Destiny had a bit of a rocky start when it was first released. No, it wasn’t struggling with sales or anything like that, in fact it set new records. It’s just that the product that was delivered last September didn’t feel as grand as the promises leading up to the highly anticipated release. Bungie, the studio that brought us Halo, was at the helm of this huge new IP. An IP that promised to mix the best elements of an MMO with a huge story and top of the line gameplay. This shared world shooter was supposed to transform gaming as we knew it. But it didn’t.
Destiny had some of the best shooting on the market, but the lacking narrative, small amount of end-game content, and repetitive mission structure left fans wanting. During the end of 2014 the first major expansion, The Dark Below, was released and it brought some interesting changes to combat as well as a new raid with new mechanics, but it still suffered from the same issues. The game didn’t feel alive, and the rewards just weren’t worth the headaches.
So going into 2015 Bungie had to do something to shake things up. They always said that this game would grow with the player base, so this year was the proving grounds for that promise.
Bug Fixes and Re-Balances
Destiny had a lot of bugs coming into 2015. Heavy Ammo never seemed to stay with you, Raid mechanics were broken, some perks weren’t doing their jobs, and various modes across the board had their fair share of glitches. In order to grow and improve Destiny, Bungie needed to fix it first and that’s exactly what they did. It took a bit of time at first to pinpoint problems and figure out how to fix them without everything exploding.
Issues that made certain challenges unplayable, such as the sword instantly disappearing during the Crota boss fight, just weren’t good for business. This was especially true when you considered the fact that there wasn’t much endgame content to begin with. Making perks work properly was of the utmost importance as well because some gear was pretty hard to get, so having it not work was a huge bummer. Then, the removal of little issues here and there helped to lift the overall experience.
With these fixes came re-balances to the game, as well. Balances to weapons and classes, and even to some enemies such as Strike bosses. Bungie was getting everything situated for the near future.
Enter the House of Wolves
Destiny’s first expansion brought more of what was already in the base game, it just made things a little tougher. Larger hordes, more mechanics, and a few new enemy types rounded out the features of The Dark Below, but the developers had something completely different in mind for the followup. The House of Wolves was a Fallen-centric expansion that ditched a Raid in exchange for entirely different team activities. It was the first time Destiny saw any real change and it was good.
The house of wolves featured a handful of new campaign missions that tasked players with chasing down Skolas, a dangerous Fallen Kell with a serious homicidal streak. Heading over to the Reef to deal directly with Petra Venj (one of the Queen’s closest friends and advisers), this expansion introduced new and slightly more fleshed out NPCs, new exotics, new armor sets, and two challenges that would test even the toughest of fireteams.
First, there was the Prison of Elders, a wave-based activity that had fireteams of three go up against the toughest enemies in the universe. Each successive round would add new side challenges to the fold to keep players on their toes, forcing them to become better in every way. The four difficulties available offered rotating final bosses, as well as better rewards when you moved up in levels. It was a transforming end-game that figured out how to keep itself fresh so players wouldn’t grow bored. With some unlockable Exotics and easily the most difficult boss of Year One, the Prison of Elders was a nice change of pace.
On the PvP side, players were given the Trials of Osiris to test their mettle against the best that the Crucible has to offer. Each week, a new map was chosen for teams of three to face of in an elimination match. Those that proved to be unstoppable got to visit the Lighthouse, an opportunity awarded only to the best. House of Wolves managed to provide something worthwhile for both the PvE and PvP players of Destiny, something the previous expansion failed to do. It was a strong effort as Bungie started looking towards the anniversary of their newest game.
Preparing for Year Two
After House of Wolves was released it was time to prepare for what was to come next for Destiny and its millions of Guardians. Although House of Wolves brought some amazing new modes and a few changes, Destiny still wasn’t quite right just yet. In June of this year, Bungie finally revealed their plans for the future: The Taken King. This would be a major expansion that would cost a hefty $40, and the studio would spend quite some time defending it.
Many fans were a bit upset at how it catered to newcomers while pretty much leaving veterans in the dust. Exclusive emotes, shaders, and more were part of the deal for those who spent a bit extra on the full package. Those who had already purchased Destiny and its Expansion Pass either had to re-buy everything or just miss out on the extra loot. Bungie spent most of the summer going back and forth with the community looking for some sort of middle ground while also still trying to bring changes to the game.
