With Destiny 2’s seasons, Bungie is burning out its most dedicated fans

There’s a reckoning coming. Can you feel it? 

If you’re not deep, DEEP into Destiny 2 you probably have no idea that anything is wrong, and you might want to skip this one. After all, the game is in a great spot in terms of core gameplay, RPG elements, and things to do. But with a subtle, significant change to the game’s 10-week “seasons”, Bungie is in danger of killing the enthusiasm of it’s hardcore fan base—players like me.

Seasons began their life as a model that would keep the game fresh week to week. Rather than release a little chunk of DLC every few months with voids of nothing in-between, Bungie introduced a calendar of smaller, more consistent releases. This felt appropriate for the hobby/service-thing that Destiny had become, and it was a big shift away from the all-at-once buffet that previous releases offered.

This new model began in Season of the Forge, with hints of the issues we have today right in the opening questline. In this quest, players were tasked with a series of tedious objectives across the same spaces they were already familiar with. Eventually, this unlocked the new forge— a repeatable arena mission that players still enjoy today. And so, Bungie established a new approach: “Do your chores, and then you can play with the new toys.”

Over the next few seasons, Bungie experimented with how they rolled out the new activities, new repeatable arena-style modes, and even more tedious quests. For the most part, the busywork wasn’t remarked upon by the community. After all, grinding is a big part of Destiny, and often, there were bigger issues going on with the main game. Regardless, the chores came first, and then we unlocked the fun, again and again.

It helped that everything introduced in Season of the Forge, Season of the Drifter, and Season of Opulence still exists in the game today. If you ever got burned out, you could just stop, knowing that there would just be a bunch of fun stuff waiting for you when you were in the mood.

That all changed after the release of Shadowkeep last September. While that new expansion will exist within Destiny 2 forever, parts of the Season of the Undying that followed were stamped with an expiration date.

According to Bungie, the reasoning behind this is three-fold:

  • The game’s download size cannot grow indefinitely. Content needs to be removed.
  • The world/story cannot evolve without change. That means adding AND removing things.
  • It allows for “you had to be there” moments.

And while that all seems well-intentioned, the end result was a big gun to the head of Destiny’s hardcore community. It meant looking at everything that was going to go away at the end of the season and making some serious decisions about what mattered. More often than not, it meant playing in a different way than you actually wanted to.

Did you want the season’s title, a badge of honor that added “Undying” underneath your name for all to see? Well, you’d not only have to finish all the triumphs related to the new Vex Offensive before it went away, but you’d also have to finish a ton of things that weren’t expiring at the end of the season. Bungie decided that the title itself would now carry an expiration date, for arbitrary “you had to be there” cred.

Did you want to get a god roll on some of the randomly rolled Vex Offensive guns? Well, since it was a random chance, you’d have to play as much as possible to ensure the best chances.

I ended up going for the title, and some of my friends went for even deeper levels of completion and dedication. The end result was burnout across the board. Those who finished with a few days to spare relished the time away from Destiny. Those who finished at the last second had no room for enthusiasm, disregarding the launch of a brand new season the next day.

This season, not much has changed. The structure is largely the same, with a few notable quests made easier this time around. Regardless, those who love the game are feeling the pressure to finish it all quickly, either so they can actually sit back and enjoy the game, or so they can stop playing altogether without missing out on anything. 

Either way, there’s a huge emotional shift in the Reddit community, on Destiny Twitter, and anecdotally within my own group. Destiny feels like a chore. There are too many tasks, and too much pressure to finish them all.

For myself, the rush to finish everything has limited how much I bother to play with friends. I simply can’t waste my Destiny time doing anything but the time-limited objectives in front of me. I focus my time on the bounties I have to grab for XP, which means I use specific weapons and loadouts, rather than the ones I enjoy. The irony of this laundry list of tasks is that I haven’t spent much time inventing cool builds using the new gear and mods introduced this season. 

I’m so busy playing Destiny that I don’t have time to play Destiny.

The devil’s advocate here has a simple solution to my problem: “you don’t HAVE to finish all this stuff.” This mantra has been repeated by Bungie themselves, but the logic is flawed. Because if the hardcore audience is sick of doing this stuff, then who is it all being designed for, really?

Until Bungie figures that out, I’ll be counting the days until I just don’t have the patience for it anymore.

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