Destiny 2‘s Season of the Haunted lives as much as its identify. Set largely in a brand new location, the Derelict Leviathan, the season has given the sport a particular, sci-fi-horror ambiance as a part of each its gameplay and its story. What gamers skilled aboard the Leviathan is a much bigger, extra concerned model of what Bungie first created in one in every of its easiest ranges. The Unique mission Presage despatched gamers to a ghost ship and informed a narrative of insanity and murder–and now we have seen what it prophesied.
The concepts that might grow to be Presage and, later, Season of the Haunted have been born when Bungie was determining what story it needed to inform with an Unique mission in 2021’s Season of the Chosen. The group had been throwing across the thought of revisiting the concept of Nightmares–manifestations of recollections and trauma, first launched within the Shadowkeep growth, that coalesce into highly effective enemies gamers truly need to struggle.
Throughout a bunch interview close to the beginning of the season that included a number of Bungie builders who labored on Season of the Haunted, senior narrative designer Robert Brookes defined that because the writing group was riffing on attainable concepts, one derived from a specific horror film broke unfastened.
“Again after we have been concepting Season of the Chosen, there was an Unique mission, and the concept was for a derelict ship, only a ghost ship, a ship that was misplaced,” Brookes mentioned. “And we began tossing round concepts. At one level, I used to be writing down my notes and somebody talked about Nightmares, it might need been [senior narrative designer Nikko Stevens]. He was like, ‘What if the ship’s actually haunted,’ and I used to be beginning to write it down, and I’m going down this rabbit gap, like ‘Nightmares, Calus, Calus’s trauma, Calus’s trauma with Nightmares, oh my god, Occasion Horizon!’ And I simply held the pocket book up and I am like, ‘Who has seen Occasion Horizon? We have to try this with this ship.’ Nikko took that and made Presage and simply this lovely, horrible mess.”
Event Horizon is a 1997 sci-fi horror movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil) and staring Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix) and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park). Set in a future stuffed with house journey, it facilities on Fishburne and his crew, a rescue group despatched to research a derelict ship known as the Occasion Horizon. Neill performs the scientist who invented the Occasion Horizon’s “gravity drive” engine system, which opens a black gap to permit the ship to journey immediately from one level in house to a different. The group discovers not solely that the Occasion Horizon’s crew is lacking, however that the ship is seemingly haunted. It quickly turns into obvious that the ship’s enterprise by the black gap took it into one other dimension, which modified the Occasion Horizon and drove its crew mad.
Gamers accustomed to Presage will instantly see the similarities–it takes place on a ship known as the Glykon Volatus and is seemingly empty when the participant finds it. The story they uncover there may be about twisted experiments by the exiled Cabal emperor, Calus, and a few of his loyalist forces. Calus needed to commune with the Witness, Future’s final villain. Simply earlier than the discharge of the Past Mild growth, the Witness used its unusual energy, the Darkness, to make a number of of Future 2’s planets disappear, leaving solely void-like anomalies behind. Calus despatched the Glykon into the anomaly left after Mars disappeared, however when the ship emerged, because the builders defined, it got here again improper–and so did the individuals aboard.
The seeds of the season
The gist of the Occasion Horizon story made it into Presage, however there wasn’t room within the mission for all of Brookes and Stevens’ concepts. That modified, nevertheless, when builders began engaged on ideas for Season of the Haunted.
“We did not get to do the Nightmares stuff and the Calus stuff that we have been initially spitballing as a result of it was simply an excessive amount of. It was simply too many issues suddenly…” Brookes mentioned. “That is been behind each Nikko’s and my thoughts for this entire time between, and as soon as we heard that we have been going to convey again the Leviathan, I instantly lept on [Season of the Hunt creative lead Tom Farnsworth] like a screaming monkey and was like ‘Nightmares!'”
Brookes mentioned that, as quickly as the concept of the Leviathan was floated, he and Stevens instantly considered the Occasion Horizon-inspired concepts they’d been enjoying with for Presage.
“Generally in sport dev, you could have an thought that you simply need to execute on and you may’t fairly get all the best way there, whether or not or not it’s scope or assets or, you realize, no matter,” Stevens mentioned. “However you continue to construct one thing great out of what you can make. And all of the leftover scraps that you simply could not absolutely notice earlier than, we maintain onto these issues like squirrels packing them away in our bushes. And ultimately, when there’s a chance to make use of them–like right here, when Tom got here to us and was like, ‘We’re excited about perhaps Calus, perhaps the Leviathan, what do you guys assume?’ Precisely like Robert mentioned, we instantly leapt on this concept and took all these grains of issues that we weren’t capable of polish up earlier than and labored them into the Leviathan. So loads of these concepts carried over, for positive, or have been impressed by issues we might performed beforehand that we now have been capable of flesh out extra.”
In Occasion Horizon, the previous traumas of characters manifest as visions and hallucinations whereas aboard the derelict, tormenting and terrifying them. Season of the Haunted goes in a really related course, with a number of main characters are compelled to face their very own traumas within the type of Nightmares. When he and Stevens pitched the concept to Farnsworth and the opposite departments engaged on Season of the Hautned, he mentioned, “Each single one in every of us was a wonderfully aligned machine. All of us knew what we needed and it was the very same factor.”
