Last year’s Witch Queen expansion ended with Season of the Seraph, which is probably my favorite season of Destiny ever. Everything about it was exceptional. Season of the Seraph had an exciting and unpredictable story that had us working with sworn enemies to rebuild an AI that can destroy worlds, only to have the rug pulled out from under us in the 11th hour - and I was absorbed by every second of it.
It gave us the exceptional Heist Battleground mission, which evolved throughout the season as new war table upgrades were unlocked, as well as lengthy, puzzle-filled Operations, which culminated in Operation: Seraph’s Shield - the best exotic mission to date. It also gave us the impeccably designed Spire of the Watcher, which has its haters, but I love the theme, the story, and the cowboy-themed armor set. And it ended with the heartwrenching Abhorrent Imperative finale. There’s been many content-packed seasons, but Season of the Seraph feels like the richest and most impactful season yet. I had hoped that Lightfall’s seasons would reach the same level of quality, but so far that doesn’t seem to be the case.
It’s not entirely fair to compare the last season of an expansion to the first seasons of the next. Season of Defiance launched alongside Lightfall, and like all debut seasons it was short, with only one core activity to play. Even so, Season of Defiance was more limited in scope than other debut seasons. We’re also only in the first week of Season of the Deep, and it's too soon to know what’s going to happen. We haven’t seen the new dungeon, which launches this season, and the triumphs indicate that we’ll be diving deeper into the Titan’s methane ocean throughout the season, where more mysteries will be revealed. But even with those unknowns, doesn’t it feel like the seasons are getting smaller? We’ve got the Salvage group activity and the Deep Dive mission, which are both great, but I’m missing the feeling of long term goals to work towards. It feels like I'm just here to farm the reissued Reckoning weapons for good rolls and wait for the next chapter of the story to release, and that just isn’t enough.
Bungie has been open about wanting to reduce complexity within each season, and I think that streamlining is part of the reason I feel like something is missing from Season of the Deep. When it was announced that this season wouldn’t have a vendor progression element, I was excited to see what new and innovative mechanic would take its place. What I found was that the vendor progression still exists, but it’s now been combined with the seasonal challenges to simplify things. The layers of abstractions and overlapping gameplay loops have been reduced down to simple, straightforward systems. I can appreciate wanting to make things clearer for everyone, but it feels like we lost part of what makes the seasonal grind so interesting.
I also have it in the back of my mind that Season of the Deep needs to make up for Lightfall’s shortcomings, which isn’t necessarily fair or realistic. At the same time, Bungie twice pushed back against the Lightfall complaints by reminding us that the story of Lightfall will be stretched across the seasons in the way no previous expansion has been done before. I’m just getting started on the new Neomuna mission so I can’t speak to any Osiris developments at this point, but I’m expecting a lot of narrative momentum from Season of the Deep, and if it just turns out to be a series of cryptic psychic messages from a space whale, it’s not going to live up to past seasonal storylines. Again, it’s too soon to say, but after Lightfall and Season of the Defiance I have to keep my expectations low.
Last year, I didn’t engage with Season of the Haunted or Season of the Plunder that much until Season of the Seraph rolled around, and I had a great time catching up with everything I missed during the last few months of the year. Each season had its own style and its own unique activities, and I liked bouncing between them to accomplish many goals at once. That might be the best way to approach Destiny’s seasons for me to help me avoid the feeling that I’m getting less from them than I expected.