Season of Plunder has nearly come and gone, and this has certainly been a season of ups and downs for Bungie. Today I am going to have a look back on all the beats of the season, including narrative, Arc 3.0, activities, loot, events, PVP, and also the grind.
Without further delay, let’s dive into Season of Plunder.
Season of Plunder got started in the best possible way. Bungie released Destiny 2 on the Epic Games Store, and we saw very large player numbers at the start of the season with a huge unflux of new players. Bungie and Epic had a collaboration going on with Fortnite and Destiny in game, with Bungie selling Fornite Armor skins and Fornite putting Zavala, Elsie Bray and Ikora in their game, plus recreating Javelin-4, which was incredible. We had a big Lightfall reveal talking about Neptune, the neon City of Neomuna, a new darkness power in Strand, hyping up our upcoming battle with The Witness and Calus in Lightfall. Season of Punder was revealed at the same time, and the mood amongst the community was good; everyone seemed to dig the pirate theme, and we were excited about Lightfall and how to get there.
Season of Plunder was all about Eramis, Drifter, Spider, Mithrax and Eido. We found out more about Mithrax’s past, plus Spider was smuggled back into the game with the help of the Drifter. We learned this season about dangerous relics of darkness, containing the remains of a powerful being called Nezarec, who was the disciple of the luna pyramid. The Eliksni had been searching for these powerful relics. Eramis broke free from her frozen stasis prison and was a constant thorn in the side of Mithrax. Eido and Mithrax have been studying the relics we’ve collected throughout the season, and this will likely continue into next season.
I enjoyed the story this season. Nezarec was a big surprise, even though it got datamined very early and leaked, although I did manage to avoid that and found out through the cutscene when I was supposed to in-game. I liked learning more about Mithrax’s dark past, and Spider is a great mob-boss style character, its good to have him back. Eramis was billed as the main antagonist for the season but she didn’t show up too much. While there were some good story moments this season, the weekly drip feed of seasonal content appears to be showing it’s age. Bungie are going for something new happening each week, which is admirable, but the weekly drip feed is getting a little stale.
The final light subclass got it’s rework this season with Arc 3.0. I enjoyed playing with Arc this season, Titan’s came out very well with the Storm Grenades and I really liked Hunter’s new super. Warlocks got the short end of the stick again, although I don’t really mind given I tend to play all three classes at the same time. If I am not enjoying one class then I switch to the other. I started off the season as a Hunter main, then switched to Warlock and finally Titan. I spent much of the season trying out builds on all classes, and hopefully you found those build guides useful. We’re now at the end of the subclass reworks, plus we have a major balance patch coming in Season 19, so all subclasses are now in the same place as stasis, which gives us loads of build potential.
We had three seasonal activities this time. Ketchcrash, Expeditions and Pirate Hideouts. Expeditions were probably my favourite, and the Pirate Hideouts were a good way to reuse old Lost Sectors. Ketchcrash got stale for me fairly quickly, even though Bungie were trying to create a Menagerie style activity. This is another place where the seasonal model is really showing its age; going to the seasonal vendor, ranking up the grid, seasonal challenges, repeating the seasonal activity. I don’t know what Bungie need to do, but I would like to see a change to the seasonal model. I very much doubt we’re going to see a change before Lightfall, and even in Lightfall itself. Bungie are going to have to keep an eye on things though because player numbers really fell off this season. Whether that’s due to the seasonal activities, I don’t think so, I think there are more fundamental issues Bungie has to deal with. I do appreciate Bungie gave us three activities, that was great, but the model they exist in just feels stale now.
King’s Fall Raid
This season The Kings Fall raid came back, plus loads of great weapons including Touch of Malice. The raid encounters mainly stayed true to the original, with one of the major changes for the Oryx encounter. I didn’t engage too much with the returning Destiny 1 raid this time. Last time we had Vault of Glass, and I must have played that every week without fail, probably until I got Vex, which was about 30 clears. I started off with good intentions this time, watched the raid race (which Clan Elysium won again, their 3rd in a row), and did the raid a few times. For whatever reason it didn’t manage to hold my attention throughout the season. It is one of the best raids in the history of Destiny, although for me the great content drought of 2015 came flooding back, with Destiny players only having this raid as an activity for that time. The prospect of Touch of Malice wasn’t even enough to keep me coming back time and time again.
