Since the release of the Beyond Light expansion in 2020, Bungie has been “skipping” chunks of Destiny 2 – removing entire chunks of the game in the process. We’re not talking small parts of the game either. The original campaign? Faded away. Mars and Titan? Poof, gone. The Forsaken campaign? It’s also missing.
Idle players diving in to play the new Witch Queen expansion will find culling almost as extreme as Beyond Light, with both the Tangled Shore location and the Forsaken campaign removed from players’ hands.
If you bought Destiny 2 but aren’t a regular player, it’s a tough realization: getting the things you bought taken away. You might find it odder that regular Destiny players don’t care at all. Why aren’t they outraged?
The truth is, as a hardcore Destiny fan, Destiny 2 is a better game for it.
Why is Bungie “vaulting”
The main reason for the jump is simple: Destiny 2 was getting too big. Bungie wasn’t interested in making Destiny 3, they wanted to build on their game with expansions. But each version increased the install size of the game. This is a real problem, especially for PS4 and Xbox One gamers who are bound to 500 GB hard drives.
Another major reason was the increasing work of maintaining all older content. Whenever Bungie adds new gear, it should be tested in all playable parts of Destiny 2. Testers should check to see if Witch Queen’s new Osteo Striga SMG somehow breaks when interacting with it. the escalation protocols of the Warmind extension. Could some sort of infinite resource farm be created with a combination of new mined mods due to Black Armory forges? Checking everything is a huge job for Bungie and maybe the team’s time could be better spent elsewhere.
“Keeping so much content in perpetuity slows our ability to update the game with new experiences, reduces our ability to innovate, and delays our reaction to community feedback,” Bungie explained in a blog post. “The test surface alone is huge, not to mention the impact it has on our designers, artists, and engineers who try to create cool new things every day under the weight of the overwhelming complexity of our scale.”
The Destiny Content Vault (DCV) allows Bungie to focus on what’s important to Destiny 2. While it’s sad to lose content, it also creates an organized experience. Bungie can cut out the old systems and codes that are holding the game back and replace them with newer, better tools.
Also, the contents of the vault are not gone for good. Bungie will even be bringing back stuff from the original Destiny, like it did with the Cosmodrome raid and Vault of Glass.
But what does this vault mean to you?
While it might be confusing for new players or people returning after a long break, the vault has improved the way Bungie tells stories in Destiny 2. There’s now a tight core campaign that expands with new activities every week. Because everyone plays through the same little piece of story, instead of the wide spread of all the campaigns across the various expansions, Destiny’s story feels immediate.
There is also a clear technical advantage. Before the Beyond Light expansion, it could take a minute to get to the Tower or a new planet on a PS4. After the massive content removal, loading was noticeably faster, and it remains so to this day.
Bungie is open about its reasoning, explaining that the Warmind expansion, for example, was “5% of [the game’s] total install size”, but only “0.3% of all time played in Season of the Worthy”. It might seem wrong to see content you own cut from the game, but in the grand scheme of things, it was not something that people played.
For those of us who play Destiny regularly, losing access to the content we want to play once in a blue moon is a fair price to pay for faster, more focused gameplay.
Reasons to be wary
There are, however, two obvious problems with Vaulting: preservation and ownership.
Game developers struggle to preserve their history, and live service games present an even more complicated challenge. Each time a game receives an update, what was there before is erased. For some players, this can be a big loss. And it’s rare for a developer to realize that. Very occasionally we see projects like classic world of warcraft that open the door to a past version of a game.
Then there is ownership. Are we entitled to the content that was included in Destiny 2 when we purchased it, or are we just renting access to the service? While it’s frustrating to see a show or movie disappear from Netflix, we don’t often say it’s been taken away from us.
These are big questions facing games and go deeper than Destiny 2. However, in the case of Destiny, Bungie makes a compelling case for what this process can create for players.
Addition by subtraction
Done poorly, a service game can look like it’s designed to get money out of you. With unsatisfactory updates provided to you by a developer. But, as with Destiny, you instead feel like you’re part of a real-time adventure. For the most dedicated Destiny players, we’ve seen our characters grow since the original game released in 2014. This character has nearly eight years of history, and we’ve been with them every step of the way.
And, because Destiny is an inherently social game, built around cooperative play, many of my memories of the game are those that I experienced with friends.
Bungie’s execution hasn’t always been flawless in terms of business practices, but it looks serious at least. It feels developer-driven, rather than purely profit-driven. Destiny 2 is built by a team that cares about creating an experience for dedicated players. It is to build an evolving reality that evolves parallel to ours.
This is not to minimize the frustrations of lapsed players. This is the group that misses the most this exchange. However, it’s not as black and white as “Bungie removes content we paid for” when the experience it maintains is currently so good.
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