Are you like me in which you played Destiny 2 for a few years straight, but take several months off at a time during burnout while you wait for the next expansion? If so, you probably share the opinion that Destiny 2’s seasonal stories are deeply flawed.
Imagine my surprise when, after skipping Season of the Deep, we’re now doing the bidding of a dead Savathun via recordings. Eris literally embraces the Hive, and I’ve been tasked to make her strong enough to defeat Xivu Arath. If you’ve missed the last season like I did, then this development is going to seem pretty left field. Seriously, how did we get here?
It’s even worse for people who haven’t played since Lightfall launched. But the people who are the most unlikely to connect to Destiny 2’s ever-ongoing story are new players. This is especially true when not long into the New Light experience, players are thrown into starting more recent campaigns (if they bought them). I’ve made this point before, but even if it were possible to start playing Destiny 2’s very first campaign, you’re still interacting with characters that have long-since been established and iterated on for better or worse since Destiny 1.
If your goal is to completely understand Destiny’s story, you’re going to have to hop on YouTube and find all the cutscenes from missions that are no longer available to play due to content vaulting. This is the crux of the issue, because Bungie assumes that most of their players play every year and at least return in the final season to play through the three to four seasons of that current year they missed—thus catching them up on the story in theory.
But part of why Destiny 2’s new player retention is as low as it is, is because of this seasonal over-arching story structure. It’s a complete shame to realize that there will be new players who aren’t going to know who Cayde was, nor will they understand the importance of Cayde’s return in The Final Shape without lots of proper context. Now, I’m what you call a Destiny veteran with 1,600 hours played which you would think is enough, that I’ve certainly seen all the game’s story content.
You would be mistaken. In reality, I’ve missed at least six seasons, meaning I’ve missed probably an hour’s worth of cutscenes, reveals, and redemptions. I loathe that I had to watch playthroughs of previous seasons to understand the significance of why X character returned or how another died, explaining why I don’t see them anymore.
Thankfully, Bungie has woven systems into Destiny 2 itself that explain not just the game’s lore but its many story beats over the years. This is a good start and the playable missions that are present cover important chunks that were once left to Destiny 2’s vault. It’s not perfect, but it is something.
What Bungie could do going forward is continually add more of these historic missions that condenses the more important story beats into digestible missions. It would be preferable to have these story missions show what happened during each of the game’s previous seasons—or at the very least, make them cutscenes for new players to enjoy and learn from.
From there, Bungie should make sure all of these missions are a priority for new players to experience. Additionally, these missions should reward more Legendaries and Exotic armors and weapons so that players can get right into the meat of Destiny 2—its itemization and builds. If Bungie can successfully pull that off, there is a small chance for Bungie to earn many new players and enough revenue to stave off further layoffs.