Five Years Of Destiny 2's Dramatic, Transformational Changes
Destiny 2 is now five years old, having been released on September 6, 2017. As players who have been with Destiny since its original beta, that's both difficult and easy to fathom. So much has happened both narratively and gameplay-wise, and yet you can still hop into the Cosmodrome and take in the sights of those satellite dishes and beautiful skybox that tantalized us at the launch of the original game. And although the shift from Destiny to Destiny 2 did coincide with numerous changes--mantling, a more cohesive story, a new gear and loot system--the scope of the adjustments we've seen following the launch of Destiny 2 five years ago is downright remarkable to reflect on.
You might still be shooting aliens and gazing at gorgeous vistas, but it can be shocking to remember just how different Destiny 2 is now than it was even just a couple of years ago, let alone at launch in 2017. Indeed, in trying to recount the many changes it's gone through, our Destiny fans here at GameSpot were frequently astounded to realize elements that feel like relics of the first game were in fact things we were dealing with in Destiny 2. Five years is a long time, as it turns out.
And with Bungie seemingly intent on continuing Destiny 2--even as it moves toward wrapping up the Light and Darkness Saga that has been told since the launch of Destiny, but has really come into focus since 2019's Shadowkeep--the game will be changing and growing even further. We know expanded matchmaking/LFG options, loadout managers, and the Strand subclass (complete with grapple, the great innovation of modern shooters) are coming with Lightfall, and those and other unannounced changes will hopefully improve the game in unforeseen ways. (We're eager for the day that bounties are removed.) But in the meantime, let's look back at the biggest changes of the past five years, and why in some ways, we're essentially playing Destiny 3 already.
Taking on a battle pass and season structure
Seasons are so foundational to the Destiny 2 experience these days that it's hard to remember a time when they didn't resemble their current form. And yet, that's exactly what we had in the first couple of years of Destiny 2: a live game driven by periodic expansions and occasional seasonal events that didn't necessarily motivate you to log in and play every week. Seasons did exist, but not in the way we now think of them, which meant Destiny 2's story would remain static for extended periods of time.
Although that does still happen after you play through all of the weekly story missions in a given season, these gaps are usually only a few weeks long, rather than months. With the release of Forsaken, we got the first Annual Pass, which consisted of four seasons spanning a year that each had its own theme and new content. This has been refined in a major way since then, with new story missions rolling out over a period of two-plus months to start a season, new themed activities, and a battle pass of content to unlock.
Random rolls coming back to weapons
Chasing god rolls--or at least, what you perceive as a desirable set of perks--on weapons is a big part of the Destiny 2 grind. But when the game launched, that was not a thing: All versions of the same gun were identical in terms of performance, meaning there was no reason to hang onto more than one copy of them. That might have been good for your Vault space, but it meant there was no excitement when a weapon dropped that you already owned and no need to take a look at its perks to see if it could open the door for some fun new playstyle. There was some initial appeal to knowing you could tick a gun off your to-acquire list, but that eventually gave way to the realization that chasing gun rolls is actually fun and--to some degree--helps to promote a variety of guns being used by players. The Forsaken expansion brought back random weapon rolls, and things have only grown further with weapons that allow you to flip between different perks and the more recently added origin traits.
The Destiny Content Vault removing planets and activities
Destiny 2 was something of a painful reset for Destiny fans, as progress, weapons, and cosmetics in the original game were left behind. Destiny 2 itself has undergone something similar in a few different ways, including with the Destiny Content Vault. As the game grew in size--both in terms of the scope and the file size itself--Bungie decided it had no choice but to begin "vaulting" older, outdated content. That meant having to say goodbye to things like the vanilla game's Red War campaign and, later, entire locations, like Mercury, Titan, and the Tangled Shore, along with most or all of their associated content. In some cases, Bungie was able to tie that into the narrative--the encroaching influence of the Darkness and all that--and it has generally resulted in doing away with some of the game's weaker content.
But for as positive as most of the changes on this list are, vaulting content has not been an especially popular move, and fortunately, Bungie has said it's done axing old expansions in the hopes of keeping the main narrative--from Shadowkeep onward--intact and playable.
