Sport studio Bungie has determined to get forward of the E3 information cycle with the announcement of the second main Future 2 enlargement, and its first ever with out publishing associate Activision. The enlargement is named Shadowkeep, in step with an information mined leak revealed on Tuesday, and can carry gamers again to the Moon, a preferred and narratively vital vacation spot from the unique Future. The character, Eris Morn, can be closely hinted as a significant pressure within the new enlargement, with Bungie referring to her as an “outdated ally” you’ll reunite with to “confront new nightmares.”
But in a shock flip of occasions, Bungie can be outlining a drastic shift in the way it releases new Future 2 content material going ahead. Shadowkeep would be the first ever standalone enlargement the studio has ever produced. Which means it won’t require you to personal any of the earlier Future 2 expansions.
Bungie additionally says it’s designed Shadowkeep to be an a la carte enlargement, so that you solely need to pay for the elements of it you are feeling such as you’ll get pleasure from or really sink time into. Bungie has been experimenting with this feature by means of its season move mannequin lately, however this appears to go a step additional. You’ll be capable to purchase Shadowkeep and a single season move for $34.99, and it launches on September 17th.
As a result of Bungie is now not printed by Activision, itself part of the larger Activision Blizzard model, Bungie will now not distribute the PC model of Future 2 by means of Battle.internet. As a substitute, it’s going to distribute it by means of Valve’s Steam, and present PC gamers will be capable to migrate all of their progress to the Steam model when it launches this fall alongside Shadowkeep. Not solely that, however Bungie is saying a brand new model of Future 2 known as New Gentle, a free-to-play model of the sport that Bungie says will embody all of its ”foundational modes, actions, and rewards.” It’s not clear proper now whether or not which means it comes with simply the bottom recreation, or all of its preliminary expansions, Forsaken, and the annual move content material, too.
Bungie can be supporting cross-saves for Future 2, permitting Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia gamers to maintain character progress throughout all platforms. Whereas it will resolve development, you continue to received’t be capable to bounce on a a console and play in opposition to PC gamers with cross-play assist.
Shadowkeep is now being designed with related scope and measurement to final 12 months’s Forsaken. It’s possible supposed to be the ultimate main enlargement for the sport, marking the start of Future 2’s third and last 12 months earlier than what perhaps gamers presume shall be a 3rd recreation within the collection. In that approach, Shadowkeep could be like the unique Future’s Rise of Iron enlargement that got here out in fall 2016.
Nonetheless, since Bungie break up with Activision earlier this 12 months, its roadmap for the Future collection has been topic to alter. And which means Shadowkeep may very well be the start of a good greater shift for the Future franchise that sees it flip right into a perpetually up to date recreation within the vein of Epic Video games’ Fortnite or competing looter shooter Warframe.
The studio has not formally confirmed a 3rd Future recreation, and it was by no means totally clear if it might observe the identical launch cadence it set forth with the unique recreation or within the first 12 months of Future 2 as soon as it started self-publishing the title again in January. Beginning final 12 months, Bungie launched a brand new mannequin for the way it developed, launched, and offered post-game expansions and updates known as the annual move, which successfully bundled a significant fall enlargement, in that case Forsaken, with three smaller expansions that might launch seasonally all through the following 12 months.
With Shadowkeep, Bungie isn’t saying whether or not it’s dedicated to following the annual move mannequin. It’s additionally not clear whether or not there shall be further expansions tacked on to Shadowkeep seasonally. As of now, we don’t even know a lot the enlargement will value. That mentioned, the way in which Bungie is positioning these bulletins makes it sound like this may very well be the largest, most dramatic departure from how its developed, launched, and offered video games in its historical past as a recreation developer.
Future 2 has had an extended and considerably troubled life cycle. Since its launch within the fall of 2017, Bungie has struggled to fulfill participant expectations and design a product that might fulfill each its inside want for a extra mainstream, accessible product and the hardcore neighborhood’s want for a deep, difficult recreation that may very well be performed each single day for months on finish. Future 2 first launched to crucial acclaim for the methods Bungie made the sport extra player-friendly and fewer depending on repetitive, mind-numbing actions, however the developer made plenty of near-fatal errors within the course of, like watering down the sport’s aggressive multiplayer and an absence of end-game content material, that nearly misplaced it its most hardcore followers.
After plenty of average course-correcting updates, Bungie launched the large Forsaken enlargement in 2018. The replace supplied a miraculous turnaround for the sport, giving each informal and hardcore gamers an expansive collection of actions to carry out, loot to gather, and smaller, achievement-based objectives tailor-made to followers’ numerous play kinds. It was the very best Future had ever been. However the annual move mannequin that launched with Forsaken has proved inconsistent at retaining high quality excessive and incentivizing gamers to stay round, and the neighborhood started falling off once more with the launch of the primary post-Forsaken replace, the Black Armory, roughly six months in the past.
That’s been due partially to the substitution of smaller raid lairs as an alternative of full-blown raids, an absence of consideration towards the aggressive multiplayer scene, and actions that normally simply really feel overly tedious and repetitive on goal, in order to maintain the hardcore gamers from complaining a couple of lack of content material. That mentioned, over the previous six months, Bungie has experimented like by no means earlier than in making an attempt out new codecs, just like the Gambit-focused Season of the Drifter, and making an attempt to inform a extra cohesive narrative with unlockable cutscenes and elaborate backstories to the extra standard loot gadgets.
Future 2’s participant base is now nonetheless awaiting the following huge enlargement to see if Bungie can lastly pull collectively a imaginative and prescient for the sport that’s wholly its personal and handle to carry the sport again to its peak in reputation. In spite of everything, with no wholesome participant base that retains queue occasions low and actions nicely populated, a recreation like Future withers till solely the tiniest fraction of hardcore gamers is left. However with Shadowkeep, Bungie feels like its going additional and laying the groundwork for an much more formidable model of Future, one that might see it flip into a real stay service recreation just like the massively multiplayer on-line titles that first impressed it.