Destiny is no slouch to fame, fortune, tumult and change. And after an amicable split between developer Bungie
and publisher, Activision
, the creators have been hard at work not only supporting the existing product, but also expanding on it, unhinged and with total design freedom. And ahead of the next major step for the franchise, we were given a chance to chat with combat lead, Tomonori Kinoshita
, and if you know anything
about Bungie and its games, you’ll know combat is key.
: What was the biggest challenge you and your team faced in crafting a fresh new experience with Destiny 2 Beyond Light
: Our team, we were tasked with coming up with the new damage type — Stasis. And this is the first new damage type that we've built since the original launch of Destiny one. So along with Arc, Solar and Void we're introducing Stasis And it's a whole new power fantasy. It definitely took us a while to really land on what that fantasy was all about, but I think we really nailed it. Being able to crowd control and actually affect the battlefield in different ways that we've never had before is something that we're really excited about, whether it's playing in PVP or PVE.
: Crowd control is an interesting challenge in first-person shooters, because it's always more jarring than elsewhere. How did you guys tackle that?
: You actually hit on a great point. We actually do a thing where when you do get frozen by Stasis, we actually pull you out into third person so that you get a good understanding of what the situation is. How you were frozen, who froze you, that kind of situational awareness.
It was a big part of the iteration process that we went through as we were building out Stasis. Early on we gravitated towards ice being a really cool elemental fantasy and then from there it was really [just doubling] down onto how can we get freeze and how can we get slow which are kind of common themes of ice to work in our game?
And then on top of that, it was not only can you freeze and encase an enemy but we actually want that to also feel offensive in a way, so you can deal damage too, and you can shatter [frozen enemies] and you're almost creating exploding barrels in the battlefield on-the-fly which is really interesting.
: Was there anything unexpected that came to be when you created Stasis?
: I think the thing that is super exciting for us — and this wasn't necessarily part of our original list of must execute things — is actually the subclass screen for Stasis is totally new. Where before with Arc, Solar and Void, you have the paths you select from — like I want the top path, or the middle path or the bottom path — and then from there you're kind of pre-selecting into a very specific playstyle.
With Stasis we wanted to give players a little more flexibility, more of an ability to craft their own playstyle. So we kind of took it and we broke it apart. It's not as complex as, like, Destiny one, but D1 was still an inspiration for us when we were conceiving this. And I think we landed in a pretty sweet spot where you pick your super, you pick your melee, and your grenades and your class abilities, but then specifically with Stasis we have some new slots called Aspects and Fragments as well. Aspects are things that actually allow you to have additional abilities on top of what your normal class loadout would be. So the hunter revenant, for example, you have the ability to dodge and freeze enemies nearby you. And then with fragments, these are class agnostic, these are the ones where you're, like, 'I'm a hunter and I really want to double down on Slow', well there's a fragment that you can slot in that makes it so Slow's duration is even longer and if you throw down a Slow grenade, then that grenade is also going to last longer. So you can really start [specialising] into different parts of stasis more.
: That'll really make people hate you in Crucible. Speaking of Crucible, has that been challenging to balance with Stasis?
: Again, another great question. Anytime you introduce something into an already defined sandbox, you're throwing a wrench into that well-oiled machine. So that's where we spent a lot of time playtesting. Even now we're in a work-from-home situation, everyone on our team has what we're calling beef tops; these high-quality laptops that we can actually play the game at home on. So we'll have daily playtests where we're trying to figure out what the right balance is between what you were saying, with the potential frustrations that you might feel of 'Oh I got frozen' but then also allowing you to live out that fantasy of 'I'm this cool Ice Wizard, and I can run around with my staff and freeze enemies and shatter them'.
: Did the new Europa Destination provide any particular opportunities for your team from a combat perspective?
: One of the biggest things — and I think we talked about it in our vidocs — is the dynamic weather. This was something that was a late-breaking but really awesome addition that we were super excited to mess around with. Actually having some sort of gameplay impact there is huge, like, 'oh I have a gun that has a reticle that actually lets me see targets and outlines targets, so even if my vision is obscured I'm able to make my shots'. Stuff like that, these subtle things that we haven't done in other destinations that are really interesting here.
So Beyond Light is looking to take us beyond the combat threshold of the vanilla experience by changing parts of the combat meta. How this plays out in the wild will be interesting because as we, and most devs know, all the in-house playtesting in the world doesn’t compare to a game with new systems in the hands of punters who look only to exploit them as much as possible. Keep an eye out for how Beyond Light plays out, but for now these new additions do sound both interesting and fresh, so we’re definitely going in eyes wide open.