Bungie's big Destiny 2: The Witch Queen showcase was so jam-packed that announcements which would normally dominate community discussion for days were drowned out by the sheer roar of the hype. In-between Savathun building her own Guardians and Bungie reveling in 30 years of history, we heard a lot of promising stuff about Destiny 2's ambitions for Year 5. The game is getting new content and some big changes that players have been requesting for years, and altogether it could lead to the strongest end-game in the history of the MMO.
A reason to revisit
Playing Destiny 2 with friends eventually boils down to having the same five conversations about how you would change things if handed the keys to Bungie, and one chat that I've repeatedly had with my clanmates has to do with old dungeons and raids. With so many great encounters in its library, why doesn't Destiny 2 have a weekly playlist that makes a different piece of legacy content relevant for current Power levels? I know I'm not alone here because every MMO under the sun has a playlist just like this – and yes, by every MMO I do mean Final Fantasy 14.
Lo and behold, Destiny 2 is finally getting exactly that playlist.
Starting in 2022, different legacy dungeons and raids will be featured weekly with updated drops. This will make it easier and more rewarding to relive the good-old days, especially for new players, and it'll also give Destiny 2's end-game buffet some welcome variety. Gone are the days of exclusively playing the newest raid and dungeon on repeat until you're sick of them, like a Spotify earworm. I can't wait to revisit the Shattered Throne dungeon, Last Wish raid, and more end-game greats via this playlist throughout Year 5 and beyond.
On top of returning classics, Bungie's committing to a more aggressive cadence of new end-game content. With two dungeons planned for the next year, a new raid coming in The Witch Queen itself, and another Destiny 1 raid due for a re-release, the studio's promising a new end-game challenge every three months. That's a significant upgrade from the current release cycle, which averages just over one raid and dungeon annually.
A healthy end-game comes down to more than raiding, of course, and The Witch Queen is improving on high-end solo content with the addition of a legendary campaign. Legendary Lost Sectors were a great addition to Destiny 2 because they provide a fair but intense challenge that doesn't require a team, and it sounds like Bungie has taken some cues from them – as well as the old Halo campaigns – to create a comparably brutal campaign experience.
Destiny 2's combat really sings when you're forced to deal with dangerous enemies quickly and master an encounter rather than insta-gib everything in sight, and I'd love to see that kind of challenge add replay value to The Witch Queen campaign. The best part is that you'll be able to play it solo or with friends since the difficulty scales to your fireteam size. Think back to your first legendary Halo co-op run – rationing ammo, pincering tough enemies, and limping to the finish line carrying your buddy. Now imagine that same thrill, but in the universe and sandbox of Destiny 2. You and a friend fighting Hive Guardians, chaining Supers, building complementary loadouts, using heavy ammo at just the right time. I'm salivating at the thought.
A step forward for customization
Year 5 will also introduce more ways to take on these challenges, and answer another big player request in the process. Which is good, because Destiny 2 players have been asking for more build options pretty much since the game was released. The locked subclass nodes we have now do have their upsides, but they always felt like a step down from the freeform skill trees in the original game, at least in the RPG department. Fortunately, with Beyond Light and its Stasis subclasses, Destiny 2 set an even higher bar for customization, and better still, Bungie will lean on that example to overhaul the Light subclasses throughout Year 5.
The short version is that Void, Arc, and Solar subclasses will all receive Fragments and Aspects similar to Stasis in upcoming class reworks. This will start with the release of Void 3.0 alongside The Witch Queen, cementing the keywords of Void and allowing the skills we know and love – as well as some new ones – to be combined in new ways. This will blow build-crafting wide open and unlock never-before-seen combos and play styles, which is mighty tantalizing.
Alongside these subclass changes, we're getting new ways to acquire weapons in Year 5 – or more accurately, more ways to craft weapons. Destiny 2 has flirted with weapon crafting before through the tailored Umbral Engrams and the deterministic Black Armory Forge bounties, but The Witch Queen will take weapon crafting to a new level.
As game director Joe Blackburn told our friends at PC Gamer, "Crafting is about finally delivering the fantasy that you can make the gun that you've always wanted… And we think if you're willing to spend that amount of time with the gun, we're okay with you being able to craft whatever version you want." In other words, weapon crafting will take Destiny 2's approach to mitigating RNG to its logical extreme: if you put the work in, you can get your god roll, no questions asked. There's still a lot we don't know about weapon crafting – like how long it takes to make one weapon – but I'm hoping it brings more depth to build-crafting while adding an end-game pursuit to the to-do list.
To add all that up, we're looking at more high-end activities, revived legacy activities, the meatiest campaign yet, expanded class customization, and refined weapon farming. Before the Witch Queen reveal, I was hoping to see two or three of these things added in Destiny 2 Year 5. With all of this and more on the way, I'm now waiting to see the cost of whatever monkey's paw I've unwittingly invoked. If it's the death of another main character, so be it. Loot demands sacrifice.