The next year of Destiny 2 will push Seasonal activities and quests which can be experienced all year, as well as a more interconnected story which isn't cut into individual Seasonal arcs.
Bungie discussed these changes in its latest explanatory blog post. Creative director Evan Nikolich went over the studio's goals for Year 4 and what they've learned from Year 3, and everything starts at the bedrock with story improvements.
"In Year 4, we are going to build a better interconnected narrative and, more importantly, let players be a part of that narrative no matter when they enter the current year," Nikolich says. "This means if you start playing in March 2021, you could go back and experience the Season 12 and Season 13 narrative content. We want our stories to feel more cohesive, flow with meaningful momentum Season over Season, and lead to an exciting climax each year."
Nikolich stressed the importance of giving all players a way to experience all current story content, and pointed to Destiny 2 Year 2 - the year of Forsaken - as an example. "We haven’t preserved enough history for a player who comes in mid-year to have any concept of what came in that year’s prior Seasons," he says. "As a result, players can feel left behind later in the year and unable to experience the stories or to acquire prior Seasons’ weapons and gear. The Forsaken Season Pass allowed its content to build up over the course of the year, and that’s where we’re heading in Year 4."
Bungie also plans to dial back Seasonal resets to allow limited-time activities to stick around a while longer. Nikolich offered an example of how its new approach would have affected the Season of Dawn. Instead of throwing out everything and the kitchen sink like it did at the start of the Season of the Worthy, it would instead cut the Obelisks attached to the Sundial "to reduce clutter in the quest log and to keep bounty quantity from inflating across the game." However, the Sundial itself, the Exotic quests for Devil's Ruin and Bastion, and the Saint-14 quest line would remain for the entire year.
"Destiny 2 will still have moments woven into the overall universe narrative where we remove old content and allow for new content and stories to grow in its place," Nikolich says. "As we’ve said in the past, we cannot continue to grow the Destiny universe infinitely. There’s lots of reasons for this – technical, resourcing, as well as from an overarching universe design standpoint. Finding the balance of creating and maintaining content in our ongoing narrative is a necessary part of continuing to build on Destiny 2."
To round things out, Nikolich explained how Bungie is planning to put old Seasonal rewards back into the loot pool. And while most of these changes won't arrive until Year 4, this is one update that will come as early as next Season. With Season 11, Bungie will add "some selected weapons" from Season 8, 9, and 10 to an Engram - either a new one or perhaps a neutral one - that will drop in Season 11. It will do the same for loot in future seasons, and the plan is to add these throwback rewards to the loot pools for core activities like Strikes, Crucible, and Gambit.
"As the Seasons roll on, the rewards will continue to get added to these core activities and, as a player, you can tackle the pursuits at your own pace in your preferred mode of play and feel the world growing in terms of rewards," Nikolich says.
"We’re going to move toward Seasons that can be experienced all year," he adds. "The Destiny experience should grow each year after an expansion, have a meaningful evolving world, and a bunch of reasons to play. And then each year, we should take a step forward into a new expansion. We’ve done this better in the past and we’re going to mine from that going forward to make our future Seasons that much more compelling."
This is the second in a series of blog posts which will unveil Bungie's long-term plans for Destiny 2. On Reddit, community manager Cozmo confirmed that next week's post will delve into the Eververse, Destiny 2's premium store, which many players feel has grown more intrusive in recent seasons.
Bungie previously revealed plans to improve the rewards and anti-cheat defenses for the Trials of Osiris.