The conclusion of the Light and Darkness Saga is coming with Destiny 2: The Final Shape. With the next expansion for Destiny 2, the development team is creating a climactic finish for the decade-long saga, full of drama, poignancy, and action, while also paving the way for the future of Destiny 2. Today, during the Destiny 2 Showcase event, Bungie gave viewers an inside look at the epic conflict to come, as well as a preview of the content coming to Destiny 2 in the year ahead.
The Final Shape will find Guardians pursuing their ultimate adversary – the Witness – and confronting its efforts to use the powers of Light and Darkness to reshape the universe as it sees fit (into “The Final Shape,” thus the name).
In the expansion’s campaign, Guardians will unite with old friends, including Vanguard mentors Commander Zavala, Ikora Rey, and Cayde-6, and venture into the Pale Heart, a new destination located within the Traveler. Created and continuously reshaped by the Witness’s twisted vision, the Pale Heart will be a fully linear location (the first in the Destiny history), and one that will allow the player to revisit famous moments from the game’s past, including a version of the Tower from the original Destiny.
During the campaign, the player will traverse The Pale Heart, battling the forces of the Witness, leading to a confrontation in the associated raid, which will launch after the release of the expansion. The Final Shape launches February 27, 2024.
The Destiny 2 team is making a significant shift to its Seasonal cadence in 2024. Instead of four Seasons, Destiny 2 will feature three larger Episodes in 2024, with the first one (titled “Echoes”) set shortly after the release of The Final Shape expansion. These independent standalone stories will cover the fallout and ramifications of the events of The Final Shape, while also introducing new activities and rewards for players to enjoy throughout the year of The Final Shape and beyond.
The Showcase also featured tons of information about gameplay improvements and new content coming to the game, including three new Light subclass Supers (one for each Guardian class); a vicious new enemy type known as the Subjugator, able to wield Stasis and Strand powers; details on the upcoming LFG feature known as Fireteam Finder; a new Vex-themed PvP map (along with a new PvP mode known as Relic, among other PvP features); and a revamped Power system designed to make it easier for Guardians to enjoy playing together regardless of Power levels.
While much of the Destiny 2 Showcase was focused on the near future of the game, rest assured there is a lot of new content available now. As in right now, in fact. With that in mind, let’s turn down the lights a bit, put on some ambient spooky music, and introduce you to the latest Season in Destiny 2.
Season of the Witch available today
The new Destiny 2 Season—Season of the Witch—begins when Savathûn’s Ghost, Immaru, approaches Guardians with a bargain: Resurrect the Witch Queen Savathûn and help defeat her sister, Xivu Arath, the Hive god of war. If the Guardians succeed, Savathûn will reveal the secret of how to follow the Witness through the portal inside the Traveler.
That’s the narrative setup for this Season in Destiny 2 and, as the title suggests, this Season will find Guardians encountering not just old enemies, but also old friends in the form of noted former Hunter and Hive expert Eris Morn. To complete her mission, Eris will undergo a significant transformation, one that will bring her closer to her Hive roots. Along the way, Guardians will navigate Savathûn’s Spire and the Altars of Summoning in two new Seasonal activities designed to help Eris build her power in preparation for her confrontation with Xivu Arath.
A whisper, a shout
One of the key components of Season of the Witch is the new Seasonal progression system known as the Deck of Whispers. This Hive-magic-infused deck of mysterious cards represent a collectible set of perks and buffs that Guardians can use to power up before they take on Seasonal activities like the Altars of Summoning or Savathûn’s Spire. The Deck of Whispers feature was designed not just as a fun, collectible-focused twist on progression for players, but also to give players even more options for building their perfect loadout.
“We had been looking for new ways to present Seasonal upgrades and rewards,” said Destiny 2 Senior Designer Joshua Billeaudeau. “When the Narrative team presented what they were planning for Season of the Witch, the idea of a deck of cards came up and we started to form a plan around that concept.
“What we ended up with was the Deck of Whispers. Guardians can find unidentified cards as rewards through broad activity gameplay, quest rewards, or even hidden in activities themselves. These cards can be brought to the Season’s Lectern of Divination to uncover the card’s mystery. There are two categories of card types in the Deck of Whispers: Major Arcana and Minor Arcana.
“Major Arcana cards represent key aspects of Hive magic and its potential relationship with the Light and history with the Darkness. Once a Guardian has collected enough Major Arcana cards, they can draw a card from their own Deck of Whispers before any Seasonal activity encounter begins. Each fireteam member will be granted a buff based on the card drawn. If more than one fireteam member draws the same card, the strength of that buff is greatly increased for that encounter.”
