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Bungie talks Destiny: The Taken King's event-focused future

Set your expectations for a quieter - but more surprising - second year.

Destiny: The Taken King launched months ago, long before the rush of autumn releases, yet millions of players still play for hours every day. It's a vote of confidence for Bungie but also a neverending workload, as the game's intensely loyal fanbase constantly demand fresh content.

Destiny's Sparrow racing event starts today.

Ensuring Destiny's players are sated is a full time job - that of the game's live team, whose most-recent project was October's well-received Festival of the Lost event. It was a fun mix of Halloween freebies and a smattering of cosmetic extras you could skip the wait and pay for upfront.

But it's now December, when a year ago Bungie launched its Dark Below add-on with new story missions and a fresh raid. And, now, the game's playerbase wants to know what's next.

Bungie did not sell an expansion pass with The Taken King as it did with Destiny vanilla. No promises of further story additions have been made. But expectations were set high by the quality of The Taken King expansion, and the likely outdated release plan leaked in autumn 2014 which suggested two DLCs were planned to follow Taken King, just as two did last year.

Last weekend's announcement of a Sparrow racing event, once a highly-requested addition, had something of a mixed reaction. Fans were happy the mode was finally being trialled, but in the absence of any other information many had expected something different - something similar to last year's more traditional DLC.

Eurogamer spoke with senior designer Derek Carroll, part of the game's live team, to try and find out more about the event and nail down Bungie's plans for the rest of Destiny: Year Two. The gist? Don't expect a "monolithic" DLC any time soon - but several more events and surprises are in the pipeline.

Destiny's first year featured two DLC packs, whereas this year things are different. Can players look forward to any more story content in Year Two?

Derek Carroll: "With Taken King we are moving to a more event-based model - things like Festival of the Lost and Sparrow racing, which is our winter event, and then smaller events such as Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris every weekend.

"Rather than doing these giant, monolithic DLC packs, this way everybody who's an owner of Taken King can enjoy these things."

So why the change? [A recent Kotaku report suggested this year's DLC had been scrapped to give the next boxed Destiny release, almost certainly due in September 2016, a little more development time. It's a report Bungie has not commented on.] Why not do another Expansion pass as well?

Derek Carroll: "There's lots of different reasons as to why - I don't know how deep I can get into that. But basically the live team is charged with maintaining the game and keeping players happy, feeding them new content and surprising them with things they didn't expect."

Festival of the Lost was great, but this leads to a situation where players are left guessing what form the game's next addition will take. Can you say anything to set expectations?

Derek Carroll: "I think by design the idea is to have these events which are surprises - so we can understand why players on the one hand want to have their lives mapped out for the next year.

"The way we're going is: you can expect new content from the live team in Destiny although we're not really telegraphing that. Certainly, players can expect new events and new content throughout the next year. We're taking it one step at a time."

Bungie's latest ViDoc highlights the work of the live team for this year.Watch on YouTube

Will there be anything you need to buy to access?

Derek Carroll: "We've had Festival of the Lost and now Sparrow racing. [Both events are open to all players, with only cosmetic items purchasable via real-world money.] If you wanted to extrapolate from there, you could."

Bungie has so far done a good job keeping anything affecting gameplay separate from microtransactions. Presumably the Sparrow racing event will follow suit?

Derek Carroll: "It's very similar to Festival of the Lost. You don't need to buy anything to enjoy Sparrow racing, but if you want an additional challenge you can get the Record Book which includes lots of different challenges, keeps track of your stats, and gives you very targeted gear - like bounties, but you know exactly what you'll get when you complete challenges.

"All the stuff from [microtransaction shop] Eververse is completely cosmetic, to get aesthetically-pleasing things. All the items have no Light and no perks, but if you want your suit to match your Sparrow - that's what that's for.

"There's several new emotes, new Sparrows, new shaders, emblems... and Sparrow horns to annoy your opponents."

One final thing - I know fans want more slots for their emotes [currently you can equip only one]. Are you guys looking at that?

Derek Carroll: "That's definitely something we're looking at - I've heard rumblings. Nothing to announce on that but we're looking at expanding that and maybe rethinking how emotes are done in the game, they've definitely been a fan favourite."

Watch on YouTube

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