Destiny 2: Enriching the New and Returning Player Experience

Sep 5, 2023 - Destiny 2 Dev Team

As any lore hound will tell you, Destiny has a rich and deep narrative that can be, ahem… a bit overwhelming for new and returning players. One of the biggest pain points for players who haven't logged on for a while is that feeling of being left behind when it comes to both story and gear. While this is to be expected to some degree for a game that actively moves the narrative and gameplay forward every season and expansion, we’ve taken action to reduce this barrier to re-entry and welcome back Guardians who are interested in seeing how The Final Shape will end the Light and Darkness Saga.

Rallying New and Previous Guardians

During the last several months, many teams that work on Destiny 2 across Bungie have been focused on creating ways to help former players become rekindled players. Recent features like Guardian Ranks have made it easy for new players to know what to do next and quickly understand another Guardians' experience level. In addition, the upcoming additions of both Fireteam Finder and adjustments to our Power System have been designed to make it easier for players to join up and play together as seamlessly as possible. Add in the new Featured Quests tool, and it’s easier than ever to jump right in.

Today, we'd like to focus on another new feature we're excited about: Timeline Reflections.

Reliving the Timeline

A relatively new player might be wondering, “Who is this Cayde-6 everyone is talking about from The Final Shape teaser?” In a similar vein, someone who has not played Destiny 2 in a couple of years might be asking, “Why the heck is that jerk Uldren hanging out with the Vanguard after what he did to Cayde?!” To help answers narrative questions like these, we've introduced Timeline Reflection missions.

Players who haven’t logged in for a while start in front of Ikora, where she tells them that in order to confront the future and take on the Witness they must first understand the past. She instructs them to go to the Timeline on the Director and do three quick missions. The first one is called “Cayde’s Fate” and is an abbreviated version of the Forsaken Prison Break mission, which will give context around both Cayde and Crow’s story arc. The second Timeline Reflection mission shows how Guardians learned to wield the Darkness against our enemies and gives a nice taste of the Stasis subclass. The third mission gets players up to speed on how and why the Lucent Hive are able to use the Light against us.

Each Timeline Reflection mission starts with a brief intro cinematic to set up the mission, contains approximately ten minutes of gameplay, and ends with an outro cinematic to reinforce the importance of the narrative beat. After completing each mission for the first time, Guardians will earn a Legendary weapon. Completing all the missions should take less than an hour and rewards the player with the Monte Carlo Exotic Auto Rifle. This type of gear is exactly the type of thing we wanted to offer to get new players into the swing of things quickly while they formulate their own playstyles.

In addition to the Timeline Reflections missions, we added two standalone cinematics to help spell out the core setting of Destiny. The first one is the “Destiny Calls” motion graphic that we released on our website last summer. The second debuted in Season of the Deep and provides a backstory on our greatest enemy, the Witness. All these quests are available for everyone who wants a concise refresher on the story so far. Just swing by Ikora in the Tower and then head to the Timeline whenever you want.

Getting to the Fun Faster

Back in Season of the Deep, we added a couple of smaller additions to help new players. First, “A Guardian Rises” (aka the New Light missions) now gives rewards for better weapons and gear, including the Tractor Cannon Exotic Shotgun. Previously, the team felt it was taking players a little too long to get to Riskrunner, and we felt it was important to get a feel for a good Exotic sooner. Tractor Cannon is easy to use and has excellent cooperative benefits with its debuff, so new players can instantly add value to their teams.

Additionally, Ikora now offers subclass mastery missions specifically aimed at teaching players a single keyword from each of the Light subclasses (Weaken, Scorch, and Jolt). These missions also introduce new players to build crafting sooner by rewarding some Legendary weapons with relevant subclass traits and Exotic armor pieces to highlight Void, Solar, and Arc for each class. To get started, talk to Ikora, and you’ll be on your way to earning powerful and fun Exotic gear such as Crown of Tempests, Synthoceps, and Graviton Forfeit, among others.

Now really is the best time to tell your friends to jump (back) into the game and get caught up before The Final Shape drops. In the meantime, per audacia ad astra, Guardians!

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