Q: Destiny developed a reputation for strong core shooting gameplay. Would it be fair to say a focus for Destiny 2 has been improving all the elements around that core?

David Allen: It’s definitely been a focus. But I would actually say that Destiny 2 is about improving all across the board. If you look at the game, the kind of key features that I think about – and it’s a really broad game, so there’s a lot of content in it – but we’re making sure that we’re telling a really understandable, compelling story. Dominus Gall is coming, bringing the Red Legion – his Cabal forces we haven’t seen before that are kicking the Guardians out, taking their Light, taking their home, and scattering them to the winds.

Destiny 2: Improve Everything Edition
David Allen.

We are making sure we’re telling a story that has these underlying themes of loss and recovery – the type of themes that I think most players will be able to relate to, and most humans can relate to. We’re introducing new NPCs that you’re going to be excited to meet, introducing this new enemy that you’re really going to want to destroy and take down. But then beyond just the story stuff, there’s new destinations, new ways to explore, new ways to play with Adventures, Treasure Maps, and Lost Sectors, and more to find in those destinations. And to your point, on the gameplay side, we’re bringing back the three classes that we have, and putting new subclasses in for each of them, so there’s that familiar aspect too.

Q: Yes. I’m so glad that the Hunter’s throwing knife is back. That was basically the number one thing I wanted.

Destiny 2: Improve Everything Edition
we’re making sure that we’re telling a really understandable, compelling story
David Allen, producer

David Allen: Throwing knife is probably the reason I play Hunter. I’ve played Hunter since Destiny 1 and it’s 99 percent because of that throwing knife. But looking at that as an example, we’ve obviously got abilities and classes that are coming back, and some of the classes are reimagined with some differences. And we're looking at improving the social experience in the game by bringing players into the game adding Guided Games [Destiny 2's new partial matchmaking system for raids].

As we heard earlier today [in the keynote presentation], half of players who got to the level cap never even played the raid. The raid’s awesome content, so we want people to be able to play that, but also to be able to do it in a way that is close to what we believe is the ideal, which is to play it with a bunch of people who really know it, in an environment we’re you’re going to be able to share those memories with people. That's why we’re teaming you up with a clan and introducing you to the existing community and people you decide you want to play with. So I think broadly, we’re improving on Destiny in a lot of ways, even in areas that were sort of our strengths in the first game.

Q: It sounds like you’re out to pay attention to some of the things the community have been crying out for, and learning lessons from Destiny. You mention storytelling: this was an area of criticism for the first game, with a lot of content locked away on a separate website via the Grimoire. Is getting that content more into the game something we’ll see in Destiny 2?

Destiny 2: Improve Everything Edition

David Allen: Yeah, our goal for Destiny 2 is definitely to get the storytelling, the world-building and everything into the game as much as possible. Having a clear, understandable core narrative that runs through the game that people can relate to. Fleshing out the worlds that you’ll be exploring, [via activities] like the Treasure Maps, Adventures, and Lost Sectors that teach you a little bit more about the world – exposing all that to players as they’re playing the game.

Q: We’ve heard a little bit about these new exploration activities today. Are they going to work like Destiny’s current Public Events – the kind of activity you can stumble across in the world without building a fire team?

David Allen: Yes, they’re things that you’ll discover in the world. We want to make sure that no matter how you’re playing – whether you’re playing solo or you’re playing in your fire team – you can have things to do and be excited about.

Q: We’ve heard that Destiny 2 will have four new locations [European Dead Zone, Titan, Io, and Nessus]. Does that mean we’re leaving Destiny locations like Venus and Mars behind for now?

David Allen: Yeah, so the things we want to focus on with Destiny 2 are these new locations. The European Dead Zone is this area of Europe that has from humanity’s perspective been off limits for a long time. We’ve been living in the City, under the Traveller and protected, and we suddenly have to enter out into the wilderness there. Nessus is a planet that has basically been taken over by the Vex, who are turning it into one of their machine worlds. Titan is a moon of Saturn, which is covered in this methane ocean. It feels very different from all the other destinations, because everything there was built during the Golden Age, and then later abandoned. And then Io, which is a moon of Jupiter. So you’ve got all these new places to explore, which all feel very different from places you’ve been in Destiny before, and also very different from each other.

