The end of the year typically comes with plenty of in-game updates and events in multiplayer-focused titles to celebrate the holiday season. This year, Bungie’s holiday update in Destiny is called “The Dawning,” bringing tons of goodies to the shooter including additional gear, quests, bounties, the introduction of Strike Scoring and more importantly: the return of the Sparrow Racing League.
Originally released in December 2015, the Sparrow Racing League was one of Destiny’s free content updates aimed at providing players with unique activities to participate in while they waited for more core content. The timed event added the races themselves, along with a few special bounties and quests from Amanda Holiday that revolved around completing various tasks while competing against other players.
These races were different from Destiny’s core gameplay loop and pitted six players against one another on their Sparrow of choice. Three laps were required to win each race, and the tracks were filled with enemies, traps, and obstacles that required a decent amount of practice to master. Participating rewarded players with a decent bit of loot, including unique racing suits and Sparrow-specific items like horns that stayed with your character past the event. Unfortunately, it didn’t last forever, resulting in the Destiny community begging Bungie for its return in 2016.
Now, a year later, Bungie has made good on that request by re-releasing the Sparrow Racing League as part of its holiday update. As before, it comes with a whole new collection of quests, bounties, and unlockable items for players to earn over the three-week event period as well as two new maps, Shining Sands and Haakon Precipice, which bring the grand total up to four. These new maps and rewards are nice, but now that you don’t have to pay for a record book filled with rewards, it’s an activity that every Destiny player can drop in and enjoy.
As a player who didn’t stick around with Destiny, I’ve had an absolute blast hopping back in for the Sparrow Racing League over the last few weeks. The league offers a completely different experience I previously didn’t know I wanted in Destiny, one which pulled me away from the monotonous loot grind. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel like I was just grinding out gear to improve my character, I was genuinely having a great time with other players in the community, which is what Destiny should really be about regardless of the activity.
What’s frustrating about the entire re-introduction of the Sparrow Racing League is how Bungie is planning to take it away once again come January 3. Players will still be able to access the races by setting up private matches with their friends, but all the bounties, quests, rewards, and unlockable items will be removed from the game until the next League kicks off. If the last year is any indication, that will probably be next December.
This removal — and that of the other content introduced in The Dawning — follows the frustrating trend that has been actively working against Destiny since launch. There’s still just not enough meaningful content to keep players engaged between major expansions. But even with a majority of the team working hard on the obvious Destiny sequel, there’s no reason events like the Sparrow Racing League should be limited to three weeks a year.
By introducing a few new items and a new track say, three times a year, Bungie could actively use events like the Sparrow Racing League to help fuel the community (both dedicated and casual players) in a direction that would reward consistent engagement with new activities to participate in instead of just offering a few new pieces of loot here and there. Not only would this actively help fight the content drought problem many players have felt since Destiny first hit consoles, but it would also create a more living, breathing world like the one discussed in the years leading up to Destiny’s release.