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Destiny 2's Annual Pass followed its Forsaken expansion with some solid new ideas for the game. Each one introduced new activities and loot, as well as slow-drip stories that expanded on both elements of Forsaken and the game world in general. It was a change of pace for how Bungie tells the game's story, and it sounds like when the Shadowkeep expansion arrives, Bungie will push that envelope even further.
That's according to new details in a blog post from director Luke Smith, which outlined a little more of how the new season system works in the third year of Destiny 2. First and foremost, Bungie is introducing a Season Pass system similar to that of Fortnite and Apex Legends, which will provide a steady stream of rewards both for those who buy the season's $10 content pass, and for free players, as well.
Smith also elaborated on Bungie's new approach to seasons, which will include limited-time content and events that will only exist during those seasons. That's partially to deal with technical limitations on the game–as Smith pointed out in his Director's Cut blog posts detailing changes coming in Shadowkeep, Destiny 2 can't continually add new activities each season that become part of the game forever (as it did with the Annual Pass). In order to keep the game from growing out of control, some of those activities have to get phased out.
But Bungie's focus with Shadowkeep and beyond are also trained on enhancing the storytelling going on in the game. The idea is to make players feel like they're taking part in an evolving story in Destiny, rather than just running through a new slate of story missions every few months when content expansions drop. The "evolving world" approach to Destiny means seasons will have complete arcs that unfold over the course their 10-week existence.
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Along the way, you'll see new cutscenes and pick up new loot, but once the season ends, the activities and story beats that came with it will disappear from the game. There's a caveat, though: Loot that's only available as part of a specific season will remain in the game and will be accessible from other activities, so you'll be able to get a season's specific armor, weapons, and other gear even if you missed grabbing it during the actual events. Those items won't be available right away, however, so there's still an impetus on players to get the stuff they want during the events and story moments when it's relevant.
Smith detailed the way new seasons might play out with an example using the Black Armory, the first season of Destiny 2's Annual Pass from 2019. In his (fictional) example, the season might kick off with a timer counting down to the arrival of Ada-1, the character at the center of the season's story. That could present players with a timed event in the Tower that showcased Ada's arrival and a cutscene introducing the season, before you'd then start working with Ada to accomplish the story goals of the season.
Over the course of the season, Smith wrote, you'd see things change as you accomplished more and more of your goals. Ada's area in the Tower would morph as her Black Armory operation became more stable, and new story bits–like an interaction between her in the Drifter–would take place along the way. As the season went on, Ada's conversation with the Drifter would naturally start to set up the next season's story (in this example, it'd be the Season of the Drifter) as the current season wound down. At the same time, you'd notice Ada starting to pack up her operation over the last few weeks of the season, before finally departing from the Tower altogether. At that point, the story that had been developing with the Drifter would take over, with more cosmetic changes and new cutscenes to draw you into it.
Eventually, you'd also hear from other characters, like Banshee-44, who would explain that Ada left behind schematics for the guns you could earn from the Black Armory–and that you could now obtain them from him.
That was a fictional example, but it also gives a clear picture of what Bungie is thinking in terms of how new content and stories will unfold in Destiny 2. Bungie wants to make these story moments and activities more of an event that players experience together and then reminisce about, rather than things that hang around in the game forever (and eventually lose their luster).
The first season that'll see those changes in storytelling is the Season of the Undying, which launches alongside Shadowkeep. But as Bungie explained to us at Gamescom, Undying and Shadowkeep are separate things. The best way to understand it is that Shadowkeep tells a story about the Hive's activities on the moon; the Season of the Undying is the story of the Vex's response.
Though Shadowkeep and the Season of the Undying are separate things, Undying will be included in the $40 Shadowkeep price tag. There are three additional seasons planned for Destiny 2's third year, with the Season of the Dawn following Undying. Each new season will include some elements players can access for free, but to get the full smattering of new content, you'll need to drop $10 on Destiny's upcoming new Season Pass for each one.
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