On February 28, 2023, Bungie will launch the fifth main DLC replace to Future 2: Lightfall. With the sport getting into its sixth yr, it is no shock that the expertise as a complete has turn into troublesome for brand spanking new gamers to completely have interaction with. Even with the introduction of the bottom sport as free-to-play, Future 2 is a large number of menus and sport modes, with a fancy story to match.
Nevertheless, the onboarding course of has turn into such a large number that even for lapsed gamers with tons of of hours beneath their belts, figuring out what content material to have interaction with – and what the hell is occurring at any given time – has turn into borderline inconceivable. If Bungie shouldn’t be cautious, Future 2 will turn into a market completely for an unsustainable and ever-diminishing hardcore fanbase.
To deal with what Bungie might do to repair this onboarding subject, we have to break down the important thing issues. This begins with acknowledging that, as novel as Bungie’s choice to make the core sport free-to-play was, Future 2 is not a F2P sport. Although there are many issues for F2P gamers to do, nearly all of end-game actions (such because the seasonal exercise for any given replace) and most story missions are unavailable to you. Even content material beneath the bracket of ‘F2P’ – such because the dusk strike as a part of the vanguard operations – could be locked if stated mission is a part of a DLC bundle.
Realistically, to get into Future, you’re going to want to pay. This course of is messy, significantly on Steam.
On the time of writing, there are at present 11 totally different DLC choices for Future 2 on Steam. These vary from main expansions, equivalent to The Witch Queen, to emote bundles and seasonal silver bundles. If a participant had been to buy each DLC possibility obtainable, it might price them an eye-watering £347.89.
The curation right here is only a mess. Positive, there may be the £49.99 “legacy bundle” that features the earlier main expansions (barring The Witch Queen), however a brand new participant isn’t going to correlate the phrase “legacy” with “important story and mechanics”. A brand new, or returning, participant must take time to analysis which items of content material are essential to them or not. If you must do exterior homework earlier than buying add-ons to a sport, one thing has gone unsuitable.
As soon as a participant has navigated buying the sport, the subsequent main stumbling block comes with the sport’s manic consumer interface. Future 2 will pop you right into a mission of some type instantly, whether or not that be the New Gentle mission for brand spanking new gamers or regardless of the seasonal first mission could also be for returning gamers. As soon as out of that and into the primary menus, discovering out precisely what it’s worthwhile to do is messy. The locations tab can be plagued by totally different icons that make little sense to these not already accustomed to them (and, typically, even for these which are).
On prime of that, a few of these actions will pertain to earlier seasonal actions, like Season Of Plunder’s ‘Ketchcrash’. For F2P gamers, that exercise is simply not obtainable. In any respect. For returning gamers which have solely bought the newest season, it is legacy content material that additionally they can’t have interaction with. Realizing what’s related to the here-and-now is inconceivable with out analysis. As soon as once more, if the one means a participant can verify what to do inside a sport is to analysis exterior of it, one thing shouldn’t be proper.
Lastly, there’s the story. I’m not going to harp on an excessive amount of about Future’s story as a result of it has been a infamous mess since vanilla D1. Bungie has taken nice strides in making the story accessible to gamers within the type of weapon lore tabs, in addition to a broader lore part throughout the menus. However except you may have a selected curiosity in totally choosing aside the minutia of this universe, you’re merely not going to sacrifice time enjoying the sport to learn a bunch of textual content.
For the common participant, the one means they’ll have interaction with the story is thru gameplay. And proper now, that presents the story as a very baffling mess. For instance, I took a one-year break from Future 2 and once I got here again, a Cabal referred to as Caitl was now our good friend, the Fallen had moved into the Final Metropolis, some particular person referred to as ‘The Witness’ was doing issues, and the ominous menace of Savathun was gone? I shouldn’t must go to YouTube to observe a four-hour Byf video to know what is occurring.
So, what can Bungie do to repair this? To start out with, if Bungie desires Future 2 to be a correct F2P sport, all content material pre-Lightfall must be free. The cornerstone of the easiest F2P video games is that the basics of the sport are accessible to everybody, with bonus content material – equivalent to particular weapons and customisables – being purchasable. Proper now, F2P content material can turn into inaccessible if stated content material is DLC based mostly. Bungie ought to look to what Sq. Enix has executed with Closing Fantasy 14, making the primary 60 ranges free and giving gamers entry to sufficient of the sport that they will, no less than, get a strong understanding of the scenario up till the purpose they log in. Make all earlier DLC free. Give F2P gamers the possibility to actually get their enamel into all of the issues that make Future incredible.
On the very least, the participant onboarding course of needs to be made less complicated. When Lightfall is launched, all content material must be a easy one-and-done buy, much like the legacy bundle already obtainable, however higher signposted. Older content material, such because the Future 2: Forsaken pack (the Forsaken marketing campaign content material is at present vaulted and unavailable to play) and the thirtieth Anniversary bundle (now Bungie is 31) must be made free to all customers. Have it so a brand new participant can simply get all the pieces they want in a single buy, and returning gamers can cherry-pick content material that’s related. Do not confuse and baffle them with emote bundles and such.
The in-game UI is a tougher downside to repair. As I’m not a sport dev or a UI specialist I’m not going to inform somebody tips on how to do their job. Nevertheless, clearing mission goals for legacy content material, equivalent to a earlier season’s exercise, must be thought of. On the very least make the newest content material entrance and centre for gamers. Or give us a toggle to cover non-pressing notifications.
Lastly, the entire story of Future 2, together with the vaulted Crimson Struggle and Forsaken campaigns, must be accessible to gamers. That doesn’t imply the entire gameplay ideas have to return again. As an alternative, utilizing an in-game character like Ikora to indicate “shadows of the previous”, or one thing to that impact, as a gateway to an in-game cut-scene cinema would give life to a few of Future’s superb cinematics that are actually misplaced to the ether.
Let gamers view the experiences of the Crimson Struggle, watch Osiris emerge from the Infinite Forest, get a glimpse of Cayde’s remaining hours, Prine Uldren turning into a guardian – and a lot extra. Even this piece-meal storytelling would permit new gamers to completely grasp who the voices telling them to do stuff are, and for lapsed gamers to compensate for what they missed.
Future 2 is a superb sport with some stand-out moments, and Bungie is doing its iconic frnachise a disservice by retaining them hidden behind needlessly difficult gates. It is time for that to vary.