Recently, my fiancée and I started playing Destiny 2 together. We were looking for a co-op game with a lot of stuff that supported crossplay and cross-saving. Somehow, I convinced her to give Destiny 2 a shot. So far, we’ve had a great time. It’s been excellent coming back to the game after years away. But returning to Destiny 2 as an experienced player alongside a rookie has highlighted a problem: Destiny 2 doesn’t respect its own narrative. With so much of the past missing, it’s hard for a new player to get caught up without jumping on YouTube.
In 2020, Bungie purged a lot of content from Destiny 2. This included entire storylines and locations. The original Destiny 2 campaign, the Red War? Gone. Past expansions and events that moved the game’s overall narrative forward? Deleted. Locations that were once very important in Destiny’s story, like the Farm? Removed. And while the game does spend some time vaguely explaining what happened, if you actually want to know all the details, you’ll have to get caught up via YouTube videos or blog posts. Not an ideal situation.
And with more content soon leaving in February, this problem is only going to get worse. If Bungie cares about telling stories in Destiny (and based on all the lore books buried in the game, they do), then it’s time to start letting players experience this past content, even if it comes back without any rewards or specific loot.
Currently, the new player experience is bad and not just because some folks are getting trapped in a cosmic game show, unable to progress until stronger players come to save them. (Though that also sucks.) If you actually want to understand what is happening, who all these characters are, and what they are talking about, Destiny 2 doesn’t offer you much in the way of context.
The main strategy Bungie seems to use is to offer a timeline feature in the game’s menu that lets you read blurbs about specific seasons and DLC events. This is nice, but it lacks a lot of detail. And reading about the Red War is far less compelling than actually playing it, which you can’t do in 2021. The new player experience is especially bad for free-to-play folks, who now have very little content to mess around with, and most of it exists without any narrative build-up outside of a limited timeline feature.
When I lurk around the various Destiny forums, subreddits, and social media communities, I often see players offer a response to people asking for old content or story info with an answer that boils down to “Watch some YouTube videos.” That’s not a good solution, even if there are some content creators creating excellent summaries and lore videos. Many people would love to play through some of those older campaigns and missions, to experience the story themselves in the correct order. But that’s not possible.
Bungie does say that all of this old and removed content, which now is part of the Destiny Content Vault, could one day return to the game. But so far, only a couple pieces of legacy content have returned, like “Vault of Glass,” which is itself nice. I enjoyed that raid a great deal back in the day. But I also hope more pieces of Destiny 2’s narrative return in the future, even if this content comes with no rewards or new gear and is totally optional to download. While I know many players are just trying to max out their light levels each year, I’m here to enjoy the full game, including its story-focused missions, regardless of whether I’m increasing some numbers or not. It would also be lovely to finally let newer Destiny 2 players get a chance to work through the Red War and other bits of vaulted content.
The upcoming expansion, The Witch Queen, is connected to many past (and now gone) Hive-related plot points, some from the first Destiny. Having more context around it for new players or returning folks would be extremely useful and helpful, such as the Taken King campaign or Crota-related missions from Destiny 1. This would help players, regardless of their Destiny experience, wrap their heads around the often messy and strange lore that fills Destiny’s universe. Plus, it would mean you could actually get caught up with the universe without having to read a wiki page or watch a YouTube video. Imagine, being able to play the game to learn about the game’s story. An interesting concept that Bungie should try.