State of the Game: August 2023
Hard to write this article because I'm too busy talking about everything in it with all the Destiny players I know
- In Season 22, weekly ritual challenges will be updated so they can be completed in any activity the player wishes.
- For example, players will be able to complete the 3 ritual challenges per character in just Strikes alone.
- New ritual weapons will be focusable immediately, rather than the season after their introduction (as announced)
- Season 22 will be coming with a number of new ritual weapons (as announced)
- Bungie's studio structure is such that it is easier for them to support overarching PvP activity updates, than focusing exclusively on maps.
- Building new maps takes resources away from the same teams that contribute to a number of experiences that many players hold dear, such as new story or exotic mission content, destinations, and core seasonal activities.
- Bringing back reprised maps still involves extensive porting work, which still requires resources to ensure maps are ported correctly and have support long term.
- In Season 22, a new Vex Network-themed map will be debuting (as announced), along with a new Relic 6v6 mode, the gunplay focused Checkmate modifier will launch in multiple modes (as announced), there will be a new Competitive Ascendant division emblem (as announced).
- Relic and Checkmate will both kick off in Crucible Labs through the season so they can gather feedback.
- They'll have more to share in the showcase.
- Vex Network map: Multiplex
- Asymmetrical map that would work well for multiple game modes.
- Parts of the map feature mars geometry in order to help players have better orientation within the map.
- The space is meant to be in the middle of compiling the infinite forest
- Checkmate is a modifier where rich primary weapon fights happen more often, and gun skill can be augmented by communication and strong positioning.
- Primary weapon damage is tuned, but not so much to be jarring, reducing the gap between faster killing weapons and average TTK, and in general pushing long range primaries into slower killing profiles.
- Player health is increased, all ability cooldowns lengthened, special ammo must be earned via gameplay (not dropped on kill).
- The result is slightly longer combat encounters that reward skill and consistency.
- Checkmate will be in Crucible Labs from Week 5 - 10, starting with 2 weeks of Checkmate Control, then 2 of Checkmate Survival, then 2 of Checkmate Rumble.
- 6v6 party mode where players fight with relic weapons (e.g. Aegis from Vault of Glass, Synaptic Spear from Season of the Risen, and Scythe from Season of the Haunted).
- Players charge their personal relic energy by defeating opponents with normal weapons, then can spend a full charge of relic energy to acquire a relic from a relic depot.
- Defeating relic holders and using relics to defeat opponents earns points for your team.
- Checkmate is heavily focused on gunfights, but Relic is intended to provide lighthearted gameplay.
- Relic will be available in Crucible Labs weeks 1 - 4, and again in week 11 until the end of the season.
- Matchmaking Improvements
- In Season 22, loose skill-based matchmaking (used in Control and Iron Banner) will be updated to improve matchmaking times and experiences for players in the highest and lowest skill bounds, and those playing in low population regions or times.
- They will also be adding loose Fireteam Matchmaking to Crucible rotators.
- They are also attempting to fix an issue with lobby balancing that can misallocate players that are above certain skill levels.
- In Season 23, they are planning to deliver a new Iron Banner mode, along with a new Hakke Aggressive Frame Strand Pulse Rifle as the new Competitive Division reward. The current sniper will remain as the reward for Season 22.
- Citadel will also be reprised and returned to the game in Season 23.
- "Vanguard Medals" will be added to Vanguard Ops and Nightfalls in Season 22.
- The same system used in Guardian Games, these medals will contribute to scoring, and allow players to attain higher scores and reputation multipliers by performing unique actions and doing cool things.
- The goal is to reward players for playing well, not to require players to go out of their way to grind for score.
- Some medals will remain exclusive to Guardian Games, for example finishers will not reward a medal in normal Vanguard playlists.
- There will also be Vanguard playlist exclusive medals though, and more will be added in Season 23.
- Additionally, the available set of medals will be determined based on currently active modifiers (like surges) to ensure a variety of builds are used for acquiring medals.
- They are also focusing more resources into more varied and frequent Seasonal activities (like Battlegrounds) that can later make their way into Vanguard playlists alongside strikes, and eventually be added to Nightfalls and Grandmaster playlists.
- While this can come at a cost of other content in a given year, they feel this exchange has been worth the extra investment for the overall health of the playlists.
- As a result, they will have additional Battlegrounds coming into the Nightfall playlists in Seasons 22 and 23.
- They've been quiet on Gambit since last year's overhaul, because ultimately it didn't move the needle of player engagement.
- They know Gambit fans mostly care about new or returning maps, focusing on Gambit would take resources away from more popular parts of the game.
- They don't have plans to dedicate more resources to significantly transform Gambit, they do have plans for updates during the year of The Final Shape.