Revamping weapons slots
Another aspect of vanilla Destiny 2 that feels downright bizarre to think about now is the setup for weapons. Grenade launchers, rocket launchers, swords, sniper rifles, shotguns, and fusion rifles were all classified as Power weapons, meaning that everything else--hand cannons, auto rifles, scout rifles, pulse rifles, sidearms, and submachine guns--were relegated to the first two slots, Kinetic and Energy. So you were essentially forced to run what you'd think of as two primary weapons, with the difference between the two slots being that the Energy slot had an element associated with its weapons for the purposes of dealing with enemy shields.
The end result felt restrictive and not especially fun, as you were forced to choose if you wanted, say, a shotgun or a rocket launcher, or a sniper or a sword, because they were all restricted to a single weapon slot. In the pre-Forsaken 2.0 patch, the current-day setup was implemented, with weapon types being divided up by ammo type and more flexibility being provided overall. If you want to have two hand cannons and a rocket launcher, you can do it. If you want a shotgun in your Kinetic slot, an auto rifle in your Energy slot, and a sword in your Power slot, you can do it. It's great.
Weapon sunsetting (and the sunsetting of weapon sunsetting)
Although Bungie didn't outright remove weapons from Destiny 2, it did "sunset" many of them at the time of Beyond Light's release. Weapons can normally be infused with higher-level items in order to raise their Power level, making them every bit as powerful as more recently released guns. However, sunsetting was implemented in order to encourage players to seek out and use newer guns, rather than relying on the same ones forever.
To accomplish this, an artificial cap was added to existing weapons (and armor), thus rendering them unviable for high-end activities where Power level matters--Trials of Osiris, new raids, and so on. That proved to be wildly unpopular with a certain segment of the audience, and plans to routinely sunset weapons were quickly thrown out. The initiative was abandoned in February 2021, just months after Beyond Light's release in November 2020.
While some of us are still clinging to sunset weapons (which remain useful in activities where Power level is not a consideration), you can still see the impact of the change when looking at the Legendary weapons available for purchase at the Monument to Lost Lights at the Tower.
New Light and going free-to-play
One of the biggest changes to either Destiny 2 or its predecessor came with the New Light update in 2019. That was the year that Bungie split from publishing partner Activision Blizzard, which had been part of Destiny since its very beginning. The split from Activision was a major force in changing Destiny 2, giving Bungie the freedom to pursue a different vision, one of a more straightforward MMO.
Following Bungie's separation from Activision, the developer took Destiny 2 free-to-play. No longer did you need to pay anything in order to begin playing--which meant it was suddenly much easier to convince a friend to give Destiny 2 a try. There are still annoyances related to cross-saves--you need to buy expansions on each platform you intend to play on--and general confusion on exactly what is free and what a new player should buy, but the free-to-play change was still a step forward for the game in many ways.
Alongside going free-to-play, Bungie rolled out the New Light campaign. This is a fairly basic series of missions meant to teach new players the fundamental structure and loop of the game. While not the most enthralling content, it does provide you with a starting point, although the new player experience remains something that needs a lot of work. Hopefully, the new Guardian Rank system will be a step in the right direction.
Dropping platform-exclusive content
Another impact of the split from Activision Blizzard involved ending the practice of offering certain Destiny content first on PlayStation platforms. With the release of Shadowkeep, Bungie was finally able to offer content parity across all versions of the game, meaning poor saps on Xbox One and PC could suddenly get a fun new Exotic weapon, new armor, a new ship, and a new Strike. That ended a period of PlayStation-exclusive content that was typically locked on PS4 for a year before releasing elsewhere. As it happens, Bungie is now owned by Sony, so it's possible that we could see a similar arrangement in the future, but so far, there's been no indication of that happening.
Adding cross-save and cross-play
One thing that could have made that exclusive content sightly less painful would have been cross-saves. Unfortunately, for most of Destiny's existence, you were locked to the platform on which you first created your characters. It was possible to bring your Destiny 1 characters forward into Destiny 2, but you only if you played both games on the same console, or family of consoles. That changed in 2019, when Bungie introduced cross-save functionality, which was instantly wonderful: Suddenly, you could take your character to another platform, where you could access its exclusive content, if it had any, or play with friends in another gaming ecosystem; previously, if you were a PlayStation player who wanted to join friends on PC, you would have had to start your Destiny 2 experience over from scratch on PC with new characters. In the case of console players, you could move to PC and enjoy the dramatic difference in performance, both in terms of frame rate (going from 30fps to 60fps or higher in Destiny is a game-changer) and load times (which could go from excruciatingly long on console to barely noticeable on PC).
