‘It was going to transform into a giant spider that launched eggs and had babies running around!’ Bungie devs discuss Destiny 2’s next class

broken down in detail on its site along with the trailer embedded above. 

I was given a preview of this stuff last week and the chance to talk with design lead Kevin Yanes and feature lead Eric Smith and put questions about Strand and ability design to them. It was a wide-ranging discussion taking in everything from what the actual power fantasy of Strand is, through how to buff roaming supers, and most incredibly why we will not be transforming into giant egg-spewing spiders anytime soon. Here are the highlights.  

Strand will be easier to unlock than Stasis 

Right off the rip, let's deal with one of the biggest worries when it comes to Strand: How long the subclass will take to unlock across all three characters. Acquiring all the Aspects and Fragments for Stasis in Beyond Light was notoriously grindy, but Bungie promises that won't be the case with Strand. “We learned a lot from the Born in Darkness quest,” says Yanes. “The friction there was way too high, especially for newer players who were coming in and just wanted to see the new stuff.” Unlocking Strand will still require players to complete the Lightfall campaign, but Bungie seems to have heard the complaints and wants to make the process much more user-friendly. “At campaign completion you're actually going to have a fairly representative subclass, unlike Stasis, which was just a skeleton of a subclass.” 

You can also expect more Aspects and Fragments to be released as part of the seasonal model over the course of 2023. “By the end of the year you're going to have a complete subclass kit that will be able to stand toe-to-toe with your existing suite of powers, and speak to a play style you currently don't have,” says Yanes. My takeaway is that although it does sound like you'll need to play the campaign on each character to unlock Strand, you're going to have more freedom to choose what you unlock and it should feel less laborious. Certainly I don't expect to be doing the equivalent of schlepping around the map shooting crystals with Salvation's Grip this time around.

Strand is the high-APM class 

I have to confess that, before the interview, I still didn't totally get the power fantasy of Strand, beyond the obvious appeal to Spider-Man enjoyers. Where it clicks for me is when Smith and Yanes start talking about how Strand is the high-APM—or actions per minute—class. Bungie wanted Strand to play completely differently to the Light subclasses and Stasis, which already offered a bunch of different ways to melt monsters and control crowds of mobs respectively. They needed to find a different role for Strand. “We almost stumbled into the APM idea,” says Yanes. “We found it, embraced it, and kept going. The key there is it's really easy to get in and start messing around with Strand, and have fun, but it has the depth to reward people who explore. Things like grabbing a Tangle and throwing it and then grappling to the same Tangle and following up with a grapple punch. That's something you cannot do with any of the other subclasses. But when you string those actions together you feel like a god.” 

huge revamp coming to the mod system with Lightfall. “Tangles came from our desire to take Warmind Cells, grab part of that loop, and bring it into the core [gameplay],” confirms Yanes. “We knew [Warmind Cells] were going to go away. They were never really intended to live forever. And so the question became: 'What's a class-based version of Warmind Cells that's cohesive, married to a damage type, and has a new set of interactions and verbs behind it?'”

Strand is the first subclass to grant three melee charges 

I remember triple melee charges being leaked back in August last year, before we even knew the next subclass was Strand. “Historically, we tend not to give players three melee charges by default,” says Smith, “but with the [Strand] Titan and Warlock we give them three. The Titan's melee sends you forward a considerable distance, so you're able to close a gap pretty easily by chaining three melees together. The speed at which you can move because of that is really high.” Mobility and aerial play will be core to all the Strand subclasses, but Hunters will be the ones permanently up in the rafters. 

gainer backflip before diving to the ground suspending any nearby dudes. Again, it's easy to envision how cool that's going to be when strung together with grapples. 

Critical to understanding how grappling works in Destiny 2 is that you don't need to attach your rope to a surface. “It's very versatile, very easy to use,” says Smith. “When I decide I want to grapple, all I have to do is point in a direction and hit the button. If the grapple can't reach a surface, it's going to anchor to a point in space, and pull me in that direction. I don't have to determine whether I'm in range of a surface to attach to, it's always just gonna work, whether there's something there or not.” For Yanes, one of the biggest problems with grappling in other shooters is that depth perception is “awful, unless you're a savant.” So Bungie's solution was to do away with any need to judge distance entirely. You just hit the button and fly.

Bungie really hopes Strand isn't going to be a huge nightmare in PVP 

Obviously we all remember what happened last time Destiny 2 got a new subclass. “Stasis shipped with a five-second stun in PVP,” says Smith, with a rueful smile. “It was hard crowd control. You got frozen and couldn't really fight back. Here we wanted to avoid that. When you get suspended [with Strand] in PVP you still have some movement control—you can fight back by shooting in hip-fire, and it doesn't feel as helpless when you get hit with [the Suspend] debuff.” Smith says that one of the big problems with making a whole new damage type, and associated subclass, is that Bungie is trying to build a box at the same type as deciding what should go in it. That can make it hard to foresee outcomes. 