- Porting Cathedral of Scars into the latest version of Destiny 2
- Adding Shadow Legion and Lucent Hive enemy types.
- They are making Gambit entirely optional to maximize your rewards unless looking for a piece of gear specific to the mode. Gambit will still be an option to play for weekly Exotic engram challenges, but now these challenges can be completed without touching Gambit too.
- They're also reducing the number of Gambit-specific Seasonal Challenges starting in Season 22.
- Finally, they're adding Fireteam Matchmaking to Gambit next season, which will replace the Freelance node.
Armor Set Rewards
- 3 years ago they shared a plan to address concerns on reward balance, where they said they would release a new set of ritual armor every expansion.
- Players have been pointing out that they did not do this for the Lightfall year.
- Delivering ritual armor sets at the rates they 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.
- At this time, they are amending their plans, and no longer planning to create a new set every expansion.
- However, they will be prioritizing delivery of a new ritual armor set alongside The Final Shape.
- There will also be a new armor set for Trials of Osiris releasing in Season 22. See below for a teaser of the Titan set:
- Over the course of the year, Bungie has invested further in data science and machine learning, building confidence in the cheat detections they can produce.
- Those tools allow them to observe and evaluate player behavior in new ways, and issue more actions in response.
- They have also adopted new policies like the Accessibility Tools policy, to allow them to catch cheaters that they may not have otherwise.
- They've also worked with BattlEye to address network manipulation tools, improve data collection, detection, and mitigation strategies.
- As a result of extensive investigation and the evolution of their tools, they recently issued one of the largest ban waves in their history against account recovery and boosting services and the players who used those services.
- As their toolset evolves, they continue to build in generous thresholds to minimize the risk of false positives.
- They will continue to evolve their prevention, detection, and banning capabilities, but this is only one facet of their overall strategy. Their legal team is also aggressively pursuing cheat makers across the globe, though these lawsuits take time and effort to be successful. This approach will always only be additive to the overall anticheat efforts.
- They receive a lot of message from banned accounts who say they don't remember cheating. They often find that, when investigating these cases, that they gave their account to someone else to play the game for them. Your account will still be banned even if it was not you yourself who was the one cheating on your account.
- In the Season 21 mid-season patch, they rolled out a number of behind-the-scenes improvements that provide an increase in stability that will set the stage for further upgrades in 7.2.0 (Season 22) and beyond.
- These include new logs and metrics not just for the Claims system, but for many other services.
- They also made major improvements to monitoring dashboards, now giving their network team more visibility into these systems, so they can find and diagnose issues more quickly.
- For example, they were able to detect and fix a bug with the sign-on system before it ever caused issues for players
- Using these systems, they were able to confidently make several early fixes to Claims and Server messaging in 188.8.131.52 that might otherwise have had to wait for next Season to be resolved.
- They are working hard to make even more process improvements to deployments, monitoring, and escalations, all with the goal of making Destiny 2 more reliable, predictable, and quick to recover.
- Moving toward 7.2.0 (Season 22), they are beginning to do internal "chaos testing" using recent additions, and are already using the data to make more improvements in the 7.2.0 update, as well as verify current fixes planned for the season.
- They aren't just focusing on the Claims system as they previously stated, but are covering stability across all 50+ services used to make Destiny 2 run.
- If 7.2.0 is focused on detecting and fixing current stability issues, 7.3.0 (Season 23) will be focused on protecting against issues that might occur in the future.
- This means focus on systems like auto-recovery, improving internal systems, and further isolating systems from eachother so that a problem in one area is less likely to cascade into issues in other areas
- They view their work here as a long term project that they will continue to invest in beyond Season 23 and into the future.
- As mentioned in February, they're working to shake up the Seasonal paradigm this year to subvert player expectations and make each Season feel unique.
- They know players are looking for more variety in repeatable Seasonal activities, and more than anything they want to constantly surprise everyone with what comes next in each Season.
- They'll talk more about it below and in the showcase, but they're giving themselves more freedom to stretch narratively and in gameplay systems through Seasons 22 and 23.
- The following is several changes coming to Destiny in Season 22
- You will be able to pin up to 100 shaders, ornaments, and emotes to the top of the list
- Stasis Aspects and Fragments will be free to acquire from Elsie Bray for glimmer for anyone who has completed the Beyond Light campaign
- Transmats will now be unlocks
- The process to acquire Wish-Ender will be converted into a true quest with quest steps, no more disks in the quest inventory.
- Resources are added to collections, with a list of all currencies, what they do, and how to acquire them.
- Iron Banner will have two different stacking challenges each day, one for players who just want the reputation multiplier which does not require using a specific subclass, and one for players who want Pinnacle rewards that does.
- Ritual Rankups will be shown immediately after an activity completion, instead of once you get to orbit.