According to Billeaudeau, Minor Arcana cards reward passive Seasonal upgrades that, once discovered, become active for the Guardian for the remainder of the Season. These cards can also reward the Guardian with extra keys, weapons, engrams, and other currencies, among other benefits.
“As the Season goes on, the Guardians will find more Major Arcana cards and can use them to build a deck (choosing which cards to take with them into Seasonal activities) allowing players to buildcraft around their class, loadout, and their fireteam.”
Developing the Deck of Whispers feature was a collaborative effort across teams at Bungie. In addition to working out the narrative reasoning and gameplay ramifications for retooling the player progression systems, the Destiny art team spent a great deal of time making sure the art style for the individual cards themselves hit the Seasonal theme just right.
“We knew from the very beginning we wanted to do an arcane-style card deck for Season of the Witch, so we immediately started looking for inspiration in that direction,” said Sam Rucks, Destiny 2 Associate Art Director, when asked about the inspirations behind the Deck of Whispers. Rucks also cited medieval illuminated manuscripts as a source of inspiration for the team.
If you’ve been around Destiny 2 for a while now, you’ve probably played an Exotic mission. These are special missions that feature not just top-tier storytelling and challenging encounters, they also reward the player with a special Exotic weapon that is worth the challenge by itself. Exotic missions are a core part of the PvE fun in Destiny 2 and, with the launch of Season of the Witch, the team is making these missions more accessible than ever.
The new Exotic Mission Rotator feature, available now in Destiny 2, allows players to play Exotic missions from Destiny 2’s recent past (provided they own the expansion or Season the mission debuted in). The Exotic Mission Rotator will update weekly—you can replay the classic Presage mission starting today—and will feature both a Normal and Legendary difficulty option to choose from (along with an associated pool of legacy Seasonal rewards). Even better, completing the mission will reward you with a craftable version of that mission’s Exotic weapon.
Three missions are part of the Exotic Mission Rotator weekly rotation including Presage (offering a craftable version of the Dead Man’s Tale Exotic Scout Rifle), as well as Vox Obscura (along with the craftable Dead Messenger Exotic Grenade Launcher), and Operation: Seraph’s Shield (with the still-craftable Revision Zero Exotic Pulse Rifle). For the truly adventurous, completing the Legendary version of these Exotic Missions will also award a Catalyst upgrade for the crafted Exotic weapon.
Destiny 2 Design Lead Baldur Tangvald recalls what it was like for the team to bring these missions back to life. “It was fun to see this content again and exciting to know that it was coming back. Some of my absolute favorite moments in Destiny 2 come from some of these missions: Presage’s Screeb-filled trash compactor and Operation: Seraph Shield’s spacewalk come to mind. It was especially fun to utilize some of the new sandbox elements like Strand in these missions. Platforming sections feel quite different with Grapple—now I can reach our good boy Archie much more easily!”
Timeline to reflect
Been away from Destiny for a while and want to get caught up quick? Looking to relive some of the canon events from Destiny 2’s storied past? The Destiny dev team has got you covered with the new Timeline Reflections feature. Designed to help new players catch up on the rich and ever-evolving Destiny 2 lore, this new feature is available to everyone and can be accessed from the Timeline feature in the Destiny 2 Director.
“The goals of Timeline Reflections centered on quickly catching players up on the major story points, getting them back into fun Destiny gameplay, and awarding them meaningful weapons to feel on par with their fellow Guardians,” said Destiny 2 Design Lead Kevin O’Hara.
Timeline Reflections missions are designed to be short and easily digestible adventures, full of high-impact gameplay and cinematic summaries of key moments in Destiny history. There are three missions to choose from for now, including Cayde-6’s climactic showdown with the Scorn from Destiny 2: Forsaken, the introduction of the first Darkness damage type, Stasis, in Destiny 2: Beyond Light; and the first appearance of the Light-wielding Lucent Hive from Destiny 2: The Witch Queen (Destiny 2: The Witch Queen is now available in the PlayStation Plus Game Catalog, included with PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium memberships)..
“We wanted to make this experience short so players could learn what they need to and then get right to playing the current Season or latest expansion with their friends,” said O’Hara. “All the missions are fun and highlight the breadth of Destiny 2 gameplay, locations, and enemies, but going back to the Prison of Elders and reliving the prison break with Cayde-6 is my favorite. It’s a joy to hear his quick wit while I make my way through the Hive, Cabal, Fallen, and meet the Scorn for the first time. As Cayde says during that mission, ‘Can I just say I’m having the time of my life right now?’”
Destiny 2: Season of the Witch is available today. Destiny 2: The Final Shape arrives on February 27, 2024.[This article originally appeared on PlayStation Blog]