At the height of Bungie’s Lightfall reveal came the start of piracy and booty; Season of Plunder arrives with Misraaks returning with his daughter Eido, Drifter and Spider! Players are able to enter with several modes unlocked, Arc 3.0 (!) and Thunder of the Gods free package for players lagging behind. Day one was shaping up to be just as enticing and epic as their previous seasons this year. Best of all, a reprised raid has returned, King’s Fall, free of charge to all players – Touch of Malice is finally within reach. You as a Guardian is tasked to stop the recently defrosted Eramis, Kel of Darkness from plundering the solar system of strange artifacts that hums mysterious powers. Suspecting that Eramis is reforming House of Salvation with The Witness in mind, we have no choice but to stop her.

It’s been a month so far, and aside from its jam packed first week, things have slowed down significantly. Week one we learned that Eramis has comms directly to us while we storm her Ketch in a mode called Kechcrash; we sail in a Spider-owned-soon-to-be-Drifters Ketch so we can board another Ketch owned by Eramis, destroy all opposing threats with 6 Guardians (matchmaking, except Master), to loot it all! It’s a high-octane mode that requires minimal mechanics, lots of Light and Darkness explosions that’ll send Fallen flailing across the astral belt of Tangled Shore. It’s a well-structured mode that is thematically different, but nothing out of what we are used to in Destiny. The routine of flying into the H.E.L.M. talking to a thematic NPC (in this case, a Star Chart) to grab bounties, go into your Quest menu to load a Treasure Map (more on that soon), to then load into another mode is a technical limitation I really hope Bungie is working to improve. This lack of seamless transition is another element of disengagement that hinders the grind for players that’s been playing since D1.

It’s possible to create an environment that we just fly into once, and from there can activate the activity without load times – it’s been done with Dreaming City, Mars and the Leviathan, it can be done for pretty much everything else. I think of any other MMO where there’s large scale environments that has a Dungeon people can migrate to, and from there we can either communicate locally or initiate a sort of beacon that can alert nearby players if they want to join, or we can invite personally. This can obviously be improved upon as I am no game developer, but an element like this would make the game feel that much better to grind for. We see that it can work with rotating Lost Sectors, it can work for major seasonal content too.

Did I digress? I did…in either case, what’s available in Season of Plunder is well done.

After gathering some Treasure Coordinates from Ketchcrash, you are then tasked to embed them into your Captain’s Atlas. This would help you locate and plunder a Treasure for more loot in a mode called Expedition, where you and 2 other Guardians would use a Fallen drill to then grab some Engrams, toss it to a loading vehicle and haul it back to the Ketch nearby. Of course, you are intercepted by the House of Salvation, which gives you good reason to obliterate all with your newfound Arc 3.0. This is an extension to your grind for new and exciting loot to craft. After you’re done plundering, you will then start your weekly story mission called Pirate Hideouts.

So far, it has been entirely underwhelming – you’re tasked to infiltrate a legendary Eliksni pirate’s hideout, absolutely abolish them and reclaim a strange artifact that houses a mysterious power. Why Eramis need these is anyone’s guess and the focal point of this season. The problem with these missions is, they’re not farmable and the overall design is lazy as they are reusing lost sectors but with different textures and thematic assets. Sure, it’s the third part to your grind, but you would think that an element like this with significant weight to the story of Destiny 2 would be denser and a lot more meaningful. And additionally, the legendary Eliksni pirates we are fighting are entirely underwhelming as I would melt them with ease using…. well, anything against them. Let’s hope that Month 2 will have legends that are smarter, unique encounters and are tougher mechanically and not just bullet sponges.

But, a ton of work was put into Season of Plunder, and it is evident. We get to face Eramis again – which we all anticipated – work with the shady Spider and learn a lot about the hidden truths of Misraaks. Eido is entirely adorable, and I hope we see more of her as well – her nature to be intrigued by everything around her shows her naivety, but in such an innocent perspective that it fits. Arc 3.0 is an absolute banger and leaves much to build crafting, despite its Resistance glitch that pretty much rendered it useless for King’s Fall – and speaking of King’s Fall….

It’s here, and it is absolutely better than I remember (and easier too). The move from D1 to D2 saw significant changes to its lighting tech, textures, much higher resolution, fps and encounters. The changes in Totem room where the player would have to rotate Brands from a knight instead of reclaiming from the entrance of either side, and how Torn functions in Daughters and Oryx are all balanced and welcoming – it keeps the players sharp and the pace much more fluid. Truly a better job is done here compared to VOG, which to me shows how much Bungie is improving over time, and I love it.

But all of this is week one, and with each week that passed, we went through the same Ketchcrash, with the same Expedition and a short Hideout that could be done in a few mins with no real story content aside from conversations that revealed a bit more about Misraaks. I understand it’s to give time for players to grind King’s Fall and the weapon patterns of each new content – but with its current progression to slowly unlock more ways to get patterns feels gated anyway as we would need to wait for reset to optimize our overall grind.

The first month of Season of Plunder had an excellent first week with some amazing story in its foundation. The pirate theme game modes are thematically gorgeous, with some neat weapons to farm. Ketchcrash is fun especially in Master with sound mechanics that works well in a group setting, even if the overall rotation slows down with Expedition and Hideout. Here’s to Month 2, where things hopefully pick up.

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