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Destiny 2 interview with Bungie’s Lars Bakken


At the Destiny 2 reveal event I caught up with Lars Bakken from Bungie. He’s a Competitive Multiplayer Design Lead at the studio and works primarily with the PvP side (Crucible). He’s been working on Bungie games since Halo 3, where he was heavily involved in the multiplayer mode on that classic game. Our time was limited, but I was able to ask a variety of question.

Being that it was late in the day and he had spent the prior six hours in interviews, I joked that he had probably been asked the questions I had prepared a thousand times already, and so maybe it would just be easier if he would offer up a random fact about Destiny 2 that he can share that hasn’t been talked about yet. He obliged, replying:

“In the Crucible in Destiny 2 we’ve been working closely with the audio team. There’s a unique audio mix that only exists in the Crucible. We take every single sound in the game and we compartmentalize it to be either friendly or enemy. Everything enemy related is brought up in the mix and everything friendly related is brought down to the point where you won’t notice it. So if you and I are the same team and you’re firing your weapon or launching your Super, I will hear it, but it won’t get my attention. But if an enemy casts their Super, or fires a weapon, or is running I will be able to hear their footsteps. When they drop a grenade those things are BOOM! Right there, front and center. Those things are much more in your face and the game plays better. Some players might not even notice these things, but the care is there.”

Indeed, I had noticed in my play sessions throughout the day that the game sounded fantastic. Grenades dropped with ferocious intensity and everything just felt more “punchy” and grand, for of like seeing a summer blockbuster movie in the theater.

Moving onto the multiplayer side of things, I was curious why Destiny 2 was sticking to three person co-op in both the Strikes and also during campaign. After all, most multiplayer online games allow for groups of four to play together, and indeed, with the revelation that the Crucible matches are now 4 vs 4, wouldn’t it make sense to expand the Fireteam to four slots instead of three in all areas of the game? Lars feels that the main design that stemmed from the original Destiny made it unique from other shooters out there and having three slots, which matched up with the three different classes, made sense and helped differentiate the game from others. He fully admits that if you have a group of four people coming from another game and now wanting to play Destiny 2 that it’s unfortunate you have have to boot someone.

With the original Destiny some of the main criticisms revolved around the game’s story – or lack thereof. Indeed, one of the major sticking points with many people was that to get the most out of the game’s lore and history you had to leave the game and go onto Bungie’s site or the Destiny app to read Grimoire Cards. I asked if they would be returning in Destiny 2. Lars explained:

“I’m not sure what way, shape, or form or even if Grimoire Cards are returning. But the thing that when I talk to Luke about the way that lore works in Destiny 2, he’s very passionate that the lore should not be on a website or in a companion app – it should be in the world. So when you start to explore these new worlds, the things that maybe would have been in a Grimoire Card-like system, will now be in the world. They’ll be spoken to you by the characters in the world. Or they’ll be things you find in the world. Or maybe they’re around the different exploration activities. It’s much more about bringing the lore into the experience and not having it be separate.”

One of the key takeaways from the Destiny 2 presentation earlier that day was that the developers have doubled down on the exploration aspect, which was music to my ears. I absolutely love getting lost in games and finding secrets and discovering treasures, so I asked Lars if he could talk a bit more about the increased emphasis on this area of the game.

“EDZ is twice as big as any world we’ve created in the past. That’s huge! The interesting thing is that not all worlds are as big as EDZ, they all vary in size. The thing that is true across all of them is that they are all more densely packed than in Destiny. There’s a lot of things for you to do. There’s obviously things that are coming back, like Patrols, Public Events, and getting Materials. But, now we have Adventures, Treasure Maps, Lost Sectors, and other things. These spaces are densely packed and more things for you to find and explore. I spent a ton of time in the Cosmodrome in Destiny learning every in and out, every nook and cranny of that entire space. And now with Destiny 2, I find that, well overwhelming is the wrong word, because you can learn it, but there’s just so much more for you to do.”

One of the biggest improvements in Destiny 2 is the in-game map, which you can bring up anytime you want. You can go and do anything you want right from that map. So if you are in a Patrol on Nessus, and you want to go jump in the Crucible, you can do that right from that screen. It’s so much faster and more efficient than it was in the prior game.

I pressed him on details about Destiny 2 on Scorpio. Unfortunately he had nothing to share as they are waiting to see what Microsoft announces. The PS4 Pro does play 4K at 30 fps. Of course PC is whatever your rig can handle. Unlimited fps for everyone!

I asked about new aliens for Destiny 2, and while Lars did go into detail about many of the new enemies (like the Warbeast attack dogs and the Gladiators that have 2 huge cleavers), it doesn’t sound like we’re going to see a completely new race. There will be plenty of new enemies and more are in this game than any other in Bungie’s history.

I did seek clarification on the Strikes and Crucible maps. I figured they’d all be new for the sequel, but I wanted to make sure. According to Lars all of them will be new and will be located at the new destinations (EDZ on Earth, Nessus, IO, and Titan). So that’s good news!

I was also curious to find out if Destiny 2 would have the same update schedule that the original did. For those unfamiliar, Destiny would update every Tuesday morning to reset the weekly strikes and refresh areas of the game. To his knowledge, Lars believes they will still keep the same update pattern, but it’s not set in stone. He believes the team likes Tuesday morning updates because if there were to be a problem they can more easily take care of it with all hands on deck, versus a weekend update or something.

I had a few more questions to ask, but as is the case at some of these events, we ran out of time. Special thanks to Lars for taking the time to chat with us! Destiny 2 is scheduled to launch on September 8, 2017 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The PC version will arrive shortly thereafter and we’re sure some Scorpio announcement will be made in the near future. We’ll have more on Destiny 2 as it approaches release!