In June 2020, Bungie said the next Destiny 2 expansion, The Witch Queen, would be out sometime in 2021—later clarified to late in the year. Today, however, the studio said that, for multiple reasons, it has decided to push the expansion into early 2022.
Bungie said that the Witch Queen expansion will be "unlike anything we’ve ever attempted before, with characters, arcs, heroes and villains that persist over multiple future releases." Those future releases, which will include an additional unannounced expansion to follow Lightfall, will also wrap up the Light and Darkness Saga that began with the launch of the original Destiny in 2014. It's going to be a pretty big deal, in other words, and Bungie expects Witch Queen to set the table.
"As we’ve been developing The Witch Queen, we realized that we needed this release to be the first of many moments crucial to the story of Destiny," assistant game director Joe "Joegoroth" Blackburn explained. "With so much leading to and dependent on what happens in The Witch Queen, we wanted to make sure that we gave ourselves enough time to build out this journey in the right way, starting with an exceptional first chapter in The Witch Queen."
The studio also wants to focus on ensuring that the Destiny 2 basics are properly developed to ensure it can achieve its goals for the future, which means "upgrading our approach to keeping Destiny’s weapon and armor game fresh, refining our vision for PVP, implementing transmog, and adding crossplay."
Naturally, the COVID-19 pandemic also played a role in the decision: With developers continuing to work from home, it's simply not possible to complete the currently scheduled updates and have the Witch Queen expansion ready to go for this year.
"Making this choice is not one we took lightly. Believe me, as someone close to The Witch Queen’s progress, there's no one more than us that wants to get it out as soon as it’s ready," Blackburn wrote. "But at the end of the day, we know we’re making this call for The Witch Queen and future chapters in Destiny 2 for all the right reasons, ones that puts our team first and our game at the quality bar we strive for ourselves."
Bungie is also dropping weapon sunsetting, a process introduced in season 11 that saw power levels capped based on the season weapons were released in. Blackburn said the studio still believes in the principles that drove the decision, "it's clear out execution was off the mark."
"We’ve made the decision that any weapon or armor that can currently be infused to max Power will continue to be able to reach max Power permanently. Starting in Season 14 we won’t be capping the infusion on any weapons or armor that have not already reached the cap as of the start of Season 13. This means you’ll be able to take your Trustee, your Falling Guillotine, and all the high-stat armor you’ve earned this year to take on the raid in The Witch Queen," he wrote.
"While we still strongly believe that Destiny needs a method to shift our meta in the game’s most challenging activities, we don’t believe that infusion caps are the right answer. We’re taking time this year to research and validate a plan that creates a fresh and balanceable ecosystem for our most aspirational content, one that doesn’t make our rewards feel like they have an expiration date. We’ve learned a lot this year and don’t want to rush finding the best plan, so don’t expect to hear anything more about this until after The Witch Queen."
This means that players can look forward to more tuning of Destiny 2's "biggest outliers" in both PvP and PvE going forward: "Yes, I'm looking at you, Felwinter's and Warmind Cells," Blackburn noted. Nerfs being made to the shotgun which has terrorized PvP, and a mod system that enables players to nuke entire rooms in PvE with little effort, should come as no surprise, but it will be interesting to see what other nails the balance team decide to hammer down now that gear will be viable in perpetuity.
The update also confirms that both armor Transmog and the returning Vault of Glass will arrive next season. We also got details for a further upcoming nerf to several overpowered Stasis abilities:
- Decrease Super damage reduction.
- Increase Super energy cost when performing light attacks.
- Remove freeze AOE on Super cast.
- Reduce travelling efficacy of Shiver Strike when slowed.
- Decrease Withering Blade damage and tracking.
- Decrease slow stacks applied to targets.
- Remove Shatterdive damage reduction.
- Fix bug where Iceflare Bolts wouldn’t track towards targets immediately on creation.
- Fix bug where Shadebinder Super projectiles were not tracking until a certain distance travelled.
- Decrease crystal shatter damage.
There's a lot going on here. So much so that I've barely found time to include the fact that gear shaders will be unlockables rather than consumables, which Tim on our team insists is very important. You can get the full details at bungie.net.