The State of Destiny 2: Season of the Splicer
If you’ve been playing Destiny 2 since the beginning, there was a lot that happened in Season of the Splicer. The ongoing story was its most ambitious to date, the new activities have maintained Bungie’s signature style and polish, and the conclusion sets the scene beautifully for the next premium expansion. It also marks a tipping point for the game’s ongoing monetization, the reintroduction of old content, and the lack of support for certain underserved game modes.
Warning: This piece contains spoilers for Destiny 2 Season of the Splicer.
Hack The Planet!
As discussed before in my first impressions, Destiny 2 Season of the Splicer’s entire central conflict is built around stopping the Vex’s latest plot to take over Earth. Aiding you is Mithrax and his House of Light, a splinter group of the Fallen. It’s what the new Override and Expunge missions are centered around and what pushes the story forward.
However, this whole conflict hides a more sinister conspiracy. A collection of characters from the Tower’s various factions, lead by the Future War Cult’s Lakshmi-2, are attempting to push popular opinion against Mithrax’s people. Everything including populist rhetoric, negative media spin, persistent demagoguery, and tons of systemic prejudice is used throughout the season. This is big for the world of Destiny, addressing the troubles of making peace after so much time at war. It has all of the potential of pushing ongoing stories into more complex terrain.
The conclusion of this storyline was one for the ages. It is revealed that Lakshmi and her group managed to abduct Mithrax and his people. Worse still, they were planning on using stolen Vex technology to open a hole into the deepest reaches of space and throw them into it. This finally cements Lakshmi and her conspirators into mass murderers.
Instead, Vex pour into the Tower and begin attacking Mithrax’s people. This kicks off one last Override mission where players enter the Eliksni quarters of the City and defend them from attack.
The aftermath of this battle is both exciting and bittersweet in equal measure. Saint-14 and Mithrax’s relationship changes from acquaintances to manly brothers in arms. Lakshmi-2 was killed during the battle. The Vanguard officially disbands the Tower’s factions – the Future War Cult scatters while New Monarchy leave Earth with Dead Orbit. The dead are mourned in a memorial depicted in the final lore book of the season. Finally, it appears that Osiris, the legendary Warlock and partner of Saint-14, moved away from the battle and has gone into hiding for unknown reasons.
Learning From The Past, Looking To The Future
There is a lot to unpack in this conclusion. Mithrax and his people effectively earn their keep at the Tower, leaving them open as ongoing supporting characters. The disbanding of the factions was Bungie’s way of streamlining and refocusing content going forward. This felt natural since these factions haven’t been relevant since 2015. Lakshmi’s endgame and eventual death felt a bit too neat, leaning on the Kick The Puppy storytelling trope to make sure she is seen as obviously villainous. It still had the intended effect of sowing distrust and cynicism among the heroes of the Vanguard, but it might have been more effective to keep Lakshmi around as a supporting antagonist.
But the biggest surprise comes from Osiris’ absence and disappearance from the finale. This is key because it lends a lot of authenticity to an ongoing fan theory. Way back in Season of the Hunt, it was revealed in lore book entries that Osiris was captured on Earth’s Moon, where his Light was taken and his Ghost was destroyed by the Hive. This is corroborated by the starting mission of that season where your character first meets Crow trying to rescue him. Ever since then, Osiris has stayed at the Tower more as a wise consultant and tactical advisor since he can’t risk fighting anymore.
However, as Season of the Splicer has gone on, it is expressly shown in its lore book that the Hive God Savathun, the intelligent scheming mastermind, is actually in the Tower in disguise. Players suspect that Osiris is either still trapped on the Moon or dead, and that the one that’s been in the Tower for the past three seasons has been Savathun the entire time, setting up further plans within plans to tear the Vanguard apart from the inside.
It’s a deeply compelling theory. It reinforces this Season’s themes of in-fighting and introspection. It brings potential double meaning to Osiris’ lines spoken throughout the past year. But above all, it shows how much more proactive and sinister an antagonist Savathun is compared to the world-conquering antics of Ghaul or Oryx. And since the next premium expansion for Destiny 2 is her namesake, The Witch Queen, it makes sense that Bungie would want to start setting up her plans so they can properly pay off when that launches in early 2022.
Bringing Back The Classics
Another major release this season was the return of a classic Destiny Raid: The Vault of Glass. There’s a good reason why this Raid is so beloved by the Destiny community, and a lot of that energy is maintained for its return in Destiny 2.
It isn’t just a visual facelift either. While the main beats of the Vault of Glass are still the same — The Templar, The Gorgon Lair, The Glass Throne, and so on — there are a few additional mechanics that keep the Raid feeling fresh. For example, every time Oracles appear, they have to be destroyed in a fixed order or they trigger a party wipe. It’s a small change but makes a world of difference. It helps encourage even more communications and coordination with your Raid team. Furthermore it helps make each step of this Raid feel more involved despite it being shorter than others available. If there is a complaint, it mostly has to do with how the Artifact has changed in the final battle. Where it was originally a protective bubble that buffed the team during the damage phase, now it’s effectively a portable Titan Bubble, not allowing ally attacks to go through. It leads to a more chaotic push to beat the final boss, but only because of how obtuse this change is.
Listening to Feedback
Finally, there is the state of Destiny 2’s PvP and the backlash to the newly implemented transmog system.
As if it wasn’t exactly clear by how little I cover the state of Crucible in these features, there hasn’t been any new PvP content for well over a year in Destiny 2. Aside from general balance fixes, particularly against Stasis, there have been no new maps or modes introduced.
But Bungie did finally speak up about the state of PvP. Joe Blackburn did confirm through an extensive number of tweets that Rift mode would be returning alongside several new maps. These additions, among many others, are scheduled to release during Destiny 2’s next season. Furthermore, he mentions that the team is heavily working on new material for Gambit as well. Given that Bungie has been completely radio silent on these modes for almost a year, it’s a relief to know they haven’t been forgotten.
A more recent development did happen with the game’s transmog system. Bungie did listen to feedback from the community here as well and will update the system. Basically, the timegated currency is being dropped all together. If you want to earn Synthstrand, just go to Ada-1 and pick up a bounty for 10,000 Glimmer. Complete it, turn it in, then pick a piece of armor to convert. There are still some issues present, but it’s a lot more straightforward now. It’s good to know that Bungie was able to make some concessions with a system such as this, especially given how bad of a first impression it made.
Looking Forward To The Witch Queen and Beyond
After the conclusion of this season, I am beyond excited for what Bungie will do with Destiny 2 going forward. Because of The Witch Queen expansion’s delay, we will be getting one more season of content before its vague release date in 2022. In addition, we will be getting an official reveal of the expansion’s new content on Aug. 24. With the stage set for just about anything to happen going forward, I am more than excited with what comes next. This is all thanks to Season of the Splicer ultimately pulling off its most compelling narrative to date.