Bungie dumping Destiny 2 content is good for the game, actually

Destiny 2: three guardians wearing the witch queen armor
(Image credit: Bungie)

Since the Beyond Light expansion released back in 2020, Bungie has been ‘vaulting’ bits of Destiny 2 - effectively deleting whole chunks of the game. We’re not talking about small parts of the game, either. The original campaign? Gone. Mars and Titan? Poof, disappeared. The Forsaken campaign? That’s missing, too.

Lapsed players diving in to play the new Witch Queen expansion will find a culling nearly as extreme as  Beyond Light’s, both the Tangled Shore location and the Forsaken campaign have been taken from player hands. 

If you bought Destiny 2 but haven’t been a regular player, that’s a harsh realization: to have things you bought taken away from you. You may find it stranger that regular Destiny players don’t mind at all. Why aren’t they outraged? 

The truth is, speaking as a die-hard Destiny fan, Destiny 2 is a better game for it. 

Why Bungie 'vaults'

The main reason for vaulting is simple: Destiny 2 was getting too big. Bungie wasn’t interested in making Destiny 3, it wanted to build on its game with expansions. But each release grew the game’s install size. This is a real issue, particularly for PS4 and Xbox One players who are bound to 500GB hard drives.

Another major reason was the growing work of maintaining all the older content. Every time Bungie adds new gear it has to test it in all playable parts of Destiny 2. Testers must check if Witch Queen’s new Osteo Striga SMG somehow breaks when you interact with Escalation Protocols from the Warmind Expansion. Could some sort of infinite resource farm be created with a combination of new mods being exploited because of Black Armory forges? Checking everything is a huge job for Bungie and maybe the team’s time could be better spent elsewhere.

“Maintaining that much content in perpetuity slows down our ability to update the game with fresh experiences, reduces our ability to innovate, and delays our reaction to community feedback,” Bungie explained in a blog post. “The test surface alone is massive, to say nothing about how it impacts our designers, artists, and engineers trying to make cool new stuff every day under the weight of the crushing complexity of our scale.”

The Destiny Content Vault (DCV) lets Bungie hyper-focus on what is important to Destiny 2. While it’s sad to lose content, it also creates a curated experience. Bungie can slice off old systems and code that hold the game back and replace them with newer, better tools.

Also, vaulted content isn’t gone for good. Bungie will even bring things back from the original Destiny, as it did with the Cosmodrome and Vault of Glass raid.

But what does this vaulting mean for you?

Three Guardians run through Hive corridors

(Image credit: Bungie)

While it can be confusing for new players, or people returning after a long break, vaulting has improved how Bungie tells stories in Destiny 2. Now there is a tight, central campaign that grows with new activities each week. Because everyone is playing through the same smaller chunk of story, instead of the broad sweep of all the campaigns across the different expansions, Destiny’s story feels immediate. 

There’s a clear technical benefit, too. Before the Beyond Light expansion, it could take a minute to travel to the Tower or a new planet on a PS4. After the huge cull of content, loading was significantly faster, and it remains so to this day.

Bungie is open about its reasoning, explaining that the Warmind expansion, for example, accounted for “5% of [the game’s] total install size” but only “0.3% of all-time played in Season of the Worthy”. It may feel wrong to see content you own cut from the game, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t something people were playing.

For those of us who play Destiny regularly, losing access to content we want to play once in a blue moon is a fair price to pay for a faster, more focused game. 

Reasons to be wary

Savathun's ship lingers above Mars.

(Image credit: Bungie)

There are two obvious problems with Vaulting, however: preservation and ownership.

Game developers are awful at preserving their history and live service games present an even more complicated challenge. Every time a game receives an update, what was there before is wiped away. For some players, this can be a significant loss. And it’s rare that a developer accounts for this. Very occasionally we see projects like World of Warcraft Classic which open the door to a past version of a game.

Then there’s ownership. Do we have a right to the content that was included in Destiny 2 when we bought it, or are we just leasing access to the service? While frustrating to see a series or film disappear from Netflix, we don’t often argue it’s been taken away from us. 

These are big questions facing games and go further than just Destiny 2. However, in the case of Destiny, Bungie makes a compelling case for what this process can create for players.

Adding by subtraction

The guardians run across a bidge in th distance

(Image credit: Bungie)

Done wrong, a service game can feel like it’s designed to squeeze money out of you. With unfulfilling updates drip-fed to you by a developer. But, as in Destiny’s case, it instead feels like you’re part of a real-time adventure. For the most dedicated Destiny players, we’ve seen our characters grow since the original game was released back in 2014. That character has nearly eight years of backstory and we’ve been with them every step of the journey. 

And, because Destiny is an inherently social game, built around co-op play, a lot of my memories of the game are ones I experienced with friends. 

Bungie’s execution hasn’t always been flawless in terms of business practice, but it does at least feel earnest. It feels developer-led, rather than purely motivated by profit. Destiny 2 is made by a team that cares about crafting an experience for dedicated players. It’s building an evolving reality that is moving in parallel to our own. 

This is not to minimize the frustrations of lapsed players. It is the group that misses out most in this exchange. However, it’s also not quite as black and white as ‘Bungie is taking away content we paid for’ when the experience it is maintaining is currently so good. 

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Patrick Dane
Gaming Guides Editor

Patrick Dane is TechRadar Gaming's Guides Editor. With nearly a decade in the games press, he's been a consistent voice in the industry. He's written for a plethora of major publications and travelled the world doing it. He also has a deep passion for games as a service and their potential to tell evolving stories. To wit, he has over 2000 hours in Destiny 2, over 1000 in Overwatch and is now deeply into Valorant.