Bungie’s ‘Destiny 2’ Hiring Spree Is Paying Off In Big And Small Ways

I spend a whole lot of time complaining about Destiny 2, a game I play like a full-time job because more or less, it is my full-time job. And yet sometimes, you need to stop and smell the roses, and I think it’s important to stop and take a look back and where we are, and how far the game has come since launch, and when it began its seasonal model.

Having played every season of Destiny 2 extensively, I have to say, I am seeing some pretty massive leaps forward both in the last few seasons, and really, the last entire year plus. Sometimes they’re big, obvious things. Other times they’re small, subtle things. But you can see how Bungie’s mass hiring spree, both pre- and post-Sony acquisition, has really beefed up the game, even as they work on other IPs in the shadow.

So, what am I noticing?

The Armor Team – I don’t know the official Bungie name for any of these squads, but I know that they have really, really upped their game recently. Seasonal armor used to be pretty throwaway, just a worse version of the ornaments you’d unlock as you moved through the battle pass. Now, they’re two entirely different sets, and both of them are usually pretty fantastic (showing off two different sets above there).

The Shader Team – Also above, you see a sick new bloodspatter shader that is not some elite reward, but the one you get from like…ten Crucible games in Shaxx’s reward track. It’s one of many really excellent shaders the game has gotten recently, as they are playing around with texture, glows, patterns a whole lot of other interesting concepts. Here’s my “clockwork pirate” I made with a new wooden-type shader that arrived yesterday in the store. I would never have thought to comment on shaders before, but they really are ascending to the next level as of late.

The Narrative Team – This has been a long, long process that I would argue probably kicked off in earnest during Season of the Hunt, once we began Crow’s long arc to redemption. Since then, Bungie has leaned incredibly hard into putting way more storytelling into the game itself. Yes, there are still lore books and such you have to read, but they have done excellent work by really investing in the voice cast so you have 5-6 speakers per season rather than 1-2 like you might have had previously. The storylines themselves are more interesting than they’ve ever been with characters more fully fleshed out. Destiny 1 and 2 both struggled heavily with storytelling for years, but that has now changed dramatically, and it’s become one of its strongest assets.

The Sandbox Team – This is a wide-range of stuff here, but I absolutely must give credit for how good the light subclass 3.0 reworks have gone, as we can debate individual subclass strength, but on the whole, they absolutely crushed these reworks, injecting fresh life into years-old classes to make them the most fun they’ve ever been. At the same time, the sandbox team is busy coming up with fun new weapons and perks every single season, when previously we could get stuck in things like the “Outlaw/Rampage” meta for literal years. And all the while doing this while developing an entirely new subclass and element type, Strand, coming with Lightfall.

The Environment Team – While I may not have liked playing essentially only Nightmare Containment for a whole season, it’s hard to deny that the Environment team killed the reprisal of the Leviathan, based heavily on Presage before it. Past that, pick any new place we’ve gone, Vow of the Disciple, Duality, and now dueling Pirate ships. The locations of the game have never been cooler, and Lightfall looks like the environment team’s most ambitious project yet as we head to Cyberpunk Neptune.

The Activities Team – This season especially, I find myself reflecting on that if this was 2-3 years ago, it’s easy to imagine a season where the entire seasonal activity would be just Expeditions from Season of the Plunder. Now, the seasonal teams have grown enough to make Expeditions, Ketchcrash, Pirate Lords and Eliksni Quarter storytelling segments in a single season, plus opening and closing missions and holiday events, most likely. They really have dramatically increased the volume of content we get from seasons over time.

Of course, there are some gaps. While Bungie has been slowly rebuilding its PvP team, that’s certainly one of the weaker aspects of the game right now. They did just have a win with Eruption, but both Crucible and Gambit has suffered from a serious lack of investment, and some of the new things we have seen (Disjunction) have not lived up to what players were hoping to see. There’s probably the most work to be done in this department, even though I am seeing at least some overall improvement here.

Seriously, this is a transformed game from even a few years ago. And if you don’t see that, I think your glasses are a bit too rose-tinted.

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