Bungie Is Making Desperate Moves With Destiny 2, and They’re Working

For anyone who’s been habitually playing Destiny over the past decade, tell me if you’ve heard this one before. Boredom has sunk into the game. There are corporate issues, which have led to player numbers plummeting… but wait, there’s actually been a miraculous turnaround with the game’s content, and now everyone is back. I’m here to tell you that it seems history has repeated itself again.


Just five months ago, there were reports that Destiny 2 and Bungie were in serious trouble. They hadn’t been hitting their financial targets, leading to them laying off a lot of employees, which then culminated in serious speculation that Sony might have to take over the studio to right the ship. So, what changed?

In the lead up to the last expansion, The Final Shape — which is wrapping up “The Light and Darkness Saga” — Bungie has been pulling off every desperate measure they can to bring players back, and it’s totally working. Let’s take a quick look at these latest moves that lead to this shift, and see how the famous studio is gearing up for another comeback.

It all started with Destiny’s latest event, Into the Light. If you are a casual fan, then you might’ve heard that they put out some kind of horde mode in April called Onslaught, with some good loot. That isn’t wrong, but there’s more to the story. First off, the entire event is free, so anyone can download Destiny and play it. To sweeten the deal, they also gave every player a free chest that brings their light level up to the current max.

bungie desperate moves article into the light
Onslaught is part tower-defense, part horde-mode.

From the financial standpoint of a company trying to get back into the black, making it all free probably doesn’t seem like a good move. However, if the goal is to increase game activity, and create more hype for the upcoming expansion in June, then it seems to be working. Since April, Steam player numbers have almost doubled; they’re actually matching the numbers that Destiny had back in the popular Witch Queen expansion.

steamdb chart for destiny 2 players free expansion april
Destiny 2 player numbers before and after the free Onslaught event
source: Steamdb

Alright, but how can a simple tower-defense horde mode reinvigorate a game like that? Aside from the fact that the there’s more than just a new mode, the answer is simple: nostalgia and forbidden fruit. The loot isn’t just any old guns; they’re some of the most popular guns in Destiny history. Luna’s Howl, that ravaged the game’s PVP Crucible, is back. Favorites from the season of the Black Armory, like the Blast Furnace pulse rifle and Hammerhead machine gun, also return — and those are just three of twelve iconic weapons.

bungie desperate moves article brave arsenal
Ironically, the new perk on the weapons is called “Desperate Measures”

These weapons were drip fed two at a time per week for the last month, but they were originally supposed to come on an even more protracted schedule. Thankfully, Bungie listened to the community critique that the schedule was too slow and changed it. This was another solid move on Bungie’s part, not only because they listened to the community, but also since most people simply wouldn’t have had time to both grind for those weapons, and play the other activity they released.

That’s right, we didn’t just get Onslaught, but we also got Pantheon. In this activity, players jump from raid boss to raid boss, trying to defeat them within the time-limit to receive red-border and adept raid weapons. These are usually more difficult to acquire, and very sought after for their potency. Getting the old raid team together to battle the bosses in this streamlined activity has had me reliving the glory days, and wondering where my Tuesday evenings have gone.

bungie desperate moves article pantheon
Fight the same raid bosses you’ve been fighting for years!

The last piece of nostalgia came in the form of two renewed exotic missions: the very popular Whisper of the Worm and Zero Hour missions. It’s hard to overstate how impactful these missions were on the game when they released, and many players remember them extremely fondly. So, right now you’re thinking, “They brought some stuff back, big whoop”, and you’re right, but…

Nostalgia can only take you so far; sometimes, you have to liven up the recipe with some new ingredients — or give the gamers some forbidden fruit. One of these was the super black shader. It’s something that Guardians have been asking for since the start, a shader to make armor and weapons all black. Joe Blackburn, the ex-game director, actually answered a question about this when talking about the next expansion, saying “… I think the scary part is once you give someone Super Black, is there any other shader they want in the videogame?”

Next up is some love for my personal favorite part of the game, the Crucible. Bungie finally gave us a pack of new PVP maps. It has been so long since there’s been a map pack, I literally can’t remember the last one, and I can’t find it online — it’s been years. Tending to this often neglected part of the game is a surefire sign that Bungie is pulling out all the stops.

bungie desperate moves article pvp map
Finally, some good PVP maps

We already mentioned that players can get their hands on red-border raid weapons (which allow for crafting of said weapons), but Bungie just announced today that gamers can get a red-border seasonal weapons each day just by doing a seasonal activity. This means that you can craft and create god roll weapons for the lowest amount of effort. Oh yeah, remember those exotic missions we mentioned earlier? Well, the exotic weapons you earn from them can also now be crafted with different perks.

Bungie’s last ace (of spades) up their sleeve is putting three of their previous expansions into open access. This one is interesting, because players will be able to acquire normally pay-walled subclasses and weapons, then have them after the open access window expires on June 3rd. Ultimately, I think the strategy with this is the same for the rest of these goodies: bring back all the players they can and get them excited and equipped for the final fight.

Judging from player numbers, general sentiment, and my personal social life’s death throes, it seems that Bungie has turned the situation around momentarily. Yet, they haven’t crossed the finish line until their next expansion releases successfully in June, and fans still remember the lukewarm reception of the Lightfall expansion from last year.

The whole nostalgic strategy does come off as a bit trite. Bungie was in a pinch, so it smacked the community with essentially recycled guns, missions, and bosses, then opened up the pay-walls while adding in some easy-to-get treats for good measure — and I, along with many others, swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker. There are probably stronger (or simply more jaded) gamers out there that maintain skepticism of the next expansion, but this month has given me something I haven’t had for most of the year: hope for Destiny 2’s future.


Are you like me, and building some interest in what Bungie has in store for us with The Final Shape? Or have you been burned too many times by Bungie’s promises? Tell us why you’re jaded or optimistic in the comments!

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Kelson H.
Kelson H.

Kelson is a spud head from out west. He is most happy when holding a milky tea with too much honey and playing a sprawling role playing game or reading a fantasy novel. His video game tastes vary but his main genres are looter shooters, RPGs, and real time strategy games.

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