Things got even better in 2021 with the introduction of cross-play, meaning you could continue on your platform of choice and play with friends on another system. With PS5 and Xbox Series X|S enhancements narrowing the gap between PC and consoles, that means console players don't have to forgo the comfort of their couch just to play with their PC friends.
Massively reducing load times, especially with new hardware
Although this is mentioned above, it's worth calling out on its own: The enhancement in console performance is perhaps the single best technical improvement Bungie has made to the first or second Destiny. As long-time console players can tell you, Destiny 2 could be downright arduous to play at times. Load into a Strike or destination and realize you forgot a particular bounty or weapon? That could mean literal minutes of loading as you returned to the Tower and then went back to what you had started doing. Inventory management was also a real hassle, as it could take an exceedingly long time for previews of gear and shaders to appear, whereas these things would pop up almost instantaneously on PC. And again, that's to say nothing of the shift from 30fps to 60fps on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, which made the moment-to-moment gameplay feel significantly better than it ever had.
Sparrows spawning instantly
Sparrows have always been a quick way of getting around, but actually summoning your sparrow was not always as fast as it is now. In the earlier days of Destiny 2, you would have to hold a button or key for a few seconds to spawn your sparrow--that is, unless you went out of your way to ensure your Ghost had the Speed Demon perk. It was essentially a must-use item for Ghost shells, because waiting for your sparrow was annoying, and in some content, potentially deadly. Beyond Light brought the much-welcome update to sparrows that allowed you to summon them instantly. Who doesn't want to whip their ride out in a hurry, particularly as they've gotten gloriously dumb?
Spoilers for the Forsaken expansion, but Cayde-6--the fan-favorite smartmouth originally voiced by Nathan Fillion--is dead. Although the initial incarnation of the character in the base game of Destiny 1 was a bit bland, he became much more prominent and likable in The Taken King, thanks to having more personality and humor than any other character in the game. That continued into Destiny 2, with Cayde even becoming the vessel through which Activision tried to sell the game with certain advertisements. However, Bungie opted to kill him off in Forsaken, giving players motivation to hunt down Uldren Sov over the course of the expansion--and setting up his reincarnated self, Crow, as one of the main protagonists of the last year-plus of storytelling.
Removing Faction Rallies
Remember Faction Rallies? Wait--wait...oh, no, you've fallen asleep.
These events involved pledging yourself to one of three factions and then earning tokens through a variety of means that you'd then cash in, in the hopes of your faction receiving the most contributions. The upshot was that pledging your loyalty to a specific faction allowed you access to their particular guns, and some of those were pretty good. But the rallies weren't the most fun or rewarding of events to participate in, acted as a roadblock to certain Exotic catalysts, and were ultimately removed from the game, with Bungie apparently having no intention of bringing them back. Most of the desirable faction guns have been moved into Destiny 2's world loot pool. We do now get the class-based Guardian Games event annually, which feels like an evolution of the Faction Rallies concept.
Revamping the quest log
Tracking the many things you have to do in Destiny has always been a challenge. You might have the latest seasonal quests or missions, assorted things to do from past expansions (who among us has really completed everything in Beyond Light, or doesn't have a Corsair Down quest still sitting there?), and a variety of other pursuits--and then there are dozens of bounties you might grab on a given day. The in-game Pursuits tab has been the target of repeated attempts at improvements, including when Shadowkeep launched in 2019.
Following earlier, smaller tweaks, this update wisely separated quests and bounties, helping to draw a line of demarcation between the two decidedly different types of tasks you take on. Subsequently, Bungie refined this further, adding individual tabs for quests and missions to help you filter between objectives so you can more easily see what you have to do. It also made it so that your bounties could easily be accessed by bringing up your ghost, rather than needing to always consult the Pursuits tab. And perhaps best of all, Bungie made it so that you could grab bounties from orbit using its Destiny 2 mobile app, sparing you the trouble of needing to load into multiple locations before starting to play. Things remain imperfect--Bungie occasionally placing objectives on the Destinations tab of the Director is just confusing--but the current Quests tab is the best attempt to manage all of this yet.
