The latest expansion for Destiny, Rise of Iron, is here. It's an eagerly awaited update that will further expand the universe that Bungie has worked hard on for some years now, and of course there are new story missions, weapons, equipment and a new Raid. Another huge addition to the mix is one that might have not been talked about as much; the opportunity to finally be able to create and play private games in Destiny's multiplayer mode, the Crucible. The question that arises immediately, then, is what does this mean for Destiny?
When Bungie was a Microsoft studio and worked on the Halo franchise, multiplayer was a huge component (and this was back before Call of Duty had its breakthrough). During its peak it was the most played online first-person shooter. Halo gave players the option to create endless tournaments, and the competitive scene was strong, however, it was not just in the sphere of what we today call esports that Halo proved popular. It was amongst regular players, everyday Spartans who could create their own competitions with bespoke rules and match conditions, that the game shined the brightest.
This thriving multiplayer scene was obviously a contributing factor to the success that Halo enjoyed, and although the times look slightly different now and esports are becoming a huge deal, there are still plenty of players out there who have taken part in some sort of home-made Halo game in the past. When Bungie's next project appeared with a distinct lack of private matches, there were many who wondered why and demanded that the feature should be implemented. Now, two years later, it's finally time.
Private games are now available in the regular Crucible menu and the choices are pretty much what you'd expect. Selecting the map, game mode, time of day and a desired light level are your chief choices. It's perfectly possible therefore to put together your own Doubles matches, or clan tournaments in a home-brewed version of Trials of Osiris. On the larger maps you can also choose to have the vehicles or not, which opens up a new dynamic and plenty of laughter-inducing situations. Beyond the fun and creative games made by and for the community, though, what more can we expect in the future?
Bungie has said that Destiny's multiplayer mode now will be featured in esports and games have already started. Thanks to some unique weapons and varied classes it doesn't look or play like anything else, and it's quite different from Overwatch and Call of Duty (and Halo too for that matter).
Looking at Trials of Osiris, which is only active during the weekends, it's very popular on Twitch and has been for over a year, so the interest is there, no doubt. But with this kind of focus Destiny might pull a new type of audience and Bungie will certainly benefit from it, with that benefit extending to other parts of the game. Another bonus of having a large and invested audience is that updates should come more frequently than what players are currently used to (although looking ahead it's hard to say how this might change). Sparrow Racing League will be back in December and there may be a chance that this will be a permanent feature of Destiny's multiplayer. When it does return, no doubt we can count on an improved version of what we played last year, and it's easy to see the big tournaments coming up, all thanks to private matches.
With over 20 maps and 10 game modes, both old and new, there is plenty of content to experiment with, and we will certainly see plenty of creativity from the community in the coming months. It will also be interesting to see how Bungie manages the esports part of the equation, and how big it might be in the future. Maybe we'll get a Forge-like mode in Destiny 2? Or what about the ability to create things related to Destiny's other activities, in which case there'd be a never ending supply of reworked missions and side-quests (not dissimilar to how Hitman has its community-made challenges).
If Bungie thought it was time to breathe new life into the multiplayer portion of Destiny then we can probably expect that it will be updated henceforth, and the possibility that the former champion of online shooters feels like it's ready to take on the incumbent generation is really interesting indeed.