Bungie finally explains Destiny 2's annual pass: "We have a lot of old perceptions to smash"

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Destiny 2: Forsaken swung Bungie's shared-world shooter back toward the hobbyist mentality of diehard fans and delivered the best story and endgame content in Destiny's history. It also set high expectations for Destiny 2's annual pass, a $35 trio of content packs scheduled to kick off on Tuesday, December 4 with Destiny 2: The Black Armory. The annual pass was pitched as a collection of themed DLCs containing new items and activities, but early explanations were vague and left fans with a lot of questions. What all is in the annual pass? Is it just three more Warmind or - gulp - Curse of Osiris-sized DLCs? What's in each DLC? How frequently will those DLCs be released? 

Bungie released a new video answering some of these questions earlier today. I also spoke with Bungie community manager David "Deej" Dague to dig into how the studio is planning to follow Forsaken and what Destiny 2's $35 annual pass actually gets you. 

The annual pass consists of three seasons of content: the Season of the Forge (which starts today, November 27), the Season of the Drifter, and an as-yet-unnamed mystery season. Per Destiny 2's updated roadmap, everyone will get to experience some new events and updates in these seasons, but you'll need to buy the annual pass in order to play The Black Armory, Joker's Wild, and Penumbra content. All of that will roll out from December 2018 through August 2019, Bungie said, with a new DLC dropping roughly every three months. 

However, the annual pass will not follow Destiny's previous DLC model. "We have a lot of old perceptions to smash," Deej says. "This isn't Warmind. This is something new."  With the annual pass, Bungie is hoping to change how players think about Destiny DLC, not to mention what they think of it. Rather than a lump sum of content, the annual pass will provide "an additional layer of challenge and reward" that augments each season with regular content drops. Said differently, each annual pass DLC will consist of several smaller updates providing Dreaming City-style weekly and monthly refreshes. 

Destiny 2: The Black Armory offers a good example of how this will work. The goal of The Black Armory is to collect the best weapons of the Golden Age and fill out the titular armory. To do that, you'll need to help Exo gunsmith Ada-1 reignite four Lost Forges. The Lost Forges are a new kind of three-player, matchmade horde mode in the vein of Escalation Protocol and Blind Well, though Deej says they feature new mechanics and challenges. A new Forge will become available each week - not unlike the Ascendant Challenges in the Dreaming City - and once four weeks have passed, the Forge rotation will start over. 

Not all annual pass content will be tied to this schedule, mind. Apart from the four Lost Forges, the Black Armory also contains a new raid - not a Spire of Stars-type raid lair as Bungie previously said, but a proper raid - set in Earth's Last City. That being said, The Black Armory does not have a traditional campaign. "This isn't a cinematic campaign," Deej says, "but we are absolutely telling a story." In the absence of story missions, the story of The Black Armory will be told through things like lore, triumphs, and of course salvaged weapons, Deej said. 

I gather that the goal of the annual pass is to give players enough content that they have new things to do every week, but not so much at once that they tear through it all in one week and run out of things to do. Bungie can never hope to create content at the rate Destiny players consume it, so instead of another flood of content inevitably followed by a drought, the annual pass was designed to provide a steady stream of updates. At least, that's the dream. And after seeing the evolution of the Dreaming City, I'm on board with that dream. Weekly content like Ascendant Challenges and timed content like The Shattered Throne has helped keep Forsaken fresh, and if the annual pass can maintain that momentum for the next nine months while adding new loot to chase, I reckon Destiny 2 will be in good shape for a long while. 

The Black Armory's new raid is just that, a full raid. In other words, it's going to be much larger than a raid liar.