Boosting fashion with transmogrification
Everyone wants to look cool in a game like Destiny, but in the past, you were always faced with the prospect of sacrificing performance if you wanted to be stylish because of the game's armor system. You might like the look of certain pieces of armor, but what if the stats on them weren't good? What if your best chance of making it through a raid was to use a mismatched collection of armor that had you look like some kind of Frankenstein-style monster?
2021 brought good news for those wanting their characters to look the way they want without sacrificing stats. A transmog system was introduced that allows you to unlock the look of a particular piece of armor and then apply it to any other (non-Exotic) item of the same type. There are some limitations, as you need to earn the currency required to unlock those looks and you can only do the associated quests to earn that currency 10 times per season on each character, but it isn't terribly onerous to gain access to a wide range of great looks.
Shaders stop being consumable
Transmog is no doubt the biggest style-centric change Bungie has made, but it isn't the only one. Once upon a time, shaders--the items that allow you to recolor your weapons, armor, ship, and sparrow--were just that: consumable items. That meant having to grind and spend in-game currency to unlock additional shaders if you wanted to have a consistent color scheme across your entire outfit, considering whether the item you were using a shader on was really shader-worthy, and having to manage an inventory full of shaders. (We'd like to recoup all the time we spent dismantling ugly destination-specific shaders that we were never going to use.)
The initial implementation of shaders in Destiny 2 made everyone mad. As of 2021, shaders can now be applied freely to as many items as you like without having to worry about using them up or paying anything to apply them. And with the Appearance Customization screen, you can easily preview and apply a shader to your entire set of equipped armor to make things easy. As with so many other areas of the game, things aren't perfect in shader-land--the actual screen displaying all of your shaders is an unorganized mess, with no means for marking your favorites as such--but this is still worlds better than the way it used to be.
Image via Too Much Gaming
Today, Destiny 2's armor system makes it pretty easy to make loadouts for different situations and activities. A great deal of new weapon and armor mods have been added to the game over time, which have brought with them new ways of playing, as with features like Warmind cells, Charged with Light, and Elemental Wells. But even simple things with mods used to be much more difficult--and costly--in Destiny2.
Nowadays, once you own a mod, you own it forever and can apply it to whatever piece of armor or weapon can use it, but originally, the mod system required you to have multiple copies of mods. Every time you added a mod to a piece of gear, you consumed it; if you wanted to change mods, the first mod you applied to that piece of gear was lost forever, and you'd need to replace it. Buying and earning mods was a big part of gameplay, with a special currency--Mod Components--dedicated to purchasing mods.
What's more, it didn't just cost you the mod to change your gear and loadout, it cost you Glimmer, too. Slotting a mod into a piece of gear required spending Destiny 2's main currency, and the charges were pretty steep. It meant that once you had set up a piece of gear in a certain way, you didn't really want to mess with it much.
Thankfully, the Shadowkeep expansion also saw the release of the Armor 2.0 system, which drastically revamped the armor system and made it much easier to deal with; it's the system we know today. Armor 2.0 made mods persistent rather than consumable--once you owned a certain mod, you just owned it, and could apply it to anything. Bungie also reduced the cost of slotting mods, and added the Elemental affinity system to armor, which means that certain mods can only be slotted onto Solar, Arc, Void, or Stasis armor.
There was one last additional element with mods that changed over the years: Ghost mods. Early in Destiny 2, Ghost shells had different capabilities, like trackers for showing you destination materials, or boosted gains to experience points. You needed to use different Ghost shells for different benefits, meaning you would keep several at a time. With Beyond Light, Bungie added a mod system to Ghosts, which included armorer mods that allow you to tune your armor drops for particular stats. Suddenly, Ghosts became much more useful, and you could use your favorite Ghost shells for any activity or need.