As Stevens and Brookes famous, the principle thought was that each the Glykon and the Leviathan entered these unusual anomalies and got here again improper. Brookes talked about just a few different motion pictures with the identical form of vibe that additionally served as inspirations, together with the 1990 motion pictures Flatliners and Jacob’s Ladder. In Flatliners, a bunch of medical college students use their coaching to briefly cease their very own hearts to set off near-death experiences, and rapidly discover themselves haunted by venturing into the world past life. In Jacob’s Ladder, a Vietnam veteran has a near-death expertise through the battle and finds himself beset by horrific visions within the aftermath.
Enjoying a horror film
With Presage, Bungie actually tapped right into a horror-movie feeling in Future 2. The mission was surprisingly creepy as gamers explored the empty, darkened ship, stumbling into the useless our bodies of the crew. That is a sense that looks as if it would be powerful to seize in a first-person shooter during which you play an immortal superhero who wields house magic.
Season of the Haunted hits a few of those self same vibes as nicely, channeling each the texture of Presage and different horror video games. The spooky emotions are largely conveyed within the season’s many Sever missions, which characterize its main story beats. Within the first few of those, gamers confronted an unkillable enemy that chases them round with a pair of axes like a slasher villain. The primary time you encounter that enemy, you do not notice you’ll be able to’t kill it; discovering that it is proof against your assaults results in a determined scramble to flee.
The encounter turns into one thing straight out of a sport like Amnesia: The Darkish Descent or Alien: Isolation–your weapons are ineffective and your solely possibility is to run. There are just a few tight locations the place you’ll be able to disguise from the creature, utilizing hidden pathways like vents to present it the slip. The scenario turns into all of the extra harrowing as a result of it’s good to activate a collection of management panels within the space so as to open the door that can permit you to escape, requiring you to run for the goals with the monster dogging your heels.
“It is truly actually laborious to create an expertise that is gonna make gamers really feel concern, as a result of they’re already simply enjoying a sport, so that you type of need to go towards that already,” artwork director Rob Adams mentioned. “It is fantasy. They’ve all these powers, and… you have to pull a number of the energy away from the participant. But it surely normally comes right down to making an attempt to create a extra confined house the place the participant looks like, if one thing occurs, they don’t seem to be going to have the ability to get away very simply. As a result of that is one of many issues that makes you’re feeling protected on a regular basis, is pondering, ‘Oh, I can dash. I can get on my sparrow. I can triple soar away from one thing. I can do my Tremendous.’ However as quickly because the participant thinks, ‘If one thing occurs, I won’t be capable of get away,’ then you could have an enormous benefit in making them really feel scared.”
“That additionally speaks to what number of of our disciplines have to return collectively and make you’re feeling scared,” he continued. “We actually want audio and we want lighting and we want our tech design, and the narrative and the artwork and the encounter design. All this stuff, and like 5 different issues I am forgetting. They’ve all started working collectively on the similar time to do that. And so after we’re capable of do it efficiently, I feel it really works rather well. But it surely simply takes loads of people cooperating actually fastidiously to tug it off.”
Honing the scares
Each Presage and the Sever missions really feel like steps ahead for Future’s makes use of of horror. However they don’t seem to be the primary, as Farnsworth mentioned–Bungie has created spooky moments previously, going again to the unique Future. Moments with the Hive that befell on the moon typically took benefit of darkness, tight quarters, and screaming monsters to create scares. The Crota’s Finish raid relied closely on an environment of dread. And there was the slasher film second of the Zero Hour mission, during which gamers dropped right into a maze-like space within the Previous Tower and have been chased by a ridiculously quick machine lined in blades known as TR3-VR (pronounced “Trevor”) that tore by its tight corridors to seek out them.
“I feel all of it goes again to, like, we’re an influence fantasy–what are the methods during which we will type of pull a few of that energy away from the gamers, and actually constrain what they’ll do as a Guardian? The disempowerment is de facto the place the concern comes from in our sport,” he mentioned. “However we have to do it in ways in which gamers nonetheless have an opportunity. So like with TR3-VR, you simply needed to know the sample to have the ability to escape the large homicide dying crawler that they’d constructed. And I feel in Season of the Haunted, what we’re doing is we’re making an attempt to convey gamers as much as the Energy stage [required] to allow them to have interaction with these actions, however nonetheless have them really feel fairly difficult, type of a candy spot of problem, and we do not need these moments of disempowerment to take over everything of the exercise; that might most likely be tiring. So we’re simply placing them in focused areas the place we all know we will actually assist that. As a result of in the end, we would like you to enter Sever, and be capable of use your powers and shoot your weapons and expertise a very cool story. And each now and again, once you least anticipate, to interject somewhat little bit of that stress and horror into the actions.”
Farnsworth mentioned he thought that even the advertising is crucial to creating the horror expertise work, since it is not what Bungie normally does with the sport. Trailers and even the introductory mission for the season prime the viewers to know the scares are coming and to just accept that type of expertise.
“You must invite individuals in to be scared, you need to set individuals up for it, to allow them to be a part of it as a participant, which is one other factor that we positively set a path for,” he mentioned.
Season of the Haunted ends on August 26, and whereas it put an enormous concentrate on its spookier elements, it additionally put loads of time into exploring trauma, tragedy, and mental health amongst its characters. We do not but know the place the story of Future 2 is headed in Season 18, however with Bungie placing a higher emphasis on character improvement and exploring a wide range of style trappings, there are loads of potentialities for the way forward for the sport.
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