(Image credit: Bungie)
Part one of Destiny 2 game director Luke Smith's long-awaited multi-part magnum update spends most of its time looking back at the game's recent history, touching on topics including the impact of the Annual Pass on the development team—it was a grind—and the challenge of maintaining difficulty while keeping things interesting for players who are constantly growing more powerful. But it also offers a few insights into what's coming next, including an update to Pursuits, changes to the storefront, and a culling of Gambit.
Right now there are two versions of the PvEvP hybrid mode Gambit that launched last year: The original, and Gambit Prime, a "slimmer, sharper take" on the mode that arrived with Season of the Drifter. At some point, probably fairly soon, one of them is going to be dropped.
"This isn't just about removing stuff from Destiny 2 —but the game cannot grow infinitely forever—it's about focusing refinements and evolutions to the Gambit ecosystem," Smith wrote. "We think Gambit is sweet and deserves more ongoing support and we want to ultimately focus that support on whichever mode ends up being the Highlander. There can be only one."
Pursuits, which Smith said didn't get a lot of love when it went live because of the way it messed with players' "muscle memory," is also being changed up. Bounties will be listed separately from quests, and players on PC will be able to assign a hotkey that goes directly to the Pursuits menu.
Smith related an interesting bit of trivia about microtransactions leading into his rundown of upcoming changes to the Eververse Store. He acknowledged that the inclusion of MTX doesn't fully fund Bungie or the development of new expansions, but it "allows us to fund creative efforts we otherwise couldn't afford," he wrote. "For example: Whisper of the Worm's ornaments were successful enough that it paid [dev cost-wise] for the Zero Hour mission/rewards to be constructed (this shit matters!)."
And because it matters, Bungie is putting real effort into upgrading and improving microtransactions support offered via the Eververse Store. Along with the changes to Bright Dust and ornaments revealed in June, storefront access will be moved to the Director so you won't have to go to the Tower to do your shopping. Class-specific content listings are coming, and set armor pieces you've already acquired will reduce the overall price of the set in Silver: "For instance, if you are 3/5 Optimacy set on your Titan, the cost to finish the set in Silver will be reduced by 60%," Smith explained.
"We have made deliberate choices related to cosmetic items and not having them come from gameplay. Gameplay rewards are where you get items, power, mods, perk combinations, stats, triumphs, and titles. The aesthetics for armor blurs the line some – we want players to get cool armor from activities and the world that feel thematic to where they were acquired."
Smith continues, "Cosmetic items like universal ornaments, weapon ornaments, shaders, ships, sparrows, emotes, and finishers typically come from the store (There are exceptions, but generally speaking, that's how we think about this). We are continuing to try and separate capability/gameplay from vanity. Armor 2.0 and Universal Ornaments are big parts of this separation. This is also why Finisher perks are mods that can be socketed into equipment, so that their aesthetic can stand alone."
Maybe the most interesting thing about the update, though, is its sheer size. Smith dropped roughly 4200 words on it—and don't forget, this is only part one—almost entirely to explain and reflect on how Destiny 2 got to where it is today. It's a lot to take in, but regardless of whether you think it's entirely necessary, it is impressively transparent: You don't get this kind of deep dive from most developers.
It's possible that Smith is also setting up some nerfs coming to Destiny 2 ahead of the release of Shadowkeep on September 17—he talks quite a bit about the overpowered Well of Radiance, for instance—but we'll have to wait to see how that plays out. The second and third parts of this massive mega-update (because yes, apparently there will be three) will go up later this week. We'll keep you posted.