To give players something to do in the meantime, Moments of Triumph was introduced to the game and it brought everyone back in as they tried to complete all of the difficult tasks available for the game’s anniversary. Beating both Raids on hard, defeating Skolas in Prison of Elders, finding ghosts, and wrecking in Crucible were all on the menu. It brought players together again as they helped each other out to complete the seemingly impossible tasks.
Bungie also used this time to share some of the major changes coming to Destiny. Exotics were being overhauled with some getting nerfed and left behind (such as the Gjallarhorn and Thorn), Leveling was receiving a change, and Light was getting completely transformed. Players would finally be able to level up by simply playing, no more of the convoluted, completely random nature of finding specific gear. Light was to become a direct reflection of your defensive and offensive capabilities, and that brought along the addition of stats to items that previously had none (Ghosts, Class Items, and newly introduced Artifacts).
Not everything was well-received at first, there was still some confusion as to how it would all work out. But questions regarding the new feel of Destiny were immediately addressed when Year Two finally hit in earnest with The Taken King.
Oryx Kicks Off the End of 2015
Year two (which is still part of 2015, go figure) was kicked off right. The Taken King was more than just an expansion, in many ways you could say that it was a complete transformation of the Destiny experience. For starters, it included a story you could follow with amazing characters and an enemy worth being afraid of. The switch from Dinklage to North as the Ghost’s voice ensured that new lines could be added to the game which was great since having a silent ghost for the first two expansions was pretty awkward. Then there was the introduction of three new subclasses that changed how the game was played with variations that made them deadly opponents and potent fireteam members.
Loot was overhauled to provide more worthwhile drops to players completing difficult challenges. Strike bosses now had exclusive gear you could earn, and the higher the difficulty the better the chance of it dropping. The new raid, King’s Fall, added several different mechanics to promote strategy and team play, as well as offered better chances to receive much needed endgame loot. A whole slew of new Exotics (both weapons and armor) were added in, and some Year One gear got some upgrades, as well. The restructuring of missions into easy to follow quest lines made everything much cleaner and made replaying older content a breeze (the throwing in of some cool rewards for these wasn’t too shabby either).
The super random exotic bounties were dropped in favor of secret quests which added an air of mystery to weapons as players raced to figure out how and where to get the elusive gear. There are even class-specific exotics now which take advantage of the defining traits of the Warlock, Hunter, and Titans in the game. Everything was changed to better serve the player experience rather than just send people on wild goose chases.
The Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris received some changes so they could fit in with all of the new weaponry and abilities, as well as offer new rewards. Some new consumables were added in, most notable being the Three of Coins. This item increased your chances to obtain an Exotic Engram from Ultras in Destiny and led to tons of farming, and it helped a lot of people finally get the gear they’d been wanting for some time.
The Taken King was a success in terms of revitalizing the core game. Of course, not everything that came after it made everyone smile.
Destiny Finishes 2015 With Microtransactions, Races, and Wonders of the Future
As we move closer to the new year, Destiny is winding down. But before the year was out it got a few changes. Bungie introduced microtransactions through Eververse Trading Company. Players could now use real-world money to purchase Emotes and other cosmetic items. While it seemed like the devs were trying to gouge the wallets of fans, they’ve so far kept true to their word and haven’t sold anything that would give anyone an edge.
Two events were introduced late in the year, as well. Halloween received the festival of the lost where players could collect and unlock some sweet looking masks. From now until Dec. 29 players will be able to finally race their Sparrows against friends (and enemies) in the Sparrow Racing League. Two fun events that provided players new reasons, and ways, to play the growing game.
All in all, Bungie had a great year with Destiny, and the end result is a game that is much closer to the one promised over two years ago. Not everything was met well by fans, but the developers have shown that they are committed to the process of receiving feedback and responding. That’s really what 2015 has been for Bungie and Destiny. They wanted it to be a living game, one that adapted to players needs and wants. While not everyone can get what they want, the developers have definitely made an effort to make something a majority of the community could enjoy.
What do you think of Destiny now that 2015 is coming to a close? Was the Year Two content enough to make you a believer? Do you feel there is a lot more change that needs to come? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments below.