It has been three years since Bungie released the first installment in their newest game franchise. Destiny was the first new game the famed Washington-based developer released after breaking off from their parent company, Microsoft, in 2007. People will remember that, together, Bungie and Microsoft ushered in a new era of console shooters with the iconic Halo franchise in 2001, which is still going strong today. The developer not only wanted to recapture the magic they had with Halo, but expand on it as well -- and that's where Destiny came in.
Destiny released in September 2014 and, within a day, it became the most successful launch for a new video game franchise in history, shipping over $500 million worth of units in 24 hours. Now that a few years have passed, it's time to look beyond expansion packs and towards the future -- to Destiny 2. Bungie officially unveiled the game recently with a cinematic trailer, along with a few snippets of details. They will have a full gameplay reveal on May 18th, so there isn't a lot of information out there right now, but we've compiled everything that we do know thus far.
Here is Every Update You Need To Know About Destiny 2.
15 Reveal trailer
Ahead of May's big gameplay reveal, Bungie officially announced Destiny 2 with a cinematic reveal trailer. On the surface, the trailer appears to offer limited information, but there are actually a few things people might have missed -- or overlooked.
Firstly, the opening shot of The Traveler burning is cause for concern, which is something that will definitely be explored in the story. Secondly, eagle-eyed viewers will be able to spot familiar faces in the crowd, aside from the three returning Guardians. Thirdly, the Cabal seems to have new upgrades as well as new attack units. Fourthly, there is the introduction of the main villain, Ghaul, who has destroyed the Tower, the Last City, and every one of the vaults.
Furthermore, longtime players will find clever references and easter eggs laid throughout the trailer, such as Cayde-6 wielding an Ace of Spades hand cannon, a fan-favorite weapon that debuted in The Taken King expansion.
14 Bungie hired a new story writer
One of the biggest gripes people had with the first Destiny game was its lack of content, specifically in regards to its story. There was depth in the lore, sure, but completing the game's campaign -- if you can call it that -- felt more like grinding to get to Level 20 than actually championing through a well-rounded story arc. Which was disappointing to longtime Bungie fans, because the studio excelled in storytelling with their Halo franchise. So, when time came to get started on Destiny 2, the developer wanted to prove they were taking players' complaints seriously, and they did that by hiring Christopher Schlerf as one of their chief writers.
Schlerf was the perfect choice considering his past working on space epics, such as 343 Industries' Halo 4 as well as the recently-released Mass Effect: Andromeda. He took to Twitter in February 2016 to confirm the rumors and to put to bed beliefs that he left BioWare because he thought the new Mass Effect title would be bad. "Think ME:A is really gonna blow people away; couldn't be prouder to be part of it, and excited like a lil' kid to play the final [game] when it's out. All that said, very happy to be back in Seattle, working with this scrappy little company called Bungie that some of you may have heard of. Think we might have some interesting stories to tell..."
13 Activision added a new developer to the team, too
In addition to revamping the story content, Destiny publisher Activision wanted to emphasize their willingness to expand upon the gameplay Bungie created in the first game. So, they hired another developer to join the Bellevue-based studio in working on Destiny 2: Vicarious Visions.
The New York-based developers have a history of making games primarily for mobile devices, such as the Gameboy, as well as other Nintendo platforms. However, they have occasionally dabbled in console gameplay, particularly for the Xbox and PlayStation systems, with games such as Spider-Man 2, Jedi Knight II, and Doom 3. Their plan is to harness some of their skills obtained while working on those games for Destiny 2.
Aside from their history, it makes sense for Vicarious Visions to partner with Bungie in developing the Destiny sequel, for they have been owned by Activision since 2005. They've worked on various installments in the Transformers, Skylanders, and Guitar Hero franchises, but Destiny is a significant change for the developer, possibly marking a return back to their early years.
12 The story is set one year after the Rise of Iron expansion
As previously mentioned, one of the chief complaints about the game was its lack of story content. Those feelings were exacerbated when famed Bungie composer Marty O'Donnell filed a lawsuit with the developer that revealed details regarding the game's story. As it turns out, according to the suit, Bungie had a full story planned for Destiny, but then canned the whole thing 12 months from release. Not long after the game released -- the vanilla version, if you will -- Bungie realized they made a mistake, and so their original story plans ended up in The Taken King expansion. This time, things will be different; there is an actual story that takes place on year after the events of Destiny's Rise of Iron expansion. And plotline is as follows:
"Humanity’s last safe city has fallen to an overwhelming invasion force led by Ghaul, the imposing commander of the brutal Red Legion. He has stripped the city’s Guardians of their power, and forced the survivors to flee. You will venture to mysterious, unexplored worlds of our solar system to discover an arsenal of weapons and devastating new combat abilities. To defeat the Red Legion and confront Ghaul, you must reunite humanity’s scattered heroes, stand together, and fight back to reclaim our home."
