leave channels on a case-by-case basis quickly, if the chat is trending in a negative direction.
- They'll be learning as they go with these first steps, and might tweak plans depending on how things go and the feedback from the players.
- Fireteam Finder (LFG) will be coming with the final season of the year, and not the reprised raid as originally hoped.
- They want to make sure the initial launch has plenty of features that allow players to find a fireteam inside Destiny.
- This includes:
- Being able to queue up for Fireteam Finder from anywhere in the game.
- The ability to tag posts with keywords to describe the kind of group you're running, and who you're looking to recruit.
- The option to create groups where players can join automatically, allowing you to get right into action.
- As well as the option to create groups where the leader can approve/deny each person trying to join
- The changes from this article won't happen all at once, and they might not get it right from the start. But they'll continue taking risks with the game, in order to surprise and delight players.
- If they discover new opportunities and challenges to pursue, and the plan changes, they'll let us know.
Did we miss anything? Let us known on Twitter.