Q: So with the main story thrust for Destiny 2 being this Cabal invasion of Earth, is that going to impact the existing Destiny story/game situation on a wide level? We’ve seen the Red Legion Cabal and Vex enemies showcased in gameplay today for example, but there’s no sign of the Fallen or the Hive.

David Allen: I can’t go into too many specifics about how it plays out, but definitely… The Guardians are kind of spread out – they get sent packing and they all have different ways of dealing with it. So they all go to different places to try to cope with the loss, and from that perspective it absolutely impacts on every destination.

Q: Are you looking to continue the Destiny financial model of paid expansion packs and in-game cosmetic purchases?

David Allen: We’re not talking too much about future releases just yet, but we do have an expansion pass for Destiny 2 that’s available now, so future content will be available, and I can say that the Eververse store is coming forward to Destiny 2, but again we’re not yet talking any specifics around that.

Q: Guided Games sounds like a good initiative to try and introduce players to raid content while avoiding some of the toxicity you can get when gaming online with a group of strangers. Will there be a minimum number of clan players or solo players in each group?

David Allen: Those are some details that we’ll be talking about more in the future – we’re evaluating right now exactly how those are going to work.

Destiny 2: Improve Everything Edition
half of players who got to the level cap [in Destiny 1] never even played the raid
David Allen, producer

Q: Bungie has worked strongly and closely with the robust Destiny player community. Do you think that’s been a big input into Destiny 2?

David Allen: We’re definitely always looking at the releases we’ve put out – the Destiny DLCs, The Taken King, Rise of Iron – and evaluating the changes we’ve made in each of those releases; how the community have reacted to them, and using that. We have a lot of big changes we know we want to make; we know we want to tell an amazing story about Dominus Gall, we know we want to take players new places, we know we want to give players new abilities, so we definitely want to look at how the community is playing the game and understand that, and have that inform our decisions.

Q: Tell me a bit more about the idea behind moving strictly to 4v4 modes in the (PvP) Crucible.

Destiny 2: Improve Everything Edition
Destiny 2: Improve Everything Edition
Destiny 2: Improve Everything Edition

David Allen: The PvP team have been thinking about what they wanted Crucible to be for Destiny 2. They kind of went back to first principles and just said, “Ok, what’s the thing we really want to emphasise?” There were a number of things that came up, but two they really wanted to explore: teamwork was one – wanting players to have to really work together and strategise together towards goals. So that’s the idea behind [new PvP mode] Countdown, that you’ve been playing today – it’s our first attack/defend mode. You’re all focussed towards planting the bomb, or if you’ve managed to plant it, from keeping the other team from defusing the bomb, or vice-versa when defending.

The other thing they wanted to be able to do was to make it so that when you’re playing Crucible, you’re able to really learn what it takes to be successful. The reason that that led to 4v4 is that we want to make sure the players in every engagement, whether they win or lose, really understand, “Hey what just happened? Why did I die? Why did I lose? Where did that person come from?”, and 4v4 makes that a little more clear. And you can look at some of the other changes that we made in PvP towards that as well, so if you look up near the scoreboard, there’s super indicators for every player in the game.

So it gives you a little bit more situational awareness of, “Hey, what’s the situation for my team? The supers we have versus their team: do we have an advantage, should we press it really aggressively and all pop our supers and just totally wipe them out? Do we need to be ready for someone to come in with a Golden Gun already out and blow us away? What do we need to do here, how do we handle the situation?"

Also whenever a player collects power weapon ammo, you also get a callout of the player, what weapon type they have, and the location, so you can know, “Hey, there’s someone on the other side of the map just loaded up their rocket launcher – they’re probably headed straight towards me. Do I wanna hold my ground, do I want to pop my super expecting them to come around the corner, do I wanna just turn tail and run?” So there’s a lot more stuff we’re trying to do there aimed at increasing the strategy of it, but also to help players understand what they’re doing.

Ben travelled to Los Angeles to check out Destiny 2 courtesy of Activision.