I still think you shouldn’t preorder, but I also think the Annual Pass is – potentially – a great idea.
Here’s the thing. For years now, Destiny’s expansion model has been to release one short, underwhelming campaign that almost no one really likes, along with a fairly decent assortment of things to do that players keep coming back for. Most recently, for example, Warmind brought the Nascent Dawn quest, the Worldline Zero chase, Escalation Protocol, and a new Raid Lair. Shortly after Warmind came the fantastic Whisper of the Worm mission that is easily the finest piece of work that Bungie’s put into Destiny 2 till date.
The assortment of things to do is, for the most part, all good stuff.
The big problem with Destiny’s story-based expansions has been the story itself. I grumbled about Warmind’s campaign not long after it came out because Destiny’s expansions have been cast in the same mould since Crota’s End.
They’re painfully short – typically 5-ish missions – with one or two inevitably becoming strikes, and barely have the time to even set up a decent narrative, let alone tell a cohesive, rich, satisfying story. I was deeply frustrated with how Saint-14 was dealt with in the Curse of Osiris storyline, for example. The entire Curse of Osiris campaign could have been built around the search for Saint-14, and it might have wound up being a fascinating story of an old Warlock searching for an old friend who walked headlong into danger and was never heard from again.
We didn’t need Panoptes. We needed a cutscene of Osiris kneeling at Saint-14’s tomb, weeping over the body of his friend. We needed to see Osiris’ resolve to destroy the Vex strengthened by the knowledge that Saint-14 came looking for him and died in the process. We needed a story that had weight and consequence and emotional resonance.
For a total of five expansions – Crota’s End, House of Wolves, Rise of Iron, Curse of Osiris, and Warmind – we’ve had incredibly fascinating characters from the lore almost entirely wasted by the stories that Bungie built around them.
It’s obvious that the 5-mission format isn’t working. But I also thought it was something that Bungie was never going to change. Why would they? They make the expansions and we complain about the experience, but we also buy the damn expansion because, quite frankly, we want more Destiny and we hope that each new experience will be better than the last.
And that’s why the Annual Pass was such a welcome surprise to me when it was first revealed.
Pivoting away from a storytelling format that isn’t working is a grand idea. We can’t complain about getting a lousy campaign if there is no campaign to complain about. We (potentially) get the kind of repeatable content that we play this game for anyway – thing like the Whisper mission, the Forge weapons, the Sleeper quest, the catalyst hunt, the Solstice amour grind, and more. Scrapping a half-baked story campaign in favour of the kind of content we enjoy the most is something I am completely onboard with.
Plus, with the inclusion of lore in the game – and I’m not talking about scannables; I’m talking about readable lore that goes into one of the Collections tabs – there’s a fairly good chance that we’ll also get a crap ton of story content with each piece of Annual Pass content. It’ll just be reading material instead of cutscene and cinematic-driven content and, personally, I’m of the opinion that Bungie creates stories that are better to read than to play through. (See: the Books of Sorrow.)
And while I’m aware that some people have been worried that the Annual Pass is a way of making people pay for seasons, if the graphic below hold good over the next year, there will be plenty for people to do whether they want to pay for the pass or not.
The Annual Pass, ultimately, represents a willingness to move away from something that isn’t working and double down on the things that are. Still don’t preorder, okay, but Bungie definitely deserves credit for this one. This is a good idea. I just hope the execution of the idea is good as well.