Destiny 2 used to have very little downtime. Now, the sci-fi MMO goes offline at least once a week, sometimes more, as error codes and unplanned outages prevent players from logging on and completing their weekly quests, challenges, and loot drops. Now Bungie has finally provided some answers, and they’re about as technical, complex, and nuanced as you’d expect.
Originally released in 2017, Destiny 2 has grown a lot over the years. Annual expansions added new missions, locations, and gameplay mechanics, while cross-play and cross-save integration connected players from opposing platforms. A “next-gen” upgrade for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S radically improved the look and feel of the game on console, and a seasonal roadmap means new content is getting added to the game almost every week.
The stability of Destiny 2 has always ebbed and flowed, but recently things have taken a clear turn for the worse. Prior to Lightfall, the game felt like it was being held together by duct tape, and after the expansion launched in February players became accustomed to checking the Bungie Help Twitter account on a regular basis to see the status of the game’s servers and find out if the always-online game had randomly been shut down for maintenance or not.
In response to a growing number of player concerns and questions, Bungie provided a mini-technical deep-dive into one of the systems that’s paramount to running a massive live-service game and one of the reasons things have felt so rough lately. “When gameplay messages from Destiny 2 are received, they are sent to a key service called ‘Claims,’ which then routes them onto the server that is responsible for your player data,” the studio wrote. “This is an essential service for keeping the client and server in sync during every moment of gameplay.”
With the launch of Lightfall, Bungie apparently tried to update this system to make it more resilient, especially at higher concurrent player numbers. It was clearly a good move, too, since Destiny 2 hit its highest-ever concurrent player numbers on Steam when the expansion arrived. But the improvements also introduced other issues that have ultimately led to an increase in error messages received by players, and thus the need to take the whole game offline at times.
Normally, if Claims has its communication channels disrupted to other services, it is designed to automatically restore these connections. These disruptions can happen for a wide variety of reasons, including hardware failures, network hitches, or problems with other services. However, despite rigorous testing, the updated system is not always recovering as expected in our live game environment. If these channels are permanently disrupted, this can be one of the causes behind Weasel, Baboon, or other error codes for a large subset of the player base. In these cases, even a rolling restart of our Claims service is not always enough to restore the service. Instead, a full restart of our Destiny 2 services must be performed to restore the Claims system, which we are rapidly working to correct.
The studio goes on to point out that while addressing the issues with Claims is a high priority, messing it up will make things a whole lot worse, so it will take a bit. In the meantime, Bungie outlined the improvements to stability players can expect in the current and upcoming seasons. A mid-season 21 update will stop stability from getting any worse, while a season 22 launch update will bring a “self-healing” ability to Destiny 2's Claims system that will make outages less frequent. A season 23 update should bring even more improvements.
Long story short: things should start getting better soon, beginning with the season 22 update on August 22. Bungie cautions that any change to these systems can temporarily make things worse before they get better, but the main takeaway is that the studio is aware of the issues and working on a long-term plan to deal with them, hopefully before season 24 launches alongside next year’s long-awaited The Final Shape expansion.