- At the start of Season 22, three new Strand aspects will be added, one for each class:
- Warlock: Weavewalk
- Hunter: Whirling Maelstrom
- Titan: Banner of War
- They're working on another round of Exotic Armor reworks for Season 22, watch for a new Developer Insights article next week for those changes.
- The Final Shape will introduce entirely new weapon subfamilies, the first look on these will be in the Showcase, but some will be revealed later on.
- Season 22 will have weapon tuning intended to substantially shakeup the weapon sandbox, read what they've revealed so far here
Reinforcing Their Goals
- The following is their evaluation of their goals going into the year, and how they've worked toward these goals so far.
Expand Players' Imaginations
- In Lightfall and Season of Defiance, they transformed many of the ways players interact with the game, from core systems and buildcrafting to seasonal currencies.
- With Season of the Deep, they replaced the vendor upgrade model and introduced Deep Dives and Pressure Trials, which represent fresh experiments for Destiny 2 that they believe are worth the investment.
- While there's always room to improve, the community's response has reinforced that they're on the right track with norm-breaking efforts like these, and we'll be rolling out something very new and different in Season 23.
- Without spoiling anything in the Showcase, the next season will be heading into creative territories they've never explored before.
- They're changing some things up in a big way, including the Seasonal progression paradigm with an all-new mechanic.
- Looking at the narrative for the year, the team is focused on ensuring the connective tissue in our storytelling between Lightfall and The Final Shape is more impactful than least year's seasons were leading up to Lightfall.
- They're taking the feedback to heart and loading up the year with important moments designed to capture players' imaginations and move the saga forward.
- They've proven this out in Season of the Deep with revelations of The Witness's origins, substantial lore drops through the season in Neomuna, and the implications of where our Guardians go from here after the final mission's cutscene.
- We know there are some who would have preferred to experience these stories during Lightfall's campaign. With those players in mind, they believe the narratives throughout this year will set the stage for The Final Shape in ways that one story beat never could.
- To put concerns to rest now though: **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. **
Bring Challenge Back to Destiny
- After additional tweaks, they feel they have landed at a good spot now with the game's challenge. Enemies on Neomuna still pack a punch regardless of level, and players have been able to climb in Power to take on more difficult challenges thanks to the lack of a power level cap increase in Season of the Deep.
- Because of the success of the changes, the Power level cap will not raise in Season 22 either.
- There has been a lot of positive feedback on this decision from players who appreciate being able to play at their own pace.
- There's still plenty of activities where Power is crucial, including Master raid and dungeon content, Legend and Master Nightfalls, Grandmasters, Legend and Master Solo Lost Sectors, and Trials of Osiris. This will still be in the case throughout Season 22, and your artifact power will still be as important as ever.
- They also raised the bar on Grandmaster Nightfall difficulty this season with the first PsiOps Battlegrounds GM, which will make an additional appearance before the end of the Season.
- They'll continue to monitor feedback as they add more Battlegrounds to the Vanguard Nightfall and GM schedule later this year.
Enrich our Content
- Based on feedback throughout the Witch Queen year, they knew players wanted more Exotic Missions that the community would need to discover on their own. There were also requests for the return of previously released Exotic Missions that the team loved to create.
- In Season of Defiance, they delivered the Avalon exotic mission with Vexcalibur for those who discovered the path into the Vex network.
- Season of the Deep brought the Whetstone exotic mission to deep divers in search of the new Wicked Implement Scout Rifle and its catalyst.
- In just a few weeks, some of the best Destiny 2 content ever made will be brought back with the new Exotic Mission Rotator on day 1 of Season 22.
- The rotation will start with Presage to allow for new players to earn Dead Man's Tale, which will also become craftable (as announced).
- After that, Vox Obscura, then Operation: Seraph's Shield, offering up their respective craftable Exotic weapons and catalysts.
- There will be more details on what to expect from the Exotic Mission Rotator in an upcoming TWID.
- They recap the sandbox and pvp changes listed above here as well.
- Back in February they also called out more changes coming to ritual content in the final season of the year. These have now been delayed to The Final Shape.
- They have plans to replace some bounties with a more rewarding and engaging system tentatively called the "Pathfinder".
- This will debut on the new destination in The Final Shape, and they're still working on nailing down a plan for how they can use this system to replace core ritual bounties in the new year.
- Here's a WIP preview of the Pathfinder UI:
Connect our Guardians
- Season 22 will include new ways to experience key in-game moments in Destiny 2's history to help get millions of Guardians caught up for the confrontation with The Witness.
- In Season 23, the LFG feature will be the silver bullet for players who've never had a full fireteam to run endgame content before.
- In the Final Shape, they're making big changes to the progression system that will help to connect even more players and remove barriers keeping friends from taking on the same content together. They'll talk more about this in the Showcase.