For many, Destiny 2 is a constant companion, a parallel life. Perhaps, during periods of pandemic lockdown, it’s even their primary one. For me, it was an event FPS: a water cooler campaign that I blasted through with a friend, and then put down. At this point, it’s a hazy-but-fond memory of red grass, mile-high waves, and guns with satisfyingly strange shooting patterns.
From next week, those memories will be all that remain. When Beyond Light launches, Bungie will pack the original campaign and its two follow-ups away in the Destiny 2 Content Vault. There they will languish, inaccessible until the day the developer sees fit to make them playable again.
Extreme though it is, this is a practical measure: Destiny 2 is now an enormous game, beyond Bungie’s capacity to maintain as digital janitors. The studio has determined that keeping all of its missions running simultaneously would degrade the quality of the game overall. To extend the caretaking metaphor, they would only realise a pipe had burst in the attic when water was already warping the ceiling and ruining the wallpaper in the master bedroom.
No matter how sensible the justification, though, the Vault leaves me uneasy, as if my own recollections were being wiped Eternal Sunshine style. When a friend buys Beyond Light and has a good time with it, there’ll be no crossover between our experiences—nothing shared to bond over. I can’t ask them what they thought of that statement second level, Exodus, played in third-person and at low health—the first time Bungie had flipped Destiny’s power fantasy to make the player feel mortal. I can’t vicariously enjoy their awe upon arriving in the New Pacific Arcology, Neptune’s rain-blasted surface giving way to the eerie calm and misplaced optimism of an abandoned city’s billboards.
Losing access to treasured PC gaming memories isn’t new—it’s become a hazard of the medium ever since live service games rose to prominence. It’s the reason I can no longer boot up my beloved Orcs Must Die! Unchained, and why PC Gamer freelancer Sarah James can’t indulge in the nostalgia of revisiting TERA’s starting areas, all of which have been binned.
But those games were relative failures. It’s a stranger phenomenon for service games to become so successful that we have to bid a part of them goodbye. World of Warcraft has been grappling with the issue for a while—since October this year, it’s been rendering past expansions as museum exhibits accessible through a gnome-dragon curator. It’s only a matter of time before other beloved favourites get so large they’re faced with the same, painful downsizing problem.
In the meantime, pour one out for The Red War. You were a fairly good Halo-esque romp between the stars.