Loot this season was up and down. Our seasonal Exotic was a Fusion Rifle, Delicate Tomb, which paired up well with Arc 3.0 and had some very interesting lore. I don’t think I used it much past the first few weeks though. Seasonal loot was OK, the shotgun being one of the best, and machine guns had their time in the sun this season, with Thunderlord being a mainstay in my loadout. The Taipan 4-FR was the hot newness at the start of the season plus we had returning classics with Mindbender’s Ambition and Militia’s Birthright. The latter, a grenade launcher, was better than I remembered, but Mindbender’s was almost a sad shell of it’s former self. Trials added a few new weapons into the mix including a Bow and Slug Shotgun, which didn’t set the world on fire at all.
This season we had a few events; one large event and a couple of smaller events. Festival of the Lost returned, with one of the grindiest seals we’ve had in a long time, including 35 Lost Sector runs, which was almost enough to put me off. Festival of the Lost included some very cool new card designs for the masks, and I do find the seal chases motivate me to make more of the events. I did the Flamekeeper seal for Solstice and now Ghost Writer for Festival of the Lost, so Bungie is making me play more of the events. We had a great new sniper with the Mechabre, although Eva handed out a god roll right at the start of the event, which was a little strange. Personally I prefer the Haunted Sectors to the Haunted Forest, but by the time we get to next year I’m thinking they should switch up the gimmick of the festival. Eido was the lore focus this time, plus Difter with less Glint. Glint is criminally underused, so any opportunity to get more Glint into the game would be welcome.
We also had a few smaller events including the Community Event at the end of the season where we had to donate Captain’s Coins to rebuild the Eliksni Quarter. This was datamined fairly early on in the season so we were expecting it. In terms of community events that had gone in the past, this didn’t really live up to their standards.
Telesto decided to bug out for a few days. This time it was intentional, which led the community on a huge secrets chase. This happened very near the end of the season and showed how frustrated and bored the community had got by this point. They are hungry for secrets, something similar to the Whisper Mission the Corridors of Time. Bungie did come out and state that encrypting those events, or keeping them secret was very expensive, which doused any excitment for future secrets.
PVP is not in a good place. Bungie did some experimentation in Control with SBMM, then had to go back on that and implement ‘loose SBMM’. This seemed to work well for new or low skilled players, and made the experience much worse for the high skilled players. SBMM in control is strange, given Control is somewhere to hang out in Crucible and it’s supposed to be the casual playlist. This made it anything but casual.
Iron Banner introduced a new game mode called Eruption, which seemed to go down much better in the community compared to New Rift last season. Trials introduced a couple of new weapons, and ironically Trials seems to be the most casual playlist now.
Bungie did announce huge plans for a rework coming in Season 19, across the board with crucible. They are introducing a ranked game mode, The Competitive Division. Quickplay will be control and clash now, and they are going to replace quickplay node when Iron Banner is on, to merge the audiences. One issue with Crucible is there are so many game modes and the player population gets split into too many fragments.
We’ll have to wait and see what difference it makes, but PVP feels like it’s on life support at the moment and the rumours of Bungie working on a PVP competitive hero shooter don’t help.
This season has been much more of a grind. Bungie raised the requirements for getting a pattern of seasonal weapon from 3-5, which doesn’t sound like much but the ability to get a deepsight version of a weapon was broken for the first 4-6 weeks of the season. The seasonal title was extremely grindy, which included killing 50 ruffians, which would have taken multiple hours and have you competing against your fireteam for ruffian kills, which rely on RNG.
This requirement was reduced to 10 two weeks before the end of the season. Bungie came out and said they missed the mark when it came to designing the seasonal title this time. This was all compounded by Festival of the Lost, also a massive grind. As a Destiny player I do expect some kind of grind, but this season appeared to be more oppressive than normal. It felt like a filler season in many ways, stretching out the story, making it overly grindy.
Where does this rank with other seasons?
This was an interesting season. We all started on such a high, and that dropped off quicker than most seasons. Community sentiment then soured with many turning to twitter to publically proclaim they were canceling their Lightfall preorder (a behaviour I don’t really understand, seems like a cry for attention to me).
Compared to other seasons in The Witch Queen Expansion, this felt like the weakest one so far. Given it’s the middle season that’s probaby OK. You don’t want a season like Plunder going into the next major expansion. Plunder has probably been the worst season of the Witch Queen DLC so far, the grind, the filler, all adding up to mid expansion burnout across the community. I don’t normally struggle to make Destiny content, but this season interest in Destiny 2 definitely wained and motivation was also more difficult than it has been in previous seasons. There are probably a lot of lessons in this season Bungie can learn, and hopefully they have time to tweak and change things before we get to Lightfall, as I fear the player population may dwindle even further.