It's official: The first full-game sequel for "Destiny," the popular sci-fi shooter from the makers of "Halo," will launch sometime in 2017.
Activision, Bungie's publisher for "Destiny," announced the news during the company's earnings call on Thursday.
Bungie plans to release plenty of new content before "Destiny 2" - in the company's weekly blog post, it mentioned a big spring update as well as a full game expansion coming later this year.
But what about "Destiny 2"? What can players expect in terms of changes, similarities, new features, or - dare I say it - a story?
Thanks to two big sources of information, we have a much better idea of what fans can expect from the first "Destiny" sequel.
The first source is a long exposé published by Kotaku's Jason Schreier in October. Schreier spoke to half a dozen former and current Bungie employees over the past 13 months to discuss the issues that have bogged down development on "Destiny." The full story is worth a read.
The second source of information comes from a Reddit post published last July. The original post was deleted, but another Reddit user copied the text to a separate thread here. That post included leaked information about both "Destiny 2" and last month's expansion that had yet to be released ("The Taken King."), but almost every single far-fetched rumor about "The Taken King" in that original post turned out to be true.
Tech Insider has reached out to this individual, but we are keeping his/her identity anonymous due to the sensitivity of this information. That said, t ake all this information with a grain of salt. Though this Reddit source has an excellent track record, there's a really good chance major aspects of "Destiny 2" have changed since July.
Now, on to the rumors.
The game may be called "Destiny 2: The Shattered Suns."
The original Reddit post from July called "Destiny 2: The Shattered Suns" a "completely new game" that was originally scheduled to release in September 2016.
It sounds like September was the original launch date for "Destiny 2." As Activision noted a few times during the call, the "Destiny" sequel date had "moved" to 2017, implying that it was originally slated to release earlier. Also, this leaked Bungie-Activision contract from 2012 suggests Bungie was supposed to release "Destiny 2" in September.
"You will still be using your current characters," the Reddit post about "Destiny 2" said. "It will focus heavily on Osiris and his endeavors as he is the main quest giver in the game."
Now, you might be wondering, "who is Osiris?"
"Destiny 2" will center on Osiris, a lost warlock
Osiris is a character that's oft alluded to but never seen in "Destiny"; there's a competitive multiplayer tournament held every weekend called "Trials of Osiris," where groups of three people are pitted against each other and flawless victors get to visit Osiris' temple on Mercury. But we've still never seen this character.
According to last year's Reddit post, it sounds like Osiris will be front and center in "Destiny 2."
The warlock is described as an "Obi-Wan Kenobi-like mentor," and according to Kotaku, the original plot of "Destiny" was about finding Osiris. But Schreier's report says Bungie cut Osiris after it completely rebooted the game's story prior to the first "Destiny" launch in 2014.
Here's what we know about Osiris: Based on the Grimoire, a massive book of in-depth lore about the "Destiny" universe written by Bungie, Osiris is a warlock who was exiled to a temple on Mercury and spawned a cult of followers, but has since vanished. He apparently "left a network of acolytes and admirers who carry on his work."
Even though Bungie cut Osiris from the original story, he's alluded to so often that it makes sense to feature a story on this character, especially when Schreier's report mentions him as a central character in the original game. Bungie has been known to cut aspects of its games only to include them later: the Dreadnaught, an alien ship riddled with mysteries that was also cut from the original game, was reintroduced in last month's "The Taken King."
Bungie might not sell separate expansion packs after "Destiny 2"
Since "Destiny" launched last September, Bungie has released three major expansions to the game in December 2014 ("The Dark Below"), May 2015 ("House of Wolves"), and September 2015 ("The Taken King").
But with the recent addition of microtransactions - basically, you can pay real money to buy new dance moves and cosmetic items for your character - one "Destiny" source tells Kotaku that Bungie might choose to release new content for free in the months leading up to "Destiny 2," as opposed to selling new expansion packs every few months.
Here's what that source told Kotaku:
Instead of it going "Destiny," DLC1, DLC2, "Comet" (the codename for "The Taken King"), DLC1, DLC2, they're actually just gonna go [big] release and then incremental release. So it'll just be "Destiny," "Comet," "Destiny," "Comet" every year. It's basically just switching the game to an annual model.
Indeed, this seems to be Bungie's plan, as this exact methodology was leaked back in July by that Reddit poster. Here's the important text:
Bungie apparently stated that they are not going to continue with DLCs, but instead release free raids, planets, etc. throughout time. They will only be continuing with the main games after "The Taken King" and its successor DLCs.
Bungie is getting some early help from a fellow developer
Though "The Taken King" expansion has been a huge success, the Kotaku report says Bungie ended up cutting out a new public space on Mars and passing it to High Moon Studios - a subsidiary of Activision, Bungie's publisher - to develop it further.
Kotaku says High Moon Studios is "helping Bungie make ['Destiny 2']."
High Moon Studios is credited for work on the original "Destiny," but has produced seven other games, three of which are "Transformers" games. It also developed the "Deadpool" game that was published in 2013.
"Destiny" players might finally get the matchmaking features they've wanted
Playing with other people is a big part of "Destiny." Since the game is exclusively online, player interaction happens everywhere: You can run into random players while patrolling a planet, in a designed public space, or on missions.
But Bungie's matchmaking tools are basic at best: They allow players to be matched up with each other for three-man strikes and 12-person multiplayer games, but there's no support for the game's big six-person raids, or even the weekly "nightfall" strike that requires three players to complete.
The limits of Bungie's matchmaking tools make it difficult for players to readily enjoy the toughest but best aspects of "Destiny." As such, the "Destiny" community has created several different websites for players to find groups or other people to play with.
Yet, Kotaku's report says Bungie is "capable of powering incredible things behind the scenes, like player matchmaking." That could mean Bungie plans to allow matchmaking for raids or nightfall strikes, but the report makes no mention of this capability actually rolling out anytime soon, or specifically for "Destiny 2." The months-old Reddit post doesn't mention better matchmaking as a feature, but players can still hope for the best.
Keep in mind: These are rumors
Though some of these rumors sound extremely plausible if not downright accurate - the name of "Destiny 2," for example, or the fact it stars Osiris as a main character - Bungie could change any or all of these aspects before 2017, when the game is expected to launch.
We've reached out to Bungie for more information about "Destiny 2," and we'll update the story if we learn more. But as we said above, it's important to take these rumors with a grain of salt, since they are indeed rumors.