Destiny 2 Loadouts

Disclaimer: I am not a Bungie employee, nor do I have any special insight into their design or development processes. I'm a fan of Destiny 2 who is curious how future features might end up being implemented. As of the time of writing Bungie was in the final preparations for the release of their next major annual expansion (Lightfall) which includes significant systems changes. If this matches any upcoming or past release, I'll call myself lucky. If someone from Bungie stumbles across this and decides it's a good idea, let's talk.

Bungie has announced that, with the upcoming Destiny 2 expansion, Lightfall, that we're getting in-game loadout management. A loadout is a specific pre-built set of items that can be applied with a single click. Today, this has to be managed via 3rd party apps and Destiny 2's API. Partly, this is because Bungie has generally preferred letting 3rd party apps implement complex sorting and swapping functionality. Bungie has also chosen to prioritize the speed of the in-game UI by limiting the number of items it must track at any given moment. By limited your instant weapon and armor access to only 90 items (9 slots, each with the currently equipped item + 9 others), the game has a lot less to track than if you were sorting through 600 items (the limit of your bulk storage Vault). For a player trying to switch gear mid-combat or between encounters, it's also much more practical to sort a few items than hundreds.

I'm curious how it might be implemented – I can't imagine forcing the player to build and utilize loadouts that only use your on-character gear would be a practical or pleasing player experience, nor is Bungie likely to let players simply access every item at every opportunities.

What We Know

Based on Bungie's video demo, the player will have access to a limited number of loadouts on their character screen. Selecting one should be as simple as clicking on it, and all items and abilities will be switched out, as long as your currently possess that item (either on-character or in your vault). This is in addition to the existing ability to swap out single items. Assuming the user can have 3 loadouts at any time, you're only adding 27 items (1 item for 9 slots, for each of 3 loadouts) to what the game must be available to instantly swap.

Pure Conjecture

With in-game loadouts coming, are changes the vault coming as well? I propose that creation of a loadout simply involves automatically selecting the gear, class, and subclass you're currently wearing. From there, you may customize it using the existing UIs. As I stated before, there's extremely limited value to only allowing you to create or apply loadouts from your on-character inventory. Could we, in Orbit or another non-combat space (The Tower, The Enclave, etc) access our vault directly from the character UI? In a space where responsiveness is not at a premium, a user could edit a loadout by selecting an item from their character, or entering their vault. Because each item is tied to a specific slot, we don't have to pull in all inventory items – just the specific slot: Power weapons, Hunter helmets, and so on.

More Needs

There are two potential complications to this system. By allowing access to any item in the character's account you may be pull an item from another character. This is manageable today via the API, and should not present any particular challenge - it should be the same as pulling an item from the vault.

The more complicated case is when the user cannot apply the loadout. Most frequently, an item has been deleted and is no longer available. Many items in Destiny 2 roll with random stats or perks – you can't regain an exact copy. Only exotic weapons and certain others with fixed sets of stats/perks may be regained (at a cost). Exotic armor may be regained as well, but only with low, random stats. There's a good chance that a player doesn't want to automatically do this. There's also a small chance that Bungie has disabled an item or ability. In this case, we must warn the user they can't apply that loadout until the error is fixed, either by clearing and recreating the loadout, or fixing that particular item.

In the Future

One possible avenue for future exploration is, “can we eliminate the fixed vault entirely?” Today, you must access your vault from specific in-world locations in non-combat spaces. If a system similar to the one described above becomes scalable, could the vault be just another screen in your character UI (albeit one only accessible in those non-combat locations)?