Bungie Interview: Destiny takes first step into new trilogy with Beyond Light
Bungie’s Gary Clay speaks to GameCentral about Destiny 2’s story and how Beyond Light sees the franchise take the first step into a new trilogy.
Destiny has always gotten some slack for its story elements. It’s not entirely unearned either. When the franchise debuted in 2014, it was a far cry from the first person shooter campaigns Bungie was known for. It was missing connective tissue.
For casual players, or players that haven’t logged into the game for a few years, that is a stigma that lives with the franchise to this day.
Destiny has come a long way since then though. Most of the game’s subsequent expansions have had great campaigns and excellent lore. Be that as it may though, Destiny has remained a little… unfocused.
It’s a universe with pockets of excellent story but they are rarely tied together in-game. Each expansion tends to jump from one focus to the next. There was always this sense of potential that remained unutilised.
That is changing with Destiny 2: Beyond Light.
Speaking to Bungie’s Director of Platforms and Partnerships, Gary Clay, it’s clear that the developer is beginning to focus its narrative efforts. ‘When we finished Shadowkeep, we started planning the next three years of Destiny. which we announced during our June announcement event’, Clay told GameCentral.
‘We’ve really put a key focus on telling that narrative story across that three-year arc.’
During that reveal event in June, Bungie did something unprecedented. It revealed its roadmap for the next three years. This year, Beyond Light will hit; in 2021, The Witch Queen is coming; and it will round out with Lightfall in 2022. Destiny has never been that transparent about its future before.
In the franchise’s past, expansions have been largely unconnected. While the story content of most is excellent, the links between them are fairly loose. From The Taken King to Rise Of Iron, or Forsaken to Shadowkeep, they’ve all been building this world but largely have nothing to do with one another bar passing lore.
Bungie talking about the next three expansions being ‘a trilogy’ is new territory. ‘As you start to see this next trilogy of expansions, there will be a real focus on tying those loose ends together’, says Clay.
One of those loose ends is the return of the Exo Stranger, who hasn’t been seen in Destiny since the first game’s initial campaign. She has been a hanging thread for years and it appears she’s finally back to encourage us to embrace the Darkness in Beyond Light.
‘We want players to question the grey space between the Light and Dark and really understand that there is a lot more to the universe that we are going to be telling over the next few years.’
‘It’s bringing some new exciting narrative that is going to have players questioning what they understand about Destiny and where the world is going.’
Beyond Light will see the return of seasonal content to the game, giving players things to do throughout the year. That model was fairly contentious for players of Shadowkeep and proved divisive for the community. It had huge highs, like Season of Arrivals’ Prophecy dungeon, as well as uneven lows like Season of the Worthy’s execution.
It seems that the seasonal content will be similar in Beyond Light. ‘Our intent is to have an overarching narrative for the story and for the season to season creating this incredible impact on the world’, said Clay.
‘We don’t plan on moving away from that. We want to lean into these great storylines that you can experience as you go throughout the seasons.’
‘When we go all the way back to the purpose of the Destiny journey, we wanted to create this evolving world where there were meaningful actions for the players. The players could impact the game world. I think you saw that in the Shadowkeep year.’
Beyond Light’s first season is called Season of the Hunt and will introduce one of the original Taken King’s [Oryx] sisters, Xivu Arath. ‘As we come into Season of the Hunt, you are going to look at Xivu Arath and her lieutenants’, says Clay.
‘It’s going to be really focused on a new gameplay experience called Wrathborn Hunts where you are going to be basically creating a lure and then hunting down different bosses.’
Season of the Hunt will begin a week after Beyond Light’s launch on November 17.
However, where Xivu Arath will demand our attention early on, hiding in the shadow is the real threat. This is all in service of gearing Guardians for what is coming in The Witch Queen. Savathun, the other sister of Oryx and the current leader of the Taken, has been slowly and quietly built up for years. Her time will finally come in 2021.
Encouragingly, it looks like a lot of Beyond Light’s seasonal content will be about setting up her story. ‘I can lean into this a little bit… Savathun is, as we move towards the Witch Queen expansion – you are going to see her set up some dominoes over the next year of Destiny’, says Clay.
‘And that’s about as far as I can go. But Savathun will be our main… theme.’
Like previous expansion content, Shadowkeep’s seasonal stories didn’t feel all that tied together. While the through line of the arriving Pyramid ships was always there, it wasn’t always the focus. Savathun having a hand to play in most of what we are doing over the next year is a promising development.
This is that vision, a clear roadmap and structure that has felt missing from Destiny’s narrative in the past. It’s an exciting prospect for long-teased fans.
However, while this trilogy guarantees Destiny’s continuation for years to come, there was always going to be questions about what comes after. Will Lightfall, the conclusion to this story between the Darkness and the Light, be the end of Destiny?
Clay said: ‘We’re committed to Destiny 2. We wanted to make it really clear in our June announcement that we want players to feel like they can get as engaged into Destiny 2 as they want.’
‘What we are saying is that this next trilogy that we are coming into is a trilogy of storylines. They are intended to build upon each other to bring us through a narrative arc.’
‘But no, we have no plans to stop supporting Destiny 2’
And thus, with the launch of Beyond Light, Destiny feels primed. After an impromptu live event last night saw worlds plunged into Darkness while the Traveller healed, Destiny has a very clear direction. War is here and Destiny is upping its stakes, starting now.
During that live event, Eris Morn contacted us through our ghosts and summed the feeling up perfectly.
‘This will not be the end. This will be an escalation.’
Destiny 2: Beyond Light is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and PC.
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