Destiny 2’s fall release is quickly approaching and more of the game is being revealed as the months roll on. Last month we got to chat it up with Michael Zak, the game’s art director. This time, At E3 2017, we got to sit down with David Shaw, the PC project lead for Destiny 2. We got to discuss classes, Bungie’s approach to the PC platform, and even have a bit of fun with some “hard-hitting” questions that Guardians all around the universe are dying to know the answers to.
Note: This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Destiny 2: New Subclass and Character Info
Ishmael Romero from Twinfinite: Well nice to meet you Shaw. So I have a few questions about what I played of Destiny 2 here and the new things you showed. So I’m just gonna dive right in if you’re okay with that. So classes. Arcstrider. It’s interesting. The Arcstrider is very reminiscent of the Bladedancer, but once I got a chance to play with it, it felt very different somehow. Can you go into more depth about how you guys approached the subclass in Destiny 2 to make it feel that different?
David Shaw from Bungie: So I can go into some amount of depth. Not being a sandbox guy, I’m not the best person to talk to about these things. But one thing we did with the Arcstrider is we kind of wanted to get that feel of like that kung fu style, monk-like feel, whereas the Bladedancer was more kind of like just your rapid, kind of assassin feel. The Arcstrider really has that old school kung fu movie feel, just the guy with the bo staff and the acrobatics. It really, I think, creates a very different feel. One of the things we tried to do with the Destiny 2 subclasses, we want the supers to feel less point and click, and more like they have more of a skill element to them. Like it’s possible to miss. With the Bladedancer I never felt like I missed very often, right? But with the Arcstrider, with all the new subclasses, like the new Titan [referring to the updated Striker class], their Fist of Havoc, it takes a little bit more skill, it takes a little bit more planning, you wanna think about how to use that thing. So we feel like it’s a good evolution.
Twinfinite: That’s funny that you mention that because it was something that I noticed really quickly. The Hunter felt powerful, the Arcstrider, when I activated that Arc Staff during multiplayer, I felt like a lightning god. I noticed that, although I did feel more powerful, I still maintained the squishiness that’s inherent to being a Hunter. Were you guys ever a little worried about that? Was there ever any hesitation to like “you know what? We’re doubling down on what the Hunter is without changing the core of the game.” How did you approach that?
Shaw: I don’t think there was hesitation. I think one of the things we found was that we were really impressed that across Destiny 1 we had pretty [even] thirds of what people mained. About a third of people mained a Titan, about a third mained a Warlock, and about a third mained a Hunter.
Twinfinite: The Warlocks were the smart ones.
Shaw: [laughs] That’s funny because about 15 minutes ago I tweeted something like “we Titans love all the classes in Destiny… except the Hunters. Oh, and the Warlocks.” [laughs] But we really wanted to highlight the differences a little bit. Like with Destiny 1, the classes felt different and they played different, but we wanted to invest in that a little bit more and see if we can separate them a little bit more. And I think with everything that we do we’re not afraid to try things. We’d rather try something, and you know, we’re gonna learn things in our beta, we’re learning things now in our playtest. We’re gonna find things that we love and things that we’re like “argh, we thought we were gonna really love this but let’s tweak it a little more this way because we think it’ll be really good there.” And so, I think we have a… part of the spirit of this company has kind of this boldness to go try things and not be afraid to say OK we have this thing and we love it and we know it works, Hunters love their Hunters, but we think we can make it better. We think that taking those chances is worthwhile.
Twinfinite: Before I move off from Destiny 2’s classes, with the approach of the Dawnblade, the Sentinel, and the Arcstrider, they seem to be sort of reinventions of those vanilla classes of the Sunsinger, the Bladedancer, and the Defender. Is that how the team approached it, is that what you wanted?
Shaw: Some of them we do look at as kind of a remastering of the original, and there are others that are fairly new and unique. Like you look at the Sentinel, and while we’re not talking in depth about it, if you watch the video and it’s like okay, there’re definitely some hints of the Defender in there, but man that dude plays totally differently. You’re not going to play him like you do the current Defender.
Twinfinite: That was the feeling I got from both the Dawnblade and the Arcstrider. It was like it felt familiar, which was good for me as a person with hundreds of hours in, but yet still somehow at the same time felt brand-new.
Shaw: Yeah. You’re gonna have that familiarity and yet that drive, that need to go master that new class and figure out like really, how do I make this class the most powerful it can be.
Twinfinite: I don’t know how much you can speak on it because I know so far you guys have gone into the basic story of Destiny 2 and into the classes. I know there’re going to be huge challenges in Destiny 2. Raids, Nightfalls, which I can’t wait for. How do you guys see the classes playing in those new activities?
Shaw: So that I don’t think we can go into too much depth on because that goes a little past the level we’re on at E3. But once we start talking about those more, like that’s probably a conversation for later this year. It’s funny because this guy is here [gestures towards PR representative] partially so that I don’t go too far [laughs]. Because I want to talk about all of it, but we got our planned stuff, so maybe Gamescom we can talk about something like that? [PR nod].
Twinfinite: One thing I noticed while playing Destiny 2 here, which I think I glossed over at the gameplay reveal event, was that the stats when you’re looking at the character screen, instead of the discipline and strength and everything, it has your recovery, agility, and those things. Is there a reason the team switched the focus to those?
Shaw: So that’s getting a little more into the investment game [progression], which we’re not talking in depth about right now. There’s a lot of pieces of that. But we wanna focus on like, let’s talk about Destiny 2, let’s talk about the story, let’s make sure everybody gets that and understands that, and then we’ll go in a little more depth on that stuff in the future. And this, frankly, this is the hard part where someone who knows the game as well as you do, these are the kinds of things you want to talk about, these nitty gritty things, because you know it so well, and it’s super exciting to talk to someone like you about it.