Destiny 2's The Witch Queen expansion needs to be revolutionary
Bungie's beloved shooter is in a recycled rut, and the light at the end of that tunnel seems to be the next expansion coming sometime in 2022.
I've been a huge fan of Destiny since the original first launched back in 2014. Over the years, this sci-fi universe, meticulously crafted by Bungie has grown an extortionate amount, taking us to incredible places to fight immensely powerful beings as our Light-wielding Guardians. But, the past few months, I've been finding it increasingly challenging when it comes to enjoying this world that I've sunk thousands of hours into. Destiny 2 has felt stale and lacking innovation for a while, and I'm worried because it doesn't look like there will be any major changes until we get The Witch Queen expansion, which is now coming in 2022 after a delay pushed it out of 2021.
I'm a massive supporter of Bungie and this game, but the past few seasons have all felt the same: repeat the new seasonal activity, to level-up a vendor, to get new gear, a lot of which is former Destiny 2 gear that is being recycled. The recycled gear doesn't bother me, in fact I think the decision to bring vaulted gear back into the loot pool was a wise one, but it's the core game design right now that doesn't make me want to play the game.
When the seasonal activities were first introduced, they were truly exciting. Whether we're talking about the Black Armory Forges in Season of the Forge, or The Sundial in Season of Dawn, we had a broad variety of game modes that offered something new, and for the most part, they were very fun and engaging to play. But, as time passed and new seasons came around with their new activities, replacing the former activities, the loop of getting players to endlessly grind out one mode for months on end before doing the exact same thing a few months later when the next arrived became apparent. Now, in Season of the Splicer, over two years after Season of the Forge first arrived, the only pieces of content that we've had that didn't fall into the same recycled routine were the big expansions: Shadowkeep and Beyond Light.
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Considering the next major expansion is The Witch Queen, coming at an unspecified date in 2022, we can probably look forward to two, maybe three more seasons of similar stuff before we get a batch of interesting, and truly fresh feeling content.
I will say that Destiny 2 is still a game with pretty much unrivalled polish, and the core mechanics are genuinely fantastic. The gunplay, abilities, map and world design, visuals, controls, narrative and lore, everything is incredibly well done. But, there's only so many times you can run exactly the same Strike, or only so many hours you can get absolutely creamed by Stasis abilities in the Crucible before you begin to drift and look elsewhere for your sci-fi shooter fix.
Crucible, and PvP in itself is a different beast, facing a plethora of other issues, both in regard to there never really being new stuff to do, but also because of the massive issues with cheating and how Stasis is taking the fast-paced FPS action out of the game. A lot of these problems can't be fixed with more content to chew through, and instead spotlight other issues that Bungie's space-age title is having to manage, but if you asked the average Crucible player if they would prefer to have a new PvE activity that would disappear and never return after three months, or a few new maps and game modes to play in PvP, the answer would be pretty clear.
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Sure, Destiny 2 is more than a PvP game. Bungie has to keep players who have no interest in fighting other players happy as well, which is why this exact same argument applies to Strikes, Public Events, and Nightfalls, just to name a few. These seasonal game modes are really well made and are fun, but if there's no longevity involved with them, the core Destiny 2 experience will remain the exact same, season after season at its core, as is the current situation we're facing today.
There are a few sparks of hope here and there: The Presage mission that is necessary to unlock the Dead Man's Tale Exotic scout rifle is a prime example. But these types of activities don't really come with replayability in mind, which is a crucial aspect to pretty much all live service titles. Heck, The Whisper was a Destiny 2 Year 1 activity, and since I unlocked the Whisper of the Worm and its catalyst, I had precisely zero reason to go back and play it again.
I genuinely love Destiny 2. It's a game that I used to be able to play for hours, day-after-day, without tiring. But, in the present, the concept of having to commit a huge amount of time to complete a battle pass is exhausting, and sinking hours into a seasonal activity that has the lifespan of a cricket feels pointless, even if the gear that I obtain along the way will stick with me long after. And, don't even get me started on the mindless loop of jumping into the Strikes playlist every day to play the same five or six missions (at least it feels that way) to bash out a bunch of daily bounties for the experience necessary to complete the battle pass before it disappears forever at the end of the season.
This is precisely why The Witch Queen needs to be good, very good. Unlike former expansions, there could be 18+ months between Beyond Light and The Witch Queen, and considering the change in developmental schedules, we might not even get the next expansion, Lightfall until 2023. That's a long time for the only content that really has longevity to be the odd Strike or a Raid returning from the Destiny Content Vault. With Bungie usually bringing a pretty exciting development to Destiny 2 around September-November, I'm hoping we'll get something engaging to really tie us over until this new expansion, but my gut is telling me that won't be the case, and that we'll be starved of fresh and captivating content for the months to come.