Reworking ritual guns
Back during the Warmind expansion, Bungie introduced a new kind of weapon: the "Pinnacle" gun. The first, Redrix's Claymore, was a pulse rifle players could only earn through demonstrating high-level play in the Crucible--specifically, by climbing the ranks of the tough, competitive Glory playlist. After Forsaken, Bungie added even more Pinnacle weapons, creating a series of extremely tough-to-earn guns that quickly became the best in their classes. Guns such as The Recluse, Luna's Howl, and The Mountaintop were extremely tough to earn, but the struggle to earn them was something that made a lot of players (like a few of us) better at Destiny 2, while also rewarding that effort with something truly special. Bungie extended Pinnacles to Strikes and Gambit, adding more cool stuff to chase, and while the rewards required some serious grinding, they were almost always worth it.
In fact, Pinnacle guns were perhaps too good. Once they were out in the wild, The Mountaintop, Recluse, Luna's Howl, Not Forgotten, and others from the class dominated PvP activities in particular. If you didn't have these guns, it was frustrating to face them over and over again in the Crucible; if you did have them, there wasn't much reason to use anything else. Eventually, the Pinnacle weapons were sunset, locking them out of most content. Pinnacle weapons were replaced with seasonal "Ritual" guns (although a couple of the Pinnacles have returned to the game in less-overpowered forms).
Today, you can get one Ritual weapon per season, and while it requires a grind, Bungie has made the path much easier for players to travel; you can get a Ritual gun with a reset of your Gambit, Vanguard, or Crucible reputation. The days of these super-tough-to-complete missions and their Pinnacle guns are gone, with Ritual guns respecting players' time more and providing opportunities for Guardians to earn them doing the kinds of activities they like. But it's still somewhat sad not to have such high-level weapons in your collection as the Pinnacle guns, which served as skill-marking trophies as much as awesome gameplay tools.
Raids have long been Destiny at its best, but rounding up a group of six people to take part in one isn't always the easiest task. Dungeons are a great middle ground, presenting raid-style content and complexity, but scaled back in terms of length and made to support just three players. The first of these, The Shattered Throne, debuted with the Forsaken expansion, and each one--there are now five total--has been a strong, enjoyable experience that can be reasonably tackled by a larger portion of the playerbase, and with less extensive scheduling needed.
Stasis and customizing subclasses
The launch of the Beyond Light expansion in 2020 was a major turning point for Destiny 2 on a variety of fronts, some of which we've already discussed. But one of its biggest features was the introduction of Stasis. From a narrative standpoint, Guardians were now wielding the power of the Darkness, the dreaded force which had always been portrayed as the great evil of the universe. And in terms of gameplay, all-new mechanics shook up the game, as both you and enemies could now be frozen by Stasis, and you had not just a fourth subclass to work into your rotation, but one that included a much deeper level of customization than ever before. That new setup, which involved equipping Aspects and Fragments to tweak the subclass to your liking, has now made its way over to Arc, Solar, and Void subclasses as of 2022, enabling a wide range of builds and a lot of fun ways to tune your character to enable new playstyles.
Kicking loot boxes to the curb
Remember buying Bright Engrams? Once upon a time, the premium Eververse Store was home to what were essentially loot boxes, where you spent real money to for an engram that dropped random items, such as shaders, emotes, ornaments, and other cosmetics. But for Season 10, Bungie followed a growing trend among game developers and removed its loot boxes as something you could buy, saying it wanted "players to know what something costs before they buy it." Bright Engrams do still exist as battle pass rewards, but Bungie doesn't provide any way for you to spend money without knowing exactly what you're getting.
Removing player levels
When Destiny 2 first launched, you had two key progression tiers to worry about. There was Power level, which works not unlike it does now, where the Power level of your equipped gear is averaged to determine your character's overall Power level (and thus your ability to deal damage and mitigate incoming damage). But there was also your player level, which you'd first need to increase to the cap of 20 before beginning to worry about grinding up your Power level. (You'd also use a system of Upgrade Points, which have since been removed, to gain new abilities and options for your subclasses.) This whole arrangement was needlessly confusing, and Bungie ultimately dropped it in favor of Power level being the sole means of determining your capabilities.
As the Power level cap has increased, Bungie has also increased the minimum Power level of all gear. And as we saw recently with the launch of Season of Plunder, it's even granted shortcuts to rapidly get up to a comparable Power level to other players. There have been rumors that even Power levels--which feel like a weird relic of the past--could one day be removed, but for now, they remain a part of the game.
