I could write a book about how important Destiny has been to me over the years. I won't - not right now - but I could. Bungie's online action-MMO has evolved, through multiple releases, reworks, and DLC drops, into an incredibly rich game with an involved set of storylines, snappy gameplay, and tons of things to do. As a longtime MMO skeptic, I never thought I'd get this invested in a single game, but here we are.
Today saw Bungie announcing its vision for the next year of the game's existence - and the future of the franchise in general, now the studio has split from publisher Activision - and for this longtime player, it's incredibly exciting.
Obviously, there's a bunch of new content coming out for the game. A major expansion entitled Shadowkeep is launching this fall, taking players back to a somewhat-altered Moon to delve into some seemingly rather horror-tinged material. It'll come with what looks like a pretty damned comprehensive revamping of the game's RPG features, enabling much deeper customisation of abilities and equipment, and a reworking of its PvP multiplayer modes. Then, new seasons will launch at regular intervals, as they have for the past six months, but purchaseable individually, as opposed to as a bulk Annual Pass. More emphasis, too, will be placed on "evolving world" content like the Forsaken expansion's excellent "Dreaming City" material. This is all great, and I'm into it.
But it's the bigger-picture features that have me more excited. The game will finally be able to cross-save characters and progress between its different platforms (PS4, Xbox One, PC, and now Google Stadia), which means console players can finally try the vastly-different PC gamefeel without having to start over. More tantalisingly, the base game (all Year One content and portions of Year Two) is going free-to-play as Destiny: New Light, with a faster, redesigned initial progression system, which will eliminate the two biggest barriers for new players interested in getting into the game. "Free-to-play" is sort of a dirty word amongst gamers, but Bungie appears to be doing it right, offering a broad array of free content with sizeable expansions for purchase, with cosmetic microtransactions there so that Other Players can subsidise development of the game. Fortnite, this isn't.
More importantly, an influx of new players will be fun to engage with, and given how strong Destiny's social experience is (set to get stronger, apparently), more should be merrier. Compared to many games, the Destiny community is pretty positive, with veterans often spending significant time guiding newcomers; I've been on both ends of that relationship, and both have been satisfying. I've had many meaningful experiences with friends over this game, and I look forward to many more.
Shadowkeep launches September 17th, with New Light launching alongside it. See you out there, Guardians.