11 The voice cast
For a long time, the gaming industry had their own set of voice actors, who would hop from project to project, but in recent years, developers have been bringing in more and more Hollywood types. Franchises like Call of Duty have made it an effort to nab as many celebrities as possible, whereas franchises like the Batman: Arkham series try to get voice actors who've played the same characters before, likely for animated movies and TV series. Destiny is no different.
The first game notoriously featured Peter Dinklage as the voice of the Ghost, but famed voice actor Nolan North later replaced the Game of Thrones star after Dinklage's version received a hefty amount of criticism. North will be returning for the sequel, as will Lance Reddick (Titan), Gina Torres (Warlock), and Nathan Fillion (Hunter), who voice Commander Zavala, Ikora Rey, and Cayde-6, respectively. It's unclear if anyone else from the original voice cast will return, but we're still several months out from release, and voice work is usually done at the tail-end of the process.
Along with a slew of returning characters (and voice actors), Destiny 2 will have some new characters as well, of which one is named Hawthorne. Bungie hasn't officially revealed anything about the character yet, which is something they might do as we get closer to E3. Thus far, everything we know about the character derives from a description for a Frontier Bag that comes with the sequel's Collector's Edition (more on that later), something the description (below) identifies as belonging to Hawthorne. Since the character still remains unidentified, some fans speculate that Hawthorne may not be an entirely new character, after all, but rather the real name of someone like the Exo Stranger, whose identity remained a mystery throughout the original game.
"Born in the City, Hawthorne left as a teen to seek a life of freedom in the wilderness outside the safety of our walls. She has survived for years outside of Guardians’ protection, and has come to learn her true purpose: To provide shelter to humanity by helping them not only survive, but lead a better way of life. This is a frontier bag, as worn by Hawthorne. In it, you will find tools and a place to store the valuable equipment you uncover on your own adventures."
9 New combat abilities
When a movie gets a sequel, it's the story that changes, but when a game gets a sequel, people look to its gameplay and features (in addition to story content) to see what new stuff they'll be getting to try out. Destiny doesn't have an overly complicated system, but it does contain multiple classes and several different types of powers, so getting all those things to jive together is no easy feat. And being the type of studio they are, they want to take the sequel's gameplay to new heights.
Bungie recently posted a clip from the reveal trailer on Twitter emphasizing the fact that "there will be a ton of loot," and in the description the clip, the developer hinted at new combat abilities as well. "Venture to mysterious, unexplored worlds in our solar system and earn an arsenal of weapons and devastating new combat abilities," read the description. At this time, it's unclear what Bungie means by "new combat abilities," but the gameplay reveal event next month should shine some light on this.
8 There will be two expansions -- at least in the beginning
In lieu of a traditional season pass system that most games (and game developers) employ nowadays, Destiny 2 will follow the same formula the original game had and put out expansion packs over the course of the next few years. Bungie initially released two small expansions for the original game: the first, The Dark Below, in December 2014, and the second, House of Wolves, in May 2015. Then, later that year, the studio released their first major expansion pack, The Taken King, which kicked off Year 2. Then, a year later, Rise of Iron came out, thus marking the beginning of Year 3.
Though unconfirmed at this time, it seems plausible that Bungie will apply a similar release strategy for Destiny 2. Leaks suggest that the first expansion will release sometime in Winter 2017, with the second expansion dropping a few months later in Spring 2018. If true, that schedule falls in line with Bungie did with the first game. However, there is no information regarding major expansions, like the The Taken King and Rise of Iron.
7 PlayStation timed exclusivity
Ever since the new console generation began in 2013, developers and publishers have been partnering with Microsoft and Sony for various versions of exclusive content, as if deciding which retail outlet to buy a game from (to get the best pre-order bonuses) wasn't difficult enough. Now, games like Hellblade, Tomb Raider, and Destiny have all featured some form of timed exclusivity. This trend is actually something we believe the industry should do away with, but that doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon.
Activision and Bungie formed a partnership with Sony very early on to market Destiny for the PS4, while also providing PlayStation users with priority access to new expansions in addition to exclusive content. The timed-exclusive agreement must have worked out for both parties the first around, for Bungie will be renewing their partnership with Sony for Destiny 2, which will last through Fall 2018. The console manufacturer confirmed the news with a splash page at the end of their Destiny 2 trailer in March.
6 European Dead Zone?
It's no secret that gamers nowadays have become discontent with video game industry norms, such as planning DLC and expansions months out from a game's release, as well as forming aforementioned timed exclusivity partnerships with console manufacturers. Another thing that irks players is when a developer purposefully nixes a portion or feature of a game, only to add it back in via DLC. DICE suffered criticism for reportedly doing just that with space battles in Star Wars Battlefront. As it turns out, Bungie did the same thing with Destiny.
Early on in production, Bungie began planning out Destiny's expansions, including locations, characters, and story content. They had planned to introduce the European Dead Zone in The Taken King, but they dropped the idea so they could focus entirely on building the Dreadnaught instead. And rather than including the patrol zone in the Rise of Iron expansion, Bungie has reportedly decided to add it into Destiny 2. Perhaps we will see Europe as well, but at this point, these are just rumors.