Even back in the original game, Destiny has always had a huge number of currencies to contend with. Lots of those elements have gone in and out of the game as Bungie found different ways of dealing with various systems, but a big one you might not remember is the Upgrade Point approach from the original Destiny 2. This was a currency system essential for upgrading your character; you used Upgrade Points to unlock new subclass abilities.
The original subclass system consisted of ability trees, but you didn't start the game with all your Arc, Solar, and Void abilities ready to go. Instead, you earned Upgrade Points by leveling up your character in the base game, and each point allowed you to unlock one element of a subclass. You could spend those points to unlock alternative grenade or jump capabilities, or to purchase perks in each of the subclass skill trees. Once you'd made it to level 20 in the base game, you could earn more Upgrade Points from certain Adventures--missions that are also no longer in the game. Bungie finally did away with Upgrade Points in Forsaken when it released new skill trees for all the subclasses, and the new perks and abilities instead required you to earn kills in order to unlock them.
Another big figure on the currency landscape: tokens. For a long time, everything in Destiny 2 was done with tokens. You earned tokens for completing bounties, snagged tokens on each of the destination planets, and piled up tokens in the Crucible, in Vanguard Strikes, and (eventually) in Gambit. Everything had its own kind of token, and most players wound up with piles of them they never spent. Bungie slowly removed the token system as it vaulted planets with Beyond Light, moving most of vendors in the game to the current reputation system that advances through multiple tiers and offers rewards long the way. Destination vendors like Devrim and Fail Safe still have a system similar to the old token approach, but now they accept planetary destination materials for their rewards instead.
Adding raid lairs
As noted earlier, raids are the highlight of Destiny 2. But they're also quite intensive to build, so it's not something we're ever going to see dropping every other month. Before dungeons, raid lairs were the answer to this problem: They were shorter-length raid-style content introduced in the Curse of Osiris and Warmind expansions. Both raid lairs, Eater of Worlds and Spire of Stars, took place on new areas of The Leviathan (home of Destiny 2's first proper raid), and included tough boss fights and complex raid-style mechanics, but could be beaten more quickly. Bungie appears to have abandoned the concept of raid lairs: It has now been more than four years since the last one's release, both have been vaulted, and we now have dungeons, which fulfill a similar purpose to raid lairs. But in lieu of proper new raids, they were welcome additions to the game during its first year.
Darkening Nightfalls with The Ordeal
Bungie reworked a key part of its endgame, the Nightfall Strike, with the release of the Shadowkeep expansion. Nightfalls had existed since Destiny 1 as tougher versions of regular Strikes, which offered better rewards. In Shadowkeep, Bungie introduced a new approach to Nightfalls called "Nightfall: The Ordeal." This new version of Nightfall Strikes added adjustable difficulty, creating a situation in which you can play matchmade Nightfalls at lower difficulties, or jump into much tougher ones--with better rewards--with your teammates. It also brought back some specific weapons that had only been available in Nightfalls before, while adding a few more weapons to the rotation, adding more reasons to jump into these tough PvE activities. It's one of a number of changes to the Vanguard playlists over the years, which have also seen the addition of Battlegrounds, among other things.
Generally speaking, any weapon can deal with any foe in Destiny 2, although elemental shields make matching elemental weapons far more effective at doing so (particularly with the Match Game modifier active). That was long the case in Destiny, but with the Shadowkeep expansion, Bungie introduced "champions" that added a new, critical attribute to enemies for you to worry about. Champions are generally found in higher-level content and come in one of three varieties: Overload, Barrier, and Unstoppable. Each exhibits its own unique behavior but are generally much more difficult to kill--that is, unless you're equipped with mods suited to taking down each particular type of champion (or have an Exotic weapon that is intrinsically built to handle them). Although they might not be one of the first things you think about when reflecting on what Shadowkeep brought to the game, champions are now a mainstay of numerous activities and a key way of providing variety to encounters and ensuring you think through your loadouts.
