We are a few more weeks away from the debut of Destiny 2’s season 18, and since we have literally zero information to go off of with Bungie saving everything for August 23rd’s showcase, I figured I’d just reflect on this past season instead today.
Season of the Haunted has ended up being a not terribly well-regarded season, I’d say, in the grand scope of all the Destiny seasons so far. Certainly in the bottom half, if not maybe the bottom five, or lower, depending on who you ask. It’s strange, given that Bungie seemed to really be hyping it up ahead of time, and the secrecy surrounding it made it seem like something that would blow us away. But that’s not exactly how it went down.
One issue is that the good things that were a part of this season were not…technically a part of this season. That would be something like Duality, where even though it fit in thematically with the season (and practically shared a loot pool via two Opulence weapons), it’s part of a sold-separately dungeon pack. And while I liked Solar 3.0, that’s a permanent sandbox change, not something exclusive to Haunted.
That leaves the actual content of the season, and I am comfortable in laying out what I think was the main problem at the root of the issue with Season of the Haunted: Nightmare Containment.
There are many issues with Nightmare Containment, which is not necessarily a bad activity in a vacuum, but the season relied so heavily on it in every aspect that it overwhelmed the whole thing.
The Leviathan returned as a patrol space, which was cool, and yet Nightmare Containment only takes place inside a single area, the Castellum, and even when it “rotates” week to week, the only thing actually changing is the final boss, and not even the location of the final boss. Compare that to Battlegrounds or Override missions which have 3-4 versions that take place in different locations. Here, it was just Castellum, Castellum, Castellum, with little variance.
In theory, you could farm some level of gear doing the Sever missions which at least took you to different parts of the Leviathan, but in order to do that you needed to get an item from…Nightmare Containment, Bound Essence, for the run to be worthwhile. And it was a very, very rare drop.
Past that, there were frustrations about the loot itself, in terms of the fact that the Opulence weapons did not drop directly from Nightmare Containment or Sever or enemies on the Leviathan. Though a main way to get keys to find them in chests was still beating Containment for three easy chests. Those were some of the most sought-after weapons in the season, and yet the process to get them was an enormous pain.
The pattern grind here in the second season of crafting was also a miss, as you had to grind endlessly for red frames in Containment, and five patterns for each weapon proved to be too many. This also revealed that something had gone very, very wrong with the economic planning of this season, where the HELM upgrades had an entire row dedicated to a currency you never were short on, but the actual focusing currency for drops and red frame hunting required again, an absurd amount of Nightmare Containment farming.
Everything was driving players into Nightmare Containment, constantly, and the activity itself was not varied enough with its fixed location and barely-different boss rotation. I think it’s a given that most seasonal activities will probably end up feeling a little repetitive eventually, but Nightmare Containment felt like a new level of that, and it kind of made the entirety of the Leviathan returning pointless.
There are definitely things I liked in the season itself. I like most of the new weapons, including anything with Incandescent. All the lore and the storytelling through the Sever missions and even Containment dialogue was extremely good, some of Destiny’s best. But gameplay-wise, Containment was the problem, and I hope we don’t have a similar activity-based issue in season 18, whatever it is.