5 Destiny progress will not carry over
After pouring hundreds of hours into the first Destiny game, over the course of three years, it's understandable for fans to want to carry their progress over to the sequel. That's something Bungie originally said they were going to allow players to do. "The idea is that the Guardian you have created is something you can bring along with you on that adventure," Bungie's David Dague told IGN. "If you take a look at the way people have played other games for a long period of time, they've had a relationship with the same character for a very long time." The studio later clarified that players' progress will carry over to Destiny 2.
Despite originally promising the ability to carry over character progression -- items, ranks, classes, powers, etc. -- Bungie says that's no longer the plan. "Sequels represent the start of a new adventure for every player, with new worlds to explore, new stories to tell, new powers to acquire, new loot to earn, and much more. This led us to a decision that would enable us to serve both the game and the player’s best interests: Destiny 1 power, possessions, and Eververse-related items and currency will not carry forward," the studio said in a statement. However, things like "class, race, gender, face, hair, and marking selections" will carry forward, but only for players who've achieved Level 20 and completed the Black Garden mission.
In keeping with industry tradition, Bungie will host a public beta for Destiny 2, presumably in North America and Europe, though specific countries haven't been confirmed yet outside of the United States and Canada. There is also no word on when the beta will be held. However, looking back, the beta for the original game was held in mid-July, just two months prior to the game releasing -- and that came one month after Bungie held an alpha test exclusively on the PS4. Considering the studio's timed-exclusivity agreement with Sony, perhaps we'll see another alpha test release prior to the public beta.
Of course, those who pre-order the game will receive early access to the beta before it goes public. But be wary when considering places to pre-order from, especially if you plan on canceling the pre-order. Currently, consumers across the United States are reporting being charged a nonrefundable fee of $20 for canceling their order with Best Buy (it's unknown if other retail outlets have the same policy) due to being issued an early access code for the free beta.
3 Destiny 2 will be a game for everyone
Just like with movies, sometimes it can be difficult to jump into a video game franchise after it has already started, especially if that series has a story that continues with the sequel. That's something Activision is looking to avoid with Destiny 2. Although the first game established the lore of the Guardians and their mission to protect Earth, much of which will perplex franchise newcomers, Destiny 2 will make adjusting easy for new players, while also providing an enriching experience for longtime fans.
"For anyone who either hasn't yet tried Destiny or hasn't played in a while, we think we've made a sequel that's going to have a lot for them to love, too," Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg told investors in 2016. "The cornerstone of that is a great cinematic story that's been a real focus with a great cast of memorable, relatable characters, coupled with some very nice ways to make the game more accessible to a casual player. Without losing anything that our core players love, we've made it more accessible to someone who just wants to have a great, more casual first-person action experience."
There are pros and cons to what Hirshberg said. Providing a casual gaming experience is great to people who will play Destiny 2, well... casually. That type of gameplay may bog down the experience for everyone else. This is one of the biggest gripes people had with DICE's Star Wars Battlefront reboot, which is why it's vital for the Destiny sequel to expand upon the original game, not narrow the experience.
2 Deluxe Edition and Limited Edition versions
Along with the standard and deluxe editions, Activision and Bungie will be releasing Limited and Collector's Edition versions of Destiny 2.
The Limited Edition will cost consumers $99. It includes the Destiny 2 base game, which comes in a steel book case, as well as access to the two inevitable expansion passes, premium digital content (themed emblem, a legendary sword, and a legendary emote), and a Cabal-themed collector's box. The box comes with a Cabal schematic, Cabal military pawns, collectible postcard images, and a booklet "with secrets into the Cabal empire." If the Limited Edition doesn't satiate buyers, though, there is also the Collector's Edition.
For the Collector's Edition, consumers will have to shell out a whopping $250, assuming that the edition is still available. In addition to having everything that's included in the Limited Edition, the Collector's Edition also comes with the aforementioned Frontier Bag that belongs to the game's new character, Hawthorne. It's a customizable bag that includes a 15-inch laptop sleeve and a Frontier Kit, which includes a solar panel USB charger with built-in light, a paracord, and a solar blanket.
1 Releasing on PC
Video gamers have known for a long time what to expect, in a general sense, from Destiny 2, which is why one of the biggest surprises to come from the game's reveal in March 2017 wasn't its story or its gameplay, it was one of the platforms Bungie plans to release the game on: PC. Rumors about a Windows release have been swirling for months, but this was the first time fans got confirmation of a PC release. Furthermore, current reports suggest Destiny 2 will release through Steam, and not just via the Microsoft Store.
Before the studio partnered with Microsoft in 2000, Bungie was strictly a Mac developer. Then, Halo happened, and the developer has since remained strictly console-based. The PC ports for both Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 were developed by a third-party studio, not by Bungie, which makes their decision to release Destiny 2 on PC all the more important; they have never been a PC developer. We can only hope for a successful, bug-free rollout.
Destiny 2 releases September 8, 2017 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.