'Destiny 2: Shadowkeep' Will Redefine the Game by Embracing MMO Elements

We're already starting to see why Bungie left Activision.

Destiny 2

When the Destiny franchise was first announced as the next big thing from Halo developer Bungie in 2013, the company refused to call the game an MMO, preferring to say things like “MMO-lite first-person shooter.” Yet more than six years later, the company is finally ready to embrace its destiny identity as a massive multiplayer online role-playing game with the upcoming Destiny 2: Shadowkeep expansion, due out this fall.

In an interview with Kotaku, creative chiefs behind the Destiny franchise Luke Smith and Mark Noseworthy spoke about how Destiny 2: Shadowkeep would redefine the Destiny experience to make it more like the MMORPG that many fans have longed for since the start.

“We are not making World of Warcraft now,” Smith clarified, citing the world’s most popular fantasy MMORPG. “We’ve dodged the term MMO for so long, but the truth … is that [Destiny] has enough MMO-like tendrils in it that avoiding it for any longer is not the right thing.”

destiny 2 shadowkeep
Cover art for 'Destiny 2: Shadowkeep'.

The common assumption is that Bungie, and/or the original publisher Activision, wanted to avoid comparisons to time-consuming MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. When Bungie split from Activision and went independent earlier this year, they gained more creative freedom. We’re only just now beginning to see what that separation was worth. On-stage at E3, Smith said that Destiny had an “identity crisis” in the early days. That will no longer be the case this fall when “Shadowkeep” arrives.

Smith and Noseworthy hope to grow the game’s MMO elements and enhance the role-playing aspects of the game. “How do we make the RPG elements shine and enhance our social systems?” Smith said.

When Kotaku asked if that meant things like more weapon and armor perks, gear slots, or statistics, Noseworthy agreed but added that their aim was to rethink the game’s dynamics by introducing more statistics and perks into the mix, with the aim that players “tinker” and customize their characters. They tentatively called it “Armor 2.0.”

destiny 2 enhanced sniper rifle dexterity
Currently, armor perks are fixed, and players can pick between a few different available options — but they can't change them.

Gear in Shadowkeep will have statistics that resemble the first Destiny’s use of Intellect, Discipline, and Strength in addition to Destiny 2’s Light Level (LL) progression. Perks like “Enhanced Sniper Rifle Dexterity” can be equipped or removed from any set of leg armor at will, and it’ll be the same for mods. There will be no need to infuse a high LL piece of armor into another piece of armor just to make sure it’s higher leveled, and players will be able to wear whatever they think looks the coolest.

In practice, all of these adjustments will drastically increase the number of armor possibilities, making it so that players can adapt on the fly or double down on what they enjoy. If they want to focus entirely on scout rifles, hand cannons, and rocket launchers, they’ll be able to do that. If they want to focus on one specific subclass, there will even be ways to lean into that playstyle.

Shadowkeep will also have a new slot (tentatively called Artifact) with seasonal progression and season-exclusive mods that branch out, so players will be able to select from up to 30 mods. Top-tier perks could include an added debuff to Void grenades that functions like the Titan’s Melting Point, so when a Hunter with this perk who runs Nightsalker tosses a Voidwall Grenade at a group of enemies, they’ll all take damage and take increased damage from other sources.

You can design an entire character build around a new perk like this, by focusing on other perks and exotics that buff grenades by reducing cooldowns or, in some cases, adding an entire charge.

Destiny 2 shadowkeep eris morn
Eris Morn calls the player back to the Moon in 'Destiny 2: Shadowkeep', a location that was only playable in the first game.

Shadowkeep will also recycle and expand upon the Moon destination from the first game, paving the way for eventually integrating every location from both games into one experience. The Destiny solar system will never be seamless like in traditional MMOs, but it’s a massive step towards something much closer than we’ve ever seen before.


Destiny 2: Shadowkeep will be released September 17, 2019 on the Sony PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.