With the closing ceremony of this year's Guardian Games, Destiny 2's Season of the Chosen is now wrapping up. While we have concerns regarding changes to come, it is also important to look back at this point in the game's history and discuss the good as well as the bad.
Season of the Chosen: The Story So Far
As I have mentioned before when Beyond Light first dropped, Bungie has continued to make fantastic strides with their ongoing storytelling in the world of Destiny. Not only has this season been genuinely fantastic in that regard, it does so without the inherent newness that comes with a brand-new premium expansion to hold it up.
This season's ongoing plot involves the Vanguard negotiating an armistice with the Cabal and their new empress, Caiatl. Things break down which lead to the season's ongoing activity, the Battlegrounds, which is the season's main focus. As the weeks progressed however, we got drip fed through voice lines and environmental details context for all of Caiatl's aggression. Not only have the players' actions been leading to her best generals being defeated, there's also the fact the Hive, Destiny's creepy chitinous monstrosities, have managed to overwhelm and destroy the Cabal's home planet of Torobatl. This is coupled with the mysterious disappearance of the former Cabal emperor, Calus, and his planet-sized Leviathan, as well as several planets in the solar system being blinked out of existence by the events of Beyond Light.
In terms of Destiny's long-term storytelling, Season of the Chosen is showing that the forces of Darkness are starting to tighten their grip around the Vanguard and anyone not directly allied with them. Not only does it show how desperate and outgunned the Cabal are, it is a sly way of keeping players excited (or terrified depending on who you ask) for the Hive's latest mastermind and upcoming big bad, The Witch Queen Savathun. It's a surprisingly nuanced take on warfare and resource management for a series that has always leaned more in a grand space opera direction.
But the highlights by far are the continuation of Crow's story arc. As mentioned before in Season of the Hunt, Crow has been a long time coming for Destiny players and is rife with possibilities as a central character. Season of the Chosen capitalizes on this spectacularly with Crow performing covert ops with the Vanguard while in disguise, and culminating with him stopping an attempted assassination of Commander Zavala. This could have very easily fallen into the background, but Bungie chose to continue their momentum with Crow's characterization and did so without pulling punches. Not only did Crow save the head of the Vanguard, he did so after his disguise was destroyed, and we witness—in a cutscene no less—the complex emotions of someone being rescued by a man wearing the face of his best friend's murderer. If Bungie continues this, Crow will be a testament to their character writing going forward.
Secondary to this is the new special mission, Presage. I've already written an extensive guide on the mission as well as a more detailed breakdown of its brilliance, but it must be repeated here. Not only is this the first case of something resembling full-on horror in Destiny 2, the secrets of the Glykon revealed over the weeks has only made players more disturbed by what it could mean going forward.
Bold Battlegrounds and Shaky Crucible
This brings us to the Battleground activity itself, which feels like a rebuttal to some of Destiny 2's more vocal critics. Too often, the game's seasons are accused of just recycling content, merely Public Events and Strikes just remixed with some thematic wallpaper attached. Battlegrounds on the other hand feels like an exciting escalation of challenge, the kind of nonstop set piece that most veteran players have been craving for a while. The solution was simple: more enemies. Every single time I played Batttlegrounds, whether it was at the start of the season or after casually mowing through endgame content, the constant overlapping waves of Cabal enemies helped push the activity into the kind of action high I've rarely gotten outside of Raids. It's a testament of Bungie's design philosophy of satisfying gunplay that I never got bored popping heads like water balloons, and I'm surprised they didn't lean into this sooner.
This is coupled with Bungie rolling back the highly controversial gear sunsetting and slowly introducing classic weapons back into the loot pool. This has helped players immensely since it feels less like punishing older players for using builds from prior seasons and helps spice up rewards.
On the other hand, there have been a few sad bits of mediocrity that came around this season. First and foremost, this year's Guardian Games. Framed as a sort of friendly quasi-Olympics event, the three core races of the game compete to see who can collect the most medals. There is competitive-themed armor and cosmetics, score card emotes, sports-bottle-shaped Ghost shells, and so on. The Tower gets a festive redesign, and almost no one can agree on what exactly is happening behind the scenes to keep this competition balanced. It is here that Destiny's critics have more of a foundation since aside from bringing back one exotic machine gun, the Heir Apparent, there really wasn't much else to Guardian Games. The only recourse is that it became available after the major thrust of the season's narrative had concluded, which makes it feel more like filler content until Season of the Splicer begins.
Somehow, that is better than what happened to Crimson Days this year. Framed as the in-universe answer to Valentine's Day, the event introduces some adorable pink-flavored cosmetics for the occasion as well as a competitive doubles mode for PvP. And none of it happened this year.
The reason behind this was that Bungie wanted to focus their resources towards more substantive events and ongoing seasonal content. It's a massive shame considering this is now dropped content, but considering that Valentine's Day is a relatively minor holiday compared to something like Halloween and Christmas, it makes sense they would adjust their scope.
But if you've been desperate for PvP content, this is a particular twisting of the knife considering maps were removed from the game with Beyond Light's launch. Not to mention there have been multiple game-breaking bugs that have lead to delays and cancellations of the highly competitive Trials of Osiris mode. The only solace dedicated PvP players have is that the notoriously broken Stasis subclasses have gotten several nerfs in this mode. It's fascinating that when Destiny first started, a lot of its content favored PvP with the likes of Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris, and dedicated PvE players were lucky to get a few story missions and maybe a Raid if they were lucky. Now five years into Destiny 2 and the shoe is completely on the other foot.
Looking Forward to Destiny 2 Season of the Splicer
While I've made my thoughts very clear on how transmog will be introduced, I am overall optimistic about Season of the Splicer. Bungie has only improved their ongoing storytelling so far. With the likes of Presage and Crow's unfolding redemption under their belt as well as the major power shifts happening on the cosmic scale, they have plenty to pull from going forward. But if you've been waiting for more reasons to hop into PvP, this season manages to re-balance things but fails to add anything new. Here's hoping the pendulum swings back a little bit in the future.