What is the opposite of a dead game? A live game, and Destiny 2 continues to be one of the only PvE-centric live games that doesn’t just have survived over time, but thrived. And if you need any proof of that, just look at the latest post-Lightfall player numbers.
This was highlighted by u/Merzats on redditFollowing up on the previous information, we knew that Lightfall had brought the highest number of players for Destiny 2 on Steam… ever, with 316,000 players at Lightfall launch besting any previous expansion.
Now we have some similarly impressive numbers in the longer term. When March has come and gone, we can now see that the game is average players in March at 135,102 is higher than any time in the game’s history except for 165,307 during the launch of Shadowkeep. Importantly, not only was it the first moment the game came to Steam in the first place, but it was also the launch of the New Light free-to-play experience, when the game still had tons of free content (Red War, both expansions, its first three seasons) for players to consume. So I’m not surprised it didn’t quite hit it off.
Some players are confused as to why the game has done so well in the past month when Lightfall was not very well received. Some thoughts on that.
First, while the initial story surrounding Lightfall was very bad buzz, it is very clear that it was mainly due to one thing, the story. That’s what everyone’s first impression of the expansion was, because it’s the first thing you experience, and the mysteries of the veil and the radial mast and Nimbus’ “creepy” dialogue made a bad impression.
But almost everything else? It was actually pretty good. After some confusion about the Strand given its forced entry into the campaign, once you were able to build the whole, it’s easily one of the best subclasses Destiny has ever given us across two games. I would argue that Neomuna itself turned out to be a pretty neat zone when fully explored. And the Season of Defiance content has also been solid, offering significant new Battlegrounds and a controversial storyline. Post-launch content here seems more robust than say, Witch Queen or Beyond Light before that.
Then there’s the general state of the game that I mean is dramatically improved since the Shadowkeep era in almost every way. This season introduced loadouts and much easier construction work. The 3.0 subclass updates plus Strand and Stasis mean that the gameplay itself is probably more fun to play than ever (minus some of the more extreme difficulty changes that have been partially restored from their debut in Lightfall). Weapon crafting is now available, there are titles to hunt and gild, transmog to acquire, tons of loot to farm across tons of dungeons and raids. There is simply a lot more to do and it keeps players engaged for longer.
I know Destiny gets a lot of crap for being the same thing over and over again with its season/expansion model, but the truth is that outside of a storyline or season that misses here or there, the game has really become more refined and streamlined over time, producing better content with a larger volume, while strengthening its core functions. Yes, there always is something to complain about (give us Gambit and Crucible maps!), but if you take a step back for the 10,000 foot view of Destiny 2 right now, I think you could argue that it’s the best it’s ever been, and the number of players reflects that.
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I’ve been writing about video games, television, and movies for Forbes for over 10 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. I cover all sorts of console and PC games, but if it’s looting or shooting, I’m definitely there. If I watch something, it’s usually science fiction, horror or superhero. I’m also a regular on IGN’s Fireteam Chat podcast and have published five sci-fi novels.