Yes, Destiny 2 has aliens, allies, guns, loot, and science-fantasy. Yes, it has spaceships and superpowers, Ghosts and Goblins, along with dungeons and dragons.
But does Destiny 2 have friends? Or rather, do you have friends in Destiny 2? Because that's what developer Bungie is focusing on. They don't want you to just play this game; they want you to keep playing it. And the single most important lesson MMOs have taught us is that people come for the gameplay, come for the aesthetic—but stay for the community, stay for the friendship.
"Destiny 2 really tries to say, 'You belong,'" says Steve Dolan, senior designer. To be at its best, the game will rely on the camaraderie of its player base. Sort of in a, "What if Destiny 2 is the friends we make along the way?" kind of way. So they're taking the ease of matchmaking and the magic of community building and cultivating that into something people will have a great time doing. And they're doing it with:
Clans. Now, clans have always been in Destiny. They were simply culled from our PlayStation or Xbox friends lists. It was a third-party solution to playing with buddies. But in Destiny 2, clans will be baked into the game's architecture. You'll see a clan's name, its motto, its banner. Here's the write up from the Guns N' Roses-heavy example used in the trailer below:
Every Rose Has Hawthorne [ROSE]
"Every December has its Dawn, just like every space cowboy slings their guns yearlong"
Our goal is to unite players who no longer want to play alone.
We're always looking for players who are seeking help or seek to help others. Our purpose is to guide any player down a path toward their best game. Stand with us and you will never be left behind.
Our members must show maturity and respect to all other players. We are only strong if we play together. To remain in our roster, you must be active in the game and in chat.
So that's basically Bungie's mission statement when it comes to the inclusion of clans in game. But of course there's the gamification of clan-making, too. Clans will have their own progression, their own rewards, and will even, in some cases, serve as guides in the Guided Games.
Guided Games are a way for solo players to seek out clans. If a group is only looking for one or two more players to round out a six-person strike team, they can open up a Guided Game to a solo player. This sounds like it could be a nightmare of yelling and hazing and blamestorming the new player who hasn't ever been on a raid before. There's always an opportunity for multiplayer sessions to go poorly. Chuck Husemann, Editor-in-Chief here at GN, even made a pact with the other players he grouped up with in the Crucible during the Destiny 2 reveal, that they would never, ever play together again. Hey, sometimes alliances are forged in defeat. Sometimes they're broken.
But Guided Games' intentions are good. Since, according to a recent poll, only 50 percent of Destiny players have ever experienced a raid, Guided Games are hoping to get the remaining 50 percent involved in every piece of content Bungie makes for Destiny 2. Because, as is, Bungie worked long and hard on strike content that only half its players ever checked out. I can understand that would be a bummer statistic for a developer that's poured years of their professional life into a thing.
Guided Games are meant to be low commitment, at least on the surface. Play one session with a clan and part ways. That's one possibility. Another possibility is that everyone gels together and now the solo player is taken in as a new clan member. That's the ideal scenario is Bungie's eyes. And as this video makes plain, it's obvious that Bungie knows how to make good gameplay, make good gunfeel, and make good environments and encounters. Now Bungie wants you to make good friends.
Destiny 2 is out on September 8 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A PC launch is confirmed, but no date is set just yet.