Destiny is a game built on gameplay loops–players are meant to play the same activities and missions again and again to master them and level up. Certain missions in Destiny particularly emphasized this loop, such as the secret mission to get the Black Spindle sniper rifle. In the latest episode of Bungie’s podcast, Bungie developers talked about how special missions like that come to be and how the lessons they learned from making them are carrying over to Destiny 2.
In the podcast, designer Rob Engeln talked about how the Black Spindle quest was developed. It arose from Engeln’s appreciation of difficult levels which present short, but intense, obstacles for players, and which require a high level of familiarity and mastery to complete. In fact, the Black Spindle level was specifically influenced by a much earlier example of this type of mission: the Mile High Club mission in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Engeln, who helped design the Black Spindle mission, said in the podcast that he drew inspiration from the way that players would memorize each second of Mile High Club. The Black Spindle mission is an offshoot of the Lost to Light level in Destiny: The Taken King’s main story campaign. To unlock the alternate path, you have to speedrun through the level; after entering the other path, you have 10 minutes to kill every enemy that appears. Successfully finishing the level in time unlocks the Exotic Black Spindle sniper rifle.
"The big inspiration for me was actually watching a bunch of videos of people speedrunning Mile High Club from Modern Warfare on Veteran difficulty," he said. "What I liked about that was that constant sense of mastery where… you could see them anticipating exactly where every enemy would be. They had a script basically that they were following."
"The key thing that made that work really well was that it was on a timer," he continued. "You were trying to bulldoze as quickly as possible."
Mile High Club is notorious for being punishing and requiring dozens of repetitions to complete on the hardest difficulty. It’s unlocked once you complete Modern Warfare’s campaign, and a successful playthrough takes only 1-2 minutes. You can see GameSpot attempt to finish the level in the video below.
The developers also discussed how this design philosophy–focusing on mastery–has fed into Bungie’s work on Destiny 2. The game is meant to emphasize similar gameplay loops, while also encouraging what Bungie calls "carry culture." Bungie hopes that high-level, experienced players will be able to carry lower-leveled players through some of the most difficult, end-game content.
"We saw [carry culture] with Spindle, we saw it with Trials [of Osiris]," Engeln said. "Destiny could be a game where some of these really high-skilled players can take other people who aren’t necessarily up to the challenge on their own along, bring them through it, and give them a really cool reward that’s also a memory. That’s something that’s really valuable to us, and when we were talking about what do we want the ritual game in Destiny 2 to look like, preserving that carry culture was one of the things that [game director] Luke [Smith] told me mattered most to him."
"It leads to a community of folks who are, in many ways, helpful," Smith added. "You’re creating alliances and allies, even if it’s just for a night."
Destiny 2 is getting a beta test very soon: it opens to those who’ve preordered the game on July 18 for PS4 and July 19 for Xbox One. Everyone else can jump in starting July 21. The beta runs through July 23. A beta for PC players is also coming in late August. You can read about what’s included in the beta here.
Destiny 2 launches in full on September 6 for consoles and on October 24 for PC. Among other things, the game will feature a social space that’ll evolve over time and a new Raid that’s "unlike anything we’ve done," according to Bungie. In addition, it’ll feature a lot more story than the first game.