Destiny 2: The Future of the Haunted Forest and Festival of the Lost
Destiny 2’s seasonal events, not to be confused with content seasons like Season of The Undying, have always been used as a fun way to celebrate holidays and try out new things from the Valentine’s Day Crucible Doubles playlist in Crimson Days to throwing snowballs in The Dawning for Christmas and the New Year. This year saw the return of Bungie’s annual Halloween event in the form of Festival of the Lost, as well as the Haunted Forest and its newly named Terrors.
As with any new event in Destiny 2, the Eververse is packed with new themed content for players to purchase such as new Ghosts, a gravestone Exotic Emote, and the return of Destiny 1’s famous Lost Broom sparrow from the Sweeper Bot, with a witches broom theme this time around. While all of that is great, players that are looking to play a brand new activity and complete all of the new event Triumphs must look no further than the Haunted Forest, which in its own right is a fun activity but one that’s bogged down after receiving minimal changes from last year’s Haunted Forest, and was repeated with the Vernal Forest from The Revelry event back in Spring. Right now, it’s unclear exactly what is the future of the Haunted Forest will be?
What is the Haunted Forest?
The Haunted Forest was first introduced in last year’s Festival of the Lost after the franchise took a year off from Halloween events for the release of Destiny 2. To start off the new questline, players will need to visit Eva Levante in the Tower and pick up a new special helmet that’s capable of wearing one of the Festival Masks. Then it’s off to the Haunted Forest to start earning Candy and Chocolate Strange Coins which can be used to purchase the Braytech Werewolf Auto Rifle – a reskinned weapon rewarded at 950 Power and masterworked regardless of the players Power Level.
Set in one of Destiny 2’s most disliked locations on Mercury, the Infinite Forest from Curse of Osiris, players are tasked with making their way through a series of randomly generated zones, killing enemies until the meter reaches 100%. Once that’s done, the whole Fireteam is teleported to a boss arena where they fight a “Terror” which completes the wave. The Haunted Forest is very dark and very spooky, using only the player’s Ghost and the odd Jack-O-Lantern to guide the way and a 15-minute timer for players to complete as many waves as possible.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
One of the coolest things about the Haunted Forest and the whole Festival of the Lost event for that matter is Bungie’s dedication to atmosphere and visuals. Having the Tower covered in Halloween decorations is great and the horror-vibe of the nearly pitch black but still over-the-top decorated, Haunted Forest is a sight to see. While the enemies and Terrors are all the standard enemies and bosses found elsewhere Destiny 2, certain zones of the Forest feature a new enemy called The Invincible Terror – an unstoppable boss that follows the player through the zone and is themed after the terrifying Darkblade strike boss from Destiny 1.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good ends for the Haunted Forest. Despite being a great idea, in theory, the Infinite Forest has been heavily criticized since launch for being overly repetitive and being aesthetically bland. The Haunted Forest struggles with all the same issues; the gameplay is incredibly repetitive. There’s very little incentive for players to keep coming back outside of the Triumphs and Braytech Werewolf Auto Rifle, which is a perfectly fine weapon but only really benefits players that are struggling with the Soft Power Level cap. In its current form, the Haunted Forest doesn’t offer players anything new or exciting, particularly when its a rehashed game mode from last year.
The Future of the Haunted Forest
As far as seasonal events go, Festival of the Lost offers enough to players to justify its existence. Sure, it could certainly benefit from having more of the Eververse items being offered as gameplay rewards considering that everything new needs to be bought outside of the Braytech Werewolf but overall, it does its job. However, if Bungie plans to keep the Haunted Forest around for another year or even bring it back for Destiny 3, there needs to be more than just reach branch 9 for a Tier 1 reward.
First of all, Bungie needs to make it a fun activity that players actually want to play. All of the modifiers are there to make the experience harder for players when instead the focus should be on fun. Recreate the Mayhem Crucible mode and make some playthroughs have crazy recharge rates for Supers, add different elemental burns, or even beef up the melees by 300% and double the grenade recharge rate in exchange.
Bungie also needs to utilize the activities’ best asset, The Invincible Terror. Right now, it only shows up intermittently and roams a set zone. Bungie should create the activity around the concept of an unstoppable Terror that chases the players, like a game of cat and mouse. Force players to move quickly and play by the modifiers in order to keep away from the constant threat of The Invincible Terror. The basic formula of the event works very well, but Bungie just needs to add a little more pizazz to turn this tired location and activity into an event that players look forward to.
The future of Festival of the Lost and the Haunted Forest is currently unknown, but considering Bungie has long-term plans for support Destiny 2 for at least a couple more years, players can expect to see them both again. Right now, Festival of the Lost still has one Triumph that’s yet to be discovered, meaning it’s likely that Bungie still has at least one more surprise hidden up its sleeve for the final week of the event.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a Stadia version also in development.