Taking on Gambit
Maligned though it might be in some circles, Gambit was an exciting addition to the game when it was released in Forsaken--remarkably, despite how it might feel, it wasn't always in the game. The PvPvE activity has gone through different overhauls over the years, including seeing the addition of Gambit Prime and activity-specific gear (earned through the now-defunct Reckoning activity) that was intended to create different roles within the mode. But those armor sets were rarely used and Gambit has lost popularity over time, leading to it being condensed down into a single Gambit mode with the release of Beyond Light.
Adding new weapon types
Just as it's hard to remember that Gambit hasn't always been around, it's equally shocking to consider what weapon types weren't always in the game. Glaives may still feel quite new, but bows? They were an exciting addition in Forsaken but have long since come to feel like a very standard part of the weapon rotation.
Adding new Supers and abilities
As with something like bows, can you imagine a time without all of the Supers in the game? Stasis might still feel fresh, along with the adjustments that various Supers have seen in 2022 as part of the various subclass overhauls. But it wasn't until Forsaken that Titans got Burning Maul, Thundercrash, or the ability to hold up a shield that teammates can fire through. Warlocks didn't have Nova Warp, Chaos Reach, or Well of Radiance. And Hunters didn't have Spectral Blades, Blade Barrage, or the Arc Staff as we've come to know it. In total, Forsaken brought nine new Supers into the game.
Forsaken made big adjustments to the subclasses, with Supers being the primary focus. But other elements that are now essential parts of the kit also came with them, like the focus on invisibility for Hunters, or Titans' powerful Sunspots. While Bungie's recent 3.0 adjustments for subclasses significantly changed how character builds worked, Forsaken and its changes had a similar impact on the game way back in 2018.
Winning it all in Dares of Eternity
Bungie celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2021, and it marked the occasion with a variety of content in Destiny 2, including the addition of weapons and armor inspired by Halo and Bungie's other classic games. But there was arguably nothing better than Dares of Eternity: a new six-player activity in the guise of a game show, complete with Xur as host, a magical horse (be sure to play with subtitles if you don't), and even a "wacky obstacle course." It's just the sort of ridiculous humor that we don't often see in Destiny, and it was great to see Xur used as something more than just a weekly vendor whose backstory was seemingly never going to be explored. He's the perfect host for Dares of Eternity, and we hope it never leaves the game.
Crucible returning to 6v6
At launch, Destiny 2 moved from the 6v6 standard format of the first game's Crucible to 4v4 across all game types. That wasn't especially well-received, and the first big change to Crucible came in the Warmind expansion, which introduced the separate Valor (casual) and Glory (competitive) ranking systems, which persist today. In a patch in July 2018, standard Crucible gameplay was reverted to 6v6, with associated changes to scoring to ensure matches wouldn't suddenly end much faster. That's remained the standard for the majority of Crucible modes ever since.
Enhancing Exotics with Exotic catalysts
Exotic weapons have always been exciting, but the Warmind expansion brought a new element to amp them up further: Exotic catalysts. Once obtained for a specific Exotic, a specific objective could be completed to enhance the weapon further, sometimes adding hugely beneficial perks or stat increases. This provided another thing to chase--many catalysts are available through specific types of activities, while others are random drops--and another way in which to further power up your Guardian.
Chasing notoriety with Triumphs, Seals, and titles
Whereas catalysts were a way to improve yourself and stand out, Triumphs, Seals, and titles are a clearer way to distinguish yourself and your accomplishments. Introduced in Forsaken, Triumphs were a new objective-tracking system that are constantly running in the background. They might involve racking up huge numbers of kills in particular ways or completing certain high-end activities without dying or any number of other things. For a game where you're spending countless hours grinding away, Triumphs felt like a natural addition, allowing you to better track everything you've done. All of this ties into Seals, which are specific groups of Triumphs that can be completed to unlock an associated title, which is displayed alongside your username to denote that you've gone above and beyond to master a particular area of the game.
This is a major one, given that chasing weapons with desirable rolls is such a key part of the game. The Witch Queen expansion introduced weapon crafting, providing players with a way to build select weapons and equip them with whatever set of perks they'd like, provided they pay an associated cost. There have been concerns about how it all works--what's the point of crafting if you just get a random god roll, or why chase rolls once you can craft a gun--but there's no denying that crafting was a huge change for the game.