Just about every week brings something new to Destiny 2, whether it’s story beats, new activities, or interesting new combinations of elements that let players devastate each other in the Crucible. Iron Banter is our weekly look at what’s going on in the world of Destiny and a rundown of what’s drawing our attention across the solar system.
We’ve hit it–the point at which Destiny 2’s current story takes a break. The techeuns have been rescued, Mara Sov has silenced Savathun, Crow has bailed to deal with his emotional trauma, and there’s nothing to do on this front but push back Xivu Arath’s forces while we wait for whatever “cosmic alignment” is.
While there probably won’t be a lot of story for the foreseeable future, Destiny 2 has a lot going on in the next few weeks. The Festival of the Lost is about to kick off, Grandmaster Nightfall Strikes have unlocked, and we now know what game content we’re going to lose with the release of The Witch Queen in February. That last bit sounds bad, but the situation actually seems like a best-case scenario for the Destiny Content Vault idea, so hold your anger until the end.
Ahead of the most recent TWAB, Bungie made clear what we can expect from the Destiny Content Vault with the release of The Witch Queen. Back when Beyond Light released, Bungie removed a bunch of content from Destiny 2 with the explanation that the game was getting too big and unwieldy and that the developer couldn’t constantly add to its size. Updating the whole huge game complete with its original destinations, plus those added in previous expansions like Curse of Osiris and Warmind, was difficult to do and slowed down fixes for issues that cropped up. It also made the install size of the game pretty enormous, and a lot of that space wasn’t really being used.
It sucks to lose content from a game that you already paid for, that’s for sure, and we’ve been waiting for the sword to fall as to what would be removed from the game to make space for the next expansion. All things considered, though, the pain is pretty minimal. We now know for sure that the Tangled Shore destination is going, as is the content that goes with it, including the original Forsaken story campaign. Also going are past seasonal activities from this year, and the two excellent Exotic missions, Harbinger and Presage. But there are a lot of silver linings with the announcement, too.
Mostly, the good news is that the best stuff from Forsaken will remain. The Dreaming City isn’t going anywhere (curious, from a story standpoint), and neither is The Shattered Throne dungeon (curiouser) or the Last Wish raid (and curiouser). Bungie is looking at ways to make sure you can still grab a bunch of key Exotic weapons and their catalysts, including Hawkmoon and Dead Man’s Tale, so players won’t be losing out on the cool guns when the missions that go with them disappear. And Warden of Nothing, the Forsaken Strike, will stick around, as well the Proving Ground Strike and the Battlegrounds activity from this year, which will go into the Strike playlist.
So overall, the announcement could be a lot worse. Bungie is going to make the Forsaken story campaign available for the rest of the year so players who haven’t been through it can still wrap it up, and Forsaken stuff will be available to purchase for players who hop in during The Witch Queen so they can at least access the raid, dungeon, and guns.
Personally, it’s always been my feeling that the Content Vault solution is an imperfect but necessary one for Destiny 2. When it was first instituted, it removed big swathes of the game that were pretty much going ignored. That’s somewhat the case now, too–apart from dropping in for the occasional Legendary Lost Sector or Wrathborn Hunt, I never bother with the place. It won’t bother me much if it’s out of the game for a while, and I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that I paid $40 three years ago for this Destiny content, so it’s some sort of personal affront if the game evolves away from it. I spent my time on the Tangled Shore. I’m ready to move on.
When it comes to story campaigns, however, I think Bungie needs to try to find a better solution. The new player experience remains pretty rough for Destiny 2, even with recent improvements. One of the things that the Destiny vanilla campaign and Red War did really well was take players through the paces of what the game is and how it works, and without those stories to lead players through, the game is confusing and off-putting. At least the Forsaken campaign could be something of a path into the game, even if it was a confusing one that assumed a lot of knowledge about the Destiny story. Now that will be gone, too.
If we acknowledge that the Destiny Content Vault is a necessary evil, I think we also have to acknowledge that clear story content is also a necessity if Destiny 2 is to keep growing and attracting new players. Director Joe Blackburn and general manager Justin Truman told me a while back that The Witch Queen will be the “definitive” Destiny campaign, and I hope that’s true, because this is a place the game needs some work.
Becoming The Grandmaster
This week marked the launch of the Grandmaster difficulty for Nightfall Strikes, and this is me telling you that you should try to put in the time to take them on if you never have before. This was a section of the endgame previously barred to me; the Power level requirement for Grandmasters was always too high, and despite playing a lot of Destiny, I always struggled to hit it.
That changed drastically with the inclusion of Seasonal Challenges, which are a great, often super-quick, way to gather experience and level up. Two seasons back, I finally kicked my characters up high enough to run GMs and earn the Conqueror seal. If you’re like me and never made it to the pinnacle of the Vanguard playlist before, now’s the time to do it.
With tweaks this season, GMs are more rewarding than they’ve ever been. They dish out Adept weapons, just like the Trials of Osiris, and some of them are the best in the game. The mode also dishes out a bunch of Adept mods now, too, which are significantly better than regular mods. This is gear worth chasing.
More than that, though, Grandmasters are in a league of their own in terms of difficulty, and they’re something worth experiencing–and, well, conquering. They’re Nightfalls that are so hard, you’ll need specific strategies and close communication with your teammates. It’s not quite the same experience as a raid, but is more of a straightforward gunfight, the shooting version of a raid or dungeon’s team coordination. You haven’t really experienced Destiny PvE if you haven’t played around with the GMs, and I highly recommend at least completing one, just to see what it’s like. They make up the kind of game experience that has you shouting in triumph when you’re finally victorious.
There’s a ton of time between now and the launch of The Witch Queen, which makes this the right time to grind up and grab that Conqueror seal if you’ve been hesitant. GMs are an endgame experience you shouldn’t be skipping, even if you only check them out once or twice.
This week’s story closed off our communication with Savathun, ending our chats with the Witch Queen. The question now is, what damage did those talks do? We got a new sense this season as to what Savathun’s Song actually does to people, and in our last conversation, Savathun used a particular phrase: “O Guardian mine.”
Anybody who’s paid attention to Ahamkara lore knows the wish dragons were fond of that particular turn of phrase, but it comes up here and there from other sources as well. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard it from Savathun, for instance. That has led some to speculate that the phrase has more meaning than it appears to at first blush.
We definitely don’t know for sure, but with characters such as Savathun using the same phrase that Ahamkara do, it’s worth wondering whether there’s some power in those words. We know that Savathun’s Song is a viral chant that seems to give her power over the minds of people who hear it. In the lore, she used it to essentially calm Shaxx and make him forget he’d just realized the Ahamkara skull over his station in the Tower was a conduit for Savathun to invade the space. It seems like “O Guardian mine” and various iterations in the lore could be some kind of similar spell.
If that’s the case, then Savathun could have used her final moments to infect us in some way, or to skew our perceptions. She’s definitely executing some plan right now–we just don’t know what it is. Since we won’t hear from her for a bit, might as well sit around puzzling over whether she’s manipulating us with magic, or simply just making us paranoid.
That’s it for me, as I’ve literally got a plane to catch. Leave your thoughts on the Destiny Content Vault, Savathun’s plans, and anything else in the comments.