“We're totally fine saying Stasis is the domain of the hard stun, whereas Strand we attacked it more as a 'root' initially and then iterated,” says Yanes. “We wanted to come up with something clever enough to make you feel like Spider-Man while you're playing in Neomuna, but in PVP not make somebody want to toss their controller.” He also hopes that Strand won't be the only dominant flavour in PVP when Lightfall launches, but conceded it may still be just because it's the new hotness and players will be excited. “We're pretty happy with how it's playing right now. Ask us in four weeks and maybe that answer is different.”

screebs that were T-posing and they would slowly go towards [the enemy] and then shoot threadling eggs. So you had these three T-posing screebs vomiting threadlings. It was hilarious but also horrifying.” Nightmare fuel aside, the Warlock super shipping with Lightfall still leans into the minion master fantasy. On cast, Needlestorm launches a burst of Strand spikes which detonate on impact and then turn into threadlings that chase anyone left alive before exploding. Smith says that during development it felt like a failure if Needlestorm played too much like a green version of Hunter's Blade Barrage super. “That was actually a negative feedback point we got,” he says. “So [we decided] it should be about the armada of little green dudes you're making.” 

Warlocks get to use threadlings very differently to the other classes  

Every Strand class will be able to generate threadlings, but Warlocks have what Smith describes as a “special kinship” with the explosive little critters. In the event that your threadlings don't find a target, they'll return to the Warlock and condense down into a form that orbits you like an Arc Soul or Child of the Old Gods. This behaviour is called 'perching', and you can have various numbers of threadlings perched at any one time. “Next time the Warlock attacks an enemy, they're going to pop off and attack it,” says Smith. 

Threadlings can be generated in multiple ways, depending on how your character is set up. For instance, using the Weaver’s Call aspect, whenever the Warlock casts a rift they will weave three threadling eggs that hatch when they hit a surface. Additional perched threadlings will also be converted to eggs. If you aren't interested in grappling, there's also a threadling grenade. Yanes, who admits to being a Warlock main but insists that means he avoids overtuning the class, explains how it works: “A totally valid behaviour for Warlocks is: 'I'm going to consume this threadling grenade, create a full perch, and then dump it all and have my children wreak havoc.'” Honestly, I know what I'll be playing on day one.

Destiny 2: Lightfall Strand ability.

Talk of an evil “ferried from an unknown time and place” has players speculating that the enemies in the Lightfall raid will be the Vex. (Image credit: Bungie)

Stasis was once time crystals 

Let's end on a fun one. Discussing how much subclasses changes during the creative iteration process, Yanes has this to share: “Stasis was originally going to be time crystals. It wasn't going to be cosmic ice. But we didn't want to do the generic fantasy thing of: “It's frost! Brrr!' We always want there to be a Destiny interpretation of the power. Something that is uniquely our game. Solar isn't just 'fire', it's the power of the sun. Void isn't just 'black holes', we're plucking sentient creatures from the cosmos and sending them to convert life for us.”

We didn’t want to do an explicitly damage-focused thing… We decided that we were going to look at combat utility.

—Kevin Yanes, design lead

But how did the team arrive at magical green ropes binding the cosmos together? “We didn't want to do an explicitly damage-focused thing,” says Yanes. “Early on we decided that we were going to look at combat utility. We did a lot of work on damage mitigation… Lowering the damage of enemies. That got us into the headspace of severing enemies' connection to the greater world. We started getting down the idea that everyone's connected by this extradimensional construct that is the weave.” 

As for the visual look of Strand, Yanes says consistency was key: “We keyed off of the Darkness resonance. Even on Stasis, we wanted to make sure that everything had a consistent physical language to the Darkness resonance… We didn't want it to look ethereal and magical in the way that the Light subclasses do.” Put another way, the Darkness subclasses are about physicality, and if Stasis has crystals then Strand has strings. “That started to inform the rest of the powerbase,” says Yanes. “What can we do with strings that we couldn't do before? Oh, we're going to have rope weapons. We began talking about grappling hooks. The visuals started becoming clear. It's all discovery. We started from the first point of dark telekinesis, and we had a bunch of other goals that then led us down another path… 

In my experience, you can have the plan laid out, but you need to afford yourself that room for discovery. I promise you the plan in your head will not work out the way you think it does.”

Some answers have been edited for length and clarity. Destiny 2: Lightfall launches on February 28.