Destiny 2 game director Joe Blackburn acknowledged mounting burnout related to the game's familiar seasonal model, assuring players that more exciting changes and pursuits are in the pipes.
"I just wanted to step in and say: Heard loud and clear on the feedback with our current seasonal backbones," Blackburn says at the start of a recent Twitter (opens in new tab) thread. "The team is excited to put some more creative risk in seasonal progressions, but there will be some time before the feedback catches up with the dev cycle."
Being a live service game, Destiny 2 can't turn on a dime, so any feedback-driven changes may not surface until months after that feedback is given. That's roughly the case here: Blackburn says the team is halfway through the development of Season 21 at the moment, which will be the season after the launch of Destiny 2 Lightfall. As the studio finishes this far-off season, Blackburn says "the team is currently looking at ways to differentiate progression aside from having a more novel activity setup in the works."
"There's still novelty, thematic variety, and new ways to progress your character coming to Destiny over the next several months," the game director concludes, "but while we work to use this feedback in our future releases, I wanted to make sure everyone knows that your words are not falling on deaf ears."
Seasonal burnout is a staple of Destiny 2's annual cycle, and these sentiments have peaked right on schedule after the recent end of the year's third season. Season 18 was a pretty inconsequential pirate-themed side story with some tedious loot grinds and an anticlimactic finale, and it did little to lighten the beleaguered community's mood. As we head into Destiny 2 Season of the Seraph, the last season before Lightfall and Season 20, players (including myself) are getting tired of Destiny's familiar routine – and it can feel like a routine, a linear path to be followed out of obligation rather than explored with excitement.
You can only go so many months surviving on weekly story snippets punctuated with repetitive unlocks on the current seasonal loot tree. More currency here, an extra weapon perk there, infinitesimally better loot everywhere – but nothing to really get your heart racing. Even the defibrillating shock of a Deepsight Resonance drop loses its effect when everything starts to blur together like a nine-month Groundhog Day. So it's encouraging to hear that Bungie's taking this feedback on board, even if it may not translate to in-game changes for some time.
In the meantime, Blackburn pointed to the Guardian Rank system coming in Lightfall as a more immediate way to shake up Destiny 2 pursuits. "[On] the seasonal pursuit side, our major focus is reducing complexity and improving the synergy between your seasonal pursuits and the rest of the game," he said, seemingly folding in feedback that Destiny 2's core playlists – Strikes, Crucible, and Gambit – are often ignored in favor of the newest, modular seasonal stuff.
I spoke to Blackburn about Guardian Ranks during a lengthy Lightfall interview earlier this year. At the time, he said, with enthusiasm and optimism that I still remember, that Guardian Ranks and Commendations will improve the new-player experience and also give veteran players new goals to shoot for. Guardian Ranks have been pitched as something of a sister system to the triumphs and seals we have now, but seemingly with clearer sign-posting and different rewards attached, which does sound promising.
With the newly launched Season of the Seraph following the same-old pattern Blackburn's alluded to – albeit buoyed by the incoming release of an all-new dungeon, which is where I'm sure to spend a lot of my time this season – some semblance of change can't come soon enough.
Look on the bright side: one of Destiny 2's all-time best guns is back and better than ever.