The Dawning 2018 arrived this week in Destiny 2 and expectations for it are way higher than in previous years. This is mostly because Bungie actually hit it out of the park with their Halloween even this year, Festival of the Lost.
Coupled with the steady stream of fresh, well put together content that has been flowing since Forsaken launched, myself and many other fans are looking to The Dawning to be something more than the side-show it was previous iterations.
Let’s start by saying that it’s not at the level of Festival of the Lost. There does not appear to be a brand new activity being added this time around like we saw with Haunted Forest. If that’s what you were pulling for, you’ll be disappointed on that front.
Putting that aside though, The Dawning has a gameplay loop that is really nothing special, but for some strange reason (which I’ll get to in a second), it’s actually satisfying and enjoyable. If it had a Haunted Forest mode on top of it, it would’ve put the event over the top; but as it stands it’s a solid and rewarding event on its own.
In a weird way, the event adds nothing other than new cosmetics, and a new legendary Machine Gun, Avalanche. The cosmetics thought are very sleek, and are pretty easily obtainable, especially if you’ve been saving up bright dust over the last few seasons. I don’t foresee a controversy like there was last year.
All there really is to it is this: you go out, do the same thing you always did, except this time certain actions like killing Hive, or getting sword kills, will drop a special ingredient that you can combine in a new “oven” that you get from our girl Eva Levante.
Each of your main allies has a favorite sweet that you can use the ingredients to bake, and upon completing that, you can deliver the finished product to them for a reward.
There are some triumphs thrown on top, an awesome looking new exotic sparrow that you can get by investing a day’s worth or so of time into it, but that’s really about it. I feel like I should be underwhelmed, but oddly, I’m not.
The reason that this event works so well goes back to changes that were made in preparation for Destiny 2’s first major expansion, Forsaken.
A lot of non-problematic features from Destiny 1 didn’t make the trip over to Destiny 2 for reasons unknown. One such feature was Bounties.
Bounties, as a Bungie employee once put in a QA I was at a while back, make players feel smart. You plan out your evening, grab the bounties that you know you were going to be able to complete while doing what you were going to do anyway, and double down on the rewards.
The Dawning works because that Bungie employee was right. It’s really satisfying to multi-task different activities at once, even if you’re not really deviating from your original plan for the session. Layering activities on top of each other, and in the case of The Dawning, ingredient farming with your weekly powerful engram grind, is a gameplay loop that just works really well.
I don’t know the science behind it, I can’t tell you what part of my brain it appeals to. What I do know is that lining up a row of bounties, doing one or two strikes that knock all those out which also gets me enough ingredients to complete four or five Dawning recipes, and then going back to the Tower to pass those sweets out while also claiming a prime engram and finishing up weekly Ikora requirement all at the same time makes me feel like I’m playing Destiny 2 at 500,000 IQ.
While it will definitely lose some luster between now and Jan.1 when it ends, it at the very least is yet another way for me to squeeze some more loot, and get the most out of my Destiny 2 playtime. I’ll take it.